Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dog Stars, Or What Have I Done?

Lola and Tony
Tony was left in a motel lobby, by someone hoping some suckers nice people would take him in. 

I thought, no big deal. After all, we already have a dog.

Is Lola, our 9-year-old standard poodle, perfectly behaved? No. She jumps on visitors, particularly ones that don’t want to be jumped on. She dumps over the garbage.

But she is now the reasonable one, next to Tony.

That’s not really true. He is a cute, sweet boy.

But he is so different from Lola.

Lola was a distinct choice. We read up on poodles. They are famous for being smart and high-energy. (Actually, after Lola outsmarted me a few times, I began to wonder whether a dumb, low-energy dog might not have its own advantages.) Poodles are very social; they make eye contact with people. They walk with a spring in their step that’s called “the poodle prance.” I read that I shouldn’t be surprised if my poodle does not ever want to be out in the yard by herself. Meet Lola. Lola (“poodle” comes from the German for “puddle”) strides through every puddle she comes across.

I’ve now been reading about Tony, who appears to be mostly dachshund

Ut oh.

Dachshunds are notoriously difficult to housebreak. Bred to go after badgers, they are brave to the point of foolhardiness. Tony has appointed himself guard dog already. As hounds, dachshunds are obsessed with food. Tony’s strategy is “eat first, decide if it’s food later.” He eats leaves, twigs, dirt, wood chips. And they hate getting their feet wet. The first rainy day, Tony peeked out the door, then turned tail to run back inside. Forced to come out, he ran to the dry ground under our eaves – and refused to pee.

Wish me luck.

P.S. Here’s what EB White had to say about his dachshund, Fred: “Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot … I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command … Of all the dogs whom I have served I’ve never known one who understood so much of what I say or held it in such deep contempt. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something that he wants to do.” 


  1. Your Tony looks a lot like the "Dorgi" (a supposed cross between Dachshund and Corgi) that turned up at my friend's place out in the country. Nacho was still essentially a puppy, so somebody obviously dumped him off. My friend's daughter took him home to her apartment in Dallas, where he proceeded to demolish her $2500 couch in his separation anxiety when she was only taking a shower. He's gotten better and she loves him dearly, but he is a handful.

    We had a mini-Dachshund named Rudy that we rescued from the shelter. You are right about house training Dachshunds. I would walk Rudy around outside for fifteen or twenty minutes and...nothing. Come back inside and suddenly hear "whiz, whiz, whiz"...he was peeing on the leg of the kitchen island. Eventually he got the idea, but it was a bit of a struggle. He was super sweet with us, but if he was in the car and anyone else approached, he would act like a rabid animal. His eyes actually flashed blue, if you can believe that. (Must have been fully dilated or something.) And Dachshunds have 48 teeth, more than other breeds. He was ready to use all of them on the imaginary intruder. But he got along great with our Chihuahua, Pepe. They slept cuddled up together and he missed Pepe greatly when he passed on to that Great Dog Park in the sky.

    1. Awww, that's sweet about Rudy and Pepe. Tony and Lola seem to be great friends, they romp around the house a lot, although every once in a while, like when he's walked under her to smell her lady parts, she gives me a look that clearly says, "What have you done?" But when I took them both in the car, she was actually calm for the first time in years. (After a bad experience with a groomer, she starts to think that's where she might be headed and, poor thing, she starts to shake and whine.)

      Incidentally, we named him Tony because he came to us the weekend Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died. But we keep having to tell people: (a) yes, we know (now) that Scalia's nickname wasn't Tony, it was Nino and (b) no, we did not name our little dog after him because we agreed with any of his positions. Jeeze.

  2. Oh, and I forgot. Once, Rudy came across a dead baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. It hadn't quite feathered out yet and was covered in pin feathers. Rudy ate it whole. In one bite. I anxiously awaited some sign of gastric distress. Nothing. Then I anxiously awaited what would come out the other end. Just the usual. Amazing.