Memorial Dogs

I don’t want to be irreverent and I know that Memorial Day is for remembering those soldiers and sailors lost in battle, but it occurred to me to take this time to remember the 7 lovely schnauzers who shared our lives from 1982 to 2010. We’ve scanned photos of our first dog, Dunkel – who we got from a backyard breeder on Staten Island, back when we lived in midtown Manhattan.  We met him at 6 weeks old and took him home the following week, since he was the runt of the litter and had been bottle-fed for a while. His breeder didn’t understand the importance to us that he NOT get his ears cropped, but it sure meant a lot to us –  he was a musicians’ dog, after all!!  He was the most wonderful ball of fluff when we brought him home, renting a car so that the trip would be peaceful for him.  As it turned out, he fit perfectly in the pocket of my coat and we carried him home from getting his puppy shots at the vet that way while riding the subway.

Here’s tiny Dunkel, as we first met him.


Dunkel didn’t make a peep for the first few weeks we had him – no barking, no growling, nothing! Then one day he heard a siren going right by our building and the most unearthly howl arose from him – we were astonished!  He had a VOICE!
Mark usually took him for his before-bedtime walks in midtown and would invariably encounter ladies-of-the-night who would fall in love with Dunkel, thus he came in every evening smelling of Tabu, Shalimar and Joy perfume!
We took him on his first visit to Grandma and Grandpa in Tucson that first Christmas and he loved following his Uncle Max, sniffing around the yard without a leash!!  (big stuff for a city dog!!)  He liked going to the beach in Santa Monica, too, altho it was VERY cold and we kept him leashed the entire time.

BabyDunkel-Posing DunkelFollowsMax BabyDunkelOnVacation

After the winter was over, it was time for Dunkel’s first haircut. We’d trimmed his feet and ear canals all along, but had a groomer come to our apartment for a REAL thorough haircut! Dunkel’s ears, which had always flopped over naturally, immediately found the air!!  We were shocked and the groomer volunteered to tape them down, so that they’d flop again – but you can see from the photo we took of the less-than-an-hour time he was like that, that Dunkel did NOT like his newly-liberated ears being set like that!  Life is too short, we figured, for our boy to be so unhappy.  We decided to let the fur outside his ears grow, and it took a while, but eventually the weight of the fur gave his ears a bit of a flap.

Dunkel-AntennasUp Dunkel-EarsTaped DunkelsEars

Dunkel was an excellent snuggle-boy. Here he is, taking a nap with Dad (Mark), sitting nicely with his cousin David, and also with his Grandma Betty, who loved him dearly.  Of all our dogs, he was by far her favorite – when we brought him up to New Haven to visit, she tried to “steal” him by hiding him in the clothes hamper. We called and called but he didn’t make a peep – guess there weren’t any sirens going by that day!?

DunkelWithGrandmaBetty DunkelWithCousinDave DunkelWithDad

Dunkel was well-traveled – moving from NYC to Chicago when he was one, moving to Los Angeles when he was two, moving back to Chicago when he was 4 – with additional trips to Minnesota, Arizona, Connecticut – he got around!

Dunkel’s 5th birthday at Grandpa Millard and Grandma Marian’s house?  Any excuse for cake!!


Lounging by the pool…

DunkelOnLoungeChair DunkelSunning

Back in Chicago, when it got cold, Dunkel would bury himself in pillows to stay toasty warm


Dunkel was talented and would perform a lot of tricks for just one treat
But he was also a little spoiled – once he was housebroken, he was invited to sleep in bed with us.


Not every day was perfect, and sometimes Dunkel would get tired of posing for photos…


Dunkel adjusted great when we added a little sister to our family – he liked Gretel a lot. Here they are enjoying the sun together on the sofa.


Dunkel was patient when illness happened – he had to have emergency surgery when he was 5 and special eye drops several times/day the last years of his life.  We love to remember him as a sweet soul who made us so happy while he was here.


We were so happy with Dunkel that after moving to L.A. we decided we were ready for another schnauzer puppy.  Mark’s mom looked for us in Tucson, since there were a few reputable breeders there, and the next thing we knew, we were driving to Tucson to pick up Gretel Garbo, who was named that because her mother was Miss Molly Hollywood.


Of course, since it was our anniversary and we were at Mark’s folks’ house, there was CAKE!!  (none for Dunkel or Gretel, tho!)


At 11 weeks, Gretel was a bit older than Dunkel had been when we got him, so she had already developed quite a personality! On the drive back to L.A., a semi truck driver turned over his engine and startled her, and boy, did she give HIM a good barking-at!
Later that year we moved back to Chicago and Gretel tried to keep an eye on both of us, no matter where we were in the house, so her spot was parked on the carpeted stairs.


This was okay until the day she fell asleep and rolled over, THRU the stairs, falling more than 6’ on her back. She was okay but never hung out on the stairs again!
Dunkel got along great with his little sister – altho when we tried to teach her tricks and put him in the other room, he was so busy actually OBEYING commands that we always laughed and Gretel never DID get good at performing-for-treats!


Gretel cleaned up really well once we gave her a haircut.

G-1stHaircut G-1stHaircut2

Mark’s parents were so enthralled with Gretel that they decided to get a little girl schnauzer from the same breeder when their boy Max passed on at 15 years old. When we went to visit again the next year to meet Tina, they pulled a “fast one” and introduced us to Tinkerbelle, her sister, who was a MUCH younger puppy!  Here’s Tinkerbelle giving me a kiss!


The three girls were so cute together!!


One Christmas we received as a gift a hand-crocheted doll hat which I thought looked really good on Gretel – what do you think?

EasterBonnet2 EasterBonnet1

She put up with the photo-shoot but didn’t want to wear it in the Easter Parade!  She knew how pretty she was, tho, and would pose for photos at any time!


Gretel got along with practically everyone – here we are posing with Pete, a Chicago friend.


When we went back to visit Mark’s folks (and Tina and Tinkerbelle), Gretel was a bit aloof from her half-sister and cousin.


Tina and Tinkerbelle were a bit protective of THEIR bed, too… “it’s okay for you to visit, but the pillows are OURS!”


Everything went back to normal when we got home, tho.


We let Gretel and Dunkel’s coats grow pretty long during those cold Chicago winters.


One cold night before Christmas, Gretel heard a would-be-burglar trying to break in at our back door and woke us up to warn us!  Not everyone knows that in addition to her great beauty, Gretel had a talent that not every dog possesses – because of her superior hearing, she was an excellent sound engineer!


Mostly she loved going on walks – afterwards, she and Dunkel looked like this. (nice tongues, eh?)


After we lost Dunkel (he had a congenital kidney condition that finally caught up with him), we wanted another brother for Gretel. She was actually enjoying being an Only Dog, but we didn’t see that, and so… KAISER!!


He was SO tiny compared to Gretel – and she was okay with that, since she got to boss him around… at least for a little while!


The following year was a different story!


Kaiser lived up to his name – he DOMINATED!! He was somewhat fear-aggressive, so we took him and Gretel to obedience school where he did very well, but never truly got over the fear-aggression completely. He was very friendly and easy-going, UNLESS someone tried to pick him up!  Then he’d gurgle and kinda-growl – not in a threatening way, but just to let you know that he wasn’t enjoying this very much!  He stopped as soon as you put him down. We’d forgotten about this until we unearthed an old VHS videotape we’d made, where we’d picked him up to be in the picture, and there it was… Kaiser’s vocal protestation.

At the end of 1993 we adopted Tina and Tinkerbelle when Mark’s mom passed on. They were adorable girls and it was SO much fun to have a schnauzer quartet!!


By this time we were doing all our own grooming, altho you’d never know it by these pix:







He was an all-round athlete – he loved the snow


he loved playing ball – everything from pingpong to fetching tennis balls to basketball was for him!


One time he disappeared in the backyard and we couldn’t figure out WHERE he was hiding. We called and called. Finally we remembered, got out the basketball and only had to bounce it ONCE, and he magically reappeared from behind the shed!  🙂

Kaiser and Gretel were good friends and made a really cute couple together.


but with the addition of Gretel’s half-sister and cousin, it got to be a full couch!


Unfortunately, Tinkerbelle wasn’t as hardy as the rest, so at one point, we were down to 3.



We all went along for a few more years, but by February 2000, both Gretel and Tina were losing ground steadily – and even Kaiser, who had been totally healthy for the first 8 years of his life, developed diabetes and internal growths that had to be surgically removed. We lost both girls within one month, in addition to Kaiser’s diagnosis and were in a state of shock.

K-after surgery1

Kaiser’s surgery was only a partial success. He had a relatively quick recovery but the incision in his side never did heal. We changed bandages a few times every day, since the wound continued to ooze the rest of his life. (another 18 months).

He was always patient through all of this, even allowing us to pick him up without his mumbling-growling protestation!  He would wait as long as necessary for his clean-up and bandages, with no problem, especially if there was a tennis ball nearby for him to chew on.


After Kaiser got sick, he was a bit lonely without his sisters, so we looked for a canine companion and found the perfect one in Gustav!  We fell in love with Gustav right away and he got along GREAT with Kaiser, who was truly overjoyed to have a “guy” to hang out with after all those years surrounded by feminine energy!  There’s a lot of info and pictures at this link:  http://www.marilynharris.com/bestfriends5.html  and also this link:  http://www.marilynharris.com/bestfriends6.html – but my favorites have always been these:


fetch is always more fun when there’s another guy playing, too!


waiting for Dad to throw the ball again!

We found Liesel thru the same rescue organization where we’d found Gustav.  She’d been surrendered by her owner who hadn’t been able to walk her, so she had a bit of a weight problem.


But she sure loved to go for walks once we suited her up!  Sure, she was a bit pudgy, but underneath she was strong and had real MUSCLE! Even tho she was blind, she loved to take the lead everywhere. Fortunately, she was good at taking verbal cues.

Unlike any other dogs we’ve had, Liesel was also extremely clear on the concept of ridding the homestead of interlopers – one spring she dispatched a half dozen wild felines in our backyard before we could stop her! She was so proud – she brought them right to the back door to show us!

From the start, she and Gustav were like 2 peas in a pod and really good buddies!


They cuddled together a lot, and not just for photo ops!


Both Gustav and Liesel got along well with Oskar, who’s still with us – and the 3 of them made the transition to being Arizona dogs with ease – they sure didn’t miss dealing with FLEAS, which are not a problem here in the desert.

It’s been fun to reminisce about our pups who are gone-but-not-forgotten. They each brought something special to the party and we feel grateful to have shared in their lives.  They’ve certainly enriched ours!




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