We’ve spent most of this winter and spring on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, easily one of my favourite places, not only in the province or the country, but in the world. Kilometres of pebbly beaches, craggy cliffs above crashing waves, woodsy trails, and the small-town vibe that increasingly matches my own energy level are to die for — literally, since to breathe my last breath here wouldn’t be a bad thing. Preferably when I’m old and feeble, natch. On top of the scenic appeal, the friends we’ve made, both of the two- and four-legged variety, find us dying (figuratively) to return.
Speaking of four-legged friends, after cozying up to cats in Garden Bay, hanging with the gorgeous golden doodle in Sechelt, we wrapped our time here in Halfmoon Bay with Jake and Harley. Our first stint with this pack of wieners last year was short, roughly two weeks (chronicled here). This time, at nearly double that, we’ve come to know (and love) them more.
At age two, the little brothers still exhibit the usual dachshund traits — jealous, head strong, loyal, feisty and fun — but their personalities, on closer inspection, are really quite polar. Since Jake is the big (and bigger) brother, he pretty much calls the shots; Harley, the runt, falls in line. As if aware of his size and status, the little guy seems to be forever apologizing for his very existence. Submissively crouching, ducking his head, peering up with pleading eyes, it’s like he’s saying, “So sorry for being in the room, taking up space, breathing the air that could be used by somebody better. I know I’m worthless, but please don’t cast me out.” No matter how much you praise him, reassure him he’s a good little boy, he seems ready to accept blame for any and all transgressions, past, present and future, by him or anyone else.
Out in the big, wide world, however, he’s a different dog. Untethered from homebound hierarchy, he’s a free spirit. Plunk him in front of water and he makes a splash. Where Jake will often observe from a safe distance, Harley leaps feet-first into pools, lakes and sea with unbridled glee. On walks, it’s trailblazing Harley way out front, Jake hanging behind. Out here, beyond the fences, he’s free to be he.
Back at home, where Harley couldn’t care less about common canine behaviour such as ball-chasing (unless it’s to tick off his brother, then he grabs it and hoards it), Jake is obsessed. He doesn’t quite get the concept of fetch and retrieve, however. Hell, he doesn’t quite get release. He whines for you to throw it, and can’t understand why you refuse, regardless of the fact that said ball is clamped firmly between his teeth. Turn your attention to Harley, however, and plop! There’s the ball. He’ll even nudge it over to you with his nose. Here, take it, all yours. When you try, he pounces on it, gripping it in his jaws, beseeching you with his eyes to throw it.
So he’s not the brightest playmate, Jake isn’t, but to be fair, that’s not in his DNA. The dachshund — “half-a-dog high, dog-and-a-half long” — was bred in its native Germany to flush out badgers and other burrowing critters, the crop-ruining bane of farmers across the land. Their slim, sausage bodies are perfect for sliding down the rabbit hole. Training, however, is another animal. A stubborn breed, they’re notoriously difficult to house break and are quite averse to following instructions. They likely feel they can get by on their looks, that any misdeed they’ve committed will be easily forgiven by their sheer cuteness. And it works.
There are no badgers in these parts, but these doxies do snap to attention whenever they hear the slightest rustling in the garden, launching themselves into the underbrush after a squirrel or rodent. In the case of Jake, ball in mouth. Always. At the end of the day, when we finally pry it from his death-gripping maw, the dog-tired little wienies leap onto the couch, nestle at our sides, and burrow into our hearts.