I grew up with dachshunds--Weiner, Fritz, Willy and Hans. Although my mother denied this, one of them was usually sleeping with me, tunneling under the covers for maximum warmth. When the time came for us to get a dog for our family, the choice was obvious. We found a little of standard size pups. and traveled to the Quakertown, PA area to check them out. The puppies were in an enclosure in the breeder's living room. As I approached them, all but one ran to the other side. I picked the remaining one up and he nestled in the crook of my neck. Sold. We named him Scrapple, after the breakfast meat popular in the Dutch country around Philadelphia.
The kids were ecstatic and spoiled him rotten. I was in between jobs at first and spent lots of time playing with him on the floor. As Scrapple grew, he enjoyed roaming the back yard and woods, but always showed up for dinner. He discovered a warm spot on the living room floor above the holding tank for our oil heat system and napped there. When we put up the Christmas tree, it was as if we had done it just for him and he curled up underneath. When packages or even birthday cards arrived from my parents, he went nuts sniffing them. One winter he came up the driveway proudly carrying an entire deer spine, head held high to compensate for his short little legs (we got him to drop it be offering a piece of lunch meat). Once, he leaped onto a dining room chair and then the table to nibble a cookie on the roof of a handmade gingerbread house. He was a part of our family for 15 happy years.
Then came Oskar. He looked like Scrapple but had an entirely different personality. Full of energy, he was also very destructive as a puppy, chewing on shoes, neckties, and the cotton dhurrie rug under the kitchen table. He loved to run around and around the center "core" of the house. When we moved to a new home, Oskar would wait until we were getting ready for bed and went to the furthest corner of the house. Then he would run at warp speed into our room and pounce on the end of the bed. Dachshunds generally don't do tricks and he was no different. When one of us threw a tennis ball down the yard, he'd chase it but never bring it back. We were lucky to have him for 15 years.
Now we have Tobler (named after the Swiss candy bar because of his chocolate-colored coat). Toby is a real mama's boy and follows me all over the house and yard. Like all dachshunds, he loves warmth and always seeks out a patch of sun on carpet for his morning nap. Because he has Cushing's disease (a malfunction of the adrenal glands), Toby must take daily medications and is constantly hungry. It's a constant negotiation for treats and snacks like baby carrots or refried beans spread on a lick-pad. He plays with only two toys: a mangy-looking three-legged donkey and an even mangier pink platypus, also missing a leg. I bought him a fluffy white bed that he ignored for months, finally deigning to just sleep next to it. After a long time, he finally got in it. At ten years old, it's an effort for him to jump up on the couch or bed, so we make it easier for Toby by putting a soft wedge Andy bought for me when I was recovering from back surgery next to the couch or ottoman at the end of the bed. Now Toby is able climb up with ease. Sometimes, we wake up with Toby snuggled between us at the head of the bed, happy as can be. It's a dog's life and we love living it with him.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.