by Frances Meusel for The American Dachshund, February, 1965
Once upon a time, Nephew Rufus, began Uncle Peterfritz, back in the olden days when all dogs looked alike and there were no such things as Poodles, there lived two handsome young pups who were forever trying to outdo each other.
If one of them chased a mouse, the other must pursue the cat; if this one jumped into a chair, that one must leap into a bed; and if the first got booted out, and whimpered, then the second must howl like a Baskerville when his turn came.
So it went, until the Human People who lived with them shook their heads and wondered where the rivalry would end.
Well, one summer day when it was so hot even the birds sat around with their tongues out and all the elder dogs stayed under the trees cooling their stomachs, these two pups lay side by side on the shaded verandah, apparently napping but in reality each casting about in his mind for something to accomplish - some act so daring and spectacular it would establish his supremacy over the other for once and for all.
As he lay thinking, one of them, whom we will call Rufus for convenience sake - no, I don't know whether that was really his name - don't interrupt!
As I was saying, this pup we'll call Rufus suddenly remembered that they were to have steak for dinner, and at the thought of it his tail began to wag of its own accord.
"Now, why are you wagging your tail?" asked his rival, who had been watching him suspiciously from the edge of an eye.
Rufus, not wanting to admit he wasn't absolute master of his own end, hurriedly put on a superior look and replied: "Because I do it so beautifully, of course! Need you ask?"
"I must say, you certainly have an overblown opinion of yourself!" remarked the other, "Entirely unwarrantable, too. For it so happens that I am a more accomplished tail-wagger than you could ever hope to be. See?" He drummed a quick tattoo with his, to demonstrate.
"You call that tail-wagging?" scoffed Rufus. "A Manx can do better! But get a load of this!" And he whipped his tail so rapidly and with such force that dust flew out of the porch rug.
The other pup got to his feet, "Phui! must you beat carpets on a day like today? I thought we were discussing tail-wagging. Because if we are, and it's RPM's you want - observe!" And he flung his tail back and forth with such rapidity that it sounded like a hurricane in a clothesline. It was a wonder it didn't snap off.
"You are creating quite a draft," sneered Rufus, also rising, "but I wasn't aware wind was the object. However, if it is tail-wagging you are attempting, permit me to show you what a wag really is!"
So, bracing his hind legs and digging his toes, Rufus wagged - only "wag" doesn't describe the way that tail travelled! You couldn't even see it was a tail; so swiftly did it fly it looked like a chiffon blur.
His rival didn't wait for him to finish. "Your reverse is absolutely sluggish!" he cried, above the zip and whish of Rufus' performance. "Can't you get it out of low? This is how is should be done - VAROOM!"
"Rank ameteur!" panted Rufus, incredibly revving it up.
"Dilettante!" puffed the other, beginning to vibrate all the way up to his ears.
Remember I told you it was a hot day? Well you know what excessive heat does to things, like ice cubes and asphalt? It softens them. And because dogs weren't as tough in those olden days as they are now, heat affected them pretty much as it does a lump of taffy candy; and you can guess what happens to warm taffy when you begin swinging it about at a fast clip!
Well, that's exactly what was happening to those two pups, only they were too furious to notice; the more they wagged, the more they elongated; and Dog knows what the outcome would have been if their mother hadn't come up to investigate the strange breeze whistling on the verandah.
"Whelp! Whelp!" she shrieked when she saw what they were doing. "Stop this at once! Oh, you mad, mad, mad, mad dogs - just see what you've done! You've wagged yourselves into Dachshunds!"
So that, Nephew Rufus, is how we happened to achieve our distinctive shape. And since the tail-wagging contest was broken up before a decision could be reached, each pup was convinced he'd won it, which is why every Dachshund, from that day to this, is certain he can beat any dog alive, only one must make sure the weather is just right before entering the competition.
(Above image: a 0.5" x 0.5" diagram with the story)