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  The Truth About The Dachshund

October 9, 2002

THE TRUTH ABOUT:


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Dick the Dachshund is an original piece of work by Canadian cartoonist Ron Leishman .

Order a Dachshund t-shirt with Dick in full color on the back. Check it out.

THE DACHSHUND - Page 1

Let's begin this journey into understanding the Dachshund by remembering a time when you were a small tyke. You were walking hand in hand with your parent when a long, squat dog crossed your path. What did you scream? I remember the moment. Both you and I and every other child around the world hollered, "Look at the Wiener Dog!"

How does one make fun of a breed that is already known by children around the world as "the Wiener Dog". How does one compete with a book titled Wiener Dog Art? If you think I am kidding, check out the book at Amazon.

In Laughing Dog's first four newsletters, I have felt good about infusing humor into a dog world that is sometimes "humor-impaired." It was an open playing field. I felt confident that anything I would write was funnier than what is out there. However, I began my work on the Dachsie gravely concerned that this might be a breed that has been the target of such extensive humor that there is nothing humorous left to say. Quickly this concern turned to ugly reality. Let me explain.

For each of the breeds highlighted at Laughing Dog, I begin with a search of Internet sites to gather information. For most breeds, there are hundreds of pages of breed history, breed characteristics and breed issues. When I searched for similar information on the Dachsie, things were immediately different: A few pages of breed history, a page or two of breed characteristics, and a few more pages on breed issues. Convinced that there should be more, I kept clicking on Internet links.

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT:

THE DACHSHUND - Page 2

When I thought I had fought my way back to the surface, when I sucked in my first breath of untainted Dachsie air, I tumbled again. I found myself in a maze of websites in which Dachsie lovers make fun of their own breed. Consider these real websites that I stumbled upon:

Are there really people out there who not only buy dachshund teapots, but also dress in Wiener Wear? You people are scaring me. To the rest of you, who dress in regular clothes, welcome to Wienerworld.

The Historical Origins of Wienerworld
In order to understand this alternate reality, we must first understand the origin of the stumpy pup that serves as the cultural icon for Wienerworld. There is, of course, an official Dachsie history. The canine historians point to the beginning of the breed about 400 years ago in Germany. They maintain that sixteenth-century hunters were in need of a dog that would follow the vicious badger into their burrow. They write that hound type dogs were crossed with terriers to consciously create the companion that the hunters desired.

Who are these people kidding? Why would anyone on earth try to make a dog like this? How could there have been a conversation in which someone rational actually said, "Let's take our two most challenging dogs, that hound and that terrier, and cross them to get a great dog with no legs so it can go in holes after that vicious badger out in the pasture."

I don't think so.

I would suggest that there is real history that for obvious reasons has been kept secret. I ask you to suspend disbelief and consider whether this is not a more likely beginning:

Once upon a time, a girl stumbled into a rabbit hole. Her name was Alice. She entered a bizarre world populated by creatures of strange shape and personality. Her journey introduced her to the Dodo, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, the Queen of Hearts and the Dackel. The Dackel, a long, short, clownish dog, took shine to Alice and fell into line with her. When Alice finally emerged from the burrow, her new canine friend came along.

When Alice's friends saw the cylindrical, unidirectional dog, they were smitten. Not able to accept the mystery of its appearance, they made up the official history above about hunters and badgers. They changed the name Dackel to the more innocuous Dachshund to avoid attracting attention. They banded together around their secret. Wienerworld was created. Only Alice remembered that the Dachsie was a Dackel who had once lifted his leg on the Mad Hatter.

On my last click, I fell into the Dachsie rabbit hole. The normal breed information fell away, and I found myself in an endless virtual mall filled with Dachsie. . . knick knacks! I do not mean a few t-shirts with Dachshund pictures or an occasional ceramic Dachsie. This is a full-blown world in which everything that could be produced in the likeness of a Dachshund has been. On any day, one may purchase any of the following items in the shape of a wiener dog:

It is a nightmarish world. The teapot is a seriously obese dachsie; the boot brush is modeled on a wirehaired dachsie; and the letter opener follows the profile of an unusually svelte dachsie. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Name any elongated item and there is a good chance one can find a Dachsie version. Entire homes can clearly be outfitted in dachsie kitsch. Please tell me no that one has fallen into this trap.

June 24, 2003

THE DACHSHUND - Page 2

When I thought I had fought my way back to the surface, when I sucked in my first breath of untainted Dachsie air, I tumbled again. I found myself in a maze of websites in which Dachsie lovers make fun of their own breed. Consider these real websites that I stumbled upon:

Are there really people out there who not only buy dachshund teapots, but also dress in Wiener Wear? You people are scaring me. To the rest of you, who dress in regular clothes, welcome to Wienerworld.

The Historical Origins of Wienerworld
In order to understand this alternate reality, we must first understand the origin of the stumpy pup that serves as the cultural icon for Wienerworld. There is, of course, an official Dachsie history. The canine historians point to the beginning of the breed about 400 years ago in Germany. They maintain that sixteenth-century hunters were in need of a dog that would follow the vicious badger into their burrow. They write that hound type dogs were crossed with terriers to consciously create the companion that the hunters desired.

Who are these people kidding? Why would anyone on earth try to make a dog like this? How could there have been a conversation in which someone rational actually said, "Let's take our two most challenging dogs, that hound and that terrier, and cross them to get a great dog with no legs so it can go in holes after that vicious badger out in the pasture."

I don't think so.

I would suggest that there is real history that for obvious reasons has been kept secret. I ask you to suspend disbelief and consider whether this is not a more likely beginning:

Once upon a time, a girl stumbled into a rabbit hole. Her name was Alice. She entered a bizarre world populated by creatures of strange shape and personality. Her journey introduced her to the Dodo, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, the Queen of Hearts and the Dackel. The Dackel, a long, short, clownish dog, took shine to Alice and fell into line with her. When Alice finally emerged from the burrow, her new canine friend came along.

When Alice's friends saw the cylindrical, unidirectional dog, they were smitten. Not able to accept the mystery of its appearance, they made up the official history above about hunters and badgers. They changed the name Dackel to the more innocuous Dachshund to avoid attracting attention. They banded together around their secret. Wienerworld was created. Only Alice remembered that the Dachsie was a Dackel who had once lifted his leg on the Mad Hatter.

THE DACHSHUND - Page 3

The Wiener Dog Increases Exponentially and Hints of Its Origin
These new Dachsie (wink, wink) owners liked the breed so much that they commenced to made new models. The original was crossed with a terrier to create the wire-haired Dachsie and then crossed with a spaniel to create the lovely longhaired version. In the US, regular and miniature sizes of both were developed. In England, three sizes were developed. These means there are, in fact, 6-9 different dogs under the umbrella of Dachshund although there is significant difference in appearance and personality.

Although breeders have tried to maintain a sense of normalcy about the Dachshund, the breed's origin has shown up in unusual ways. Some pups pop out in decorator colors. As we all know, dogs are supposed to be black, brown, white, red, gray and combinations of these colors. While some Dachshunds do appear in these colors, they also arrive in wheaten, wild boar, and Isabella. Isabella? Who ever heard of a color called Isabella? I suspect she was the Queen of Hearts' best friend.

In addition to these different colors, Dachshunds often have Wonderland patterns from dappling (patches of lighter color over darker color) to double-dappling (patches of lighter color over darker color including white) and piebald (large patches of white). Check out an Isabella double-dappled Dachsie, and tell me that this dog is not from a different reality.

Many Dachsie breeders are unhappy that the piebald patterned dog is allowed to compete in dog shows in the United States. They maintain that this is because this coloration may lead to health problems as it has with the double-dappled type. I would suggest that the real reason is that the piebald Dachsie screams Dackel and falling down the rabbit hole. Some things must be kept secret.

People of Wienerworld
The residents of Wienerworld are distinguished by the fact that they are the only identifiable group in the dog world that, to a person, that has a firm hold on its sense of humor. Surprisingly, there are a lot of them. In the American Kennel Club's most recent count, the dachshund is the fourth most popular breed in the US. It is living testimony to people loving the unusual.

On personality tests, successful Dachshund owners share a number of other characteristics:

1. They are not afraid of servitude to a dog that knows in every fiber that it rules the house.

2. They are amused when the Dachsie flips them off to return to digging to China via the backyard vegetable garden.

3. They are not annoyed by the need to wear earplugs to deaden the barking.

4. They are amused when they return to find that the sofa is now 5000 tiny tufts.

5. They know that their Dachsie is the cutest thing they've ever seen.

THE DACHSHUND - Page 4

Challenges in Wienerworld
As you have certainly grasped in the section above, living with a wiener dog is not necessarily easy. Lest you are a bit thick, let's continue to debunk any thought like this that you might still have.

Bringing a Dachsie into a home is comparable to hosting the Mad Tea Party. Let me summarize the top six challenges faced by the Dachsie owner:

Obesity
Dachshunds live to eat. In this way, they resemble 61% of the American population. Purchasing a Dachsie pup requires a family membership to Weight Watchers that includes the family dog. Dachsies are allowed 7-9 points per day.

Bad Backs
Dachshunds can slip or herniate a disk with a single jump. Houses in Wienerworld frequently have multiple ramps and stairs to allow the pup access to sofas and beds. These homes frequently resemble the old board game called Chutes and Ladders. Rampless houses require that the pup be lifted on and off of high areas. Dachsie literature recommends that dogs be carried up and down stairs. Dachsie owners are used to the role of dog porter. For the affluent Dachsie owner, a live-in chiropractor is a viable option.

Just Say No
Put simply, the Dachshund does not live to please. The following adjectives appear frequently in books about the breed: defiant, obstinate, and headstrong. In fact, Dachsie literature includes the word stubborn on an average of 37.25 times. Hardcore residents of Wienerworld reframe this characteristic as "independent thinkers." Call it what you will, the Dachsie owner must have a mantra. I would recommend something simple such as, "I am in charge. I am in charge." Continuous practice in using your mantra will allow you to stay calm when the Dachsie begs, barks, chews, and pees in the house.

Housebreaking
As is common with many smaller dogs, housebreaking can be a challenge. It can be done with consistency. However, the popularity of the Dachsie has been a boon to companies that produce stain and smell removers.

Barking
It's written in black and white right in the AKC breed description: "Dachshunds have a loud tongue." Isn't that a weird term? For you casual dog folks, it translates as, "This dog is born to bark, and it takes that assignment seriously." If you get a Dachsie, be prepared to live with some yammering.

Digging
A few months ago, I wrote about the necessity of owning a backhoe to get Jack Russell Terriers out of the ground once they have gone into a burrow after game. The Dachshund also requires ownership of large machinery. Because this breed is a highly successful hunter of animals that live in burrows, it stands to reason that digging would come naturally. There is a very real danger of a Dachsie digging under the fence and escaping into the great beyond. Dachsie experts advise that fences for this breed be set a foot and half into the ground to prevent an escape. On the way home from picking up your new Dachsie pup, stop by the nearest equipment rental store for a trencher. And, oh yeah, kiss that lovely garden good bye.

THE DACHSHUND - Page 5

Joys in Wienerworld
There is, of course, greater joy than grief in Wienerworld or there wouldn't be so many Dachsiephiles. In addition to the adjectives above, breed owners describe their dogs as loving, clever, comical, and affectionate. Every hardcore resident of Wienerworld has a hundred stories to tell about the funny, and sometimes scary, stunts that their Dachsies pull off. One owner reported that whenever she left home, her dog would haul himself up onto the garage roof using ivy as a foot and mouth hold. He would welcome them home with a chorus of barking from the edge of the roof. I personally would have left the dog in the house, but what do I know!

Laughing Dog reader Doreen Lucius captured the perfect day with her two Dachsies, Otis and Moose, for me:

The day starts with the dogs kissing her and her husband awake. Doreen and her husband suppress their laughter because it accelerates the licking to a frenzy. From there, the day takes shape.

Moose warms up by using the furniture as agility equipment. Otis stretches his muscles by working on an earth dog tunnel in the backyard. Then both dogs talk Doreen into a swim. Moose puts on a show, diving for his beloved blue ball with the skill of a pearl diver. That game finished, Moose tunes up his ability to push the blue ball with his snoot while Otis continues to perfect his earth dog tunneling.

After a quick dog nap in a basket of clean towels, the family takes a trip to the local playground. Moose shows off his trick of running up the ladder and sliding down the slide while carrying his ball.

As the day finally winds down, the exhausted Lucius family takes to bed. Both pups wriggle their way to the bottom of the burrow (the foot of the bed). Later, after lights out, one or both will creep up to steal a pillow and get ready to start the next day with some serious kissing.

Athletics in Wienerworld
Despite their challenging build and delicate back, the Dachshund is an athlete. Many love chasing the scent of a bunny at a Dachshund field trial or finding their way into a "real" burrow to locate a caged rat at an earth dog competition. Some Dachsies are overcoming the hindrance of having no legs and participating in the dog obstacle course sport of agility. A few Dachshunds have also found their way into flyball and freestyle. Oh my, the picture of a Dachsie dancing with its owner in the most peculiar sport of freestyle, is even to much for Laughing Dog to consider.

In Conclusion
While conducting my research, I stumbled on a website that offers the opportunity to look at photos of a recent, "Wiener Walk," an event apparently attended by over 100 Dachsies and their owners. I'd like to close with the following quote from Alice in Wonderland that I believe captures perfectly the essence of Wienerworld, a place where people drive great distances to a walk their wieners with other wieners:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.

"Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We are all mad here." I'm mad. You're mad."

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.

"You must be," said the cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

References:
In writing this article, I have relied heavily on Dachshunds for Dummies by Eve Adamson. This is an excellent read if you want to know more.

 

                 

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