Closeup I am frequently asked, "What's with the miniature dachshunds in your personal photos?" The short answer is that the adorable pooch (on right in photo above) is our eight and half year-old dog Neo. (She was named Neo since she was "new" and we wanted an easy, cute name. I tell friends that she is also named Neo because she reminds me of "neo-ortho-doxy.") She is our fourth mini-dachshund in nearly 39 years of marriage. The doxie on the left is Latte, our daughter's 18 month old mini-dachshund. They have become friends after a period of adjustment for our much older Neo, who now seems to be a bit more lively with "the little pest" around quite often. Latte is a sweet dog too but so different and she sometimes drives Neo to moderate distraction.

Anita was the real dog-lover when we first met. She had German Shepherds as a child. When I married her she had a special pal named Duchess. After I finished college, five months after marriage, I entered graduate studies to prepare for the ministry. Anita taught eight grade language arts. (You talk about a tough job right out of college!) We had a small apartment in Carol Stream (IL) and Anita wanted a dog when I was out at my little church learning how to be a pastor. The management said only a dog under fifteen pounds was allowed. So the German Shepherd was out.

One Friday night we went window shopping on a cheap date. When we went into the Puppy Palace in Lombard we were hooked on the little red mini-dachshund we held. The mistake was to allow the store to talk us into holding the dog. We had no clue about what we were getting into but we bought the dog there and then and took him home. We called him Huck. (I had only one dog as a child, a mixed cocker, and his name was Huckleberry!) Well, Huck became a part of our family and lived to welcome both our children into our lives over the next nine years. Huck loved Anita best and seemed to put up with me. No sooner was Huck gone than we began to look for another dachshund. We found a breeder in Wisconsin but he was not reputable. Inbreeding is always a bad idea and this guy clearly did it. We got a dog that we called Scooter and this one lasted less than five years, having a bad back (common to the breed). Seeing her at the end was painful.

Scooter was followed by Roxanne, or Roxie as we called her. Roxie was the dog who liked me the most. She lived almost thirteen years. When the end came I took Rox and held her till she was gone. Talk about a tear jerker few days. That was memorable and so, so difficult. I promised Roxie was our final dog. But you know who won on that one. Neo came into our lives in the summer of 2001. She is by far the sweetest and best behaved of all our four dachshunds. She really likes me but she whines for Anita if she leaves the room. She tells me this is only because she feeds her but when Anita was gone and I cared for Neo she wouldn't even eat for me. Go figure.

So when you see my dachshund photos you now know why the dog is so important to our home.

A few years ago a very dear friend, Ed O'Neal, gave me a lovely present. It is a beautiful black statue with a staircase and a dachshund going down the stairs. It has an E. B. White poem on the side that says:

Neo in leaves--alert
The Dachshund's affectionate,

He wants to wed with you:

Lie down to sleep,

And he's in bed with you

Sit in a chair,

He's there.


You break his heart.

That is my experience with dachshunds so now you know why I love the little creatures so much. And if you want a real "theological" argument suggest to Anita that dachshunds will not be in the new heavens and new earth.

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