Wiener, wiener, wiener. You don’t get nearly enough opportunities to say that word. And here I am, surrounded by a couple of wieners, so I get to say it all day every day for the next two weeks. Wiener! I realize that many Dachshund owners cringe at the nickname, but it’s just so damn funny. Wiener! So are the type of dogs. Wiener, that is.
Here on the Sunshine Coast, we’re caring for Jake and Harley, two wire-haired wieners that marked their first birthday while in our care. We celebrated with a new ball, an extra-long walk, tons of playtime and special treats (no cocktail wienies, sadly). To be frank (tee-hee), we actually broke our no-puppy, no-kitten rule (too high-energy) for these little schnitzels because they’re so darned cute and so much fun. And, to be honest, we needed to escape the snowdrifts of the Shuswap for milder temps by the sea.
Jake and Harley are typical Dachshunds: loyal, loving, playful, and smart. Those are the positives. The not-so-savories are that they can be stubborn, jealous, possessive of toys, high-pitched barkers and bolters. It’s best to leash them on walks because they have a tendency to chase after anything that moves, particularly badgers, which is what they were originally bred to do. They also suffer from small-dog syndrome, ie, compensating for their diminutive size with the pitch and consistency of their bark, often directed at much bigger dogs that could easily tuck them in a bun and eat them for lunch. Also, because of their architecture — long body, short legs, minimal midway support — they’re prone to back problems and should curtail high jumps. Even too many stairs can prove problematic over time, so to save their spines, many dachsies get a lift up and down from their people.
I learned that, and a bunch more from, get this, Dachshunds For Dummies. Yep, there’s one for everything. I already knew the name was German, and I knew it was not pronounced dash-hound, as a lot of people do. I had been calling them daks-unds, but apparently even that’s wrong. The correct pronunciation, according to the Dummy handbook, is daks-hoondt. Easy mistake, considering they’re not even referred to as Dachshunds in their homeland. The Germans call them Teckel or Dackel. The “dach” part means badger, their preferred prey, and the hund, you’d think, means hound, right? Wrong again. It just means dog. Regardless, the American Kennel Club classifies them as hounds but they’re a better fit in the terrier category, which is, in fact, the wirehaired’s heritage. Makes sense, since the word “terrier” means “earth dog”, and these pups, being low to the soil, love to dig in the dirt to unearth a certain kind of mammal.
Fortunately there are no confirmed sightings of the burrowing badger in these parts, so the garden is relatively safe. And what a garden it is. In February, just the crocuses and cherry trees were starting to sprout. In spring and summer, owners Pam and Dave tell us, the yard is a riot of colourful flowers and bushes. We wouldn’t be around for that, but the view at any time of year is the star of the scene: unobstructed oceanfront. Some 175 feet below us, in a steep cliff drop, the Pacific crashes upon a rocky shore. The daks brothers love to romp out there, going full-tilt for hours before they suddenly collapse on top of each other, zonked, even cuter in sleep, with their little Woodstock bed-heads.
Do we regret breaking our no-kitten, no-puppy rule? Well, despite the 6:30 wake-up whine, we fell in love with the little fellers. And you can’t beat unlimited opportunities to say wiener. We miss them already. Auf widersehen, meine lieblings.