Dachshund

Dachshund: (n) one of a German breed of dogs having short legs, a long body and ears, and a usually tan or black-and-tan coat.

His name was Murphy.

Not his last name—his first name.

Murphy Baines.

I did not like Murphy. It wasn’t his name, although that was particularly annoying.

Murphy was the type of person who told really stupid jokes and laughed at his own material. And when you didn’t join in voraciously, he punched you in the arm and said, “Come on! Don’t you get it?”

I did get it.

I just didn’t think it was funny.

I told him that. I’ll bet you can even guess what he said back to me: “You just don’t have any sense of humor.”

Even though I did have a sense of humor, I didn’t want to argue any more with Murphy Baines. If I did, he would tell me five of his jokes in a row—and have me rate them by how funny I found them to be. (I fell for this once, but never allowed myself to enter that cul-de-sac of pain again.)

But what made it particularly painful was that when Murphy came to my house (as infrequently as I could arrange) he always pointed to my dachshund—the family dog—and exclaimed:

“Hey look! A wiener-dog!”

Even though he must have said it thousands of times over the years, he always found it hilarious, as if he had just come up with the idea for the first time.

I tried all sorts of angles.

Things like “That’s not funny.”

Or, “That’s an old joke.”

Once I even said, “Sh-h-h-h! Don’t say that. My mother gets offended.” (Of course, he pointed out that my mother was not home.)

I sought revenge.

It came about five months later, when Murphy was staying overnight at my house and my dog, the dachshund, just up and died.

It was sudden.

Murphy looked at me, wondering if I was going to react, cry or share some sort of eulogy over the deceased German breed.

But I already had the tickle of an idea in my brain. Even though it was the middle of the night, I walked over, picked up the telephone and pretended to dial a number. Murphy, confused, asked, “Who are you calling?”

“Hormel,” I replied.

He squinted at me, stunned.

I continued.  “You see, there’s a reason, Murphy, that they call them wiener dogs. It’s because when they die, they send them to the Hormel plant and grind them up to make wieners.”

Finishing the statement, I walked over and scooped my dog up into a box, closed the lid, took a magic marker and wrote on the top: “To Hormel.”

Murphy was speechless.

I carried the box out to the garage, telling him I was going to mail it. When I came back into the house, even though it was three o’clock in the morning, Murphy had packed up his gym bag, called his mother and asked to be taken home.

I didn’t see much of Murphy after that.

But I always made sure, if we were at a camp-out and Murphy was nearby, that if I was eating a hot dog, I would glance over at him and give him a big wink.

D-day

D-day: June 6, 1944, the day of the invasion of western Europe by Allied forces in World War II.

When I was thirteen years old, my dog died in the middle of the night—without warning.

Well, that’s not true.

There was lots of warning. She was a toy dachshund and had put on immense amounts of weight. Her belly scraped the ground when she walked—that is, if she walked.

She was miserable.

Being miserable and being a dog, she felt no compulsion to avoid bouts of grouchy, growly and incontinent.

When we first bought the dog, I spent most of my time petting the animal, but by the end of her life, my encounters were primarily cleaning up her messes and yelling at her for dribbling.

Her name was Yogi Gretta.

It’s not one we gave to her, but rather, the one affixed to the papers, assuring us that she was pure-bred.

We probably should have put her to sleep earlier. It’s difficult to decide to kill something when you’re so emotionally attached.

I know it may seem strange, but that is the thought that crosses my mind—the decision on what to do with my house dog—when I think about President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill contemplating sending tens of thousands of beautiful, intelligent, vibrant Allied soldiers to hit a beach in Normandy, France, to try to take back the European continent from a madman named Adolph Hitler.

One thing was certain—many of these brave human beings would be killed.

They would cease to exist.

They would become memories.

Even though I was skittish and tearful over the demise of my pet pup, what was it like to pick a day in June and decide that it was going to be the end of the line for thousands of mortals?

Was there another way?

Could Hitler be left in power to rule over Europe, terrorizing the lives of the citizens?

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill asked General Dwight David Eisenhower to plan the landing to free Europe.

Now it’s a piece of history.

Then, it was an agonizing, horrifying proposition to terminate human life, to save other human life.

Neither men nor women were meant to make such selections. It is beyond our comprehension and certainly, overly burdensome to our soul.

May we pray that when we see tyranny—even if it shows up initially just as stupidity—yes, may we confront it and curtail it before we’re forced once again to set aside a D-day, to lose countless brothers, to rescue us all.