Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Covered in Dachshund

Consciousness comes, slowly.
I take stock of who I am, where I am, and that something is not quite right.
Then I remember. Lung cancer.

Before I open my eyes, I realize that there is something cold near my ear. It is Dash. I remember him burrowing under the blankets as I drifted off to sleep last night. Now this wiener dog, a bratwurst, really, has his nose by my face and the rest of him nestled on John's pillow as if tucked inside a bun. His copper red color surrounded by the beige sheet remind me of a naked dog that walked from the Varsity. He is peaceful in slumber and I know that this serenity will remain with him when he wakes. He is the Gandhi, the Buddha of the dog world, bringing peace to the Alpharetta Greenway and to wherever he goes. He is the oldest and wisest of the pack but is a benevolent leader. There is not an Alpha Male bone in his body.

My legs feel like they are glued to the bed. That spot belongs to Dewey. Dew-eyed, handsome boy. The middle child who is jealous of but loving to his older and younger siblings alike. And playful, smart, polite and wanting always to please. But big dogs, watch out. He announces himself and wants you to know he is ready to rumble.

At the corner of the bed in a spot he has claimed as his own is Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. This is not a typo. He is named for the officious if deranged seeing eye bitch in the movie Everything is Illuminated. Floppity, dumb as dirt, living for the moment and loving every minute. Irresistible to all who do not have to clean up his mistakes or pay for the ruined books. White with dark spots, he looks like an elongated beagle and howls like one. Eats like he may have the potential to challenge Dash for being the Fat Boy in Town. He completes the pack of boys, who can often be found on the bed, sofa, or comfy chair intertwined and in repose.

Suddenly, the quiet of the morning is pierced by fierce barking. That would be Dot a/k/a Dorothy a/k/a Dotalicious a/k/a Ninja. Small, stealth, 6 1/2 pounds of vigilance. The deer, the cats, the other creatures that lurk in and around our yard are never safe as long as Dot is around. Afraid of nothing, she is the bravest of the bunch. For the year before she became one of the Aussenberg/Denys pack she lived in an apartment and never went outside. Now she stays out in all but the coldest, wettest conditions. We almost lost her to a bird of prey last year. She was bloodied and scared, but she endured stitches and swiftly recovered. Dot Denys. One loud, tough cookie who now snuggles sweetly nearby.

I close my eyes for a few more minutes to enjoy the moment.
Covered in dachshund.
Covered in love.


Lenore and Scott said...

And together they can lick a poodle clean! Nothing beats the love of a furry friend. Comfort, warmth and joy topped off by unconditional love. No denying their presence and spirit has been crucial to this journey. And SDJJ with that bone just cracks me up!

Ann said...

Those doggies love you as much as you love them. They are truly wonderful, and a very important part of your family. Enjoy every minute of being with them.
With love,
Ann and Scout

Anonymous said...

Aren't they incredible? I owe my decent (most days) mental health to my long, low, and constant shadow Annabelle. Dachshunds are known for their difficulty in house training due to their independent streak (and the fact that most of them, except Dot of course, would rather not go out to do their business in inclement weather and instead take the consequence (if any) of going inside). I especially love the burrowing under the covers. Annabelle does it nightly. She starts out on the top of the covers when I go to bed and then when Cliff comes in, she paws at the blankets to be let in under the sheeet (and therefore between us in bed). She likes to snuggle against my belly, so if I'm turned away from her, she'll paw my shoulder to get me to roll over. She stays put all night long. As a rescue dog, she has a gratefullness and an appreciation that is present in her daily countenance. If she only knew that I'm the one that's grateful. Annabelle came into my life during a dark and difficult period and provided me with such love, adoration, and companionship. I know exactly how comforted your pack makes you feel and I'm so glad you have them to help you get you through each day (and each 4 dog night :) ). Much love, Cynthia and Annabelle

Beth Arogeti said...

Only a dog lover can enjoy and be comforted by the love of dogs-even if it's a wiener!

patti said...

Wow, the pictures and the prose are just beautiful. So full of live and love.


Anonymous said...


What a gifted writer and photographer you are! I'm not sure I ever told you but I now live with two wonderful cats, Jake and Elwood Blues, whose personalities perfectly reflect their name sakes. Jake is energetic, stubborn, sometimes obnoxious, but very outgoing and funny at the same time. Elwood is just cool, all the time.

They were rescue cats from the same litter, and like your dogs they make getting out of bed in the mornings a daily obstacle course. But they are now my friends and part of my (sometimes) large family and I can't imagine life without them.

Thank you for sharing your writing talents and picture with us. You now share my prayers with another friend, Paul, who is in the hospital recovering from three surgeries for brain cancer. Like you, Paul is totally underserving of his situation and also like you, Paul has carried his burdens with unbelieveable grace, good humor, and optimism.

May God Bless Elyse and Paul with his limitless Power and Mercy.


Anonymous said...

Ok, not sharing this with my family crew. This would put Ron over the edge of the argument for for a family dog.

In NY and then to San Francisco for a wedding this weekend. Too much time away from home. Missing our afternoon time last weekend.

Checking out options for Cumberland and daydreaming about our spring trip.

Anonymous said...

I miss your little ones so much! Loved the pictures! Puts Teddy's cuddle factor to shame. Have fun with my baby ister. Love to Rachel and Eric! Liz

Terri said...

For 10 years I stayed at home and enjoyed the little things, now I am working and there is so little precious time! I do think about you every day and I am so glad you feel good and are enjoying the little things. Love, Terri

Forrest said...

What a great entry. Sounds like you are feeling as good as you can anyway.

Steve Beagle said...

Ali - Bon Noite from Lisboa. This was and is an amazing entry. While we are on the subject I have some very unfortunate news.. but also great news .. even dogs can show the strength you have .. via NYT ..

"Stump won the sporting group at Westminster in 2004, but in early 2005 fell seriously ill with an undetermined sickness, said Scott Sommer, Stump’s handler and an owner along with Cecilia Ruggles and Beth Dowd."

Stump eventually returned to health ( as is ALI! ), and by last year he was looking quite good. Still, Sommer said he was not sure until last Wednesday that he would definitely show Stump at Westminster.

“I wanted to take him here and hope he showed good,” Sommer said after winning the group. “That was my goal.”

10-Year-Old Spaniel Completes Comeback
Published: February 10, 2009
At 10 years old, Stump the Sussex spaniel should be well into his dotage. Instead, the dog who technically retired four years ago took home Best in Show on Tuesday at the 133rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club show at Madison Square Garden, becoming the oldest to win the award.

Stump Takes Best in Show

Times Topics: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
Stump, officially named Ch. Clussexx Three D Grinchy Glee, might have surprised aficionados, who had their eye on a giant schnauzer, but the crowd clearly preferred the jaunty spaniel. Stump was greeted with deafening applause each time he plodded around the ring.

It was the first time that a Sussex spaniel won the top prize, although the breed, which originated as a hunting companion in England, was among the first to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Judge Sari Brewster Tietjen said she made her decision at the last minute.

“I didn’t know who he was or how old he was,” Tietjen said. “He’s just everything that you’d want in the breed, and I couldn’t say no to him.”
Sussex spaniels are a rare breed with a small gene pool, Sommer said. According to their breed standard, the dog should have a “cheerful and tractable disposition.” Stump’s merry gait is also in keeping with his breed: the standard describes a rolling gait that is charitably described as deliberate but not clumsy.

According to American Kennel Club statistics, Sussex spaniels are less common than 144 other breeds. Stump’s victory edges out Ch. Loteki Supernatural Being, an 8-year-old papillon who won Best in Show in 1999, for oldest winner.

Another favorite of the night was Spirit, a giant schnauzer who was the top-ranked dog in the country last year and who won her working group only moments before entering the Best in Show ring.

Other dogs competing in Best in Show were a standard poodle, a Scottish terrier, a puli, a Brussels griffon and a Scottish deerhound.

Despite Stump’s charisma, Sommer hinted that the dog was unlikely to replicate Uno’s demanding travel schedule. And at his age, who can blame him?

“Stump’s going to travel back to Houston and kind of stay there,” Sommer said. “He doesn’t travel that much.”

NOW here is the very sad news.. hitting home so hard..

Uno (our family breed) had a great run this year.. the first time ever in the 133 years that a Beagle won best in class.. now we have to give up the crown probably for another 100 years... boo hoo.. can I borrow a kleenex..

The night brought to a close the reign of Uno, the beagle who went from being a humble hound to canine celebrity last year after becoming the first in his breed to win Best in Show. Uno spent the past year on a tour of the country, visiting the White House, riding on a Peanuts float at the Macys Thanksgiving Day parade, and even lighting the Empire State Building on Monday in Westminster’s signature colors of purple and gold.

Uno ceded his crown to another workaday dog, a spaniel who spends most of his time sleeping in Sommer’s bed in Houston “between the sheets.”

Stump competes for space there with J. R., a bichon frisé who won Best in Show at Westminster in 2001 with Sommer.

Sommer said he did little to prepare Stump for his big night, barely even walking him around the driveway to see if he was show ready.

It's was quite a very sad abdication of the crown...

Let me remphasize Humble hound to canine celebrity overnight.. anything can and will happen in this world we live and I know you will be showing so strong it's just a matter of time.. in LH&P Steve for the family via Lisbon.

jhrga said...

Elyse: What a great essay. It's good to know your perspective remains appropriate. Great dogs.

Joe Rosen

Anonymous said...

Oh the love of dogs-not just any dogs-but dachshunds I so fell in love with Dash & Dewey when we were there visiting. Just looking into your little ones eyes--they tell so much. Even though it is hard to sleep with dachshunds--I feel like the weiner between the hot dog buns--I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Elise, your blogs are so much fun. I love the pictures.

Love to you, John & Brent


Anonymous said...

Hurray for "Covered in Dachshund"!!! What a sweet tribute to your adorable pups! I kind of feel sorry for people who haven't experienced the joy of having a dog. They're the best...and you just can't beat that unconditional love. I just loved being with you and Rachel this past weekend. You're just incredible, Elyse! I hope your trip to Houston goes REALLY well. I love you, Suzanne

Andrew Flumen said...

If I close my eyes in meditation while conjuring images in my mind of the most serene, calm, and beautiful surroundings, there is always a wagging tail involved!