Why I Do It


Sergeant "Duke" Hinton
06/28/07 ~ 07/28/17

Oh, I've been asked that question countless times . . . and I always give the same answer, basically something like this: 

"It is a running joke in our family that we just know what a dachshund is thinking by its facial expression and body language.  My late father used to tell us what our dachshunds were thinking, and I believe I have inherited that 'gene' for doing so.  All of this is tongue in cheek, of course—and it makes for many a laugh around our house."

For example, I watch my dachshund Duke closely if I think he’s up to something.  If he’s looking at one of us imploringly, it can mean:  (1) he wants to go out; (2) he’s hungry; (3) he wants us to play with him.  So I interpret his wishes for my husband:  “Daddy, I wish you’d put down that newspaper and throw my ball for me.  Mama has been at the computer all day, ignoring me.  I need to have some fun around here, you know!”  Voila—Duke’s thoughts.  It’s not necessarily a talent (maybe even a bit silly to those who are not dog lovers), but we all get a good chuckle out of my interpretations.

In addition, Duke, like most dogs, exhibits traits quite similar to humans.  Here are some actual examples of his “people-like” traits: 
1     *   He often tried to annoy Shadow by taking a squeak toy and running with it, growling: "C'mon, boy!  See if you can take this away from me!"   Duke even flaunted the toy in Shadow’s face, daring him to take it. (Note:  Shadow, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge 02/01/17, thought all toys were his). 
2     *   He talks back by barking at me when I tell him he can't do something (like get on my lap when I'm drinking hot coffee).  He also knows when we are making fun of him, and he doesn’t like that, either!
3      *  He is loving by giving doggie kisses and wanting to be close. 
4      *  But perhaps one of the most endearing traits I've found is his playfulness; Duke is downright comical!  He has a strong sense of play, including his human companions whenever possible.  One night, six of us—four adults and two young children, were flying paper airplanes around the living room, and Duke joined right in, jumping up and trying to snatch one out of the air.  He finally succeeded, then ran into another room with it, much to the delight of the grandchildren.  He likes to grab balloons when we are batting them around in the air, too, but doesn't care too much for the noise they make when his sharp teeth cause them to pop.
There will soon be two dachshunds in our family once again:  Sunny, our new little "granddawg," will join our daughter and son-in-law's family, and Duke.  For the uninitiated, dachshunds can display a myriad of facial expressions and body language--and I proclaim that dogs can smile!  When unhappy, Duke's ears practically drag the floor, along with a somber face and sad eyes (and he knows what he is doing).  Shadow soulfully looked up at any human who happened to be eating, imploring with those brown eyes:  "Puleeze give me some."  Duke, on the other hand, doesn't merely look sad—he would join the food on the plate if he could reach it.  He once snatched my piece of toast off my plate—and it was on the kitchen counter, so don't let those short dachshund legs fool you.  Chow hounds extraordinaire, dachshunds have one of the strongest senses of smell in the canine world, according to The American Kennel Club, so food is exceptionally enticing to their noses.  Therefore, I also write about food a lot:  how it smells, its consistency, and how it tastes, all in great detail, as I imagine that our doxies would do if they could write.
A particularly endearing trait of dogs is their concern for someone who is sick or upset.  If one of the grandchildren is crying, Duke wants to comfort by giving doggie kisses and lying next to the child.  After my two knee replacement surgeries a few years ago, Duke stayed right by my side while I recuperated.  I appreciate how well he took care of me!  I know he would have made me a cup of hot tea if he could have done so, too.  I  have incorporated that caring attitude into my books, as Shadow (known as Sarge in my books) often relates his feelings about some happening in particular.  Below is a brief excerpt from I AM SARGE, where Sarge is concerned about Holly (Mama) because she is not feeling well:

One week later, Mama and I were home alone and Daddy was at church, as usual. It was the middle of the day. Daddy was due home for lunch any minute, and I was watching Mama closely. She doesn’t act right this morning, like she doesn’t feel well.  She put her hand on her tummy several times and has been sitting down more than usual. Wonder what’s wrong?

Daddy came home then. To my surprise, I hadn’t heard the car. I guess I was too busy watching Mama.  I am worried about my mama. I hope Daddy can do something to make her feel better. “Hi, Holly and Sarge. I don’t have long for lunch today because I have an early afternoon meeting.” He stopped when he saw Mama’s face. “Honey, are you all right? You look pale.”

Mama began crying. “I didn’t feel like preparing lunch today, and I’m so sorry,” she wailed. Normally cheerful, Mama just wasn’t herself.  Mama, why didn’t you tell me?

Daddy, normally calm, looked upset and stressed, but just stood there. Mama said, “Philip, millions of women have—had babies, and I can, too. It’s okay—call Mrs. Thomas to come get Sarge, please!”

My other reasons (besides the “gene” thing) for writing from the dog's viewpoint are:
1) I enjoy imagining how day-to-day happenings must appear to the family dog;
2) I can shift  reality to share with readers what dogs think about life situations;
3) I have a zany sense of humor (my family can attest to that), and can use such humor when incorporating it into the dog’s viewpoint;
4) I love and appreciate dogs as man's best friend.  They show us unconditional love, like God has for us.  One of the characters in THE DACHSHUND ESCAPADES series, Papa Duke, so aptly states my feelings about dogs:

"A dawg loves you no matter what. You can be ugly, old, even dumb--but a dawg don't care. All he wants is your love and some food now and then. I think dawgs represent the unconditional love God has for us--maybe that's why He created them, to show that to us." 

Papa Duke was my late father, who loved dogs tremendously—and they returned the favor.  He was always called “Papa” by his grandchildren, and in my books, he lives on, just like he does in our hearts.

For those of us who love our dogs, my doggie stories give us a glimpse into our dogs’ views on life.   Oh, they’re not Shakespeare, but they read just fine for us dog lovers.  Or so I'm told.

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