A Dachshund reflects on life and hismelf in....
by JOANNE KARLOVIC
for the American Dachshund magazine, October, 1972
History has always spoken of the United States as the "land of plenty" and for many of my associates it has been just that. For others, well, that is another story, and by your leave, I will tell you mine.
I was born in that beautiful state of Kentucky on a fine spring morning, the thirteenth of April, 1969. Because I grew quickly and appeared stronger than many of my litter mates (I was too young to remember much about them except that they were "there.") I was the first to be sent away from home. Perhaps this was my first regret. I never did get to know my mother very well and did not know any sense of belonging, or of a family. My father did not live with us, and I guess Mother must have had many a lonely moment trying to bring us up with the proper sort of guidance. But like I have said, I left home early and could honestly say I never really knew her. They say she was beautiful, though - fourteen points when her people decided they didn't care for the show routine anymore. It was a bad break for Mother. Today she might have had "Champion" in front of her name.
My new home was pretty nice, I guess. It's pretty funny, but my earliest memories are vague. Please don't think I'm complaining, but a vagabond's life isn't easy. They say we sometimes put up mental blocks deliberately, just to "forget" and you must admit, there are some things that are best "forgotten." I had not reached a year's age when I was whisked off again. My lady had rationalized that she had "just too much work without putting up with that hound any longer!"
Perhaps it was best for all concerned because she suffered from a series of neuroses, and I was becoming a nervous wreck myself. So I was sent off to a relation's place where there were to be kennels with all sorts of conveniences, including a varied diet with plenty of bones. And the whispered word was that I was even destined to be shown! If only Mother could have heard that. The ride was long to Pennsylvania, and the kids continuously screeched and tugged at me. I tried not to mind too much, though. I just kept telling myself that even though I wasn't too big, they weren't either. Let's just say that my nerves were not at all improved by the time I reached Pennsylvania.
I think HE hated me from the moment HE first saw me; HE said HE had no use for such an animal. I was really confused then. How could HE run an entire kennel of us and not want to? Did I have a surprise coming. Have you ever looked up at an elephant, or perhaps one of the Belgian, or Clydesdale horses at a fair? Then you know how I felt when I saw them in the same pen with me. They looked like gray ghosts as their yellow eyes gleamed down at me. They pushed in at all sides toward me; their tongues alone seemed to be the size of my ears, and I quickly retreated to the far side of the pen. The last thing I heard HIM say was, "Look at that simple cur; he's a coward already." The next day I learned that the fellows were German Shorthaired Pointers and Weimaraners. They seemed to be a nice enough bunch, but there wasn't a Dachshund in the place. How they laughed at my short legs! It didn't take me too long to learn that you had to be alert at chow-time, or you were left out. Somehow, I'd put all my speed up against those guys but, excuse the colloquialism, I'd always end up on the "short" end.
In the days that followed, SHE began to table-train me, and I became quite adept at posing. But, I'd fall to shaking whenever HE came into the room. I was a bundle of nerves trying to dodge swift kicks. Finally, it was decided that I would be shown at a match two weeks off. THEY shut me up in a cage, and it was strictly bread and water because I looked like a bag of bones. This wasn't bad if you consider that there were no Shorthairs or Weimaraners in there, but let's face it - bread for breakfast, bread for dinner, and bread for supper gets to you after a while.
HE led me into the ring that day and smiled at all the people, but I could tell by the tug of the lead that HE wouldn't smile at me. I was a nervous wreck. When HE set me up on the table HE jerked the lead so hard that I'm positive that my brain hit the sides of my skull several times before it stopped bouncing. It was all over in an instant. A huge man (they later told me he was the judge) came at me. He was about 220 pounds I'd guess; yes, that's roughly 200 more pounds than me. Instinct took control, and I clamped down with my jaws just as hard as I could. Just let me say this - the next few days were too horrible to describe. I was a villain. After all, what could be more despicable than a show dog who would bite a judge?
Into every life comes that ray of sunshine dispersing the gloom. I fell in love with her immediately. A crippled tail kept her from being classified as beautiful, but her family was tremendously high class. I wanted to go away with Luvie that very day, somewhere away from it all where we could chase butterflies and dream of dinosaur bones for the rest of our lives and maybe even raise a family. I knew they would be beautiful babies if they looked like their mother. I wanted to stay with her and give her a good life as well as help bring up the babies, not the way my poor mother had been forced to do. Alas, this was not to be. By now, I'm sure I've developed a rejection complex for I was not permitted to go with Luvie and her lady. But I lived on dreams from that day on. So what if I got trampled at the feed trough. Nothing was important anymore. I did get some good news, however; I was a Father! We had four fine sons and a pretty little daughter. All were identical and just beautiful. My how the people raved about them! What I did not know was that I never more would see my wife, the Mother of my pups, for winter came and carried her life away on a snowflake. I gave up all desire for food and soon developed large bald patches on my coat. What difference did anything make? I caught a word here and there about the extermination process. I was to be "gassed." Life and its grief would be over. Finis. HE could be happy; the Rag would finish his mean existence.
On the day that I was literally convinced would be my last, I was surprised again. Another lady, whom I was later to call the Mistress, came and put me in the back of her car and took me to Ohio. It was a rural home run pretty much by a black, pudgy puppy. Can you imagine my delight when I learned that he was none other than my son, Schultz! I thought perhaps things might work out after all, now that I had my son to care about. I think we all need that "object" on which to focus our affections; and, Schultz was a living memory of Luvie. But, as my life story testifies, that did not work out either. Perhaps you may have some idea of what it's like trying to communicate with a teenager! Perhaps you even have one of your own. All they do is spout talk about a generation gap. Schultz is no different than any other teenager and probably a little worse than most. He even thinks the family car is his. It took him no time at all, I guess, to figure that his "old man was no swinger." So bad went to worse. I became even more despondent and downhearted. My weight went down to thirteen pounds, and I was nearly bald. I just did not care anymore.
Before long i was dashed off to a medical man who diagnosed my ailments, prescribed medicines, and sadly commented that I was certainly not show material, but would, indeed, survive. I guess I really wished that he had said that there was nothing that he could do. I just didn't care; every day got to be routine with little white pills before supper. But I must admit the next several months passed peacefully enough, my nerves settled down, and I put on weight. I was no longer bullied and was beginning to think I might actually be enjoying life.
One day there seemed to be more than the usual excitement about the place. Mistress and Ellen came and talked to me for a long time and finally they agreed on some important matter. I was totally confused, but I got an extra-special hug from Mistress. The weeks that followed were hectic. Ellen worked with me while I practiced my poses (she even used a mirror once, and I must admit that a fellow might get swell-headed from so much praise and preening), and we worked with a nylon lead, etc. I picked up a few words like "Cleveland" and "Western Reserve," and when I got an egg shampoo on Saturday I was convinced. They were going to show me, the Rag, at the Western Reserve Kennel Club show on Sunday! I could scarcely believe it! But I had put on weight, I was now twenty-eight pounds, and my fur was shiny and thick; my nerves had settled down considerably, and I had quit worrying about little things. Of course, there was that dratted bald spot on my tail because I just couldn't seem to stop wagging it into objects.
Well, the big day came and I was bundled into the car with Mistress and Ellen. By the time we reached the auditorium the excitement was so built up in me that I felt I might burst - Mistress acted that way, too, but Ellen managed us both adequately. It seemed that I went into the ring only seconds after walking on the floor. I quickly surveyed my competition; the other fellows in the Open class looked good, too good, and they knew it. I thought about the bald spot on my tail, and then I thought about my Mother. I'd do my best! I'd do it for Mistress, too, because she cared so much and for Ellen and for my fellow Dachshunds in the ring with me. My best! I nearly growled as my pride burst forth from past generations of calling, be-ribboned ancestors with titles who said I was a part of them. I literally pranced around the ring and threw all I had into the effort. Even if I failed now I wold know that I had done my best. The spectators were kind - there was a hush as we lined up and waited. I glanced across the ring at Mistress. She had her eyes shut. Then I centered my attention all on the lady judge. First prize went to a most handsome fellow, as did the second prize. Then the kind lady with the ribbons stepped in front of me. I saw that Mistress had opened her eyes because they now resembled saucers, and I do believe that Ellen had stopped breathing. When the lady handed Ellen that slip of a yellow-gold it was all over. I could have cheered myself! Third prize wasn't bad for a "condemned" fellow making a comeback.
The next thing I knew was that I was outside of the ring, and Mistress was crying (she said it was because she was so happy - what silly creatures people are) and Ellen was laughing. Me? I had just done my best. It had been my first point show, and I had proved that I was a little more than just the "rag" alongside of German Shorthaired Pointers and Weimaraners. If given a chance, and a lot of us dogs never are, we'd have nice coats, good weight, and proper dispositions. But let me assure you, the rewards of the show were more than the ribbons. Can you imagine how delighted I was that I had made Mistress and Ellen so happy? And they did serve delicious, pardon the terminology, hot-dogs at the show!
Unrelated early 1900's postcard image source unknown.