Thursday, November 19, 2009

AN APOLOGY to a Great Lover


to a Great Lover
by Frances Meusel for the American Dachshund, April, 1967

Before she reached that state of being Utterly and Universally Irresistible, we took Schatzie to stay at Ernie Carlson's. She is to be bred to a handsomer man than our Peterfritz, who has too many imperfections to father what we hope will be show-quality pups.

Peterfritz watched her go into the kennel with his nose pressed against the car window; they had never been separated before by more than the width of a door, and he was worried about her.

He shouldn't have been; she didn't give so much as a glance back. She said a cheerful Hullo to Ernie, started an investigation of her run, and an aloof but interested appraisal of her next-door neighbors. She forgot Peterfritz as soon as he was out of sight.

When I returned to the car a couple of hours later, Peterfritz had made nose prints on every one of the car windows, but he hadn't disturbed a banana cake left forgotten and unprotected on the seat - except to stand on the box for elevation, so he might better watch for Schatzie. This disinterest in food was unprecedented.

During the ride home, instead of falling into deep slumber the instant the car was put into gear, as he - and Schatzie - always do, he prowled. He scaled seats; he trod on gas pedals; he sat on brakes; he excavated raincoats behind the back seat (was she hiding?); he tried to sit in my lap, or on the wheel, so he could look deep into my eyes and there read an explanation for the Absence; he stayed dangerously awake and terribly distressed, and he almost had me in the ditch a dozen times before he decided that Schatzie must have been magically transported home before him, and that a fixed stare through the windshield would get him there fastest. He flew out of the car long before I had extricated myself, and he was earnestly trying to open the house door before I had my key in the lock.

On the first trip upstairs he fell down the whole uncarpeted flight of steps in his careless impatience to get there. He searched the house thrice over, inside and out, at a run that became more frantic with every fruitless passage. When he finally realized that she was not to be found anywhere, he began to weep.

I've heard dogs cry before, but never have I heard such bewilderment, such despair, such absolute heartbreak in a dog's voice. Schatzie is gone! She is LOST and gone! he cried; he cried it over and over, in every tone and pitch of which a Dachshund's vocal cords are capable. He cried it without pause, and he is still crying it almost 24 hours later!

I hear it from every nook and cranny of the house, even those dark corners where Schatzie never went because she thought Things lived in them. He looks up into my face with wide terrified eyes (oh, she's not REALLY gone, is she?) and begs me in a trembling whimper to do something, anything! only give her back to him.

I try to comfort him with forbidden delights; he eats them obediently, and moans while he chews. He creeps into my arms - not leaping up gaily, but as if he'd been punished - and puts his head on my shoulder and sobs directly into my ear, which he kisses in lieu of Schatzie. He falls asleep from pure exhaustion, and weeps while he sleeps - which is only for a moment because, perhaps she has come home and he must not waste any time finding her.

He did this all night long; I know, since it was upon my bed and person that he snatched his quick restless naps, and my pillow into which he wept.

And, periodically, when he cannot bear it another second, he turns his back on me, on the terrible desolate Schatzie-less world, on everything, and faces the bare wall, and lifts up his long Dachshund muzzle, and howls.

Have you ever heard a Dachshund really howl? Until now, I hadn't - for I'd never had a heartbroken Dachshund in the house before. It's not like a dog's howling! It's not wild, or savage! It's music!

Sometimes it's a little like a bird's singing. There's a bubbling note in it that's like a nightingale's, rather. It is sweet, and tenor, and - sad! It's so sad that one's own heart bends in the sympathy, and one cannot do one's work or concentrate on a book; listening, one hears the first song sung about all the grievous things that can happen in this world; one hears the tears of every lover who ever lost his darling girl; and there are autumn leaves falling, and the bed is empty and cold, and loving is for always....

And then there's nothing for it but to take this little woebegone songster - no, not a Dachshund, that funny low-slung, hound, nor a dog at all, but the very personification of Longing and Loving - into one's arms, and feel humble and inadequate, and even a little ashamed of being a human being whose most sincere emotion cannot help but bear the stains of thought and reason and can never again be this straight, this whole, this unashamed.

Well, it won't be long before Schatzie is back home again, and all will be fun and games once more. In the past I may have mocked at Peterfritz as a Lover. But, never again! I've seen him for what he is, and a lot of human people have pretty thin and sleazy emotions when compared to his! Peterfritz is all that rare rich stuff from which Great Lovers, and legends, and Dachshunds are made.

Image:  unrelated early 1900's postcard


Anonymous said...

That made me tear up. I guess I'm easily teared.

firstyouleap said...

I desperately need the final scene where they are reunited! At least I know it happened after the story ended.

inc123 said...

Dogs definitely grieve and cry,

But at our house, alas, Polly got rat #10. Rat season is not officially open for the winter. Arrrg.

Unknown said...

Makes me glad I've only got one. Enduring his broken-hearted cries for more food, more walks, more playtime is all I can stand... ;)

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