Your Pet Loss Stories

'Mitsu the Mighty Dachshund'

by Johanna Soliday
(Carson City, Nevada)

Mitsu (mee-tsoo) was our dog when I was growing up in South Africa.

My mother bought her from a Dutch couple who were breeders in Johannesburg. On the way home I was the lucky one to cradle her in my lap. A few hours later, her sharp puppy teeth found my earlobe - a memorable event.

Our family moved about every year or two. If we weren't living in a different town it would be a different house. Mitsu was always enthusiastic about exploring any place new and that helped us adjust. She comforted my brothers and I, spending a different night with each of us in turn. She'd burrow under the covers - I don't know how she managed to breathe - and didn't seem to mind that my youngest brother had a bedwetting problem.

She was amazing with snakes, seeming to know the difference between poisonous and not. One place we lived outside a town on a property near the Mozambique border. One day a King cobra reared up near our kitchen door. Mitsu immediately dashed to its tail and nipped at it, then whipped away before the snake could strike her. She did this with an adult African puffadder (like a rattlesnake only without the rattles) and a baby puffadder too. Each time she saved one of us from getting bitten... Another day, she saw a harmless house snake and pounced on it, biting it through the neck and killing it with one chomp. The neighbor's puppy thought the dead snake was a toy and ran off with it moments afterwards.

She was amazing on hikes too. Those legs would go a mile a minute and she'd do many times the distance that we walked. Her spirit was something else.

Mitsu did not want to be bred despite several attempts. The only male dog she ever liked was a mutt named Scruffy. We saw her freeze a German Shepherd in his tracks 10 yards away one day at the beach.

Mailmen were on her list of enemies. In the car one day, she was sitting on my lap in the front seat. The window was down. The next thing I knew, she had launched herself out of it because she saw a mailman. She nipped at the poor guy but didn't do any damage. That was the only time I ever saw her bite anyone.

Being a Dachshund, Mitsu loved to dig. She was so busy trying to get a mole in the garden one time that the dirt obscured her vision. I saw the mole creep out between her legs and run away - she never noticed.

Our last view of Mitsu was shortly before we emigrated from George, South Africa, for New York. She had been sedated and was put in a crate to go on a small plane back to her breeders in Johannesburg. The guys picking up the crate turned it upside down, despite the signs saying to keep it upright...

My parents told us they planned to send for her once we were settled in New York. However, about a year later we received a letter that Mitsu had died. I was about 17. The vet hospital thought it had either been from an undiagnosed heart ailment or that she had gotten into rat poison. She was only six years old. My parents gave it a one-line mention but no one talked about it after that so it took me 20 years to go through the grieving process. I now believe they knew they would not see her again when we left - it was a total shock to me though.

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