The Dachshund: Background information when reading Lily and the Octopus

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Lily and the Octopus

by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley X
Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2016, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Dachshund

Print Review

In Lily and The Octopus, the main character struggles with the decline of his beloved canine companion, a charming dachshund named Lily. Famously described by the German-American journalist, H. L. Mencken, as "a half-a-dog high and a dog-and-a-half long," dachshunds are one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Affectionately called doxies by dachshund lovers, they are also often referred to as wiener dogs. It was the wiener sausage that was named after the dog, originally called dachshund sausage, before they were called hot dogs.

A dachshund Dachshunds are described as bold, confident, intelligent, and alert, with strong hunting instincts, and a keen nose good for trailing. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), dachshunds were bred in the 15th century in Germany as badger hunters; dachs meaning badger in German, and hund meaning dog. The smallest hunting breed and belonging to the hound group of dogs, their spade-like paws are good for digging and burrowing. They are courageous and ferocious and their jaw and body strength allows them to catch and kill prey.

The word most often associated with the dachshund is "determined." Along with this they are known as very stubborn, independent and curious. Obedience and dachshund are not terms that go well together. Writer E. B White, whose dachshund Fred appears in many of his essays, wrote, "I like to read books on dog training. Being the owner of a dachshund, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot."

Dachshunds were most likely bred from a combination of a type of bloodhound, basset hound, beagle and a pointer type of dog known as a dachsbracke. Later, they were crossed with a spaniel to get the longhaired dachshund, a variety good for going after water-loving prey like otters. Dachshunds came to the United States in 1870 and were registered with the AKC in 1885. Their popularity temporarily declined during WW1 and to a lesser extent during WW11 because of their German heritage. In WW1, anti-German propaganda cartoons depicted the Kaiser as a rabid dachshund. Many people started referring to them as badger dogs post-war to disassociate them with their German origins.

Dachshunds come in three coat varieties; smooth, longhaired and wirehaired. The wirehaired dachshund is considered the wild and crazy one. They have a terrier-like temperament and are known to be clownish and mischievous. The longhaired dachshund is quieter and more elegant with a milder temperament. The smooth coat dachshund is somewhere in between. Dachshunds come in 12 different colors, three different marking combinations, and in two sizes: miniature (5-6" at the shoulder, 11 or less pounds) and standard (9-10" at shoulder and 16—32 lbs.) One infamous dachshund named Obie weighed 77 pounds at the height of his obesity.

A dachshund's digging skills don't stop with hunting prey—if they can't dig for badgers or rabbits or dig up your backyard, they will dig into the bedding and the cushions on the sofa. Dachshunds make great watchdogs because they are suspicious of strangers and have a loud bark. They need moderate exercise—a couple half-miles a day. They typically have relatively long life spans, averaging 12—15 years.

Waldi, the 1972 Olympics mascot Famous dachshund owners include Queen Victoria who is quoted as saying "Nothing will turn a man's home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund." Pablo Picasso had a dachshund called Lump, said to have been the inspiration for some of his work. Andy Warhol had a pair named Archie and Amos, who appeared in his paintings.

The dachshund Waldi was chosen to be the first official mascot for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. That year, the marathon route was designed in the shape of a dachshund. There is a dachshund monument in Zelenogorsk, Russia. Every year on July 25—City Day—a parade of dachshunds marches by.

You can visit San Diego, California to see dachshunds race in The Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals held every December.

Picture of dachshund from Depositphotos.com
Picture of Waldi from Munich Organising Committee of the Olympic Games

Article by Sharry Wright

This article was originally published in August 2016, and has been updated for the May 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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