“One Tough Poo” Drawn by Judy
If ever there was a little dog who took life seriously it was a fat little red smooth hair Dachshund named Greta, or Greta-Poo or simply “the Poo.” Greta was the second of our Dachshunds, or as they are known in Germany Dackels. We got Greta in 1988 when we were stationed in San Antonio. We were visiting our friends across the street, Anthony and Kathy and they had visitors who had brought the remnants of a litter of Dachshund puppies over. They were the products of a red smooth hair and a dappled smooth hair. One puppy was already spoken for, Anthony and Kathy were looking at a second, and the third, the runt of the litter was in the arms of one of the visitors.
Judy immediately fell in love with the very sweet looking and pretty puppy. Looking at her in the arms of another woman Judy realized that she could not let the other person have the adorable little creature. Judy immediately made an offer for the puppy which was accepted by the people who had brought her to Anthony and Kathy’s house. Forty dollars later the puppy was curled up in Judy’s arms. From that moment on we had the “mommy and puppy mutual admiration society.” Greta quickly became “Mommy’s Poo.” Greta’s sister “Miss-T” became the puppy child of Anthony and Kathy. The two puppies though now living in separate homes still visited each other and played with each other. Our eldest dog Frieda was sweet to the Poo. She accepted the new addition to the family and after ensuring herself that Poo was trained appropriately in household security retired at the age of four years old. Since Frieda lived to be 16 ½ this meant that she spend the majority of her life retired and complaining about our insufficiency in fulfilling her needs.
Poo was the most serious little dog that I have ever seen. She took herself seriously and though a happy dog always was somewhat dour. Frieda and Molly who we got towards the end of Poo’s life enjoyed being funny, but not Poo, and her very seriousness made her funny as hell.
Now Poo was a chow hound, in fact if you look under “chow hound” in the dictionary there is probably a picture of the Poo. Poo seldom met a food that she didn’t like, or at least wouldn’t eat to keep Frieda from getting it. As a result, though she was incredibly active she was fat. She should have weighed about 18 pounds, but most of her life she spent between 20 and 23 pounds. She looked like a red bratwurst and not a hot dog. Poo’s first sin was a defining moment in her life. Judy had left a freshly baked chocolate chip muffin on the arm of our couch and got up to refill her drink. As she went back into the living room she saw Poo, now the little shit, charging off with the muffin toward our bedroom. The very small and barely four month old puppy had the muffin in her mouth and was moving as fast has her little legs could take her. Chasing her down Judy got the muffin back, but the incident was defining. No food was safe if you left it alone where Poo could get it.
There were three other incidents of this particular “puppy sin” that came later in her life which are worthy of mention here. Both occurred when I was in seminary or during my Clinical Pastoral Education residency. The first was when Judy put a cast iron pan which has the residue of freshly made refried beans on the ground for Frieda and Poo to finish off. Now most of the time the two little shits would share whatever table food that we gave them. This time Frieda decided that she did not want to share. Now Frieda was a very strong animal. She grabbed the pan by the handled and proceeded to run away with it, mind you this was a cast iron frying pan. Poo was not about this prize get away. As Frieda sauntered off with what she believed to be “her” booty Poo chased her down and tackled her. They ended up sharing. Another was when the “Free Dog” and the Poo were left at home when we left the apartment to take a blind friend to the store. Now this was around Christmas and Judy had been baking cookies all the live long day. Somehow we left the house with a couple of boxes full of Judy’s best on the coffee table. How the hell we did that I will never know. The coffee table was well within the range of both of our little shits. As we pulled into our friend’s driveway we realized our mistake. I rushed into our friend’s house and said, “Bert, quick, I need your phone.” This was patently in the days before regular folks had cell phones. I called our home number. The answering machine went off, as I waited for my version of Bill Clinton to finish the message I wondered how many cookies the little shits had eaten. My words, “Dammit, Frieda and Poo, you better not be eating the cookies or you’re both dead. I’m coming home now!” I ran back to the car and sped back to our place. Dashing into the apartment I found that the cookies hand indeed been raided, but neither of our little shits was to be seen. One was hiding under a table and the other; I think Frieda, was cowering behind the toilet. I wonder what the look on their faces was when that answering machine went off with my voice telling them to get away from the cookies. God if we had the money for surveillance cameras, it would have had to have been as funny as hell. The third was when we had friends over for Saturday night pizza and Star Trek, the Next Generation. I happen to make a very good large New York style pizza, thank you. Anyway it was one of those nights when thunderstorms were crashing over the DFW Metroplex. One of these boomers came over our area that night. I’m sorry, if you haven’t been through a North Texas boomer you have only been in the minors. This was a cool one, we were under a tornado warning and the storms were bringing lightening, hail and massive thunder. We and our guests decided to go out to the breezeway between buildings and watch what the Deity Herself was bringing upon the Metroplex in punishment for the firing of St Tom Landry by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. As we gathered to watch the last piece of pizza sat defenseless on the pizza pan which lay on the coffee table which we had all been sitting around. The piece of pizza was rather large and a combination with pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and God knows what else. As we watched the storm the Poo saw her opportunity. When I walked back in to grab a beer and I saw the Poo devouring the very large piece of pizza. When she saw me she simply ate more frantically. It was if she was trying to shove it down her throat. I called Judy and we both decided that it was hers.
The Poo was also serious about home defense. She was committed heart and soul to defending the realm. This was in stark contrast to Frieda who after her retirement would have watched Genghis Khan and his hordes march off with everything we owned provided that they paid her. Poo on the other hand was devoted to the protection of her home and her mommy. As a still very young dog of maybe a year and a half she surprised a Pit Bull which had come up on our lawn. We were at the time living in a neighborhood near my seminary regularly featured on the TV program COPS. We had gone out to check the mail and Poo came out with us. The unwitting Pit Bull was in our front yard, which since we were both poor and without time to mow it ourselves it was rather high. In fact it was higher than the Poo. Our little shit saw her unsuspecting victim before we did. She bolted off the porch and tore through the high grass barking up a storm. The Pit Bull had no idea what was going on. He couldn’t tell from where the ferocious roar was coming from. Just before the Poo could reach him he bolted, tail between his legs down the street. The Poo heeding Judy’s “Dammit Poo get your ass over here!” returned obediently to the porch, satisfied that she had done her duty.
Well things progressed in the Poo’s life, she ate, got fat, and defended the realm. While I worked in my parent’s hometown of Huntington West Virginia as an Emergency Department Chaplain in a local teaching hospital’s Emergency Room we frequently spent time with both of my grandmothers. My parents had long before retired from the Navy in Mudville, sometimes known as Stockton California and it was by either chance or the Deity Herself and Her providence that I landed the job after my residency. As it were it gave us the chance to spend a lot of time with both in their sunset years. One day while visiting my maternal grandmother with Frieda and Poo we got ready to leave. Now both of the dogs responded to voice commands so we would let them walk to the car when we left. As we walked out the door onto the porch the Poo took off flying down the steps. She took off across the yard and made a right turn into the side yard. We heard a “yelp!” and then saw a black chow tearing out from the yard screaming as it raced away from my grandmother’s house. Following close was the Poo. It was like a Messerschmitt 109 diving on a B-24 and pumping it full of holes with its 20mm nose cannon. As the chow raced away, the Poo heeded our call to turn around. As she ambled back our way we saw something in her mouth. It was a huge mouthful of black chow fur. Our tough little Poo had taken the fur off of a chow nearly 4 times her size and weight.
“Classic Greta Poo…with every roll of fat shown” Drawn by Judy
After Frieda died in 2001 Poo continued her ways, she stayed active and when we got Molly she was determined to still be the Alpha-Poo but Molly wouldn’t be bossed around and the Poo had to make a grudging peace with the new little shit. Poo remained a fighter her entire life. She would never back down from a fight and was determined to defend the realm. We lost her in June of 2003 while stationed in Jacksonville Florida after she had battled cancer and paralysis. She was one tough Poo. She was her mommy’s baby and absolutely devoted to Judy. We do miss her. She and Frieda were there with us in our toughest times. Now the tradition of a little red dog defender of the realm is carried on by Molly, as ferocious as Poo but nowhere near as obedient.
So life continues for us, defended by 15 pounds of hell and terror.