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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: You Are No Dachshund


It wasn’t exactly a dachshund and it began gnawing at Frieda, the fact that is, not the dog who wasn’t a dachshund. What was in a name anyway? A dog was a dog was a dog. Right? It walked on four legs. Check. Had fur. Check. Barked. One day it would bark, she was sure. At the moment it yapped in a kennel in the basement. She closed the door leading downstairs.

The dachshund was a great breed of dog; she didn’t doubt her husband’s convictions. They didn’t shed, Simon had said, not even the longhaired variety. There was no odor. They were smart, and fun, not chewers per se, and they wouldn’t tackle company or scare small children. Frieda agreed; everyone on earth should own one. It should be the state dog, no, the national dog. Better yet, the international dog.

What she smuggled home, though, was no elongated, spunky, wiener species.

A few weeks ago, when Simon was pretending not to be dictatorial about it, he called a family meeting. He wasn’t sure this was the perfect time in their lives for a puppy, but if Frieda had her heart set on it, well, then, she should have it. And he wasn’t insisting on a certain breed, he insisted. He wanted to look objectively at the characteristics they all wanted in a family pet.

Russell wanted something red.

Kaitlyn wanted something small with long ears—maybe a bunny.

Simon wanted something that would stretch across his shoulders when he sat on the sofa, just like his childhood dachshund, Max, used to do. The perfect pet should also dive into tunnels keeping the groundhog population small, or better yet, non-existent.

Simon said he was open, but, objectively speaking, the best fit would seem to be none other than the beloved dachshund.

Fine, Frieda agreed. She had waited for the green light on the dog issue for so long she might have accepted a Chihuahua. It’s not as if there was something wrong with pint-sized pooches, but in her mind’s eye, when she was daydreaming, it was to a rather large canine -golden in color - to which she tossed a Frisbee.

She found a Dachshund breeder on-line and made arrangements to visit a litter that had one small, red, longhaired, floppy-eared puppy. Simon would pick the kids up after school, take them to dinner and they would meet at home for the unveiling.

A funny thing happened en route to the breeder who lived out in barely populated country. A cardboard sign caught her eye: Free Puppies, it said. She stopped at the dilapidated looking gas station with attached convenience store. She had plenty of gas, but she was “thirsty”. There would be no peeking at the puppies.

They called to her from a box next to the cash register, but she ignored them. Back outside in the late spring air, she sat on a bench that appeared to have been a church pew in an earlier life. A muffled yelping to her left caught her attention. She found a chubby, golden body that had partially squeezed through a plastic drain tube.

She tugged as gently as she could until the last paw, which resembled a five iron, found freedom. It licked her hand. “Oh, don’t even try it,” she said, putting her face directly in line with brown glassy eyes. “You are no Dachshund.”

And here was Simon with the kids coming up the driveway, opening the back door, and scanning the floor. “Where is he?” They looked at her. Was that accusation she read in their eyes?

“Okay, that’s it!” She turned to Kaitlyn. “Did I get upset when you wanted to take tap instead of ballet? And you,” she said to Russell. “Did I pitch a fit when you wanted your room painted the color of Mars instead of the Cerulean blue I had picked out because you said you didn’t care?”

She moved to Simon. “Do you remember Tom Ortz?” Simon shook his head. “He was the tall, blond, boy who lived down the block from me growing up. He went to school to be a doctor so he could work overseas helping the poor. My parents wanted me to marry him. They thought he was perfect. He was nice. I could have learned to love him. But then, well, you know the but then.”

Simon said, “This dog isn’t going to stretch across my shoulders, is it?”

“No, not without inflicting major damage.”

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This article has been read 985 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Sprock05/22/08
I thoroughly enjoyed Frieda's intent not to see those puppies and the title line as well as her follow-up declaration for her choice. I had a little trouble transitioning from the present to the info about Simon's choice for dachshund as best family pet to the flashback bringing me to the present. On the other hand, statements like "It should be the state dog, no, the national dog. Better yet, the international dog" were quite delightful. Great ending as well.
Debbie Wistrom05/23/08
Who can resist free puppies?
This was enjoyable and your title is so perfect.

Loved how she justified her decision, great job.
Patty Wysong05/24/08
Being a person who grew up with a mini daschund and now loves golden retrievers I really liked this story, even though I was thoroughly confused several times. I enjoyed the ending especially.
Phyllis Inniss05/26/08
A thoroughly enjoyable story - well told.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/27/08
After reading the first line five or six times, I still didn't get it; guess I'm dense...but glad I navigated further, for it was a really delightful read; enjoyable, witty, entertaining and I give you a "Kudos!" Great Job!
Lollie Hofer05/28/08
I too read the first line several times but couldn't quite understand it...HOWEVER, I'm glad I kept reading because the rest of the story was entertaining. The title was very appropriate. Loved the husband's response at the end as well.
Betsy Markman05/29/08
I agree with the earlier statements about the almost inscrutable opening line, but the rest was indeed great. I especially loved the MC's challenges to the family about some choices they had made, and the humorous last lines. Good job overall.
Marilyn Schnepp 05/29/08
Congratulations on your Placing, my friend! I'm glad the Judges saw it as I did...(*.*)! Kudos!
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on placing 38th overall with this entry, Lisa!
Lyn Churchyard06/06/08
Great story from beginning to end Lisa. Very clever that you started off with a 'gnawing fact' rather than a gnawing dog.

You built the story line by line, drawing me along with your wonderful descriptions and the final line “No, not without inflicting major damage.” had me grinning like a fool as I pictured a Golden Retriever or Labrador draped around her husbands neck.

A story well-worthy of the Highly Commended you received.