Someone remind me why I have dachshunds. And I have not just one dachshund – no – that would never do … I have nine dachshunds. Well, OK, two of them are Doodles (longhaired dachshund and poodle mix), which at times provide us with a Jekyll & Hyde performance of being a dachshund one day and a poodle the next day. I won't say which of the two breeds is more like Mr. Hyde.
I was prompted to ask myself the "Why do I have dachshunds?" question on one fine spring morning not so far past. The routine each morning after breakfast is for all wieners to report to work, which means being escorted from the house to the Dachshund Delights workshop. While not attached to the house, the workshop is only about 10 yards away, and is situated in a wooded area approximately 700 feet from the road. Through experience we know who can be trusted to follow us "to work" (and not make a break for the wonders of the woods) and who needs to be carried or walked on a leash.
Katie, my 3-year-old with a beautiful couture of black and silver streaked longhair, is one that can usually be trusted to stay within mom's sight.
As per usual this morning she bounded down the stairs of the front porch and out into the yard as I carried two of the would-be miscreants to the shop (one in each arm). She gaily perused the yard, making certain all was as it should be, when her nose stopped at a particularly tempting scent.
And The Dance began. You know the one: with the nose still attached to The Scent, the head rolls to the side, makes contact with The Scent and then s-l-i-d-e-s through The Scent Area, dragging the ear along to sop up any available particles.
Next is the Shoulder Dip. With the head and ear still one with The Scent, the front leg and shoulder collapse, allowing upper body contact with The Scent.
Meanwhile, the rear end is angled at an opposite degree from the head, neck and shoulder, providing maximum leverage for the upper body to do The Grind. Much like a football linebacker driving into a padded training sled, the hind legs drive the front end deeper into The Scent and then pivot the whole body around a semi-circular arch.
Convinced that The Scent has been properly corralled, the hind legs give one more forceful push, catapulting the rump into the air and flopping the whole dog onto The Scent.
The final move of The Dance is The Squirm. The dog wiggles side to side, ensconced from one end to the other in The Scent.
I watched Katie start The Dance as I was making my way to the workshop. "Oh, no you don't!" I said to her, and I marched right over to her (still with a dog under each arm) and gave her a gentle boot in the bum with my foot. "Leave it!" I commanded.
When she got up, I saw that The Scent was in the form of the dried up carcass of some misfortunate tiny livestock – could have been a mouse or a mole at one time.
"Oh, Katie! Yuck!"
Convinced that I had no appreciation for Fine Scents, she toddled off to explore other parts of the yard.
I had to empty my arms of dachshunds (who were secretly giving Katie a high-five) before I could remove the source of The Scent. I figured at least the thing was dried up and hadn't caused too much damage to her coat.
I deposited the four-legged bundles into the pen area that encircles the workshop door. I turned back towards the yard and called for Katie to come. It only took a couple moments before I spotted her bounding across the yard towards me from the edge of the woods, ears flapping.
"What a good girl!" I praised her for coming so quickly and opened the X-pen (an exercise pen in a half-circle around the shop door) for her to join the rest of the crew, who were anxiously awaiting her report from the yard.
Instantly, as if she were magnetized, there were seven noses attached to her head, neck and back (the count of seven being made up of four of mine plus Shirley's three wieners.)
Katie, along with her seven new noses, made her way across the workshop to the waiting arms of her Aunt Helene (our seamstress and Top Aunt). All of a sudden I heard Helene yell in her "disgusted" tone of voice, "KATIE ROLLED IN SHIT!" Helene never minces words.
And before I could enter the building, Helene had escorted Katie to the doorway. "She REEKS something AWFUL!"
"Well … she did roll for a moment in some dried-up-carcass of a thing," I replied. "But I don't think it was enough to make her smell … uh..THAT BAD!"
By this time I caught a whiff of the same odor Helene had just had presented to her a moment ago. This onerous smell was not produced by the little petrified piece of mouse. Nor was it excrement. Not any kind of excrement.
As Helene was trying to discontort her face and I was trying to figure out just what my girl had gotten herself into in so short of time, the seven noses were entranced by Katie's new perfume.
I parted the blanket of noses so that I could see her better, meanwhile Helene advises me that, "She needs a BATH..PHWEWWWW!"
Upon closer inspection I could see that Katie had indeed rolled in something other than the mummified mouse. There was debris from the ground on her – bits of leaves and dirt and such – but there was something else..I bent down (holding my breath) to see better. The unidentified bits were … MOVING!
And instantly I felt like Indiana Jones when he peers down into the pit and sees snakes:
MAGGOTS! Oh, God, why did it have to be MAGGOTS?
There were several of the wretched things clinging to the fur of her ears, neck and shoulders. Now I know most creatures on this earth have a reason for being (although for the life of me I can't figure out the reason for fleas or mosquitoes), and I know that maggots have their divine place in the chain of life and death. But I prefer for them to go about their life's mission without my knowledge of their existence.
As if the maggots weren't bad enough by themselves, she seemed to have picked up some of the remains of the host, whatever that may have been. The soft feathers of Katie's ears were matted with a concoction of decomposing goo. No doubt some of the maggots' finest work. And the stench truly was horrific.
I was instructed once more that Katie needed a bath NOW. And it was made perfectly clear that this was a dog MOM'S duty … most certainly NOT the aunt's duty.
Maggots … why did it have to be maggots?
Like a bad dream I have tried to erase The Bath from my memory, so I will spare myself the distasteful chore of conjuring it up into words.
It was a proud day for Katie. A triumph among dogs. A feat that would certainly earn her a ribbon in the Dog Olympics.
As for me, I never asked to have a fluffy, foo-foo dog. I asked for, and got, a dachshund.