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September 15, 2014

Liebchen - Together Through Life

This past weekend I had to say goodbye to my 14 year old mini-dachshund, Liebchen (Leeb-shen, German for sweetheart/treasure/darling/etc.). But she wasn’t just a dog to me, as our pets often aren’t, she was my dear and cherished friend, the one that knew me, that loved me, and the one that accepted me without judgment. My love for her was strikingly obvious. People liked to ask me what I’d do when she’d die and my response was always the same, “She isn’t going to die! Liebe is going to live forever.” And when she turned 10, I really believed it. And when she had a lifesaving surgery at 11, I was convinced. But you know, time happens. And it’s too easy for me to be sucked into the depression that comes with losing my pack leader, my little 8lb alpha. And it’s too easy to wallow in the reality that I will never hold her again, pet her, kiss her, or scratch her favorite spot beneath her chin just to watch her foot thump uncontrollably on the floor…great, now I’m crying. 

Liebe deserves more from me than the tears over what’s been lost. So instead of going through the details surrounding her health, I’m going to skip the past years’ worth of amounting deterioration, the tumor regrowth, and the moment when it became clear that it was time to say goodbye, because her life was 14 years more than that. I want to celebrate her in the only way I know how: shamelessly bragging. So here’s to Liebchen, my little good girl who will forever be mein Liebe. 

- She lived 14 years, 9 months, and 13 days. Knowing these precise details would be a little creepy for any other dog, but it was too easy not to track with Liebe! She was born on the millennium, 1/1/2000, and was originally named Y2K Katie. 

- Girlfriend was a serious hunter. Years ago, an outdoor storage revealed itself to be the breeding grounds for a family of mice. Liebchen wasn’t having it and went after the tribe, sniffing out and catching each pest, killing them with one bite, then dropping them to the ground. She had no interest in playing with the dead, chewing, or eating them. She was in it for the kill- 9 kills total. Boy was she proud! 

- She was noticeably gorgeous. Liebe was the star wherever she went. People always wanted to talk about how pretty she was, how small she was, how fast she ran, yada yada. She had the spirit of a puppy and constantly shocked people by her age. They’d try to pet her but… 

- She was a notorious snob. If you weren’t family, she had zero interest. She’d walk away from admirers and avoid being touched by anyone she didn’t know. She simply did not care for meaningless affections, nor did she share hers with just anyone. I loved watching her reject people from afar. 

- We frequently referred to her as “World Police” because she enforced her own set of rules at the dog park. If a dog was running too fast, making too much noise, or messing with one of our other dogs, Liebchen chased after them until they either slowed down, shut up, or bugged off. Size and breed didn’t matter, she feared nothing. 

- She was a family dog and when we took her in, I hated her. I referred to her as a rat for the first 2 years of her life because I was hurting. My parents had just given away my first dog, a pitbull. They basically replaced my big, smart companion with a tiny little black rat and I took my grief out on her. Until…. 

- I healed. And my younger sister/roomie, Angela, taught me how to love Liebe by regularly leaving her in our room. So when no one was looking, we’d bond. And before I knew it, I was 19 and moving out with Liebchen. She became MY dog. She loved me despite our rough start and I love her for that. 

- I still shared her with Angela, and when Angela had a place of her own and wanted a Liebe slumber party, I dropped her off. But a couple hours later I received a frantic phone call that I needed to immediately pick her up because my gentle, 8lb little lady, for the first (and only) time in her life, had bitten someone. And by someone, I mean my sister’s boyfriend (who I couldn’t stand). I was shocked! Oh, and he’s an ex-boyfriend now. What can I say? Liebchen knows. More proof can be found… 

- When she first met my husband…by accident. I was 18, still living at home, and he was dropping me off on one very late night. I ran into the house to quickly retrieve something and when I entered my room, Liebchen bolted out. It was so unlike her! I was confused, rushed to figure out where she went only to see the front door wide opened. I freaked and ran outside, unsure if she escaped. Then the weirdest thing happened. I watched my snobby, stranger-hating dog leap into my boyfriend’s passenger door, hop onto his lap, and kiss him on his face. It was so strange for her to take to someone she never met that I took a picture of it as it happened. He’s now my husband. Liebchen just knew. 

- Her song was “Wild Thing” by The Troggs because she was obsessed with slithering through cracks to run free and explore the back hills of our house. She’d always return with leaves in her hair and ticks behind her ears. Oh Liebe… 

- At least she loved baths. She loved being clean! There was a ladylike air to her. She was the classiest of them all. And way too smart. I mean… 

- She faked injuries for attention. My perfectly healthy dog would suddenly limp and hobble about, careful not to put pressure on whatever leg. I’d pick her up and ask her what hurt, what happened!? I’d yell for someone to come look, help, anyone! And when someone else came, she’d bounce all around and light up. Faker, prankster, little brat. 

- She refused to play with dog toys and scoffed at any attempts to encourage her otherwise. But every once in a while, she’d grab a sock and pretend like she was going to play with it. 

- She loved our Beagle, Schnuggie. She constantly humped him, which was weird, and she refused to sit anywhere other than right next to him. They had to share a kennel. 

- Her ultimate weakness: Chili-cheese fries. She was well-behaved until you threw some chili-cheese fries away. Then she’d tip the trashcan over and lick the container clean.  

I love my little girl. She was good to me and everyone I cared for. And as expected, it’s extremely tough losing her. But to all of those who knew and witnessed the beautiful love I felt for my dog, and questioned what the heck I’d do when she wasn’t around anymore, my answer has not changed. Though I may have held her as she took her last breath, the fact is that when you love something enough, it doesn’t just die. It lives on forever, just like mein Liebchen, and just like I've always said. 



 
 

 
Our last picture together.

 My favorite picture together.

Liebchen aka L.A. Lieb 1/1/2000 - 9/13/2014
"Liebchen will live forever."