Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Training: I haven't learned care / training techniques
Brooker, Florida, United States
Posted July 27, 2015
It has been my blessing and privilege to have loved and lived with many, many dogs; most were professionally bred, but some were adopted from shelters and some were rescued from the road. At the same time that I owned other breeds, I simultaneously loved and owned a Dachshund. Dachshunds originated in Germany, where they were bred to hunt, locate, and eliminate badgers; this practice ended long ago, but the hound and hunter characteristics of the Dachshund remain true today. Badgers are feisty and dangerous, so what traits would a dog need to conquer them? Such a dog must be stubborn, scent and sight oriented, long and thin enough to enter burrows, utterly fearless, fast, and intelligent. Dachshunds are that and considerably more; they are adorable, playful, hilarious, devoted, faithful, and lionhearted. They are my favorite breed of dog. Since I treasure and respect all animals, particularly mine, long ago I devised my own award system. Agnes, my black-and-tan Miniature Dachshund, won the award of The Best Worst Dog I Ever Loved. When preparing to leave for college, my daughter decided to gift me with another dog to help fill the empty nest and cut the pain. Together, we visited reputable breeders to choose just the right puppy for my newest forever dog. We examined and handled six puppies and then watched them play independently. One precious puppy toddled to the patio, plopping down to quietly observe her siblings at play. My daughter whispered to me, "Mom, you're getting older. That nice, quiet puppy would be great for you." Ignoring her remark about my aging process, I continued to watch another puppy who was sprinting around the yard like Dale Earnhardt ("Junior") in Number 88 banking the curves at The Daytona 500. "That's the one I want," I told my daughter. After giving me a withering look, she purchased the puppy for me and placed the wiggly little darling into my arms. As Charles Schultz said, "Happiness is a warm puppy." Upon arriving home, I reclined on the sofa, placing the puppy on my chest, as we gazed at each other solemnly. I reviewed name after name in my mind, but knew that Agnes was the right one for my new furry baby. If you have children, you are aware that nicknames abound; to the kids and all their friends, she was Aggie, but to me she was always my Agnes. Dachshunds are notorious for being difficult to house train, but I've had a lifetime of experience and know many methods to accomplish the task. I employed every strategy in my attempts to harness the wind; for the first time in my entire life, I remained defeated for the next fourteen years. Please don't misunderstand: Often, Agnes eliminated in the yard or while on a walkabout. However, she remained vexed at having to do so. She refused to venture into rain unless I held a large umbrella over her; she detested wet grass as she was low to the ground. She considered the sun far too hot and the cold immensely distasteful. Normally, my mature dog will housebreak the younger dog, which is a delightful arrangement, but even my adult Dachshund could not housebreak Agnes! Her favorite place to "go" in the house was next to my cherished elderly mother's bed. I think Agnes revered my mother for the elegant, brilliant Southern Belle that she was, and thus, wished to leave her best "presents" at Mother's bedside. No one will love you like your mother, followed closely by a dog; love covers a multitude of sins so I resigned myself to living with soiled, replaceable rugs and I habitually carried a baggie and a damp cloth tucked into my waistband. Poor lavatory manners were not Agnes's only flaw. Her running speed correlated to her bark level. I frequently said that if a leaf fell from a tree one mile from the house, Agnes would hear it and bark furiously. Actually, I appreciate a dog's bark, both for its musical conversation and for its warning and protection; however, Agnes sang a little too much, even for my dog-loving ears. All my other phenomenal dogs would stop when I advised them, "It's all right." Agnes never believed things were all right; she was sure that every guest was villainous, every sound portended danger, and every passer-by was a prowler. Curiously, though, Agnes trusted and loved other animals. She welcomed our other dog and our cats to dine from her food bowl with her; she delighted in naps cuddled amidst the cats. Agnes was a champion snuggle-bunny, nestling in my lap, burrowing under my sheets and blankets, hugging my neck, and riding on my shoulder. Sadly, the poor baby suffered from separation anxiety. Once while visiting our son at college, we left Agnes and our other dog at the apartment while we casually dined at a nearby restaurant. Upon returning to the apartment, my son turned his key in the lock, but the door refused to open. My son is a tall, broad-shouldered, strong man, but he could not force the door to allow us access. Feeling ridiculous, my husband and I joined our son in vigorous shoving; at last, we gained a couple feet of entryway. Both dogs rushed out to merrily greet us as we squeezed through the gap, where we discovered an appalling sight. No wonder the door could not be pried; Agnes had dug the wall-to-wall carpet from its tacks and heaped the lot of it against the door. That was enough, but it was not all. Agnes forced the kitchen cabinet doors wide and dragged plastic containers, pots and pans, rolls of paper towel, and paper napkins into every room; once she had scattered them to her satisfaction, she proceeded to destroy everything that was not metal. In the bedroom doorway, she chewed substantial holes in the door frame. In the bathroom, she dislodged three floor tiles. She even punched a small hole in the wall! Amazed, my son turned his startled eyes on me and said, "Man, she was pissed!" To say the least. Of course, we paid to replace the wall-to-wall carpet and the floor tiles, to install a new door frame, and to drywall, followed by new paint, not to mention a costly trip to the grocery store to purchase paper towels, napkins, and plastic containers for my son. For her part, Agnes was ecstatic that we were home. You may notice that Agnes had applied her breed characteristics to ravage my son's apartment: she dug; she hunted; she burrowed; she eliminated her prey. Understandably, my son was angry, but I did not find it difficult to forgive Agnes immediately because I had sympathy for her separation anxiety. Many times, I consulted my trusted vet about curbing, controlling, or casting out Agnes's demons. For a brief period of time, we even tried Prozac, but it made Agnes too lethargic. Finally at my wits' end after many visits, I exclaimed to my vet, "Isn't there anything we can do?" My vet sighed heavily and replied, "Mrs. W, Agnes won't be calm until she can crawl into your womb." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Since humor is essential when owning any dog, I chose to laugh. Those are just a few antidotes about the Best Worst Dog, but you may find yourself wondering why on earth I kept her. Please grant me an explanation. When I reappeared after being out very late at night, Agnes stood staunchly on the sofa, her front feet on the windowsill; my husband, my children, and even my dear mother were fast asleep in bed, but Agnes never abandoned her watch for me. We learn a lot of lessons from our children and our dogs and I am a zealous learner. Agnes taught me and my children many life lessons. For example, I cannot be good at everything. Sometimes, it is honorable to be stubborn and stand up for what you believe to be right and true. Some challenges cannot be overcome. Be ardent and enthusiastic about the people and animals you love. Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who have sinned against me. Even if you cannot understand a person's disorder, validate it; it is real to the sufferer. Patience is a virtue. Nobody is perfect. Fear can drive us to take drastic measures. Things can be replaced. Never cease in your efforts to protect the vulnerable. Hug and hold your loved ones; spend lots and lots of time with them; you may not have another opportunity. Medicine does not cure every illness. Have empathy,sympathy, and compassion for others. Share. Your dog is the only one who will never notice your faults. Love never ends. When I woke up in the night, I always saw Agnes, inches away from my face, the covers up to her neck, just like people sleep, and I felt loved, comforted, and protected. How many people make you feel that way? Agnes earned her award, The Best Worst Dog I Ever Loved, but I'll tell you a secret: Of all the marvelous dogs I've loved in my life so far, I loved Agnes the most.