Adding to the Family

Henry the Dachshund

We try to take advantage of area activities on summer weekends, but the problem usually is that we have lousy local news outlets – they seem almost never have notices of events ‘before’ they occur, just afterwards.  I suppose it’s possible that no one has ever brought this to the attention of those who run such publications -for instance, myself included- but wouldn’t you think some such things are self evident?  But it happens that we have a local “shopper’ type paper -you know, the kind that’s filled with free ads- and while looking through that, we saw an ad for a Canine Adoptathon to be held on Saturday.  And so, we decided to go.

Now, we’ve been on the lookout for a dog for sometime.  Actually, it’s been almost 5 years since our last dog, Zoe, passed on.  I guess the fact that it’s taken this long is due in part to the reality that having a dog actually does hamper a family in what it can freely do – I also remember that we spent quite a bit of money on Zoe’s vet bills in her last year of life – that can also put a damper on future doggie enthusiasm.

Another factor that has kept us from a final decision is that I was waiting for a decision from Sandee, and she from me – and even though we had discussed this fact, it didn’t seem to make the final decision any easier.

But we’ve never shied away from the idea of getting a ‘rescue’ dog from the local pound – but we soon learned that our local pound has a few really dumb policies, one of which is that they do not allow trial visits for prospective adoptions.  Frankly, I can’t think of why this policy would serve their purposes, since they remain the county’s last resort option for dogs which are picked up off the streets, or simply dropped off at their door for that matter.  But nine out of ten dogs in our county shelter have practically empty data sheets on their kennel – and when you own a cat -as we do- you’d like to know if the dog you’re about to bring home is a cat killer, among other things!

And so, although we saw many nice looking dogs at that shelter, we felt we couldn’t deal with their policies.  However, the organization that was running the Adoptathon was a private organization that functioned to serve families who, for one reason or another, could no longer care for their dog – and the organization tries to assist in locating a new family.  And not only did they have lots of available info on their dogs, but they also had a trial visit policy.

On the Saturday of our visit, the Adoptathon was set up in an empty storefront at the local mall – as we entered, we first saw lots of cats in a big floor cage – and then a few puppies – and then, toward the rear, a few large cages with mostly small dogs, and a few medium sized ones.  This is interesting, because at the county shelter, almost every dog weighs more than 40 lbs, with most well over 50 lbs.  But I think the folks at the Adoptathon knew that the smaller a dog is, the easier it is to adopt it out – not only that, but when your space is limited, you can have 2, maybe 3, smaller dogs in the same space it’d take for 1 big one.

We first warmed to a very active beagle type of maybe 20 lbs – as we talked to a staffer at the cage area, she sensed we may be considering this one, and she wisely redirected our attention to an older, less active dachshund type named Henry – I’ve always thought of the dachshund look as so absurd that it made them somehow cute – but this one didn’t look like a pure bred, since it was smaller and had a dappled coat.  However, he was short legged, and very long.

Henry Has One Blue Eye and One Brown Eye

Henry had a very friendly disposition, and a very distinctive face – one eye was blue, and the other brown – the staffer explained that most dappled dachshunds have the same bi-colored eyes – we took Henry for a walk, and of course, he was very nervous at being in a strange place with all these new people.  I really don’t know what anyone would learn from such a walk with a new pet in such an environment.  I guess it allows a couple to discuss the gamut of considerations in the decision to adopt or not to adopt – and we decided that we would take Henry home with us.

Henry Patiently Awaits His Walk

It’s been a week now, since Henry has joined our family – we are among those who believe that dogs will always think of humans as simply members of their pack – therefore, the most successful dog households are those where the humans begin to think like dogs, instead of treating the new dog as a baby, which many people do.  And we were delighted to learn that Henry was not new to this approach.  Within a day or two, Henry was sitting on command, as well as several other basic commands – proper leash walking took an additional day or so to reintroduce, and the most critical of all dog training, housebreaking, was an immediate success.  If for no other reason, I will, from this day on, only consider adopting an older dog rather than a puppy – to me, cuteness is not worth going through the agony of having to train a puppy in all the full gamut of rules and skills needed to make a successful family dog.  Never again.

Not So Good Leash Form!

And how do Henry and our cat, Muffy, get alone?  Well, while Muffy took an active but cautious initial attitude, Henry pretended not even to see Muffy – from my readings, this is a good sign – what it indicates is that Henry must have had some prior experience with cats, enough to know that cats are normal in a new home environment, and that cats are to be respected.  Since that initial introduction, it’s obvious that Muffy has accepted Henry as a mutual house-mate, and that Henry would really like a new playmate, but Muffy is not so sure about this idea.

"Hey Mom, Did You Hear That?"

Truth told, Henry is Sandee’s dog, since her ideal has always been toward a smaller, lap dog.  And for whatever reason, Henry seems to have bonded with Sandee more so than with me.  On the other hand, my ideal dog is a mid sized Lab mix – and I’d lean toward a mutt rather than a purebred, if only because of the health issues that purebreds bring.  I’d also like a dog that will chase the deer from my garden, not that a dachshund wouldn’t -they have a fearless disposition- but in my mind, a larger dog may strike more fear in the mind of the deer.  I want the deer to cross off my garden from their list of foraging stops.  So who knows, Henry may one day have a playmate to enrich his life, and his pack – and I may yet get my perfect deer dog.

Henry's Perfect Leash Form

On the Way Back, We Stopped to See the Beautiful Calla Lilies

And the Gorgeous Horizontal Branching Structure of the Doublefile Viburnum


About drfugawe

I'm a guy with enough time to do as I please, and that my resources allow. The problem(s) are: I have 100s of interests; I have a short attention span; I have instant expectations; I'm lazy; and I'm broke. But I'm OK with all that, 'cause otherwise I'd be so busy, I'd be dead in a year.
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16 Responses to Adding to the Family

  1. Henry seems to be a lovely old dog, Doc! I’ve never been a dog person, but as you know, I recently fell in love with my brother-in-law’s 11 year old curly retriever. I’m with you, if I ever do get a dog, it would be an old one – I’m not a fan of young yappy puppies!

    • drfugawe says:

      Celia, Yeah, no puppies for old men. My parents raised pedigreed collies when I was a kid, and I loved running with them – but that was my only puppy chore. They are a mess to train. And Henry seems to have had a good bit of training already – so he’s a fast learner! We were lucky.

  2. Frances Quinn says:

    What a great post, Dr. Henry is just as cute as he can be. I hope he and Muffy get along great.

    I have two little dogs, Shadow, who is going on 15 and Shade, who is going on 6. I had two cats with the dogs until three years ago when Mackey passed on and a year later, Miko went to be with Mackey.

    Just last year, October, my youngest daughter came to live with me and brought Jose with her. Jose, a cat, has never been outside (fine by me) and never even saw a dog before. I was a little afraid but thank heavens, they seem to tolerate each other. My two wanted to play with Jose and he immediately let them know that he was having none of it. So they skirt each other when passing and every now and then Jose tries to intimidate the dogs at which point my daughter or I step in. He’s a cute boy and I love him.

    Anyway, Henry, welcome to your new family. Be happy and live a long life.

    • drfugawe says:

      Thank you very much, Frances – I think we’re watching the building of a cautious, but friendly relationship – they just need more time together. Actually, I think Muffy may be the more cautious one, since she was a feral cat when she came to us – so her attitude toward dogs may be more ‘set’ than Henry’s toward cats. But each night they both lay out in Sandee’s little reading room, snoozing about 2 feet apart – it’s kinda cute.

  3. Welcome Henry, we meet a pair of silver dachshunds from time to time who we like a lot, being smaller than us makes a change! We are exceptionally good at seeing foxes and ahem, cats, out of our garden. Though when we visit and there is a cat in the house, we pretend not to notice, manners are so important after all. Look after the Doc and Mrs Doc, they need you to supervise all manner of things; they probably haven’t told you about all the jobs they have in store for you, the list grows every day, though at the moment our main job is keeping the pigeons off the pea shoots. Live well and prosper, ask doc to bake you something tasty, liver cake, parmesan chicken biscuits, that sort of thing, we know he can cook! xx Zeb and his little sister Lu

    • drfugawe says:

      Dear Zeb and Lu,
      Thanks for your kind note – this is Doc; unfortunately Henry, being only a dachshund, has not yet learned to use the computer. You smarter French Poodles have an advantage, but you didn’t need me to tell you that, did you! However, Henry is a very smart dog, and I’ll see if he’s at all interested in learning to use my laptop.

      Yes, I shall soon bake Henry some of those liver and chicken biscuits – I think I remember that the recipe is on your blog site, right? I’m sure with those, I’ll be able to train Henry to nip at the heels of those pesky deer that like to eat my cabbages and lettuces.

      Thanks again for your nice note.

  4. Doc, he’s gorgeous. I liked him from the tip of the first photo. I’d love a dog one day. Need a little more room, but I would happily take a rescue dog. My ideal is anything with grey whiskers and a slightly meloncholic look…deer hound or red setter cross type thing. Actually Doc, that’s what you need. A deer hound!

    • drfugawe says:

      Thanks Brydie – I’ll pass your sentiments on to Henry – I think he’s a bit self-conscious about his odd form. A deer hound sounds good – do they eat slugs too?

  5. Glenn says:

    Awesome! What a great doggie! I’m happy for ya Doc-

    I agree about the ridiculous rules some shelters have, I’ve seen some ludicrous rules. It’s almost like they don’t want to give the critters up.

    At any rate, our house has 3 cats and 3 doggies, all rescues and they all get along.

    Enjoy the little guy!

  6. drfugawe says:

    Hey Tup – No kiddin’, your red dog was a shelter pup? Damn, I’d love to get his brother for Henry’s playmate.

  7. adnelg says:

    He’s adorable! My dog passed in 2006. I really miss having a dog, but have the “what do you do if you need to leave for a few days?” problem. Was always a hassle and worry. I miss the special attachment a dog can provide though. Fortunately, we have our cat (Wilma) who we rescued from the bushes. Enjoy your new addition. I’m sure he will bring lots of lovely distractions for you and your wife.

    • drfugawe says:

      Yeah, that’s the classic problem, it seems. That kept us from jumping back in for sev years – but our problem was solved rather easily – made us wonder why we hadn’t done this sooner – we simply went looking for a neighbor kid who’d either take our dog while we were away, or come over and care for them at our place. Only took me one try for success – now we simply trade ‘pet sitting’ with our neighbor.

      Sometimes, potential problems are just opportunities looking for a place to happen.

  8. Glenn says:

    Yup- Red’s a rescue. She’s about 90/10 Chow/Beagle She had 2 sisters, who looked identical. She’s got a spotted tongue, one sister had a jet black tongue, and the other pink. Don’t know what happened to ’em, but I’ve often wished I’d have taken all 3.

  9. Melissa says:

    I love him – what an adorable pup! I love puppies, but as you know, I definitely partial to the “senior” pets. Though actually good ol’ Henry’s only a middle-aged pet at most. I can’t wait to meet him, he seems so perfect for you guys. I’m so glad he passed the preliminary visit with flying colors! Have fun with him – animals make a home so much nicer & I think a dog AND a cat (or several of each!) is just ideal. Now if only i could get my 2 elderly, persnickety kitties to agree. :o(

  10. Melissa says:

    * The above was supposed to be a sad face, but this site decided to autoformat after I pressed “post”!!

    • drfugawe says:

      The growing relationship between Muffy and Henry is funny to watch – I think Henry is eager to have a playmate, but doesn’t know the proper way to establish that with Muffy – so there is a lot of face to face standoffs – they both just stand frozen staring at each other. Muffy is showing signs that she’s a little jealous of all the close attention Henry is getting, but she’s not quite sure how to remedy that – so she just kinda hangs around more than usual. But Mom says each night while Henry lays in the big chair, Muffy lays on the foot stool about a foot away. I’m betting that it won’t be long before Muffy joins Henry up on the chair;

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