Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dogs might be man's best friend, but they are woman's heart and soul

My wiener might be paralyzed. I have been saying "my wiener" now for six years. I have made a million jokes about "my wiener". I have scheduled my days around taking care, feeding, walking and bathing my wiener. The truth is, it makes me laugh to say "my wiener" even now when tragedy seems to have struck my wiener. Schnitzel is the wiener I am referring to. He is a miniature dachshund with short, red hair and auburn eyes. He is sweet and obnoxious at the same time. He is ill tempered and absolutely loyal. He is our red headed step child. My love affair with him began near my fortieth birthday. I had found an add in the paper listing dachshund puppies for sale. Michael had promised me he would get me one as my present. We had both grown up with dachshunds. We had only been married for a couple of years and couldn't have a child of own, so for us, this seemed like the next best thing. We laughed at the idea that Schnitzel had my sizable behind and Michael's' long nose. Our little wiener represented the two of us in a way that was comical. Schnitzel comes from Amish country in Ohio. We drove winding country roads to pick up our little guy and each took turns holding him on our laps for the long drive back. When we first got him he was tiny, and disappeared in our brown carpet with only his eyes gleaming, so that we didn't step on him. Over the years we have all laughed at the my wiener's antics. He is stubborn and willful and fearless. Our older dog, Asti, part German shepherd- whippet mix, was very confused by the tiny intruder. But she learned to play and run with my wiener and eventually became a mother figure to him. Once when he was very small he took off toward our property line and Asti grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him back in our yard to safety. She has looked out for him everyday since then.
Schnitzel blew out a disc in his back causing him to lose control of his back legs. We were given medication to help take down the swelling and pain medication to eliminate his suffering. It is a crap shoot if he will ever walk again. We were not given odds on his recovery. We will simply have to wait and see if his body will heal enough for him to function. If he doesn't improve he will have to be put down. The thought of this breaks my heart into a million pieces. I started crying in the vet's office and have yet to quit. Randomly tears will stream down my face and drip onto my wiener as he looks at me with his big, questioning eyes. His innocence at all we face makes me feel even worse. His love for us causes him to want to drag himself, in excruciating pain to our side, just so he is near. We must watch him at all times and keep him still. He must be carried so he doesn't jar his injury. When he can't see me, I can hear his cries from the cushioned basket that has become his prison. I carry my wiener in his basket all over our house so he knows where I am. I admit he is spoiled. I admit that he is so much more than just a pet to me. I admit that I have treated him like a child rather than a domesticated animal. But I must also say, I have received so much love from my wiener. He never left my side when I was sick. He has barked and growled at anyone who dared come near me. He has loved me unconditionally through the difficult time of me watching my grown children leave our home in order to make their own way. He has made me laugh at his ridiculous and curious behavior. He has brought a fullness and richness to my life that was so unexpected.
For now my family humbly prays for the recovery of our beloved wiener. We are brought back together as a tight unit, loving and leaning on each other as we wait. We are lavishing our love on the little dog who has brought such light and joy into our household. We are treating everyday as the gift it is. As I continue the vigil and the tears stream down my face, I continue to repeat the mantra of gratitude for my wiener and all he has given me. I have no desire to lose him so soon, but I am keenly aware of how blessed I have been to have him at all.

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