A gaggle of dachshunds
November 7, 2006
When my friends Nancy and Roger left for a three-week trip to Great Britain, their sweet brindle dachshund, Sam, became our houseguest.My dachshund puppies, Freddie and Nick, were delighted to have “Uncle Sam” for an extended visit, and Sam quickly got down to the business of getting the babies in line and teaching them the ways of the world, the foremost lesson being to bark wildly at every passing footstep on the sidewalk and every falling leaf, as well as menacing visitors and the oxygen delivery man.We all had some adjusting to do. In the past when I babysat Sam I’d take him to work with me, but my back had been killing me and I couldn’t help him into the car or even take him for walks, so he was stuck at home and clearly bored to death.Then there were the logistics of three-dog nights in the bed, I snapping on the light at three in the morning, shoving the startled snugglers aside, bellowing, “I demand one quarter of the bed!”We worked that out, more or less and, except for the barking, settled into an amicable routine, but there were incidents.Rushing off for a friend’s art opening, five of us gobbled as much of two large pizzas as we could, slipping bits of crust to the trio of dachshunds all the while, and leaving the substantial remains on the kitchen table to be consumed on our return.In our absence, Sam, who is as smart as they get and has a wry sense of humor, got up on a kitchen chair and from there onto the table, opening the pizza boxes and eating all the tops off them. Crusts, indeed!Freddie and Nick didn’t get to share in the pizza caper, but later evidence showed that they enjoyed the fruits of the great vitamin E robbery. Teresa Salvadore had sent me home from an acupuncture session with a bottle of pungent, brown vitamin E tablets, which, noticing that the bottle said, “Take with food,” left open on the kitchen table.Sam must have again crept up from chair to table, because the next thing I knew the empty bottle was lying in the puppies’ bed. There were, count ’em, 90 pills in that bottle! Ninety! And not a single one of them could be found on the table or the floor.I watched for signs of bloating, vomiting or diarrhea, but the dachshunds seemed perfectly happy and unfazed, consuming their dinner with their usual relish.A few days later after Sam had gone home, I sat on my bed shaking two Vitamin E pills from the new bottle and one bounced onto the floor. Nick dove for it and snapped it up, looking eagerly for more, clearly familiar with the product.The worst lesson Sam taught the puppies (Freddie picked up on it immediately) was how to knock over the big plastic trash can in the kitchen. I came home from lunch to find trash all over the kitchen floor and three guilty dachshunds diving under the covers. A friend of mine and I had consumed a mess of Hickory House barbecue chicken wings the night before and there had been at least two dozen bones in the trash, and there wasn’t a trace of a chicken bone in the trash on the floor.Everyone knows not to give dogs chicken bones lest they splinter and pierce intestines or get caught in throats. Someone told me the way they raise chickens these days makes their bones soft and I guess that’s true because the only ill effects were a preponderance of white, rock-hard poops for the next couple of days.Su Lum is a longtime local who will be leaving the puppies with Nancy and Roger for a couple of days next week. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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