Last weekend was a sad one for us. Our beloved miniature dachshund, Fred, drowned in my dad’s Koi pond. Fred was a great dog. Sure he had his faults. These were determined almost immediately upon bringing him home from the breeder. “Fred,” I would tell him, “you need to shape up. You smell like a dog. And it’s not nice to steal people’s hearts.” He didn’t listen to me and never really overcame these problems.
Fred and I were both intrigued my wife’s beautiful long hair. If it dangled within reach, he would bite at it and tug gently. “Stop it, Fred!” was her interjection when I did this too. Fred was a great accomplice. Sadly, he lost interest in this game and I started to get in trouble.
We adopted a humane society dog at the same time as we got Fred. Frankie is a lab/pug mix. She came housebroken and already knew how to sit on command. The only trick Fred could do on command was “act cute”. I was always amused to use this command with him because it worked. Not that he did anything, he was just cute anyway. After he did his trick I would remind him of his fault again. “It’s not nice to steal people’s hearts, Fred.”
There are both problems and benefits of being a little dog. Fred used his size frequently in his escape-artist act. He would be placed safely in some space such as the kitchen, the back yard, his crate, etc. “Presto! Heeeere’s Fred.”
Click through for the rest of the story.
On a visit to my parent’s house we put our little puppy in the kitchen and went out to dinner. Fred excitedly greeted us at the front door when we returned. My dad, being a staunch advocate of dogs living outside, was not amused. When we discovered a big yellow puddle on the kitchen floor and another Fred present on the carpet, dad let the little dog have it. It didn’t matter that the yellow puddle was just the crock pot boiling over, Fred would have to perform a bigger trick than his usual “act cute, Fred” to steal my dad’s heart.
It turns out that Fred was just small enough to get through the toe kick at the corner of the kitchen. A toe kick is the little undercut at the bottom edge of cabinetry. Fred became very fond of this space because it was right at his height. It also was associated with interesting snacks in the kitchen. When we finished preparing dinner, he would sniff his way along the toe kick and clean up after us. This must have been a rewarding practice because he would sniff along toe kicks everywhere – at the Home Depot, under people’s dressers, at motels. Fred was definitely an optimist.
The problems with being a little dog are numerous. The lawn gets harder to navigate as it gets bigger. People can’t see you and so they step on you. Fred dealt with these problems in his own creative style. In soggy Longview it is pointless to put posts in the ground lest they rot soon afterwards. My fence is no exception, it has a concrete footing running the perimeter of the yard. We called it the Fred highway. If the grass was wet or long, you could count on Fred using this route. He hated water and to my dismay he would pee on the porch if it was too wet for him.
Fred was my present to Chris during our first Christmas together. Training a dog is certainly a good way to get to know the woman you will marry. We had to deal with all the puppy annoyances like potty training and whining. She was somewhat relieved of these duties since we didn’t live together yet and she couldn’t have pets at her apartment. He grew fairly obedient about coming when called and was very affectionate. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. I figured he was socially adjusted enough to be the ring-bearer at our wedding. Chris agreed but our pastor didn’t. I can still envision him running down the aisle. Running under a few pews. Doing some pirouettes. Excitedly running towards the nearest lady that smelled nice. It was probably a good thing to exclude him.
One night I came to bed and snuggled up close to my new bride. She smiled at me before I was distracted by something odd. “You smell like a dog!” I exclaimed suddenly wondering if Fred’s faults were contagious. She just laughed at me and pointed out that the “pillow” I had my head on was Fred. He didn’t move a muscle and blended in with the navy/plaid sheets better than I figured a black and gray dog would.
Fred did some amazing things in his two years with us. He hiked 20 miles with us on a scout hike. He went on a couple of cross country ski trips and refused to be carried. Frankie got to run and frolic in the snow and so did he. Fred was a little taskmaster when we went hiking. He got nervous and paced back and forth when our party got spread out. He even overcame his fear of water enough to hike through small streams.
My little Christmas present met his end right before Christmas this year. He went outside to do his business and pester Frankie in the snow. He never came back inside. My water-hater found a wet end. I can still imagine him thinking, “See I tried to tell everyone this was bad stuff!”
It amazes me how such a small dog took up so much space in my house. Wherever I was, he was always underfoot. He woke me up in the morning trotting up and down the hallway, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. I always fed Frankie first and Fred’s little head would pop out of the crate and his little eyes would stare at me with this look that said, “Come on! Where’s my food?”
No spot where the sun shines in the house was safe from Fred sitting there. He would even find the sun puddles on the edge of the bookshelves. He would work his way into people’s laps, snuggle close to Frankie in bed, and bark at any critter that came in the yard. The house is definitely more laid back without the little taskmaster.
I thank God that we enjoyed Fred for these years. He will be missed by all the hearts he stole in his short time with us.