There are few things in life better than a good dog. Years ago, my mother decided to try a small dog in her small Georgetown home, so she went to a breeder and got a miniature long-haired silver-dapple Dachshund with one blue eye she named Wolfgang. Maybe ten pounds soaking wet, Wolfgang was an outsized character, a little Napoleon, brash and full of himself, never afraid to challenge dogs four times, or even eight times, his size. By the time Wolfie got old—spirit undimmed—my mother had gotten remarried, and my stepfather also had grown very fond of Wolfie. So they went back to the same breeder and got a puppy who turned out to be Wolfie's great-great-great-great-great-grand-nephew—also a miniature long-haired silver-dapple Dachshund with, yep, one blue eye. Although his temperament was completely different, he looked just like Wolfgang. So of course they named him Doppelgang.
(The joke, if you're not familiar with the word, is that doppelgänger—which I think means "double walker" in German—means a double, lookalike, counterpart, or alter ego—in literature, sometimes of a ghostly nature and occasionally sinister, although that last doesn't pertain here.)
Alas, today will be Doppie's last day on Earth. Wolfgang died with his boots on, so to speak, in a spectacularly catastrophic car accident that miraculously spared his owners and the younger dog; Doppie, in keeping with his milder nature, will go to sleep for the last time today at the vet's. He has been ill for some time.
I once said the only thing wrong with dogs is that they don't live long enough; my mother's cousin Ham Schirmer answered, "That's just god's way of making sure you get to know more than one."
My sympathetic condolences to Jane and John, and everyone else who knew their dear little Dopp, who really was very sweet. He gets blessed on his journey with that highest of compliments: "good dog."
P.S. If you've never seen the Nova show "Dogs Decoded," I highly recommend it—I've seen it twice now and found it completely fascinating. It's available for streaming on Netflix and from iTunes as well. Plus, they rerun it on Public Television now and then, so you could just keep a lookout.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.