September 3, 2009

Wiener Dog Memories

I used to have a Dachshund. His name was Howie. He's been on my mind a lot lately.
This is my story of Howie the wiener dog........

I am not a dog person.

I am not a PET person, period, and yet I spent 18 years married to a man who was the proverbial "little-boy-who-had-animals-follow-him-home". Our life was a constantly revolving door of dogs, cats, racing pigeons, chickens, pheasants, tarantulas, mice, snakes, lizards, fish....well, you get the general idea. (see: chicken story and snake story)

While I tolerated all this (what else could I do?), I was never really an active participant in much of it. Oddly enough, my 3 kids weren't much interested, either. I guess they didn't inherit whatever gene that was that Husband seemed to get an extra helping of.

In 1992, our family went from 5 people in the house down to 2 in the short span of 6 months. Daughter got married and moved away. Oldest son went off to college, and Husband left in search of greener pastures. 12 yr.old Son and I, like deer caught in the headlights, were left to figure out a new kind of life together, just the two of us.

Somewhere during all of that adjustment, Youngest Son caught me in a weak, shell-shocked moment and asked if we could get not one, but TWO dachshund puppies and for some reason that still puzzles me, I said yes. That is how Howie and Oscar came into our lives.

We accidentally stumbled across a group of Dachshund owners that met twice a year in Balboa Park in San Diego for a 'Wiener Dog Picnic" and we attended several times. Each time the group seemed to have doubled! Trust me, you haven't lived until you've seen over 100 wiener dogs all in one place, especially at Halloween when most of them are in costumes! That was really a lot of fun, even for a non-dog person like me!

Sadly, when the wieners were about a year and a half old, we lost Oscar to the busy street in front of our house. That clever dog had figured out how to climb a low, twisted tree in the backyard and jump over the 4 ft. fence! (I know what you're thinking, but really, I saw it with my own eyes!)

A few years later the three of us, Youngest Son, Howie, and I, moved out of our house and into an apartment. I became one of those people that I never thought I'd be in million years....someone who has to get home to "walk the dog". Someone who stands on the sidewalk holding one end of a leash with a pooping dog on the other end. Someone who has to carry a bag of poop while making a mad dash to the nearest trash can.

And then, horror of horrors, it happened!! Youngest Son, at 19, went off to start his own life and left me with the dog! Howie and I lived in that small apt.complex (20 units) for 7 years. Many new neighbors would come and go and often before I got the chance to meet them they somehow already knew Howie (neighbor kids would occasionally walk him for me ). One friendly little 6 year old neighbor never could remember my name but always cheerfully greeted me with "Hi, Howie's Owner!" GREAT!! Not only did I have to carry the wiener dog's poop, but he was more well know than me, too! The ultimate indignity!!!

My kids thought the whole thing was quite funny! Just me and The Dog. Daughter was living 400 miles away and Howie would ride shotgun on all of our trips back and forth to Modesto. Ha! Ha! Mom actually travels with a dog! Ha! Ha! Mom is actually really attached to a DOG!

Ok! Ok! So I'll admit it.....Howie helped get me through my empty nest trauma and he was a good dog.....we had some good times together.....

Then, 5 years ago, I bought this house with Son, Daughter-in-Law,and (then) 3 month Granddaughter. Howie was 12 and feeling his age. He had some aches and pains in his hips and was somewhat cranky. By the time Granddaughter started crawling, it was obvious that we had a problem. She was a very aggressive baby and just wanted to "play" with Howie and he did his best to stay out of her way. Then came the day when she managed to sneak up on him and "pat" him on his aging sore back. He of course instinctively nipped at her, his tooth hit her face and there was a little of them had to go and it seemed best to keep the baby since her parents were rather attached to her, and after all, I'm not really a dog person.....but where would I find a suitable home for a cranky, aching 12 yr.old Dachshund? I didn't know what to do....

The following week, while leaving Howie at a doggie hotel for the weekend, I mentioned that I was looking for a new home for him. When I returned to pick him up a few days later, an 18 yr. old employee was waiting to tell me that her family had 2 wiener dogs and would love to give Howie a new home! HALLELUJAH!! I packed up all of his things and took him to his new home the next day. They were such great people and loved Howie right from the start. Much to my surprise, I cried all the way home. Yes, me, the non-dog person who never wanted a dog in the first place, cried all the way home.

Two months later when Daughter and family came to visit, I had to break the news to (then) 6 yr.old Granddaughter, who was especially attached to him. She was so crushed that she hadn't gotten to say good-bye that I called the new family and asked to visit. When Granddaughter and I walked in the door Howie was overjoyed to see us!! We had a nice visit and heard all about how everyone in the family loved him, a Vet in the family was helping with his hip problem, and how he would come running when he heard the freezer door open because he knew he would get an ice cream sandwich! Granddaughter looked at me and said "Wow Mimi! You never gave him ice cream sandwiches! They must really love him here!" We left there with a clear conscience, knowing he was in the best place for him.....but I had to choke back tears once again as he ran to the front door expectantly when he heard my keys jingling.......

Earlier this year, Daughter's family got a Dachshund of their own, which is quite amazing since Daughter is even less of a dog-person than I am!

This is Dennis

Except for his color, Dennis looks very much like Howie. The same face, the same expressions, the same bark. I'm always startled when I think I hear Howie barking...Deja-vu

Dennis has made me think of Howie a lot lately. My family has suggested that I call his family and ask about him, but I know it's highly unlikely that he is still around at age 17, crankier and more achy than ever. I just prefer to remember him being carried around everywhere and being fed ice cream sandwiches.....

Wherever you are Howie, know that I think of you often and thank you for making me a little more of a dog-person than I ever thought possible


Kathi D said...

I love this story! How nice that Howie wormed his way into your non-dog heart!

Anonymous said...

Love it! I'm not a dog person either, really I'm not....then Sprocket arrived on the scene and stole my heart! Mind you, it is probably easier to love him as he lives at Mum's house!