Richard, a dog's tale.

Richard, a dog's tale.

By Harrison Lanser

I am dedicating this story to my family who opened our home to an abused dachshund that we named Richard. From what my mom gathered, his abuser was a man who wore a hat. Richard was advertised on Craig's List stating that if nobody adopted him within 24 hours, he would be shot. A nice woman saved him from the abusive man. Unfortunately, the woman who adopted him could not keep him in her apartment because of a rule they had that said you could only have one animal. She already had a dog. She looked for a new owner and found a nice family that had 2 small kids. He lasted there about 6 months. He was not good with the kids. He barked at them and nipped at them too. They then put an ad on Craig's list, and that is where my oldest brother found him. When we first got him 2 years ago, he growled at everyone and tried to bite people, especially men. And if a man was wearing a hat, he would run at him, bark loudly, and try to bite. Richard is blind in one eye because his old owner hit him so much. Sometimes Richard gets startled when he is approached on his blind side. Our dog still does not like strangers, especially men who wear hats but he does not bite or growl anymore. This is because my family, especially my mom, gave him lots of attention and love. Early on, people said he was a lost cause and we should take him to the shelter, but my mom never gave up on Richard. Today, Richard is a wonderful, caring, loving dog.

Ever since we got him, my mom has taken Richard everywhere. At first, she held him or kept him on a short leash. My mom learned how to correct him if he growled. She learned the trick from the TV show, The Dog Whisperer. If Richard growls or tries to bite, my mom does the special sound and at the same time, gently pinches his neck/shoulder area. Everyone in my family knows how to do the special treatment if Richard acts up. Most of the time now we just have to make the "chisht" sound without the pinch to correct Richard. Richard used to growl and snarl at us but now he loves our family. Now he is the best dog in the world.

Sometimes Richard goes to the bathroom when he gets excited. So when I come home from school, I greet him outside so if he has an accident, it is okay. When Richard is happy it looks like he is dancing. He rocks back and forth and wags his tail so hard if he was any taller it could knock everything over. Richard licks the face of EVERYONE in our family at least once an hour. Richard does a special move called "the Richard roll" where he rolls over to get a belly rub. Sometimes when he sees me, he automatically flips over and does "the Richard roll." Richard does another awesome trick I call it the circus trick. He stands on his hind legs. Every morning, Richard walks with us (and my dad) to the bus stop and every night he sleeps in bed with my parents or one of the children. Oddly enough, he burrows to the bottom of the bed to sleep. He is a snuggler. He likes to touch the person he is sleeping with.

Richard thinks he is a Doberman because he has a loud bark and he thinks he is big but he is really quite small. Richard and Snickers (our other dog) playfully wrestle even though Snickers could snap Richard like a twig. But Snickers loves him and Snickers is a very gentle 10 year old chocolate lab.

Richard is classified as a (small) standard black and tan dachshund. The word dachshund comes from the German word 'dachs' which means badger, and the word 'hund' which means dog. So, the word Dachshund means badger-hunting dog or simply badger-dog. Their original names were "Dachs Kriecher" ("badger crawler") or "Dachs Krieger" ("badger warrior"). But dachshund was chosen as the official name. He is a digger so that he could dig his way into the badger's underground den. Dachshunds are low and long so that they could fit inside the den to go after the badger. They have loose skin so if a badger was holding onto his neck with his teeth, the dachshund could still turn around and bite him back.

Because of their long, narrow build, dachshunds are commonly known as "wiener dogs", "hot dog dogs", and "sausage dogs". Dachshunds are hound dogs. They were originally much larger than they are today, and were bred to hunt badgers, wild boar and wolverines. Later, smaller sizes were bred so the dogs could hunt smaller animals, like foxes, rabbits, and weasels. So, dachshunds come in two sizes. The standard size usually weighs between 16 and 32 pounds. The miniature dachshund weighs 11 pounds or under. Dachshunds come in three varieties of fur: smooth, wirehaired, and longhaired. And they come in many different colors like red, black and tan, cream, chocolate and tan, gray(blue), and dapple (a mixture).

Dachshunds are lively dogs who enjoy barking. Dachshunds like to bark and produce quite a loud sound for their size. Richard barks at strangers making him a pretty good watch dog. Dachshunds may have a lot of instinct (they're born with it) to dig holes. My dad has not gotten used to the holes that Richard loves to dig. Dachshunds have a long life span, longer than a lot of dogs. A Dachshund can easily live to be 15 years and even as old as 17 years or more!

The dachshund was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. And every year, a parade of wiener dogs go down Key West's famed Duval Street kicking off the New Year's Eve festivities, the "wiener wonderland" walk.

The national championship of wiener dog racing is the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, held in San Diego, California every December as part of the Holiday Bowl. But there are many other weiner dog races that claim title to the true "national champion".

Some scientists believe dachshunds were in ancient Egypt because there where engravings of short-legged hunting dogs that looked like dachshunds. There were recent discoveries by the American University in Cairo of mummified dachshund-like dogs from ancient Egyptian burial urns.

According to the national Humane Society, acts of violence or neglect against animals are considered animal cruelty. Animal cruelty includes "neglect" and "intentional cruelty". Intentional cruelty is when a person purposely inflicts physical harm or injury to an animal. 38 states have laws that make intentional cruelty a felony charge. 12 states treat neglectful cruelty and intentional cruelty as a misdemeanor.

In a July 20, 2009 Palm Beach Post article entitled, "What constitutes cruel? Florida's animal cruelty law is surprisingly vague" it stated:

"It turns out Florida's animal cruelty law is surprisingly vague, giving equal protection to cockroaches and kittens and doing little to spell out what constitutes cruel... In January, an appellate court ruled Pennsylvania's animal cruelty law was so vague and ambiguous that dog and cat owners should not be prosecuted for shooting their pets. In 2004, a North Carolina court ruled that state's law too foggy to ban a controversial pigeon shoot. In Florida, things seem no clearer. Two Pinellas County teens were arrested in 2007 for dumping detergent into a koi pond and killing fish. But no charges were filed in 2002 when a Pasco County egg farm let thousands of chickens starve to death."

As I mentioned, my dog is blind in one eye from someone hurting him. This makes me very sad especially because he is a really great dog and I love him very much. Richard should not have been treated with such cruelty. In fact, no animal should be treated badly. I hope that in the future, Florida's laws will become more specific and strict about cruelty to animals.

I suggest you look at specific local animal cruelty cases at http://www.pet-abuse.com. And then consider having your parents find your representative and write them about this issue (see http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx).

About the author:
My name is Harrison Lanser. I am 10 years old. I attend Gemini Elementary School in Melbourne Beach, Florida. This is my first year in Florida, as I recently moved from northern Indiana. I have three brothers and two sisters. In addition to playing with my pets, I enjoy riding my bike and using my boogie board at the beach. My dog's name is Richard. His nicknames are el Diablo, wiener sausage, sausage dog, weenie, sausie, Richie, R-dog, Ricardo, Vienna, and lover-dog.