Puppy Love - Frauke Scheunemann - E-Book

Puppy Love E-Book

Frauke Scheunemann

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Hercules is a dachshund, and his new mistress Caroline is the greatest human being on earth. She's the one who rescued him from the animal shelter, who smells of summer and strawberries, and who laughs when the little pup snuggles up with her on the sofa. So when Caroline is badly treated by her bossy, dog-hating boyfriend, Hercules decides it's high time he rescued his mistress for a change. And so begins an epic quest to find his favourite woman the perfect man... Touching, original, and very funny, Puppy Love is a story about love, life, and the best friend a girl could ever have.

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FRAUKE SCHEUNEMANN was born in Düsseldorf in 1969. She has been a full time writer since 2002, before which she gained a doctorate in law, and worked as a journalist and press spokesperson. When Puppy Love was published in Germany, it was a runaway success, spending four months on the bestseller lists, selling 150,000 copies, and causing a media storm. Frauke lives in an old parsonage in Hamburg, with her husband, four children, and her beloved dog, Elmo.

ELMO is a long-haired Cuban Havanese. He’s just one year old (or seven in dog years). He came to live with Frauke in 2011, and they have been inseparable ever since. He is not above using his puppy dog eyes to get extra-large portions of his favourite food, liver and pate.

SHELLEY FRISCH holds a PhD. in German Literature from Princeton University. Her many acclaimed translations include biographies of Nietzsche, Einstein, and Kafka (for which she was awarded the 2007 Modern Language Association Translation Prize), so she was thrilled to get the chance to immerse herself in a lighter world while translating Puppy Love.

She loves language and lexicography, and is the author of The Lure of the Linguistic. She also loves coffee, and can be found in one of Princeton’s many coffee houses most afternoons.

First published as Dackelblick in Germany in 2010 by Goldmann Verlag.

This edition first published in the UK in 2012 by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd.

Copyright © Frauke Scheunemann, 2010 Translation copyright © Shelley Frisch, 2012

The moral right of Frauke Scheunemann to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

The moral right of Shelley Frisch to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 978-0-85789-314-7 (Trade paperback) ISBN: 978-0-85789-3-154 (eBook)

Printed in Great Britain.

Corvus An imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd Ormond House 26-27 Boswell Street London WC1N 3JZ


Anyone who has never had a dog doesn’t know what it means to love and to be loved.

—Arthur Schopenhauer

I would sooner go without a man than without Felix, my dachshund.

—Ingrid Steeger

I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

—John Steinbeck


chapter one

chapter two

chapter three

chapter four

chapter five

chapter six

chapter seven

chapter eight

chapter nine

chapter ten

chapter eleven

chapter twelve

chapter thirteen

chapter fourteen

chapter fifteen

chapter sixteen

chapter seventeen

chapter eighteen

chapter nineteen

chapter twenty

chapter twenty-one

chapter twenty-two

chapter twenty-three

chapter twenty-four

chapter twenty-five


chapter one

What a dive! Sure, I knew it wouldn’t be the Ritz, but this accommodation is really the limit. Beyond the pale. Musty and dark – and filthy. I try not to focus on my surroundings, but the muck left behind by my predecessors is hard to miss. Clearly, no one’s been cleaning up round here for quite some time. It’s enough to make me want to howl with rage – how did I wind up in a mess like this? This morning I was in the parlour at Eschersbach Castle, and now this. So I go ahead and howl for real.

‘Give it a rest – you’re getting on my nerves!’ comes the snide remark from off to the left, in the very next second. Right: I forgot to mention the worst part, namely my roommates. Five in all, most of them unbelievably scruffy. It’s not just the way they look. These guys are dim-witted commoners, who of course view a noble guy like me as an easy mark. My family tree goes all the way back to 1723; I bet these ignoramuses can’t even tell a marquess from a marrow dumpling!

My grandfather appears before me in my mind’s eye. ‘A von Eschersbach is always up at the top, no matter where he may find himself. Don’t ever forget that!’ he used to tell me. Oh, Grandpa, if you could see me now – I have definitely hit rock bottom. The very thought of this makes me howl even louder. Somebody’s got to get me out of here!

‘Come on, sweetie, calm down.’ A hand reaches through the bars and ruffles the fur behind my ears. ‘Soon there’ll be a delicious snack, and everything will look brighter. The first day is hard on everyone.’

Hmm, that’s a nice voice. I look over to find out who it belongs to. Next to the cage there’s a young woman in overalls, smiling at me encouragingly. Her hand smells of ordinary tinned food, but her touch makes me feel more relaxed. I lick her fingers, and she starts to giggle.

‘Oh yes, you like that taste, don’t you?’ she whispers to me.

Oh dear, if she only knew! Up to now, my pampered dachshund palate has tasted only the most delectable fresh offal and tripe. We were served ready-made food only when Emilia, our cook, was sick or on holiday. Just thinking about Emilia gives me a knot in my chest, and I can’t help whimpering a bit. When I had to leave her this morning, she cried. God only knows how humans pull that off. For the first time in my life, I would have given anything to be able to shed a few tears too.

‘You poor thing, still feeling bad?’ the woman in charge of us asks sympathetically. ‘Don’t worry – you’re so cute we’re sure to find a new mistress or master for you soon. I promise!’ Then she strokes my head again and pulls her hand back through the bars.

I turn round and trot over to the other corner of the cage. A ray of sunshine is casting an inviting little bright spot onto the floor, and I decide to make myself comfy. Of course I’m not the only one to get this idea. Before I can lie down, a huge black something-or-other steps right on my paws.

‘Little guy, I think you’d better vamoose to the other side. This is my spot.’ To add authority to his pronouncement, his final words crescendo into a hoarse growl.

What a ludicrous cur! Does he really think he can put me to flight? Me? My ancestors went hunting with the last emperor! I shake my head.

‘I don’t believe,’ I retort with as much dignity as I can muster under these adverse circumstances, ‘that this establishment takes reservations. I was here before you, so I will lie down on this spot. Kindly allow me to do so.’ With these words I push Mr Something-or-Other aside and lie down quickly. He stares at me in stunned amazement. He has surely never encountered such civil resistance. I stretch out contentedly. Turns out Grandpa was right – a von Eschersbach is up even when he’s down.

While I lie there musing about when something to eat might be coming along (no matter how modest the meal is sure to be), my sunny spot suddenly darkens. What’s that, a cloud? I look up to see what in the world is casting this objectionable shadow – and find myself staring into the face of a rather unpleasant looking boxer.

He shoves his nose right up to mine and gives off a whiff that really takes my breath away. ‘Watch out, you conceited squirt: if you weren’t new here, you’d be a dead dog. Our rules apply here, and you’d better stick to them. If my friend Bozo tells you to beat it, then ...’ He moves in even closer and nips at me quick as a flash.

Ouch! A sharp pain shoots through my right ear. Help! This guy is a menace to society! I bark my head off. I reckon I’ve been put with a bunch of militant stray dogs perfectly prepared to resort to violence. But no matter how much I bark, no one comes, not even the young woman in the overalls.

Boxer and Bozo sneer smugly. ‘Save your breath. She can’t hear you now – she’s over by the cats. We could do you in, and no one would come to your rescue. One more dead dog to add to the list in this joint. Who cares?’

I feel the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and a chill run down my spine. Bozo, the black mutt, plants himself in front of me once again. ‘So, what was that again? When I say beat it ...’

‘I beat it?’ I squeak out to finish his sentence.

‘Right. Ten out of ten. Good dog.’

Bozo gives my sensitive nose another hard jab with his grubby paw. I jump out of the way in fright and scurry to the other corner of the cage with my legs trembling. Two other dogs are sitting there looking bored and watching the whole thing. Death and destruction appear to be par for the course around here; at any rate, no one cares that I’ve just been the victim of a crime.

An old pointer moves aside when I settle down next to him. At least he’s not going to be the next one to bully me. We sit side by side for a while without saying anything. Then he sidles up to me and whispers in my ear, ‘You’re better off not starting a fight with those two. They’re really dangerous. But if you stay away from them, they usually leave you alone.’

Stay away from them? You’ve got to be joking. This cage is pretty small, and we’re six dogs in here.

It seems that the pointer also just realized that that’s out of the question; in any case, he grins at me with a twinkle in his eye and murmurs, ‘Hah! Well, do the best you can. By the way, my name is Fritz.’

I don’t say anything at first. Things being what they are around here, I don’t have much interest in chatting. Instead I lay my head on my paws and watch Bozo and the boxer lounging on my little patch of sun. They’re probably making fun of me right now. I actually really like being a dachshund, but at this moment I would much rather be an attack dog. Staffordshire bull terrier, pit bull, or some other breed that screams out licence to kill.

‘Hey.’ Fritz pokes me in the side. ‘Don’t be sad. The woman in charge here just told you that you’re the type humans go for; somebody’ll get you out of here soon. And then you’ll give those two idiots over there the finger, since it’s a sure thing that no one will want them.’

I look at Fritz and think about what he’s saying. I hope he’s right.

The next morning I feel knocked out. I hardly got any sleep last night, and when I finally drifted off for five minutes, I had terrible nightmares, about boxers and pit bulls chasing me through the cage, and about huge quantities of horrid-tasting tinned food. I wearily make my way over to Fritz, who’s standing at the cage door wagging his tail.

‘Morning. How come you’re so wide awake and in such a great mood?’ I ask him.

‘Well, today’s visiting day. And if someone comes along in search of a dog, I want to make a good first impression. I’m not as young as I once was, so it’s more important than ever to seem active and cheerful. You’ll see; humans go for that sort of thing.’

Could he be right? I don’t really feel like playing the dachshund who performs on command, but I admit that the thought of settling in here for the long haul is horrifying, so I position myself next to Fritz and start wagging my tail back and forth a little halfheartedly. Do humans actually fall for a cheap trick like this? Unbelievable.

‘So tell me, what’s your name?’ Fritz asks.

‘Carl-Leopold,’ I reply curtly.

‘Carl-Leopold? That’s a funny name for a dog.’

‘I don’t think so. It’s a matter of ancestry.’ Philistine! What would he know about lovely names? ‘I’m a von Eschersbach,’ I add proudly.

‘Von Eschersbach? Doesn’t ring any bells,’ Fritz mutters and keeps wagging his tail.

I sigh. He really is a philistine. A nice philistine, of course, but he still is one. Just when I’m about to start filling Fritz in on the outlines of my family history, I hear a door slam in the building next to our kennel. I stand rooted to the spot. Not that the sound itself is so loud – after all, the noise level in this place is enough to make a dachshund’s delicate ears fall right off. No, I’m intrigued by an indescribable aroma wafting straight towards my nose. Fritz seems to have picked up the scent as well; he’s stopped that stupid tail-wagging and is now squeezing his nose through the bars.

‘Do you smell that too?’ I ask him.

He nods.

‘Great, huh?’

‘Yeah, amazing!’ he agrees.

‘That is the most beautiful scent I’ve ever smelled on a human,’ I tell him.

This scent clearly belongs to a human. Dogs pick up on that right away. But what sort of human could this be, with such a good scent? Not the ordinary kind of good, like the smell of pork sausage or chocolate cookies. No, it’s more like ... I mull it over ... yes, that’s what it is: like a beautiful summer’s day. A jolly summer’s day. Very much like flowers, a bit like strawberries, with a hint of peppermint. Fantastic.

‘We’ll probably be let down the second we see the human. The silliest people always smell the best,’ Fritz explains with an expert air.

‘Really?’ I ask. ‘I’ve got to admit that I’ve never noticed any connection. I’m not a good judge of that.’

‘No, it’s true. I’ll bet you anything.’

We train our eyes on the door, and there she is, heading our way, towards the cages, followed by the lady in the overalls. Fritz was way off the mark. For a human, she’s magnificent, like an angel. She’s chatting with the other woman, and laughing while she speaks. Her eyes are laughing too, which looks particularly lovely, and is pretty rare for humans. Most of the time their laughter is no more than a grimace. Which is a pity. I mean, if I could laugh, I’d bring my eyes into it; that looks a whole lot better.

‘Hmm, so you’re looking for a dog on the small side? And you’d prefer a puppy?’

The angel nods.

Fritz’s ears droop as soon as he hears that. He knows it means that, once again, there’s no mistress for him. Pointers are far from small – and Fritz hasn’t been a puppy for quite some time. He lowers his head. ‘Good luck!’ he whispers to me, then trots off.

Of course I feel sorry for him – but maybe this is my big chance? I try out Fritz’s tactic once more, wagging my tail like crazy and barking in the friendliest tone I can come up with. Sure enough, the two women head straight towards me.

‘This one, for instance, is our latest addition. We just got him. He’s about six months old.’

She sticks her hand through the bars, and I race to lick it. Well, if that doesn’t make a good impression on her, I don’t know what will. The angel bends down to me.

‘Oh, what a sweetheart you are! Such a cute fellow!’

I jump up and down enthusiastically.

‘Yes, he’s quite adorable. A dachshund mix.’

Ouch! Mix? Damn, that hurt. I instantly drop the enthusiastic dog act. Not that what she’s saying isn’t true; it is. Miss Overalls is right. And that’s the humiliating truth, in a nutshell: I am a mutt. The product of Mummy’s affair with a very dashing terrier. And that’s exactly why I’m here. I may be Carl-Leopold von Eschersbach, but I’m not a pedigreed dachshund with the best papers. Absolutely unsuited for hunting – and for breeding, of course. That’s what the old lord of the castle said before he put me in a box and drove me here. Emilia cried, but she had already taken in my sister, and two dogs were certainly too much for her to handle.

I think I must have started to whimper, because now the angel sticks her hand through the cage and strokes me.

‘Oh, you poor thing, what’s wrong? Are you sad?’

How embarrassing! A von Eschersbach doesn’t cry – and certainly not in front of such a beautiful lady! Heavens, what are things coming to?

But it turns out that this was just the right thing to do, because the angel gets up, points to me, and says, ‘That’s the one I want. No doubt about it. Can I take him with me right now?’

The lady in the overalls nods. ‘Come in with me and we’ll take care of the paperwork. He’s had all his injections, and he comes from a reputable breeder. A little slip-up, you might say.’

These last words make her giggle. Which makes me want to nip at her hand, but I don’t, otherwise I’d wind up staying here.

Twenty minutes later I’m sitting in the crate stowed on the back seat of Caroline’s car. Caroline – that’s the name of my angel. I found that out when the two women said goodbye. Caroline. A lovely name. Quite noble. Most likely – oh, what am I saying – of course Caroline is of noble lineage. A dog like me is sure to pick up on something like that. Caroline is certainly in a good mood. She’s whistling a song, and from time to time she takes a peek in the rear-view mirror to have a look at me.

‘So, sweetie, now you’ll get to see your new home. I can’t wait to find out how you like it.’

Nor can I! I wonder if it’s as nice as Eschersbach Castle. With a big park. And lots of burrows. The car slows down, then stops. Caroline opens the door and lifts out the crate. Now the aroma of strawberries and mint is right in front of my nose, and I would love to lick Caroline from head to toe, but first I’ll have to wait to get out of the swaying crate.

It grows darker all around me, and my crate begins to sway even more: Caroline is carrying me up a flight of stairs. I try to push my nose through the bars of the crate to get a first sniff of my new residence. It appears to be a place that houses several humans – and several animals. Right away I can make out at least one cat.

Now Caroline is putting down the crate, and I hear her opening a door. She pushes the crate along with her foot, then fumbles with the cover, opens it up and lifts me out gently.

‘This is it! Here’s where you’ll be living from now on. Take a look around, little guy.’

It’s so bright in the room that at first I can’t see anything at all. I squint a bit and try to adjust to the light. The outlines of what seems to be a human living room gradually come into focus. In front of the window there is a big couch that looks like an ideal spot for a little dachshund to enjoy a comfy nap. Wonder if Caroline would allow that? It was strictly forbidden in the castle. Which meant, of course, that my sister and I liked nothing better than to hop up onto the couch in the parlour. It was hilarious to watch the old lord of the castle rush towards us like greased lightning in spite of his limp and try to chase us away by brandishing his cane as menacingly as he could.

I scamper over to the couch and sniff at the slipcovers. Hmm, strawberries and mint here as well. But there’s something else too. Not an animal. More like a human. I dive deep into the scent. Hmm, do I have a new master as well as a mistress? It’s certainly not the scent of a woman. While I’m still mulling this over, Caroline lifts me up and puts me on the couch (yippee!), and sits down next to me. I lick her hands full of glee – this woman clearly knows what dachshunds love. She laughs and pulls her hands away, then she looks at me thoughtfully.

‘So, little guy, I’ve got everything you need: a basket, a lead, a food dish and food. There’s only one thing missing ...’

I shake my head; as far as I can tell, that sounded pretty complete.

‘You still need a nice name.’

I squeal in surprise – I have a nice name already! Or did von Eschersbach just park me at the animal shelter without mentioning it? Without saying a few things about me? How coldblooded of him!

Evidently, Caroline notices my sense of outrage, and she lifts me onto her lap; then we gaze into each other’s eyes.

‘Hmm, now, what could a little fellow like you be named? What do you look like?’

I try my best to act haughty and dignified. Maybe if I do that, she’ll think of Carl-Leopold all by herself. To enhance my distinguished appearance, I let out two more statesmanlike barks. Come on, Caroline, put your thinking cap on!

‘You’re certainly no ordinary dog; you strike me as someone with real character. In some way you’re much bigger on the inside than you seem from the outside.’

Yes! Exactly! She’s just about to come up with it! I throw my head back majestically.

‘I know! I’ll name you Hercules.’

What was that? HERCULES? I’m ancient Greek instead of ancient nobility?

chapter two

Hercules! I admit that Caroline may not have the best of taste when it comes to picking names for dachshunds, and this strange new name will take some getting used to. But she does have the knack for choosing the right place to live. The house where Ill now be living seems to be almost as big as Eschersbach Castle. My hunch that Caroline comes from the finest of backgrounds appears to be correct. The neighbours dont exactly live in simple cottages either. Just behind our house is a park, though Im not entirely sure whether it all belongs to Caroline, since it is so huge. When we take a walk there, I cant even tell where the park ends amazing!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!