QUIET DESPERATION

When a man loves a dachshund, he’ll spend his very last dime

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If you believe in dog years, Smitty is 13 going on 91.

I believe in dog ears.

If you have ever taken a long look (he said) at a dachshund, you know that they have long, hanging ears.

What's that for?

It's not a genetic whim.

My son was bred to hunt underground animals, by digging into their burrows. Long ears keep the flying dirt out of their ear canals.

Smitty doesn't know anything about this.

He is not a hunter, unless there is such a thing as hunting for naps.

Dachshunds are teased in films, commercials, cartoons, and endlessly in person. We don't stand for it.

It's bullying. Try bullying a pit bull instead. See where that gets you.

You might be amused by a dachshund in a foam rubber hot dog bun with foam rubber mustard, but not us.

I'd enact a law against costuming dogs.

Buy a doll. Don't buy a dog and put a hat on it.

Sweaters are fine. However, sweaters with cute sayings sewn into them are not.

"Get a long little doggie," is unacceptable.

"Stretch limo"? Jail.

"Happy Halloweenie"? Prison.

Sure, dachshunds are odd looking, and we like to tease anything that is odd looking. Just don't do it around us.

Smitty doesn't know it, but he's my No. 1 antidote, and the reason why I can get through the Sunday paper without shouting my hair off.

I half-envy him. He is completely uniformed.

Doesn't know, doesn't care.

He cares about loving and being loved in return.

Which brings me to Nat King Cole and his song "Nature Boy."

It's not one of my favorite Nat King Cole songs. It sounds a little too transcendental, like the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or a Dyson vacuum cleaner commercial.

But Nat King Cole's voice makes anything sound better. I'd like to hear him sing this column.

"Nature Boy" starts out, "There was a boy, a very strange, enchanted boy."

I don't think Smitty is particularly strange or enchanted.

However, the song continues, "Then one day, a magic day, he passed my way."

It was a magic day when we met.

Badger, also a dachshund, had just died.

Smitty and I made eye contact at the shelter. He nodded, I nodded, and I took him home.

According to a Department of Agriculture report, it costs $233,610 to raise a child from birth through 17 (therefore, not including college).

Owning a dog is somewhat less expensive, but it's not cheap.

Smitty's sticker price was just $135.00. A bargain.

But since then, his tab is over $10,000. It includes major back surgery, daycare, overnight boarding, assorted medical repairs, food and treats, and tap classes.

His legacy will continue to be costly, owing to incontinence. His, not mine. Yet.

The carpet will have to be replaced. The hardwood floor will have to be refinished.

We all have to find our own antidotes these days.

I raise a cup of coffee and toast my antidotes every Sunday morning now. I have to.

There is no comfort or relief in the paper.

When it comes to a momentary vacation from the bedlam of existence, there is nothing better than an oblivious dachshund, who doesn't know a scoundrel from Shinola.

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

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