I have just realised that it’s 2012.
Clearly I knew that before now but it has struck me that it’s forty years, yes forty years, since we bought our dachshunds from Mrs. Morris, a breeder, in the Borders.
The intention was to collect one dog from three remaining male puppies as a shared pet for myself and younger brother. Mrs. Morris was too canny for a pair of argumentative brothers. The dogs were of markedly different sizes; small, medium and large. I liked the look of the medium-sized dog whereas my brother preferred the smallest. I can remember to this day her sales patter; that it would be unkind to bring up a dog by itself, that dachshunds in particular enjoyed each others company and as we liked the two we did, surely the best thing all round would be to buy them both. The genius of that pitch was that it coincided with Mum’s thought that we would not fight over the dog if we had one each. So two dogs it was.
Mrs. Morris warned us to take good care of our new pets. To emphasise our new responsibility as dog owners, she told us the sad tale of a previous customer. For those of you with no memory of the early 70s there were unpleasant things such as miners’ strikes, power cuts and three-day weeks. During a power cut, one of her customer got out of bed to light a candle, did not see their dachshund and stood on it in the dark, tragically breaking it’s back, killing it. As good wee boys, we promised not to stand on our dogs.
While I cannot remember the price paid for two pedigree, short-haired, tan, miniature dachshund puppies, I can remember the raised voices from my parents’ bedroom that evening, after Dad had found out we had two – not one – new additions to the family and their cost.
I named my dog Fritz, an early display of logical and lateral thinking, since our first dachshund was Freddie and the German for Freddie is of course Fritz. My brother was less imaginative than he now is and rather obviously called his Morris.
I still love the look and shape of a dachshund, they have an intelligent, endearing appearance, with lovely soft ears and quizzical eyebrows. Their forebears may have been robust dogs but these days they are not up to the original task of hunting and baiting badgers. Sadly some even appear to have difficulty walking, especially if pampered and carrying too much weight which is decidedly unwise for a low slung dog with a long back. Fritz and Morris were, being blunt, lazy – far from keen on going for a walk if the weather was too cold or too wet or too hot. Compared to Bertie the Jack Russell, they were soft but nonetheless still lovely.
I don’t have any scanned photos of them but this fine fellow (or lass) looks rather like Fritz.
Maybe one day….