Quiet Desperation

Somehow, tiny dog can occupy whole heart


A reader said she had a fever.

“And the only prescription is more dachshund.”

I asked her what she meant, but I already knew.

“It’s the news,” she said. “The news is getting me down. I need more dachshund.”

I promised my editor no more columns about the dog this year.

“I’m starting to sound like I have a heart. H.L. Mencken never used the word ‘chewie,’ did he?”

But here I am. When a reader needs dachshund, a reader needs dachshund.

Harry turned one recently. I hope he is fully grown. He was supposed to be a miniature, but he’s more like a small standard, which is still pretty small next to a Weimaraner, like the one who lives across the street, and the Great Dane who lives (and barks) next door.

I think the reader needed some cute stories about dachshunds, and I have plenty. I’m just concerned about the overall perception.

How can I be taken seriously if I write about a low-to-the-ground, tubular animal with four tubs of toys, one for every room, who pillows his head next to mine?


While I was writing those first few sentences, I could hear Harry chewing on something, and made an assumption. He owns enough chewies for a kennel.

But I looked down, and saw the insides of a plastic floss dispenser: a waxen thread that wrapped around my office chair.

I found the outsides in another room, indented with teeth markings, unmistakably dachshund in origin.

I found all of the parts, and feel certain he didn’t swallow anything he shouldn’t have. (I guess I will find out.)

There’s a table next to the bed. That’s where he found the floss. There’s a lamp and a radio on the table. Nothing else should be on the table, but sometimes out of neglect there is.

He’s taken my glasses. He’s taken the remote. Now the floss. Maybe it was meant to happen, because while I was looking at the gutted floss dispenser, it gave me an idea.

I said to it, “Who are you?”

A New Orleans dentist named Levi Spear Parmly came up with the idea for floss in 1819.

He recommended running a waxen thread “through the interstices of the teeth.” Floss was not commercially available until 1892.

Now the use of floss is an important step in preventing gum disease, but it’s not always taken, and sometimes it is not taken correctly. Please listen to your dental hygienist.

I get my teeth cleaned four times a year because of my dental history. And Harry will have to get his teeth cleaned too.

I don’t get numbed, but they will have to knock him out, and it’s a half-day process.

He will be dropped off in the morning, and I will pick him up after noon.

I could do it myself, but I would rather not. He can wriggle like an eel, and jump and twist, and I would never get the job done properly.

I am sure he would think it was a game.

To the reader who needed dachshund, thank you. It’s almost unimaginable what benefits there are, that can be derived, from a 14-pound entity that arrived by Delta Cargo from Missouri just eight months ago, that has already burnished my heart.

Yes, my heart.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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