– by Sophie Belle (the good Dog)
“Vee must hurry, Daphne. Zee humans could be home any second,” Mr. Pete, the tweeny Dachshund said. He’s German gentleman, a sleek sort, dressed in a long Rottweiler’s coat, floppy-floppy ears, and a bum right hind leg. He was a small speck in the open space of the living room.
Daphne, his friend and foil in this caper, was a standard Dachshund (she likes to say, “Ah assure yew, there is nothin’ ‘standard‘ about me, honey!”), about the size of a king-size candy bar. Which is what she looks like when she runs away (which is often), the shininess of her brown coat suggesting the chocolate was tempered perfectly. She’s a Lady of Georgia, born and raised, sweet and snidely polite. Her own ears were floppy-floppy, too, like most low-built Hound Dogs, and they perked up at the mention of her name.
“Let’s go, sugar. ‘Up and up,’ right?” She stood defiantly by the puppy-gate in the doorway that was put there to keep Team Dachshund from exploring the house while no one else was home. Pete knew what to do, they had conquered this obstacle many times before. He trotted, sideways because of his bad leg, and stood on Daphne’s back, climbing with his front paws up to the latch on the left side. Daphne muttered something unkind about Pete’s weight under her breath.
Pete blushed, then determined to show Daphne what he was made of, used his snout to push the latch to release the gate. It took a few nudges and he put all of his face into it, but the latched clicked away from the doorway. The gate swung into the kitchen and toppled over with the Dogs leaning into it, creating quite the crash!
“Vell, every-vone knows vee are in zee kitchen now,” Pete whined. He was a nervous wreck by himself, but he had Daphne to give him courage now. He’d prefer Mom, but she was out seeing to errands, so likely never to return.
Daphne huffed loudly, snout in the air. “There’s no one home, dummy.” She shook herself to straighten her collar, which she called her “dress.” She turned to give Pete the Southern Lady Look,
“It’s because yew’re so heavy, Petey-poo,” Daphne said lightly, her own belly shaking to and fro. “C’mon, let’s be quick like bunnies!”
Now, everyone knows that Dachshunds are meant to hunt dangerous burrowers like badgers. Some even say that “Dachshund” is German for “badger Hound,” but for Pete and Daphne, Team Dachshund, it should of meant “bread Hound.” Bread was their favorite prey and they had devised all means of clever ways of getting at it… and getting the little human, Justin, in trouble.
The dogs’ leashes were kept on hooks in the laundry closet, a few feet away as the kitchen turned into the hallway. But that might’ve been a mile if you’re a small, lazy Dachshund like Pete. However, it was not an ordinary morning – it was Mom’s turn to host Mah-jongg and the leftover snacks from the game, including sweet rolls!, were still on the deserted table.
But the dryer was on, it was deep and rumbly, always reminding Pete of thunder, sure to swallow him up since even noise is bigger than Pete. He hesitated in his step. “I don’t know vich is vorse – going hungry or zee dryer!”
“Oh, yew silly thing. That mean ol’ dryer is only so loud because the humans put their shoes in it. It can’t get yew,” Daphne comforted Pete, a little. “However, I agree with yew. We can’t be happy if we’re hungry, honey!”
“Zank you, Daphne,” Pete said, his mouth full of his leash as he tugged if off the hook. He looked once in the direction of the dryer, clanging away in the corner. “It’s a relief zey don’t put the food dishes in here.”
“Yeah,” Daphne said, keeping a sharp eye and ear out for the humans’ return.“Ah don’t know how Ms. Sophie can nap in here all the time.” I know Daphne said this because she’s afraid of sleeping in the open like me, the big, Old Dog. It’s always so warm in there! …but I don’t like the loud thunder-machine, either.
Anyway, Daphne took one end of the Pete’s leash and they trotted, Pete sideways, and wrapped the leash around the table leg and began dragging it, inch by inch, to where the defeated puppy-gate lay. They made quick work of it, despite the deep scratches in the floor and the loud scraping sounds rumbling in their tiny chests. Human food was on the line, after all! Some glasses tipped and tinkled and a few crumbs fell over the side, eagerly snatched up by Team Dachshund, a tasty reminder of what they were working for.
When the table was close enough to the living room, Daphne went in and jumped up on the couch, searching for her “fat” cushion. It was a plump, garish thing; stiff, too, so no one went near it until Team Dachshund needed it as a step.
Pete whined to be left alone in the kitchen for even a second, the leash still in his mouth. He wagged his tail and danced around at Daphne’s return, the giant cushion in her mouth so she couldn’t see. She did hear his nails clicking on the floor and his pathetic grunts and sighed.
Pete, exhausted from a minute’s work, slid around on his belly as Daphne pulled her side of the leash. She tugged and Pete followed, but only because she was pulling him, too. She swung him around the leg of a chair and they dragged it over to the table and the cushion. A much lighter burden than the table.
For that reason, it fell over, startling Pete, who barked in alarm. He danced backwards, a worried look in his eye, slobber in his mouth.
“Easy, honey,” Daphne cooed. The chair was down, legs in the air, seat on the ground. Useless to Team Dachshund in this condition. Daphne hummed, helping ideas bubble around in her brain.
“Vat can vee do here? Get anozer chair?” Pete asked, his stomach growling. He could smell the sweet rolls, they were so close. This gave him courage, so much so that he shivered with it.
“Well, Pete, dearie, darlin’…, how do yew feel about being my rock?” Daphne asked sincerely, her eyelashes a-flutter.
“You mean your emotionally stable confidant and partner, vith voo you share every-zing?” Pete grinned a sheepish Hound Dog’s grin. “Of course!”
“No, dummy. Ah mean you sit there,” she pointed with her snout and took the leash from him, “and Ah’ll drag the chair to yew.”
She put Pete into “meatloaf position,” his legs, tail, and head tucked as closely into his body as they could be. “Now stay there, sugar; just like that.”
She waddled over and threw the leash over the chair’s backside and then over again and wound it around and began dragging it towards Pete, who closed his eyes hard against the noise. When the tip of the chair’s back hit Pete, the immovable rock, Daphne pulled from the other side, using Pete to pivot the chair, rolling it over him. Slowly at first, the heavy chair’s legs in the air. Pete bravely opened one eye as the chair rotated over him, then smashing into the table instead of righting itself.
“I barely felt zat,” Pete said with pride as he stood up. That chair had made a ramp to the tabletop, and his front paws jumped a bit with glee. The sweet rolls were so near! One more shaky bridge to climb!
“It’s because yew’re so fat, handsome,” Daphne moved Pete out of the way with her body and climbed the chair. It was wobbly, but she went slowly, using her wiry tail as balance.
Pete dragged the cushion over because he wasn’t tall enough to make it to the chair by himself. He hopped up on the pillow, which doubled his size. He bounced up and down, practicing his leap, then with every effort in every paw (and even his ears a-flap!), he made it to the chair’s back. Kinda. He scrambled up, rocking the chair, forcing Daphne to jump onto the table.
She howled with pleasure, disappearing into a bag of corn chips.
The chair, however, clattered to the floor. Pete howled with misery, his very heart breaking at Daphne’s rustles and crunches. He was so hungry! Breakfast had been an hour ago, hundreds of lifetimes. The sweet rolls never seemed further away, though he had conquered the dryer, dragged a table, and played the sturdy meatloaf, rocking a chair over.
“Quit-cher howlin’, yew Dog!” Daphne appeared at the table’s edge. She never seemed taller to Pete than at the moment, bits of corn chip stuck to her face. “Ah can’t eat in peace!” She’s right to be upset, peace is good for the digestion.
Pete looked mournfully away from her, heard her begin crunching again. His face was never more pathetically doleful, his heavy eyes drooped down to his whiskers. But then he saw his other friend, “Plan B,” the refrigerator.
Pete ran full tilt at it, mouth open, ears flapping. It was a short distance, but it still took him twenty days with his sideways-step. He smacked into it, as his brakes don’t work so well, breathless with excitement… and from running.
If there’s a strong part on Pete’s body, it’s his old nose. He used it to pry open the seam on the fridge, the door slowly creaking wide. A brief look around, snuffling the air. Then he closed his eyes, stuck his snout skyward, a great despair welling up from his great, empty belly.
Because, sadly, Pete is only tall enough to reach the bottom drawer, where the vegetables are. “All hope is looooooowst!” he wailed.
But Daphne, having finally finished all the chips and torn the bag to shreds, the salt and crumbs licked clean away, felt that she could spare a moment to help poor Petey. She went to the plate where the sweet rolls were, took a few for herself, and then nosed it off the table, where it sent the rolls in all directions as it crashed onto the floor.
Pete heard the noise, felt a sweet roll pelt him from the crash, sniffed the air sadly, certain it was a dream. But no, the yeasty scent was too close… and… and butter, too! He opened his eyes and spied the roll next to him, his sad song silenced as it turned to a yelp of joy.
He fell upon the roll, snatching it with his jaws like an alligator, guzzling it down without chewing it much, snout in the air like a pelican, licking his chops like a lion when it was all over. Pete the Mighty! He always felt so good after a bread-snack, he cast about for another, a crazy look in his eye, lost to the feeding frenzy.
Daphne was lost in a bag of cheese-flavored crackers, the orange of the snack turning her coat into a copper color. But the treats were crunchy and neither Dog heard the garage door open or the shocked gasp that followed.
“Justin! Did you make this mess in here?!” Mom yelled, seeing the wake of Team Dachshund’s hunt. Daphne used the cheese-powder as camouflage and Pete was so small and chubby he disappeared behind a roll. Which was unfortunate, because at that moment, Justin and I came in through the front door, fresh from our walkies.
Mom stormed over as Justin unhooked me from my leash. “Look at the kitchen! Did you do that!?” she said, no quieter than when she was in the other room.
Justin turned red and looked at his feet, “But, Mom…! It was the Dachshunds! It had to be, I can’t move that heavy stuff!”
“That’s it!” Mom pointed down the hallway. “Go to your room while I clean up this mess! I’m going to give the Dogs your dessert tonight since you thought it would be fun to blame them.” She paused as Justin slunk to his room.
“You think about what you’ve done!” she called after. Then she noticed me, as I bumped her leg at the mention of “dessert.” She bent down and rubbed my ears and danced with my head, “Good girl, Sophie.”