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Forever Loved

Hans. Just writing your name brings tears to my eyes. I loved you so much, my little boy. So many memories.

My first memory is how I begged so much for so long for my parents to buy me a dachsie puppy. They would say "why should we, we already have a dog: Fritz" but Fritz was never a lovable pal, and that's what I wanted and needed so badly. I would leave notes about wanting a puppy for Christmas hidden all over the house until finally they agreed. We went to look for a red dachshund puppy and saw many sick ones in pet stores (a horror I still recall) until we went to a private house and I saw you, Hans. You didn't know then you would be Hans. You just hid under the kitchen table. But you came home with us and became my Hans.

And such a skinny one you always were. And so I called you "Skinny Little". And because you never grew hair on your chest another nickname was "Rubber Tummy". And for some reason you were also called "Mini Moose". You immediately thought of stoic Fritz as your dad and stayed right by his side the rest of his life. As I said on Fritz's memorial, you two slept together most days resting against the heat register thorough-out the long Illinois winters.

Hans, you were so important to me. You were all I had through the worst years of my life. I could hug you and hold you and you kissed away my tears. My heart aches so when I recall how my father used to say over and over "when will that dog die", and this when you were just a pup. He hated you because you were not a tough dog. You were tiny and skinny and you never lifted your leg when you urinated. But underneath it all I know you were strong and brave as you were when you bit my 6 foot 4 brother-in-law after he hit you once too often. When he came into the room with a bleeding hand I felt proud you had stood up to that brute. I wish I could have protected you more but I wasn't even able to protect myself, so I did the best I could. At night you would sleep in my bed and we would comfort each other.

Your greatest love was digging in the same spot in the backyard. Rarely would my mother allow you to, although nothing was planted there. When she did allow it after I begged a lot, you would dig with joy and abandon, biting the dirt in your fury to make the hole ever bigger. But this would not last for long as Mom would force you to stop then force the outdoor hose into your mouth. Whenever I knew she would be coming out I would try and sneak you some milk so you would drink it and get the stuck dirt out of your teeth to try and save you the hose being forced into your mouth. Sometimes it worked.

After some years I went as far away as I could to college and missed you so. The first time I moved out of the dorm I came and got you and you stayed with me in my apartment. Often I missed classes cause I couldn't bear leaving you alone. After Fritz was taken away to be put to sleep by Mom you always seemed so lonely and sad, so I couldn't stand leaving you. Then the tragedy happened with your back. I knew your pain was so bad when you had started screaming and screaming suddenly. A taxi took us to a local vet who told us you were paralyzed and how we must get you the 150 miles to the University vet school ASAP, so off we went in a taxi in the middle of the night. How my heart ached to bursting when the vets there put you down on the floor and you dragged your body by your front legs across the vinyl floor! I cried out and almost fainted then. I had to leave you there in the University hospital where you stayed for months. Mom said it happen because you were with me and how I should never have you as I wasn't good for you.

And so after you got out and where okay I never had you live with me again as Mom told everyone how bad I was for you ... and I continued my college studies.

I would fly back and see you several times a year and wish oh so much that you could be with me! I remember the last time I saw you. I came back to my parent's house and saw how old you looked and how you didn't even seem to recognize me anymore at first. I saw how you spent most of your time hidden under a small table in the living room so that my sister's hellion children who lived there couldn't prod and pull on you too much. You spent those two weeks close to me and slept on the floor right beside my bed. And when I went to leave that last day I searched and there you sat Hans under the table looking at me with eyes that seemed to say "You're leaving me again, you're betraying me". I recall that look now 18 years later and my heart hurts.

A few months later Mom started telling me on the phone that you where sickly. She said she took you to the vet. I asked every time I called and she'd sometimes say you felt better and sometimes say you were a bit worse. Six months later everyone moved out to California where I was in graduate school. I went to my parent's new house and looked for you but you weren't there. "Where's Hans" I said. "Him, oh, he's dead and he's been dead for almost 4 months" Mom said. I was stunned. Speechless. It was another of her lies, all her stories about you being sick on the phone. She said she told me you were sick when you were dead to "protect" me. Later she told me you were suddenly ill after they took you to my sister's house with the brutish husband. She said when she got up the next morning you were dead so they buried you in the yard. She said they tried to dig the grave were you used to dig, but the ground was too hard so they put you elsewhere.

Who knows what really happened. All I know is that last look you gave me still chills my heart and I am so sorry you couldn't live with me most of your life. I never wanted to own another dog in my life and didn't have one until 8 years later when my husband got a dachshund that looks very much like you. Sometimes I whisper to him "Are you Hans?" and he reaches over and kisses me. I'd like to think that he is you reincarnated so I could make it all back to you and love and protect you as much now as I wish I could have then.

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