A dachshund family reunion
November 14, 2007
For days I had been singing, “You’re going to see your MOMmy! You’re going to see your sister FRANKie!” to my dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nick.
Just for the record, I did not believe that the dogs knew what those words meant, but they understood the air of excitement, and by the time my friend Hilary Burgess and I were putting on their collars they were pretty sure this was going to be a swell time.
We were headed for the Bedding Down mattress store in the Willits Design Center, where the puppies’ original owners, David and Cathy White, waited with Ginger and Frankie, their mother and sister, whom they last saw in May when they were 8 weeks old and the size of a couple of smallish rats.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but something along the lines of recognizing their own kind and, at best, an instant affinity. The only other dogs they’ve really taken to are dachshunds, Tucker and Sam, and surely blood would be even thicker than that.
In short, I was wrong.
There is a noise that the puppies make when they are hysterical (meeting a big dog or a wild raccoon), an earsplitting screaming, yoiking, howling that sounds like hounds at a kill, and this was the noise Frankie made as she raced down the hall of her domain to confront the intruders.
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Freddie and Nicky immediately leapt onto my lap, clutching at my arms and neck, trembling from head to tail in terror.
The humans were all on the floor, coaxing and cajoling, two cameras snapping. Sweet Ginger flopped on her back to get her tummy rubbed, Frankie sought sanctuary in David’s arms, and Freddie and Nicky oinked and whined and shook and clung, acting as if they had been flung into a pit of rattlesnakes.
Sandwiches were brought out, bringing all the dachshunds to attention, treats trumping panic. Cameras clicked as meatloaf, ham and cheese were doled out to eager beaks, a sweet interlude broken when Nicky viciously snarled and snapped at Frankie over a bit of bread.
Frankie looks just like Freddie, slender and elfin, slightly smaller and definitely female. Cathy said Nicky, who is built like a tank and outweighs all of them by at least five pounds, is more like his father. Even little Freddie was bigger than his mother and sister. At The Aspen Times, they look like mice among the incumbent bulldogs, retrievers and spaniels.
The feeding calmed everyone down ” time for a pee break in an enclosed area outside. Freddie and Nicky went one way, and Ginger and Frankie another, and when we went back inside there was some nose touching, and the trembling had stopped, but there were also lifted lips and suspicious looks.
If they were all together for a week, coexistence might have turned to companionship, but as far as familial recognition goes, the experiment failed dramatically. As we leashed them up to leave, they didn’t look back and hurtled to the car.
When my dachshund Peter Mouse met his brother, they were instant buddies. When, after an early four-year separation, my daughters finally saw each other again, they bonded immediately.
But you just never know how your kids are going to behave, as I found out when my daughter Hillery, at 3, craned her neck to look up at the sweet old lady patting her head and said, in a voice that rang through the post office, “YOU look just like an old WITCH.”
On a high note, we got some great photos, and I now have Ginger and Frankie on my screen-saver.
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