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I had intended to write something about:

  1. Whether it took longer to build the Hoover Dam or to finish a draft EIR for the cozy, little Monterey Downs project in Seaside.
  2. The ongoing congressional meltdown caused by House Republicans’ refusal to fund the Department of Homeland Security until it is renamed the Department of Building Impervious Border Fences and Catapulting 11 Million American Residents Somewhere Else.
  3. Sen. Rand Paul’s beautiful words about the passing of beloved Mr. Spock actor Leonard Nimoy, but I couldn’t find any statements about Nimoy issued by Trekkie-ish Paul or any other high-profile Republicans. I chalk it up to none of them wanting to appear soft on undocumented Vulcans after President Obama’s touching “I Loved Spock” statement. I leave it to right-wing “historian” Dinesh D’Souza to gauge what this means for Obama’s historically high, hating-America “D’Souza Ranking.” Hate long and prosper, Dinesh.

But, instead of any of that, a late-breaking report from the American Kennel Club demands immediate attention because it threatens a major domestic disturbance.

In 2014, dachshunds dropped off the AKC’s list of the top 10 most popular American dog breeds. I fear what happens when the two miniature dachshunds who control our household realize this depressing development. Minnie and Max don’t deal well with change.

If Max sees a suitcase being packed he starts trembling uncontrollably and no amount of doggie treats will console him. He fears his meal tickets are going on a trip from which no dog owner ever returns.

If Minnie hears a vacuum cleaner being plugged into a wall outlet she darts into a bedroom corner, slinks under her blanket and keeps repeating the dachsund mantra to endure the crisis: “Must eat, sleep and bark wildly at any person, animal or disembodied spirit that walks by house. Must eat, sleep ….”

Honestly, I can see how dachshunds may suffer the vicissitudes of popular taste. My own enthusiasm for dachshunds has been tempered by more than a decade of intimate knowledge of the breed. And I do mean intimate. Max sleeps under the covers with his entire length pressed against me, and he snores ferociously. When 5:30 a.m. strikes him as high time for breakfast, he employs a nose cold as a frozen blackberry to jolt random spots of my sleep-hungry flesh.

Just a few years ago, I was a big booster of dachshunds. What motor vehicle is more famous than the Weinermobile? None, thank you. Imagine the havoc that could be caused by a galumphing Golden Retrievermobile. Horrible.

Countless times I told patient souls how noble dachshunds were chased and kicked by “patriots” after the United States entered World War I to fight Germany, home of the tube-shaped canines created by German farmers to corner livestock-marauding badgers in badger dens. There were no reports of these cowardly dachshund haters kicking German shepherds.

And there were all the times I encountered parents pushing babies in strollers while I walked Max and Minnie. “(Gibberish) … WEENIE DOGS! … (Gibberish,)” the moppets exclaimed. Many young couples reported that “weenie” and “dogs” were the first words their children spoke. Strange, but true.

But lately my bullishness for the little bowsers has waned. They are stubborn cusses, difficult to train and able to emit a wide range of mournful whines when they don’t get what they want. Minnie has developed a whimper that sounds like a cooing 12-pound pigeon. It is impossible to ignore and can be stopped only by succumbing to her demands. Or by packing up and leaving, which throws Max into a trembling panic. Treats for two.

I’ve also discovered the aging dachshund is a more clinging dachshund.

Sit down and within seconds you will have Max in your lap.  Go for a walk, and Minnie suddenly will be limping on legs that worked perfectly fine seconds before. She wants to be carried, of course. Her act deserves an Oscar (Meyer) nomination.

Still, there is much to be said for dachshunds. When two greet you at the front door, they produce such a whirlwind of joyous yelps, blurred tail-wagging and pawed ankles that you imagine a tiny marching band and colorful confetti falling on your shoes. Happy? You bet, their indentured servants are home.

I’ll keep the new AKC rankings under my hat. After all, it really means we dachshund owners are becoming a more select subset of dog owners, ever closer to some non-fungible 1 percent of folks with exquisite taste and little yappers.

For anyone foolishly interested in any dog breed but dachshunds, here are the 2014 AKC popularity rankings:

  1. Labrador retriever
  2. German shepherd
  3. Golden retriever
  4. Bulldog
  5. Beagle
  6. Yorkshire terrier
  7. Poodle
  8. Boxer
  9. French bulldog
  10. Rottweiler


LARRY PARSONS: Sometimes the nanny just might be right


Leaders of the mightiest nation on earth continue to amaze.

Unemployment, the Middle East, falling wages, climate change, endless war, health care, decayed infrastructure — take an issue, any issue, and the stakes are great. So should be the national conversation.

And once the smoke cleared from the most moronic play call in the history of the game played between Super Bowl commercials, the debate turned to measles and vaccinating kids against preventable diseases.

Politicians who want voters to take them seriously — Sen. Rand Paul and Gov. Chris Christie so far, but certain to be joined by other defenders of liberty and the constitutional right to be ignorant &mdash are siding with the so-called “anti-vaxxers.” Lots of others, from House Speaker John Boehner to Hillary Clinton, are coming down on the side of the vast majority of public health providers who say, in effect, “Get the shots, already.”

FOX News’ Sean Hannity boldly declared he would’t trust President Obama to tell him where, when or why to get his children vaccinated. Of course, Hannity, who declared a state of siege the day Obama took office, wouldn’t trust the president to tell him, “Pull the chute, Sean,” if he was falling out of an airplane.

I realize for many of my fellow citizens the essence of America’s promise could be summed up today by the phrase, “Don’t tell me what to do, Jack!”

By the minute, they see more and more evidence of the oppressive reach of big government impinging on their freedom. Nothing will dissuade them from this core belief. It’s wearying to even try.
Then along comes another breath-taking example of the asinine reaches to which this mindset can wander, and it forces one to gasp and try again to muster the words, “But, but …  it’s for the common good.”

A sitting member of the United States Senate this week said this can’t be the land of the free if restaurants are required to tell workers to wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

Let the market and its invisible hand — don’t worry about where that hand has been — decide the fate of eateries that opt out of this draconian dictate.

The senator says any such restaurant would have to advertise this policy to the public so the mighty forces of the free market — someone looking for a decent bowl of chili, for instance — could do their wondrous work. Though that sounds suspiciously like another big-government regulation, it’s clear what effect such an ad campaign would have. The next sign in the restaurant window would say, “For rent.”

Either the gentleman from North Carolina was joking, or the whole “government is the problem” world view has reached pandemic levels of stupid.

It wasn’t Marx, Lenin, Mao, Castro or Jimmy Carter who came up with the whole “Wash your hands after using the bathroom” rule.

In my household, it was Mom. She was no faceless government bureaucrat. And I won’t have some grandstanding politician talk about moms everywhere like that.

To those who would chant, “Nanny state, nanny state, ” I recall my mom’s words that chafed at my 7-year-old sense of freedom: “Wash your hands again. With soap and hot water, this time!”