If you know our family in real life, it's no secret that Maya loves dogs and has been asking to adopt a dog forever. Ian never showed much interest in having a pet, and certainly never asked us on a daily basis if we could get a dog (maybe because he was bitten in the face by a dog when he was a baby??). But he certainly didn't object to getting a dog. Rupert grew up with dogs so he was also quite open to the idea of adding to our family. I was the last hold-out, mostly because I knew most of the responsibility of taking care of a dog would fall on me. Add to that, my anxiety about the unknown because I'd never had a pet growing up, and the dread of having yet another living being to take care of (I'm already raising two kids and I'm not particularly good at it or enthusiastic about it), and I resisted like crazy.
[Maya, age almost-2, pretending to pick up dog poop after "walking" her wooden dogs]
But I do love animals and I understand the benefits of having a pet, especially a dog. I also knew that Maya would do her best to take care of a pet, and she's always shown us by being really good with my in-laws' dog ... or any dog, for that matter.
[Maya walking my in-laws' dog, Lucy, during the summer of 2012.]
Maya's daily barrage of, "Can we get a dog?" continued after we moved to Maryland and I held fast, saying, "You can get as many dogs as you want after you move into your own place." During the hot, humid summers, I'd see neighbors walking their dogs while I enjoyed air conditioning indoors; on rainy days, I'd see them hustling along under an umbrella with a wet dog, and I'd imagine the clean-up necessary after each walk; and during the cold and snow of winter, I sympathized with the bundled up owners (and, sometimes, bundled up dogs) as they gingerly walked on frozen sidewalks, and not-so-secretly be glad I wasn't them. Moving here solidified my conviction that I was much too lazy and weather-wimpy to have a dog.
And, yet, here we are, less than two years into Maryland Life and I'm writing about our dog. Our. Dog. We've had him for a week, and I'm still having a hard time believing that we have a dog. It's reminiscent of my feelings after giving birth. So are the moments when I think he's a great dog, and the moments when I think I must've been crazy to okay getting a dog. Raising kids and having a dog are pretty similar.
[at the adoption event in late-March]
The irony is that I only have myself to blame. I half-jokingly forwarded an email to Rupert from our neighborhood listerv that asked if anyone was interested in fostering or adopting a dachshund that was being moved from West Virginia to the nice folks at Partnership for Animal Welfare (PAW). I knew nothing about doxies except that they were originally bred to be diggers to flush out smallish animals that live in burrows, and I thought they were cute. Well, one thing led to another, and we emailed PAW, filled out an application, and went to their adoption event. And, what do you know, about a month later, we were approved to be his forever home.
So, here he is, the newest member of our family, Slinky:
That's a bad picture of a dog, isn't it? About half the time he's at home, you'll find Slinky burrowed under blankets taking a nap. This dog is pretty darn lazy, which I'm not complaining about too much.
But, like most dachshunds, he's a barker and not that friendly towards other dogs at first sight. And he randomly barks at people (maybe he's being protective of us?) but will calm down relatively quickly. He can be stubborn and occasionally digs in his heels on our walks, and other times he's so good about trotting along right next to me.
Unfortunately, he hasn't been trained so he didn't even know the command for "sit." He's also not crate-trained so he gets into mischief when I leave him at home for too long:
This is going to be a learning process, for me and Slinky most of all. But he seems to be settling in alright and, for now, appears to be attached to me the most. It's strange and flattering, but perhaps not surprising because I am the alpha of this family! (I know affection is a fickle thing and this may not last long; Maya is definitely vying for the position of Favorite Human.)
(I'll be posting pictures of Slinky at my flickr account.)
"Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do."
—E. B. White