“Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.”

E. B. White[1]

A Bit of My Noble History

I think that my great-great grandfather was born in Prussia, although the date is uncertain. I am sure that he was of noble birth and history reports that he was known as Otto Von Pretzel, who married a British dog, also of honorable birth. Her name was Elizabeth Duke, being born as she was with a father who was a Duke from the House of Canines. Later, many lesser dogs were named after him.

Otto von Pretzel, who became well known, had an air of arrogance about him. Although he was wounded in his tail during one of the many wars that raged in that part of the world, some opponents discredited him, pointing out that if he were a real alpha dog he would have been wounded in his head. Actually Otto had been carrying his countries flag with his tail and a bomb had gone off nearby and carried shrapnel to his unfortunate appendage. After the war he was awarded the Barking Cross with Two Bones, a distinction that he prized all his life and hung proudly in his dog house.

He and Elizabeth had a litter of three offspring, two female and one male. The females were recognized, somewhat unglamorously, as Lady Meri and Lady Beti, and the male was Count Wolfgang von Pretzel, my great great grandfather.

The history of the Ladies is uncertain so we must leave them at this point, but Wolfgang von Pretzel married a German Countess, a one Liesel von Snitzel and they had a large litter of puppies, who, in due time, immigrated to many continents and countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. However, several were lost at sea and we have no further records about them. We do know of three that survived because the dog tag of one was found—he was my grandfather Baron Adolph von Pretzel who lived for a time in Detroit, Michigan before moving to Texas.

Baron Adolph also had a namesake, Baron von Pretzel II, who lived in Papua New Guinea. It is believed that he was taken there (illegally) by an Australian Patrol Officer, who later died in an airplane accident. Baron von Pretzel II was adopted by a missionary living in the Wahgi valley. We shall return to him later.

The two not lost at sea were the twins Olga von Grübenholzen, who immigrated to New Zealand, and Elga von Grübenholzen who found her way eventually to Canada. In due time they lost their titles and nobility and, without records, we must assume they are now in the fourth heaven, the one reserved for small animals.

On the other hand, in America, the male Baron von Pretzel met Eloise Wünderblust in Dallas, Texas. They fell hopelessly in love—not puppy love—and were married in a ceremony at the local First Canine Church.

It was a lovely ceremony, with Ricky Rover as the preacher and reported in the Daily Dogcatcher as follows:

A beautiful wedding took place at the First Canine Church today. Eloise von Wünderblust was united in a canine ceremony with Baron Adolph von Pretzel. Eloise carried a large bouquet of dogwood and, following their promises of future proper dog behavior, they exchanged dog collars and dogtags. A large reception followed, featuring mini natural milkbone snacks, Himalayan dog chews, premium oral hygiene chews of bacon and cheese, and a large wedding bone atop a baked dog house, covered in probiotic, Nutramax Dasuquen soft chews. The couple danced and sang together to the tune of “How much is that doggie in the window” before exiting on a dogsled for their honeymoon.

The couple later moved to the Canine Courtyard in Planeold, Texas and 70 days later had one male child-dog. He was, of course, a top dog and adopted eventually by a family in Duncanville, Texas, who named him Shültz von Pretzel the Great. He, in turn, married a half-Dachshund, half-Shih Tzu, named Erma Geisengooser.

They lived in Duncanville for 10 years until Schültz contacted a very weird and untreatable blood disease that Texas Dachshunds sometimes get when they live near power lines. He survived for two more years, died and, covered with fleas, was cremated at the local dog pound. His ashes are now in an dog dish in the local Duncanville Canine Museum. Erma outlived Schültz for another two years, fourteen years in all, and died of Dogzeimers in 1990. Her body was donated to science and veterinarians-in-training have been cutting her up and sewing her back together ever since.

Schültz von Pretzel the Great and Erma Geisengooser the Lesser had four pups: Helmut, Alois, Gretl and Hansel. Helmut and Alois married Hispanic dogs and the last we heard they went to the dogs and were in Mexico.

Gretl married a pit bull and was disowned by the family. Only the whereabouts of Hansel von Pretzel is known and accounted for—and that is where I come in. But first a bit more about my ancestors.


A Bit More of My Lesser History

I suppose that there are bad bones buried under everyone’s dog house, so you might as well know about some of mine.

My Papua New Guinea relative, Baron von Pretzel II, who had been adopted by a missionary, became a missionary himself and worked as a “dog catcher”, local idiom and equivalent for the Biblical “fisher of men”. During the course of his career he trotted over many trails and had many tales to tell. He was once attacked by a pack of rats and barely escaped, in fact leaving some of his fur behind—or should we say some of his behind fur. Consequently he had a large bald patch on his posterior and was called (behind his back of course) “fursome”.

On another occasion he fell from a log that substituted for a bridge across a river and floated 10 miles downstream until he was rescued by a tree kangaroo that was having a drink while perched on a large rock. She took him home, dried him out and taught him how to hop, something no Dachshund had ever learned to do. Once back at the mission, however, Baron II was somewhat of a disgrace as he now hopped to and from his work, instead of trotting along like Dachshunds are meant to do. In due course, he met a female “outside animal”, that is one who did not belong to the mission, and married her. She was a cat, so it was an inter-canine and inter-feline marriage and, of course, one that was a disgrace to the mission. Her name was Mebel von Kränkensnort and her ancestry is undetermined. She was a very large cat, in fact quite obese, and was feared by all the dogs (and cats) in the valley.

Baron II and Mebel dug gardens, operated a dog and pony show and had a large trade store in the valley. Their store, called Dog-Tired Services, Ltd. Ptd., was well-known and on the bucket list of every dog and cat in the Highlands. They would come for miles to buy leather chews, balls of yarn, Purina diet snacks, puppy treats, tick and flea powder, heartworm medicine and health products. Affiliated with their store was also a grooming shop (Fur Flies) and a claw cutting facility (Saw-da-Klaws). Cats would come to have their fur set and dogs would go to have their toenails clipped.

Mebel, unfortunately, died of feline infectious peritonitis and was buried in the local pet cemetery. A large stone, engraved with “Eat Rats, Not Fats” marks her final resting place. We understand that Baron II and Mebel had offspring, but animal tracing agencies have been unable to catch them with any certainty. It is rumored that one of them owns a hotdog stand somewhere in a costal town and another sells catsup in another town. If this is in any sense plausible, it would be unwise to pursue their ancestry further. I tend to believe the shaggy dog story that they ended up in an animal rescue shelter run by an insane cassowary.

I have also heard stories about an uncle, named Oz von Dinkum, who lived in the outback of Australia and spent his life chasing rabbits. He was reported to have had thick, unkempt fur and, as they say there, was as rough as bags and looked like a dog’s breakfast. He was slow—he dragged the chain—and didn’t catch many rabbits and no sensible female dog would even look cross-eyed at him. He was a shingle short, not a clean potato, and lower than a snake’s belly. He apparently spent a lot of time at the local pub and was often high on the grog. He was found dead when he tried to cross a billabong riding on the back of a crocodile.

Then there was an aunt who reportedly lived in New Zealand. Her name was Myrtle von Kiwi and she may have been distantly related to Olga von Grübenholzen, but this is uncertain. We have seen records that she married a long-haired dachshund that came from Great Britain, but we have not been able to find out his name. However, he and Myrtle recorded the names of at least three puppies: Ian, Nev, and Gertie, although there is no record of their whereabouts.

Finally, just a word about my cousin, Triksie von Mabelif, who was related to Elga von Grübenholzen and lived with her a short time. They lived in the Northern Territory and bone records show that they were eaten by a Blue Healer, a sheep dog.

The bones are preserved at the Darwin Dog Memorial Museum, which is open to the public, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm, but no pets allowed.

Rudolph Von Pretzel I

I lived for many years in Duncanville, Texas and had a large back yard in which to run and therewith to hide my chews and bones. I slept in a porch at the house owned by JA and KJ Franklin. (I call them JA and KJ). They fed and watered me, took me for rides in the car, bathed me, scratched me and looked after me quite well. At times KJ would yell at me when I peed on the floor, which was so funny that I would do it just to hear him yell.

JA tried to teach me tricks and together we did quite well. But it was only after many visits that I could get her to bark, sing, shake hands, walk on her back legs, jump through a hoop, and play dead. I never could teach her to roll over.

I loved to get out in the yard and run in circles, especially after I had a good, satisfying poop. I would wait until JA could see me do my “business”, so that she would give me a treat. Then I would run in circles until I was tired and needed a drink.

Sometimes I would be deliberately disgusting—I would puke and then eat it again. They didn’t like that but it tasted so good the first time I was sure it would be better the second time.

There was a “doggie door” on the porch, so I could go in and out when I wanted to. There was also a big dog that belonged to the neighbor on the other side of the fence and we would chase each other back and forth, barking, snapping and pretending that we wanted to fight.

I should mention that I had a great uncle in Papua New Guinea who lived with a duck and a cat, even though I now have had to live alone in Woodway, Texas and I have been a bitter dog about it. I would hear stories about my great uncle Pretzel von Pretzel II and I would become very jealous. He lived in the great outdoors and could chase cars and people and other dogs. Once he chased a car, bit its tire and ended up being dragged for some distance. Some of his hide was left along the road and he stopped chasing cars. I’ll bet it served him right. But that is enough about my relatives—I’m going to skip to another relative of mine, one who lived several generations later. I never met him and I am now dead so I will have to wait until he comes to the 4th heaven and joins me there. But even from the 4th heaven we can see what is going on and I’ll let ‘him’ (actually he is a eunuch), take up the story.

Hansel von Pretzel IV

I live in Woodway, Texas with the Hardin family and I want to tell you a bit about them (and my grandparents). It took a long time, but I taught Mama Hardin to bark and eventually we would sing together. She said that her own mama had a dog like that once and that she had seen it do its tricks. So she tried to train me: She would say “speak” and then she would bark! I would bark back at her and she would give me a treat. Sometime she would bend back with her head high in the air and start singing something about a little doggie. I would put my head back and screech, trying to stay in tune (but not always in time) with her. Gradually I got her to try and sing when we had company. It was fun and I always got a treat. Most dachshunds can sing, I am told. Some slobber a lot when they sing.

I began to sing loudly when the Hardin children started to play the piano. They couldn’t play very well so I would try to drown them out with my singing. It really didn’t work: Kirsten (she’s the oldest) wouldn’t pay any attention to me; Evan (he’s the middle one) yelled at me and told me to shut up, so I don’t bark much when he plays; Cam (he is the youngest) just banged louder on the piano and that gave me a headache. I sometimes sing now when they play but mainly I just put my paws over my ears and go to my cage and shut the door.

It took me a long time to train Mama with some other tricks. Shaking paws was one. She would say “shake hands” and wanted me to stretch out my paw. I knew that, but I knew if I waited long enough she would have something in the other hand as a treat. So when I saw that, I would stick out my paw and that is how she learned to shake hands with me.

However, it took me a long time to teach her to roll over and she never did quite master it. She would get down on the floor and pretend she was going to roll, then look at me and say “roll over”, which because she was on her side with her mouth twisted, sounded like “oil clover” or boil Rover”. After I pretended that I was going to roll over she would roll with me, but never completely over. I knew then that I should teach her other tricks because she would reward me for doing them.

So my next attempt was to get Mama to “play dead”. She would point at me and say “bang”. I think she thought that her finger was loaded or something. I knew that if I could just stay still for a minute or so she would take her finger away and give me something to eat, so I would stay perfectly still and smile at her. It worked every time.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that dachshunds can smile. Well, we can and we can frown too. Sometimes I will pretend to frown so that Mama will feel sorry for me. (Papa doesn’t seem to play my game.) She will say “Come here Pretzel, how’s my little doggie today?” or something like that—my English is not good because we dachshunds speak German as our “mother” tongue. Actually it is my “father tongue” and a lot of different dialects are spoken. (A dialect is when a dog barks differently than you do.)

Going to the Vet

I don’t like going to the vet but they take me anyway. They say that I have bad breath and that my skin flakes and that my ears are getting raw from all the scratching I do. The vet is a big man that has his own breath problems. He works a lot with pit bulls and he is beginning to look like one. And he is not gentle—he puts a hood over my mouth because he is afraid that I will bite him—and I would if I could. He flops me over on my back, rolls me on my side, stretches my legs, and peers inside my ears. Then he tells mama, “That will be $75 and come back in a month. Put this medicine on his ears, brush his teeth twice a day, rinse out his mouth daily with Listerine, and make sure he exercises 20 minutes every day on the treadmill.” At least that is what I think he says, but I don’t understand vet language very well. I know that Listerine makes awful tasting bubbles in my mouth but I like to suck on the toothbrush, so I don’t mind that part. The treadmill is OK because I can watch TV at the same time and if I get tired I just pretend that I am going to poop and that ends the exercise routine quickly. They practically throw me outside.

Walking with Grandpa Franklin

I like to go on walks and both Mama and Kirsten sometimes take me, but it is Grandpa who often takes me for a walk when I visit him and Grandma Franklin, or even here in Woodway. If the leash is handy I get it and take it to Grandpa because he usually doesn’t remember where he put it. Once I give it to him he knows that I want to go for a walk and he gets a small plastic bag. You’ll find out what that is for later.

Grandpa and Grandma don’t live in Duncanville now, so I don’t get to have long rides in the car like when we used to go and visit them. They now live in a little village that has a high fence all the way around it and the only way you can get in (or out) is through a large iron gate. I can’t see the gate from the back of the car but when Grandpa and I go for a walk we go down by it. There must be some unseen force that opens the gate because cars just wait by it for a moment or two and then it opens all by itself. I wish I had a back door at Woodway where I live and that it would open when I sat and looked at it.

I am environmentally friendly and have a favorite place on the circle to poop. It is down past the first fireplug going southeast, as we dogs reckon directions. Fireplugs are like stop signs to us and when I see one it makes me want to pee and poop. The pee is OK but the poop is not. Because this is also an environmentally friendly village, there are definite laws about poop. So Grandpa has to carry a plastic bag to retrieve my contributions. Here is how it works:

Once I am finished, he takes a plastic bag, folds it back over his hand so that he won’t come in contact with my soiled remains, then grasps the material such that he can have it in the plastic bag without touching it. Very neatly done Grandpa, or should I say Grandpoop? He gets annoyed when it is stringy and soft, instead of in one hard lump. Disgusting, you say? Well, humans aren’t so neat sometimes either.

I soon get tired walking around the circle—he goes too fast and my tongue is hanging out after the first lap, but there are four more to go. I heard him tell someone that five laps equals a mile. I don’t know what that means but I know that I am dog tired at the end of three laps.

Around the Grandkids House

Mama and Papa Hardin have a nice long back porch and my “house” is at the end of it. Most the time I sleep there and poop down over the bank but sometimes when it is raining I would just rather do it on the porch. You know what I mean? It takes a bit of doing sometimes and a couple of times I have gotten wet, so it’s better for me to use the porch. Of course Papa has some mean things to say about me when I do that and I get the feeling sometimes that he isn’t too pleased with me. So I climb up on his lap and lick his beard. I don’t find bits of food like in Evan and Cam’s hair, but, as they say in dog-land, “you can’t have everything”.

The Hardin kids are good to me. Cam is the best because he doesn’t brush his teeth very well and I can lick big gobs of bread or cheerios from the front ones. The back ones are a little hard to get to but when he opens his mouth wide sometimes I find something special there, like a bit of cookie, candy, or even some slimy cheese.

Evan likes to kiss me so he helps get rid of my fleas. Sometimes they go right up his nose. I can tell because he starts to scratch and pull at his nose. They soon die in all that snot—I see them when he wipes his nose on the sleeve of his shirt.

I must admit I find it hard to get Kirsten’s attention. The best way I have found is to sit on one of her books and pretend that I don’t hear her when she says “Pretzel, get off my book.” I look at her sadly, put my head between my front paws and laugh. She will then pet me a couple of times before she pulls the book away from me. She can be rough.

Summing it Up

A dog’s life isn’t all that easy—it is not a bed of roses. Not only are there environmental problems, there is also the big van that Mama (mostly) drives. I have to stay out of its way or I’ll be skinned alive. A couple of times I misjudged the turn on the van and ended up underneath the back end. I could have been killed. And that would be the end of the story. Thinking about it, I think I’ll quite right now.

[1] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachshund#cite_note-Goodman-26 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachshund#cite_note-Graves-27