A Dachshund is a curious creature. He is a member of canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the gray wolf, a member of the canidae family of the mammalian order carnivora. Therefore, he is one of the animals commonly known as the “domestic dog,” used widely for hunting, herding, and companionship with humans throughout history.
He therefore has everything in common with Golden Retrievers, Poodles and Beagles – except that he is short, squat and bears an uncanny resemblance to the sausage Americans put into rolls and eat on summer holidays, known as the “hot dog.”
Not only does he differ widely from other canines in body type, he is a different type of personality, too. He exudes neither the non-judgmental friendliness of the Golden nor the polite hauteur of the Poodle. Although a short-legged plebian, he is entirely independent in his tastes and his decisions. He does what he likes and doesn’t give a damn what you think about it.
A smooth Dachsund named Diesel shares my home. Like many smooths, he is not an overtly friendly guy. He prefers to ignore people he doesn’t know, which is confusing to humans who expect to be greeted always and everywhere with big, slobbery kisses, not Diesel’s stare of disdain.
What I love about Diesel – his sleek, muscular, smooth body. His alert attention to everything going on around him. The way his ears flap up and down as he runs. The fact that as a Miniature Dachshund, he can be carried easily, his body the same length as my forearm.
But most of all, I love his joy. He has a wellspring of joy so deep that when I tell him we are going for a walk in the morning, he responds by leaping into the air, nearly a foot off the ground! Not just once, but again and again he surrounds me with leaps until I feel like the centerpiece in a Ballet Trockadero des Monte Carlo (the company where big muscular men in drag dance all the parts, even the graceful swans and flitting fairies).
So it is with a shaking head and complete confusion that I say that Diesel is banned from further morning walks.
Our walks take us down a dead end section of a one-lane country road. We pass five driveways, then come to a gate that blocks off six more homes in the distance. We encounter cars only one morning out of three. When we do, my pack responds to my call by huddling at the side of the road and receiving a piece of hot dog from my pocket until the car passes.
Except for Diesel. Two days ago, instead of coming into the huddle, he planted himself in the middle of the road and stared down the driver. The driver waited politely for Diesel to move. While I called, yelled and pleaded, Diesel suddenly turned and took off up the road, back towards our house, with the car following behind him, at his pace, which was less than one mile per hour, all a Dachshund’s short legs can manage at full speed.
Why didn’t he move to the shoulder, which is soft and grassy? Why did he stay right in the center so that it was impossible for the driver to pass him?
Here’s the embarrassing part; the car was driven by our neighbor and veterinarian, Dr. Karen Taylor Sorenson. Dr. Karen was forced to follow him for half a mile, until he reached my driveway and turned in.
It’s as though he thinks he is as big as a garbage truck and there is not enough room for both him and a car on the road.
Our vet is getting a note of apology in the mail from me. And Diesel is being retired from the morning walk routine. It’s not his favorite activity, anyway, that would be crotch-sniffing all the female Griffy kennelmates. That’s what really gives him joy.