Last week our phone rang at 2 a.m. It goes without saying that calls in the middle of the night seldom bode well.

Last week our phone rang at 2 a.m. It goes without saying that calls in the middle of the night seldom bode well. Hillary Clinton knows.

Our daughter was calling from Tokyo to tell us Hanaby was sick. Sheís Sundaeís last surviving dachshund and has been with her forever.

All three of us got upset together 12,000 miles apart, making Hanaby the longest stretching weenie dog in history. Could that be a Guinness World Record?

I understand clinical and intellectual realities differentiating me from domesticated animals, yet I absolutely love dogs. Notwithstanding my lapse of logic, I enjoy the fairytale.

Not wishing to overanalyze attachments and relationships with non-humans, letís say I simply invest some humanity outside of my species and am continually rewarded for it. Homer and Jethro recognized just how deeply people can value their pets in a 1950s recording.

The illustrative stanza was, "Wives are sentimental creatures. The other day my wifeís little dog got killed so they broke the news to her gently. They told her it was me."

Back to the emergency: Sundae was heading to her vetís office the moment it opened. Hanaby had been on a downward spiral ever since Chelsea died a couple of years ago.

Later Sundae called to tell us the vet was running tests and giving her fluids. They didnít know exactly what was wrong but suspected it was Hanabyís heart and would keep her posted. She was going on to work.

Two hours later Sundae called crying. The vet had notified her it wasnít looking good so she was rushing through Tokyo traffic to get back there in time.

We were terribly worried about her driving with eyes filled with water and tears streaming but she managed to arrive safely. Whew!

As this drama was playing out, my wife Ann kept our dogs Sasha and Maggie close. They got so much attention I wouldnít be surprised if they werenít hoping for more phone calls. Iím sure they didnít really understand but somehow figured out when the phone rang they got extra hugs, scratches and treats.

Hanaby lived her life and left grieving humans, which is the way it works. After cremation, sheíll be buried next to Chelsea on Mount Fuji.

Columns like this typically elicit a few responses noting my stupidity in making such a big deal over an animal. If youíve never been emotionally attached to a dog, you simply canít have a clue about it.

Itís amazing how such a huge crater in your life can be created by a tiny dogís death. Although gallons of tears were shed over this little brown pup, lifeís process played out exactly as it should.

Sundae will be fine. She and her mother talk iPad to iPad on most evenings. Very soon, one of these video conversations will be interrupted by a brand new dachshund puppy poking its nose into the picture to sniff the screen.

Sundae will then introduce her new family member who will be filling Hanabyís crater. It definitely wonít remain empty for very long.

Otis Gardnerís column appears here weekly. He can be reached at