Waking up with a long, hot-water-bottle warm dachshund glued to your side on a morning when the thermometer outside reads -0°F is a lovely thing.
Much as I hated to disturb either of us, coffee was calling my name. Rhonda groaned and snuggled closer when I shifted, but heartless human that I am, I went ahead and eased out of bed and bundled into a plush robe.
Glancing back as I headed for the bathroom, I could just make out a black nose and dark, accusing eyes watching me from deep within the rumpled bed.
Half an hour later, Rhonda had been outside (wrapped up in her warm, fleece coat), I had a mug of hot coffee in hand and we were both snuggled up once more – this time in the deep, cushy chair in the bedroom, where I could enjoy watching birds swarming the suet bar on the bird feeder while I sipped my morning coffee.
I was still in my flannel PJs, with a fleece throw over my legs and my little space-heater taking the morning chill off the air in the bedroom. Ronni was under the throw, curled in a tight ball on my lap. In her eyes, the morning was young yet.
I love my dogs any time of year, but I admit, I really most appreciate their warmth during cold weather. ❄️❤️❄️
While Rhonda and I enjoyed our usual quiet morning interlude upstairs, I knew that Baxter was just as content downstairs, either curled in Jerry’s lap on the recliner or buried in a blanket on the dog bed in front of the toasty-warm wood stove.
This started me musing on the different personalities (and obviously different needs) of our two dachshunds. So alike in many of their very typical dachshund traits, they are such unique individuals in other ways.
Rhonda has been a “Mama’s girl” from day one. If I’m home, she’s my constant shadow. She is fairly polite about sharing my attention, but it’s pretty obvious she doesn’t think she should have to. 😉
Rhonda learned early on that sniping at Baxter so she didn’t have to share my lap simply resulted in her being unceremoniously deposited on the floor. A shared Mom was better than no Mom at all.
When I think about Baxter’s early years with us; he’s always been a “family dog”, loving both of us pretty much equally and happy being part of the pack. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the much-loved dog-sports outings I offered him (and him alone for several years), he might have leaned more towards Jer from the start.
Hard to blame Baxter, as my attention was definitely split back then. When we adopted Baxter nearly ten years ago, sweet Abby and tiny dachshund/chihuahua mix, Pocket, were the center of my universe, with a lot of what little attention was left being thrown at our cheerful HANDFUL of an Icie, Falki.
Adding a 4th dog was not exactly intentional, but we’ve never once regretted taking in this adorable rescue. ❤️
Fortunately, Baxter has always been happy to be part of the family pack. ❤️
By the time Rhonda came along in June 2018, we were down to just our sweet senior Abby and 7-year-old Baxter.
Ronni and Baxter thankfully got along well from the minute they met. Well, I probably should say Baxter tolerated her with his usual aplomb. As Ronni passed the maniacal puppy stage, the two became good buds.
Abby, of course, was fine with any and every critter we’ve ever added to our family. ❤️
And Rhonda, being a smart puppy, knew just how to play it … she wormed her way right into Abby’s heart – figuring out early on that where I was, Abby was. It mostly worked for her, although she still had to stay home with Dad when Abby accompanied me to the office three days a week.
As Abby slowed down due to age in 2019, with eyesight, hearing and arthritis limiting her mobility, “we” (Abby and I) decided it was time to retire from the office job. Heck, at almost 70, it really was time.
Rhonda was thrilled – this meant a lot more mommy & me time. At 18 months, I had already put Ronni through all the usual Puppy obedience classes, puppy play time and beginner nose work, agility and rally classes.
I admit, I was hoping Rhonda would follow in Baxter’s paw-prints and show a talent for not only nose work (a given, with her bloodlines!), but agility, rally, Trick Dog and Freestyle (heeling to music) – sports Baxter and I have enjoyed together.
Rhonda had her own agenda though, and although she loved nose work and is almost as good as Baxter at learning tricks, her heart doesn’t seem to be into rally or agility. We may or may not continue to pursue these sports to see if she improves as she matures.
She would definitely benefit from the obedience skills necessary for Rally, and Agility provides plenty of much needed exercise … but darn it. Baxter LOVED these “team sports” and I miss that close connection.
Rhonda, on the other hand, by far prefers games where she can use her excellent nose, preferably independently. She’s doing great at K9 nose work, AKC Scent Work and Barn Hunt.
She also loves to RUN, and we’ve discovered she has a passion for chasing zig-zagging strips of plastic at high speed. Ronni earned two qualified runs her first time out on a CAT (Coursing Ability Test) lure-coursing field, and was equally excited to chase the same “fluttering plastic bunnies” on the straight 100-yard dash called Fast-CAT.
Rhonda’s only fault in this sport, really, is her reluctance to have the game end.
In CAT (lure coursing), the course is laid out in a zig-zag pattern in a huge mown-grass field. Smaller dogs are timed running 300 yds, or the first half of the course. Larger dogs run the full 600 yard course.
On her first attempt, Ronni was so excited over the flashing plastic strips racing away across the grass – she refused to stop at 300 yds. We could not catch her! They finally told the zip-line operator to go ahead and finish the course, which thrilled Ronni no end – and I was finally able to scoop her up as she grabbed her quarry back at the start/finish line.
This fun game of chasing plastic strips went over like a lead balloon with Baxter, whose arch look told me clearly he didn’t see the purpose. He stood at the start line, watched the plastic baggies race away, then turned and trotted back to my side.
Same result with Barn Hunt. We had introduced Baxter to the live white rat in a small cage a few years ago – he had sniffed the rodent with some interest and cocked his head, but was happy to come away with me.
Second try; we introduced him a second time, expecting more interest, maybe barking and pawing. I mean, dachshunds and rats – it should be a given. Baxter sniffed again, decided he’d already met this particular creature, all but shrugged in disinterest … and walked away. 🤷♀️
The first time Ronni met the rat in the little cage, instinct kicked in – she strained at the leash, whining and barking. When allowed to approach the cage, she grabbed the wire, trying to dig her way to the rat. Prey drive is strong in this girl. When that didn’t work, she tried to carry the rat off – cage and all! 😂
Needless to say; she’s enjoying Barn Hunt immensely, having romped through Novice, Open and Senior levels in short order and is now playing in Masters level.
I’m pretty sure Ronni would love Tracking too, but we haven’t been able to fit that into our schedule yet. And realistically, I’m not sure I’d be up for it physically.
Both Dachshunds have enjoy travel in the RV for the past three summers and I’ve fulfilled a “bucket-list” item by traveling all over Alaska with my matched pair of black & tan dachshunds. I enjoy the cheerful looks we get when walking them and the conversations they generate at campgrounds.
Rhonda is by far the more social of the two, considering new people to simply be BFFs she just hasn’t met yet.
Baxter is more aloof; although friendly, he prefers to approach new people at his own pace … or not. Walking with the two of them is akin to strolling along with a proper little English country squire … and a cheerful, inquisitive toddler! 😄
Sadly, as Baxter ages, he’s developed some noise and anxiety issues, needs his Thunder-shirt more often, and sometimes has difficulty holding his bladder successfully for more than a couple hours. He isn’t finding car or RV travel quite as much fun as he used to. I’m going to be truly bummed if he chooses to stay home this next summer when RV season arrives, but I’ll do what is best for our boy.
At least Baxter seems to enjoy being home with Jer … he likes the one-on-one time with Dad, but darn it, I want to take my PAIR of Dachshunds camping and trialing.
Could it [gasp] possibly be time to add a third dachshund? 😛😝😳 Hmm … probably not.
I love Baxter, and in many ways I’d hoped Rhonda and Baxter would have more similarities. I love Baxter’s joy in working as part of a team, his sheer love of learning and his confidence. He is biddable, and willing to follow my lead in games like freestyle and agility where the handler leads.
On the other hand, in looking for my next puppy, I wanted a confident, independent dog with a solid prey-drive. A people-oriented dog who wanted to learn, and who would be a tenacious hunter, whether it be in a field or a nose work course.
I definitely got what I asked for and have absolutely no complaints. Rhonda keeps me on my toes when we are actively learning and playing dog sports.
This past year, with very little to do outside the home, has given Baxter the excuse he needed at 10 years old (11 next month) to relax and settle in to being a contented house dog. Jer truly enjoys his company, so I guess it would be selfish to wish it different.
Rhonda, on the other hand, is bored silly and dying to get out and DO something – anything! Our on-going, in-house trick dog training is helping fill the gap, and we do nose work games around the house, but the girl needs to get out and build back up her muscles and core body condition.
It seems like every time I look at her, she’s saying, “Well? Can we do something NOW?”
I believe dogs personalities are dictated by their genetic make-up to a large extent. Bloodlines will tell. Good temperament is a lot genetics, but I believe it is also affected by nurture.
Prey drive, tenacity and desire to hunt comes built in on a well-bred working-line dog, but a lot can be unintentionally bred out by pet and [even] some show breeders who focus on [extreme] show structure, fancy colors and indiscriminate breeding.
The ability and desire to learn needs to be nurtured and encouraged at a young age. “Learning to learn” really is a thing – in dogs as well as people.
I believe Baxter was probably the result of back yard breeding, but who knows? Even well-bred, purebred dogs end up in rescue. 🤷♀️ He’s a pretty boy; well-mannered and smart, so I felt lucky to have found him.
Rhonda; aka Goodwood Help Me Rhonda B Good, was intentionally sought out by me long before she was born. Her pedigree was exciting and her breeder has an excellent reputation. Ronni is very different from Baxter – and I love her special self just as much.
Two very different dachshunds, each with so much to teach me. The last ten years have been wonderful. I expect the next ten to teach me lots more. ❤️❤️