Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Dachshund Chronicles

I challenge anyone to live with a Dachshund and not smile at her constantly or go insane. There is no in-between emotion with these dogs. They are little leaping frenetic tubes of pure, unbridled energy who want to start their days at six o'clock every morning even if their "masters" (that would be me, by the's just that none of us know it, least of all the dog) had to baby-sit another nonstop but taller tube of frenetic energy (from here on out referred to as a "grandchild") until midnight the night before.

The routine is always the same:

Me: Sleeping soundly.

Dog: Pouncing all over the bed at five-forty-five Sunday morning, putting her nose on my nose, climbing onto my pillow like she's dragging herself up a fourteen-hundred foot peak in the Rocky Mountains, using those little front, short badger-digging legs to claw at my scalp, winding her little nicely-pedicured toenails in my hair then removing them in one strong tug, burrowing under the covers and touching that wet, cold nose against my back, then running the last five feet of the Boston Marathon back up onto the pillow to plop her twenty-five-pound miniature Daschshund body onto the top of my head until, at six o'clock, I cry uncle and extract myself and get up.

Those are our roles and we have rehearsed them for the past four years, everyday, and are now just waiting for our big Hollywood break.

There is one rule that is mine, that Annie has to respect, only because she cannot reach the doorknobs...I WILL have a cup of coffee before we head to the back yard to chase birds.

Mother Nature provides a virtual Pandora's Box of creatures right in my own back yard, who can keep Annie amused for five minutes, or until her attention span wanes, whichever comes first. Birds are her challenges. Ever since a cat allowed her to play with a bird that he had caught and dragged into The Beach House a year ago, which Annie immediately took proud credit for, which is probably why she has no friends, she has had the idea that she will catch a bird to play with.

Every time we go outside, the first thing she does is attempt to sneak up on whatever birds are eating bugs in the grass. Now, I have watched this sport of hers for years, and believe me, so have the birds. They have impeccable timing. Just before Annie reaches them, the flutter off unceremoniously and say to their pals in the tree, "That stupid dog." I can almost speak the language well enough to understand that now.

Open the door, out runs Annie at six-fifteen in the morning. The first two or three birds are chased to the fence or the tree by a black and brown, overweight, floppy-eared imitator of Sneaky Snake; Annie acts indifferent and tries to not look embarrassed, then rushes the fence to see if possibly, this time, she might be able to somehow persuade the big red male cardinal to lose his mind and land at her feet so she may claim victory at last!

This morning was no different as far as the routine, right up to the point when Annie caught her first bird (here on out known as a large butterfly). She was so excited! She was barking and telling the entire neighborhood that she had CAUGHT A BIRD!!

I can imagine her telling the story to her grandchildren, her hair gray, toothless gums withering with age, " Yeah, children, I caught a bird once! It was just teasing me, making fun of my short, stubby front legs and my long, lithe, perfectly toned body and I chased it around and around and around! I wouldn't give up, I would NOT give up! I chased and swiped my tail at it, growled ferociously, barked, drove it INSANE, I tell you! Then, after an hour of playing its game, I went in for the kill!"

This is where the grandchildren would gasp and jump back a little, then move back in, hungry to hear the rest of the story.

"With all the energy I could muster, I made one final leap and took...him...down! So the moral of this story is, don't you EVER give up on your dreams!"

I glanced up from my cup of coffee, still in my early morning stupor, to see Annie taunting the poor unsuspecting prey, then gobbling it up wing by wing to prevent me taking it away from her, like there was any chance I was going to touch a wet-with-dog-slobber, half-mauled butterfly. I started to say, "Hey, Annie, sorry to disappoint you, girl, but that's just a butterfly you've captured." But then I smiled, patted her on the head and shuffled back to my chair.

If she wants to believe she finally, after four years caught a bird, who am I to kill the mood?

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