When the tiny 2-pound bundle of black and tan furry love that was “Pocket” joined our family in October 1998, I fell head over heels and irrevocable into love with Dachshunds.
Pocket was actually only half Dachshund, at least genetically, although her personality was sure 100%. Her mama was a gorgeous, AKC registered Miniature Dachshund – a shiny copper-penny red – destined for the show circuit and a probable future as a dam of quality purebred Miniature Dachshund puppies. Her sire lived in the same household in Washington state, but never the twain was supposed to meet [in that way …]; he was an equally beautiful and equally well-bred black and tan Chihuahua. Oops! Someone left a door open. So much for best-laid plans.
Then again, sometimes magic happens. I first met the litter of “oops puppies” five weeks after their birth, during a driving trip from Alaska to California. We had made plans to stop at my friend Penny’s farm on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington to see her Nigerian Dwarf goats and weren’t aware of the possibility of puppies. A happy surprise! As soon as we walked through the gate, we were met by a scrambling pile of glossy black & tan and shiny red wiggle-worms, all wanting to be the first to meet the visitors. Such friendly, confident puppies!
Each of the five pups were already a unique little individual, and each looked different. How odd … they varied in size and shape, with one very close to a tiny, perfect Chihuahua and another seeming to be a nearly perfect little Dachshund … my first thought was that maybe there were two litters. But no, the other three puppies fell someplace in between in height and length. This was back before “designer dogs” became popular – we promptly started calling this mix of Chihuahua and Miniature Dachshund “Dahuahuas” (pronounced “DAA-Wow-Wa”), which I STILL think is way cuter than Chi-Weenies.
Adorable though they were, we were on vacation and I was NOT looking for a puppy. All too soon, however, any possible decision was whisked from my hands as the miniscule black and tan Dachshund puppy (I couldn’t think of it as anything else with her long little body and short little legs) swarmed up into my hands. Pools of dark chocolate met my eyes and held, filled with love and instant connection. She was barely the length of my hand, from fingertips to wrist and she was absolutely perfect. I vaguely recall Penny saying something like, “Oh, it looks like she likes you” and asked Jerry if he was OK with our adopting her. Jerry, being a smart man, looked at the two of us staring at each other in obvious infatuation and replied, “Oh, I think that decision has already been made.” Pocket was meant to be mine.
Of course, at five weeks old, Pocket was way too young to leave her mama, which was just as well. We made arrangements with Penny and a little over a month later found ourselves at the airport in Anchorage, where we picked up a tiny little cat carrier. Seriously, if it was a dog crate, it was the smallest one I’d ever seen. Even so, when I opened the little door, I had to peer all the way to the back of the crate to find my prize … and was I ever surprised.
There was 9-week-old Pocket, her deep brown eyes peering out at me cautiously. Pressed up against her in the crate was a matching pair of brown eyes. What?! Wait. There were TWO tiny, two-pound puppies in the crate! What in the world? I had my answer in minutes. An envelope was taped to the top of the crate. In it, Penny explained that when she placed Pocket in her travel crate, she looked so small and so helpless, she just couldn’t bring herself to leave her at the airport for the long trip to Alaska. She decided at the last minute to send her brother, Levi, along with her for comfort and moral support. 😊 She said we were welcome to keep him as a gift if we wanted, and if not, she trusted us to find him a wonderful forever home.
Little Levi was cute, to be sure. Black and tan like his sister, he had a shorter body and slightly longer legs, showing his mixed Chihuahua/Doxie heritage. Seriously adorable. We were tempted. But two puppies? I’ve never been a fan of raising sibling puppies – too often, you end up with what dog trainers refer to as “sibling syndrome”. The pups bond so tightly with each other, it can make training more difficult and can lead to behavioral issues you often don’t tend to see with a single puppy. It’s also not as easy to give each puppy the attention they really deserve in those all-important early months. It can be done, of course, but two puppies truly are a lot more work than one. We left the airport with our arms full of tiny treasures, unsure of the future of one of them.
We had already promised, on the way home, to stop and show our new little Pocket to my friend, Julie. Was she ever surprised and delighted when we showed up with two puppies instead of one. She also had the perfect solution to our dilemma. One of her co-workers was looking for a small-breed puppy. Maybe …? Introductions were made and while Levi’s potential new family fell instantly in love and started making the necessary plans, we took both puppies home with us for a couple days of rest and recuperation.
It was a joyful drive home – I was more than happy to have two puppies to play with for a day or two, especially knowing one of them would be heading off to his own home shortly. 😊
Introducing Pocket, once Levi had left for his forever home, to our resident dog, GSD/Aussie cross, Isaac, was a little scary. She was just SOOOO small! We told Isaac that this was HIS puppy and he’d better be really careful with her. Within minutes, we knew it was going to be fine.
Pocket fit into our family seamlessly, loving everyone and everything. She was respectful of our Cockatiel, Pippin, was great with our cats and adored her big brother, Isaac.
Pocket believed she was much bigger than her 7-pound actual [adult] weight and lived her life with great confidence and verve. More than once we saw her dive right into Isaac’s big, toothy mouth to retrieve a desired toy. No fear – all Dachshund. 😉
Playful as she was, I was always amazed at the calm equilibrium with which tiny Pocket accepted each new cat, dog, bird or other creature into “her” home over the next fifteen years. We regularly dog-sat for friends’ dogs and she never complained, growled or worried. They either became a new best friend and playmate, or, if they were really big dogs, they were beneath her notice and ignored. The only exception to the “big dog” rule, other than Isaac when she was a puppy, was Abby. Pocket adored Abby from day one and the affection was returned in full. Pocket could be a bit of a diva and definitely owned my lap, but she was also a true little lady and such a love-bug.
In hindsight, I wish I’d realized how much more than a sweet housedog this little girl could have been. I had Border collies most of the years we had Pocket, and although I did obedience training and sports with them, it honestly never occurred to me to do more with Pocket than teaching her a few cute tricks. She was well-mannered and adorable; the perfect travel companion. But how little I knew about Dachshunds back then!
In December, 2010, when Pocket was twelve years old, the opportunity was tossed into my lap to add another Dachshund to the family. Yep, another unplanned adoption. As soon as I saw 10-month-old Baxter, I was taken with the idea of “a matched set of Dachshunds”, even though Baxter’s true Dachshund conformation accentuated Pocket’s mixed heritage more clearly – and he was twice her size. He was also a LOT more active!
Still, they were both black and tan and they got along like gang-busters right from the start. They were quite the little duo for about 3 ½ years, although as Pocket got older and frailer, playing wasn’t as important as napping on her favorite blankie on the sofa or in front of the woodstove. Right up until she passed over the bridge just before her 16th birthday, she was a happy, loving little angel and considered Baxter to be her brother. Mixed breed or not, I will always remember Pocket as my first Dachshund.
I remember thinking how fortunate I was to have Baxter as part of our family when Pocket left us to cross the Bridge. It was such a sad time and I missed my little girl terribly. I think being completely without a little black and tan dog in the house would have crushed me.
Pocket had been gone for a few years before I was finally ready to return to my dream of having that “pair of Dachshunds” in my life again. This time, I knew a lot more about Dachshunds (thanks to Baxter and his nonstop drive to keep busy) and I knew Dachshunds were meant to be a lot more than house-dogs.
Soon the search was on … and it took me quite a while. It was never with the thought of replacing Pocket; she was a “first love” kind of dog. But I wanted my PAIR of Dachshunds and I figured I’d better do it while Baxter was still young enough to be part of a “pair”. Even so, he was eight years old before I found the right Dachshund puppy. Pocket would have absolutely loved Rhonda. 😊 I’m sure Pocket is up in Heaven right now, keeping an eye on both of them, thinking “Look how happy they are, and how happy Mom is. I started all that!”
Thank you, Pocket. You are a very special girl. Mama loves you.