Friday, September 26, 2008

Kaiser's Dachshund Duo

Sammy & Sadie
9/17/08 Chatterbox Betty Kaiser The game is on and the noise is deafening! Two little red dachshund bodies are facing off across our driveway. The gauntlet has been thrown. Crouched and nearly motionless, each one is reading the other’s eyes, deciding who will begin this game of “Catch me if you can.” The challenging seems to take forever. Yipping and yelping, they sound like a pack of Beagles, not miniature dachshunds. Who will make the first move? The players are Sadie and Sammy. At 8 years of age, Sadie has the edge in skill and experience. After all, she grew up playing this game with a German Shepherd! Sammy, however, has youth and stamina on his side. Now a one-year old, he learned the rules of the game the hard way. Sadie was a ruthless and formidable opponent. To survive, he had to learn quickly from his older playmate. Suddenly, Sadie darts toward Sammy and the chase is on. Propelled by toned muscled legs, Sadie quickly pulls ahead with Sammy on her heels. As soon as he seems ready to overtake her, she deftly dodges and turns, heading in the opposite direction. With a little leap, he agilely twists his little body like a pretzel and they are once again neck and neck. Sadie (the yelper and strategist) sees an opening to the left and takes it with Sammy hot on her heels. After a few minutes of this intense play, there’s an unspoken time out. Each dog momentarily rests on its own turf. You can almost see the wheels spinning: “If I do this, and he does that, maybe I can beat him at this game.” Minutes pass before the challenging starts again. This time Sammy makes the first move and Sadie is a little slow catching up. He looks over his shoulder as if to say, “Come on, you old slowpoke!” Eventually, the duo will tire of this game, straggle into Chuck’s woodshop, plop down on their cushions near the now cold woodstove and take a nice long nap. Best friends? You bet. But these two weren’t always so friendly. Sadie didn’t take too kindly to the idea of a new puppy when he came to live with us a year ago. She had some medical problems, became seriously ill and had put on about 5 pounds from steroids. She was also a one-person dog and all she really wanted was to crawl up on Chuck’s lap and sleep. Suddenly there was a new kid in the house. What a pain in the neck! She was used to being the center of Chuck’s world. Every morning they opened the shop together, checked the vegetable garden, mowed and did chores. After lunch there was usually time for a little siesta before the afternoon routine began. She especially looked forward to evenings and watching a little TV in the recliner with dad. Sammy changed all of that. Because of him, she not only had to share her main man but put up with this annoying bundle of energy. He not only diverted attention away from her but totally destroyed her daily routine. There was no rest for the weary when he was around. She’d lie down and he’d flop down on top of her and chew her ears. He was constantly challenging her to do something — anything! She would have none of it and began to growl and bare her teeth. I began to worry that she might never accept him. Wrong! As the months crawled by, she started to feel better. One day she noticed that Sammy was playing with HER toys. Her favorite squeaky toys were also his favorite. Obviously, that was not acceptable. So, their bonding began over a simple game of tug-of-war. They could spend an hour jockeying for position with a 12-inch long wiener dog toy that had a squeaker on each end. Not even playing catch with dad could compare to that. As Sadie began to feel better, her disposition began to improve. It quickly became apparent that this pup didn’t play wimpy people games. No, he knew how to play “doggie-style.” Maybe he was all right after all. A simple game of ‘fetch’ became much more exciting when she had to compete with Sammy for the ball. Hide and seek became a real challenge when competing with him for the prize. A wonderful benefit to all of this exercise was that Ms Sadie lost 5-pounds. The last year, she had become a 19-pound little sausage dog; was short of breath, shunned walks and was a total couch (recliner?) potato. Now, she is a svelte 14-pounder and looking good. She bounds around the property chasing birds, digging for moles, and plays daily games of tug-of-war, fetch and ‘chase,’ with her buddy Sammy. This Dachshund dream team joyously greets visitors, keeps the cats on their toes and the deer wary. Mom and dad? Well, they’re just happy watching the boundless energy of youth compete with the age and skill of experience. All in all, our days are a lot of fun. Game on! Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.

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