Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

We got Couper in September of 2003 (No, this is not the long rumored “How we got Couper” post). The first major gift-giving holiday for our family after getting Couper was Christmas. Gift-giving holidays are always the toughest. The non-gift giving holidays are easy. For example the Fourth of July, what do you do for that holiday? Buy beer, grill hot dogs, drink beer, watch fireworks. Takes about a minute and a half of planning. Christmas on the other hand takes a minute and a half just to come to the obvious conclusion that you should have started planning in September rather than on December 21. For the record, the gift-giving holidays are: Birthdays, Valentines Day, Easter, Mommy's Day, Big Buddy's Day, Arbor Day, and Christmas. Non-gift giving are: New Years, MLK, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Halloween, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. You may wish to argue. That's fine. If your family gives gifts on Nixon’s Birthday, more power to you.

It was that first Christmas with Couper that I came to a chilling realization; my Christmas shopping tripled in complexity. I figured out that not only did I add buying presents to give to the Little Buddy, but being the generous puppy that he is, I also had to buy presents that were from the Little Buddy. I have enough trouble shopping on my own. Now I had to get into the head of a little dog who does not communicate much other than, “feed me” and “play with me”, to buy presents from his perspective. Couper and I would have conversations like this:

Big Buddy: {On computer} Couper, what do you want to get your mommy for Christmas?
Couper: {Chews his bone}
Big Buddy: We could get her a nice scarf? What do you think of this one?
Couper: {Finds toy to play with}
Big Buddy: I’m not big on it either. What about this sweater?
Couper: {Hands Big Buddy his toy} Ummmmmm!
Big Buddy: {Throws ball} OK, not that one, how about these gloves? She could wear them while she walks you.
Couper: Fine with me Big Buddy. Can we use your credit card???
Big Buddy: Sure, I guess this time.

(I am guessing he has the same conversation with his mommy too).

As it turns out, what Couper really likes to give as gifts is dachshund merchandise. I wish I could remember the first dachshund item we found. It eventually got buried with the 100s (literally) of others that we have gotten since. Given that I barely knew that dachshunds existed when we got Couper, it amazes me that there is all this dachshund stuff. I have to assume it was there before we got Couper (I mean, we did not start this industry, we just keep it afloat), but I guess I never noticed it. For all I know, there is a lot of Airedale Terrier merchandise. I have no idea. I do not want to find out. For this reason, we can only get dachshunds from here on out. It is all we can afford.

Anyhow, over the years we have found: dachshund shirts, dachshund socks, dachshund hats, dachshund magnets, dachshund pens, dachshund mugs (neither Couper’s Mommy nor I drink coffee, we have over ten dachshund mugs), dachshund figurines, dachshund picture frames, dachshund CD holders, dachshund ornaments (we have a full ornament tree with just dachshund ornaments…most branches are doubled up), dachshund stockings, dachshund gift bags, dachshund calendars, dachshund greeting cards, dachshund postcards, dachshund books (adult and children’s…by adult I mean for readers over 12, not sold in adult book stores, that would be gross), dachshund stuffed animals, dachshund corn holders (head up front, hiney in the two hiney corn cobs, Couper's Mommy won't allow it), dachshund salt and pepper shakers, dachshund pillows, dachshund blankets, dachshund signs, dachshund bumper stickers, and dachshund dog toys. I am sure I missed something. I once got a box of poop bags because it had a dachshund on the box. It was twice as expensive as the poop bags we usually use, but I had to buy it.

It is now impossible for me to walk by a rack of greeting cards without looking for a card with a dachshund on it. It doesn’t even matter if nobody’s birthday is coming up or that we don’t know anybody graduating (for example). I buy them and store them. I have to.

One of my favorite quotes from Couper’s Mommy is, “You know, nothing says that we have to buy every item that has a dachshund on it.” Never was a statement so right and yet so wrong. It is scary walking into a store, seeing four dachshund items, and saying, “got that one, got that one, and that one…”. However, there are enablers. Amazon has a link called “Recommended for you”. You buy one dachshund item, and it recommends others. This has been great for Dachshunds kids books, that Couper gets for his mommy to put in her classroom. There are even sites outside of Amazon like this just for the breed.

The worst moment of dachshund gift giving came on Couper’s Mommy’s birthday a couple of years ago. A couple of days before her birthday, I came to the realization that most of her gifts were dachshund gifts from Couper. Knowing that I had already gotten a couple of dachshund figurines from the Hallmark store earlier, I figured it was safe to go in there and look for candles or picture frames or something like that. As I walked in, there was a display in one of the front aisles that contained not one dachshund figurine, but a series of dachshund figurines. They are called Hot Diggity Dogs and basically are dachshunds dressed up as various things and named with a punny phrase (Cocktail Weiner pictured right). Not only that, but there was a birthday weiner in that collection. I walked out of the store that day with three of these things. I had to go back the next day to get the candle. It gets even more evil. It turns out that there were more than just those that were in the Hallmark store that day. As they got more in, we bought them; until we had the whole set (I think there were eight). End of story? Lord no. A few months later they had a whole new series of Hot Diggity Dogs. They have been having about two new series a year for a couple of years now. They now have mugs, banks, picture holders and Christmas ornaments too. We have just about all of them. When we were looking for houses this summer, we found one that had built in display shelves in the entry hall. Couper’s Mommy said, “We could put our dachshunds in those.” Guess which house we bought? Guess where our Hot Diggity Dogs are?

So, in the end we are a bit out of control. My advice to you: if you make something, anything, put a picture of a dachshund on it. We'll buy it. And I did not mean to imply that we bought all the dachshund stuff we own. (No we didn't steal it, wait for the next sentence will you!). We are very willing recipients of dachshund presents from friends and family. So, are there dachshund things left to give this Christmas? Yes. Somehow. Couper has to have something to give. He never did get his mommy those gloves. Turns out they weren't dachshund gloves.

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