“Would You Like Mustard with that Hotdog?; a Sometimes Spicy Journey with Dachshunds

Meditation Pre-summer 2013



“Would You Like Mustard with that Hotdog?; a Sometimes Spicy Journey with Dachshunds”



I am lucky enough to live with two dachshunds, an elder of sixteen years this month, and a two year old who celebrated her birthday last May. People always get a laugh out of the name of my old boy, “Low-rider” but that is certainly what he is. That song, “….low…ride…DUH!’


Recently, I read an article about the fact that dachshunds are strong-willed. Yes, it is true. When we first hit the back yard, each goes to his or her longest extension of their leashes to pee as far away from each other as possible. Personal statements I suppose, it kills my shoulders.


The breed was modified to hunt badgers. I don’t know how many readers have seen an adult badger. We had one in the zoo in Syracuse for awhile. One day as I was strolling past, he or she popped out of his burrow and sat up on hind legs to survey the world. I was amazed that a little long-waisted dog would be inclined to enter a den and fight a creature this large and well equipped for self-defense.


No doubt about it, they are very brave. I see this many nights when we go out for the last time, in the dark. Often people cut through our property on their way to the shopping plaza. Saturday night as we headed back to our door, a man in a big white tee-shirt appeared out of the black and raised his arms like a ”monster” and shouted “Boo!”  Of course, that shocked me,

but for once I did not feel inclined to ask the dogs for silence. In response to their fierce barks, he headed away up the bank, gave us a wide, laughing berth.Recently I read another interesting canine fact. Dogs don’t intuit what it is we want. Hence, when Low-rider plants his stubby legs and leans back against the leash and gives me “the look” aka “I SAID I want to sniff HERE!” while I want to keep going, I have to make eye contact and tell him “Let’s go!” He is deaf and has cataracts. Communication is a challenge. Dogs depend a lot on eye contact for passing information.


 My other dachs, Sassafras-T, Sassie for short, is a total girl. Her behavior is reminiscent of my late Labrador retriever Annie’s.  Annie used to own everyone’s toys. Back then I thought it was neurotic collecting behavior or at least a retriever behavior. Now I wonder if it is a female thing.


All my dogs and cats have always been neutered. However, Sassie will pop her head up from her place on the bed, suddenly jump off and race out of the room with clear intention. Shortly, she returns with a treasured toy in her mouth. How many times have I watched her carefully sort through her toy basket and then carry a selected group of objects from one place to another? She especially likes small stuffed animals minus stuffing. I suspect she is moving her puppies. Conscientious, frequent moves are a part of her daily life. Someone once said that dogs do not have object permanence in their brains. Not true of dachshunds!


To work off anxiety, stress, or simply to relax before bed, she always chews on one certain chew bone or other. Doggy yoga. After about ten minutes, or as long as I read to get sleepy, she, too, nods off.


When I was ill last winter with the stomach virus, taking the dogs three flights down and lingering in the snow just was not an option. My brother came over and helped. At some point he wondered aloud if I couldn’t figure out a place for them to go in the apartment in emergencies such as this.


Sassie and Low-rider were both crate-trained as babies. Once we moved, it wasn’t long before Sassie explained what she thought of the crate by entering it to poop, rather than soil the carpet. Since then, she sleeps in bed, usually near my head.


  One day while moving stuff from home to studio, I pulled out the crate

tray.  Bought some of those training pads for puppies at Walmart.  Accidents are few and far between, but they have happened. I placed the tray with pad over the spot I ‘d cleaned up. After two days of ignoring it, Sassie used it and then rolled the poop up in the pad with her nose in the middle of the night. Success! A back-up plan in time of crisis. The tray stays next to the front door. When she has had an accident it was as close to the door, or outside, as possible.


She came into my life under circumstances I did not control. I was simply relieved to have a new dog, having been told  many times that we would be without pets as soon as they all died. A depressing notion to someone, me who had been born into a family with cats and dog.


Life is mysterious and has moments of true magic.  Because Sassie came from where she did, and because I took her with me when I moved out of my marriage—threats to put her in the shelter ringing in my ears, I met someone who is a film maker. In his spare time, among other things, he boards dogs in his home. He and Low-rider really bonded. Until I was single I had never been able to talk about my work or his, with him when dropping off or picking up the dogs. He ended up making the film trailer for my debut novel “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.”


After a phone call which included the topic of artists helping each other in this world of diminishing grants monies and gallery closings, he offered to use my book as a prop in a series of commercials he is shooting. Of course, I said “Yes!” He planned to zoom in on a nice tight shot of the cover art.

Yesterday, I picked up the book I’d lent him and the DVDs. I thought to ask


what product or company was the commercial about. He replied that the owner of the pet store where my ex. had purchased Sassie, had bought a chunk of air time. The commercials include a grandparent and grandchild. The elder is reading from TCTEW to the younger. A good match, then, “The Complete Tales…” with its cast of  caring, magical animal characters and people who love their animal family members.


While circumstances back then, when Sassie came into my life were dark, if we had not become family, “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods” would not be coming to the world of television.  As much as I dislike this expression, in this case, I truly believe it: Sassie and me, meant to be.


2 Responses to ““Would You Like Mustard with that Hotdog?; a Sometimes Spicy Journey with Dachshunds”

  1. clare willson Says:

    Karma is for real! Great story!

  2. clover58 Says:

    After several interruptions, I’ve finally finished this piece and thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ve met both of your dogs, but never knew a lot about them. Very nice! Maybe one day I’ll meet the rest of your family!

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