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The wiener dog is gone, but certainly not forgotten

All last week (and then some). we had a special guest at our kidless, petless home: a brown wiener dog named Brazen.

Brazen is 11 years old, which is pretty old in dog years — but, for 11 days and nights, this cross between a weasel and Rin Tin Tin ruled every inch of our house, yard and back deck.

If you’re not familiar with the dachshund breed, allow me to educate you a bit.

According to the website dogbreedinfo.com, the wiener dog “is curious, clever, lively, affectionate, proud, brave and amusing.” But there’s so much more — and the insights I’m about to share do not come from any book or website.

Both the other person who lives at our house and I have had wiener (or wiener-related dogs) in our pasts. We kind of understand them, and we like them.

The dachshund has the distinction of possessing the largest ego on the planet. It considers itself not only the king of all dogs — it’s actually the king of all living things. And this includes human beings, which they begrudgingly view as almost equals.

Almost, but not quite.

To be more precise, Brazen possesses the same cocky strut exhibited by Jack Nicholson (as a swaggering swabby) in the movie “The Last Detail.”

Our guest dog belongs to co-worker and friend Christina Lent. She dropped him off at our house on a Thursday evening. That night and the next were horrible. Brazen spent pretty much every minute staring at the front door — the one Christina walked out of and therefore the one he assumed she would come back through at any moment. As much as we tried to divert his attention, playing with him, taking him for walks, sitting with him and watching TV (all favorite activities of his, according to Christina), he fell into a deep, black, death-spiral of melancholy and depression.

He really didn’t seem to care if we were alive or dead.

Eventually, though, that changed. Once we convinced him that our only purpose in life was going to be to see to his every need, he began prancing around our humble abode with the same self-important, royal bearing normally reserved for his home castle, in the kingdom of Beaverton.

Brazen came to us with an assortment of supplies. His mistress made multiple trips from her car to the house, packing his bed, his plaid blanket (to go on the bed), his large Rubbermaid container full of dog food, his silver bowl, his water dish that automatically fills itself because it features an upside-down plastic jug very much like the ones in offices, his leash, his harness that resembles the bullet-proof gear worn by police officers and Navy SEALs — and his two favorite toys.

These toys are important, so let’s discuss them at some length.

First, there is the stuffed alligator, roughly the same length and height as Brazen himself, but tightly bound in a tough material that refuses to fray or come apart at the seams, no matter how much biting and killing it receives. It also has a cartoonish face, complete with large, goofy eyeballs, which tend to make the little reptile and its master both look comical when the brown dog enters a room with gator snout protruding out one side of his mouth and gator tail out the other.

The other important toy is called a KONG. Apparently, all dog people already know all about this little gem, but for those who don’t, imagine a little black snowman, made out of super-hard rubber, with holes in both ends. In the mouth of a wiener dog, this is one hilarious contraption, with the sturdy little dog trotting around with what appears to be a huge, horribly misshapen cigar sticking out the side of his mouth.

And what he does with it is even more comical. He drops it, then runs to the far corner of the back yard and barks at the nearest human to throw it. Trouble is, he doesn’t drop it anywhere near any humans. It might be a few feet from him. It might be in the ivy off the deck. It might be in the ferns behind the hydrangeas. Actually, there’s no telling where the dumb thing is. But that doesn’t minimize his righteous demands one bit.

“Do I have to do everything myself?” his barks seem to say. “I’ve given you one simple task, and you are failing miserably!”

I have another KONG-related news flash. Although these things are supposed to be indestructible (another co-worker swears it’s the only thing his Rottweiler cannot destroy), Brazen managed to puncture his, just in the few days he was with us.

As soon as I saw the damage I heard the voice of an NCI forensics expert in my head: “This hole could only have been caused two ways — either a direct hit by a slug from a .357 Magnum or the chomp of a wiener dog. You do know, of course, that it is the king of all dogs.”

To which I say, yes sir, I do know.

Mikel Kelly is a former editor for numerous community newspapers, including the Times newspapers, Woodburn Independent and Lake Oswego Review. He now works on the central design desk laying out pages and contributes a regular column.



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