Story submitted 2011-03-17
My mother is 88 now, approaching her 89th birthday in May. She is the widow of a Navy Veteran. I was their only human child. As a Navy family, we moved frequently. In Philadelphia, where we moved in the Fall of 1954, we were going to get a Dachshund -- probably a miniature. We'd adopted an older Standard Dachsie years before -- Shultzie -- who was no longer with us.
We made an expedition, as a family, to the home of a breeder who had advertised in the paper. There we met a herd of Dachshunds.. several herds really... The puppies for sale were in an x-pen in one room... the rest of their dogs were family pets and no one was caged. The first to spot us was a very eager little black and tan girl.. jumping up on the pen, begging for kisses. But the puppy who came home with us was a very small, red male who sat quietly at the back of the pen watching us with big, soft eyes.
Everything about Rudy was exceptional. In those days, we didn't know about brushing their teeth and as a result, Rudy had lost many teeth by the time he was 10 and we were living in Rhode Island, where Dad retired finally. He had journied with us to Michigan, and to Newfoundland ... when he shared our "exciting" crossing of the straits on the first icebreaker of the spring to go over. We were also snowbound on a train at the top of Newfoundland when an avalanche blocked the tracks. In Newfoundland, living on the Argentia Naval Air Station, Rudy took long walks to the beach and was an excellent and intelligent companion. When we had to come back to the states, finally settling in North Kingstown, RI, he was still with us.
People used to think we had a big dog -- when the mail man arrived, he barked like a much larger dog. There were never any housebreaking or behavior issues. Rudy loved his ball, loved his walks and loved his family. When we had company my mother could say simply "bed Rudy" and he would tuck into his little bed under the kitchen Island.
Sadly, at a mere 11 years of age, Rudy's teeth were so bad and his fear of going to the vets so extreme, that we had to put him to sleep. Today, I am sure that his health would have been much better and his life much longer... but he has been a continuing presence for my Mom ever since.
He is buried in an oaken coffin that my father built him in the back corner of their garden. Mom, still in her own house, firmly believes that Rudy lived to be 22 ... I don't disillusion her. He has never left her side or her heart over all these years.
Carla Neubert Benoist