The Long and Short of It

(At the outset let me confess that I am not just a dog lover. I am fanatically in love with my dogs.To the extent that I treat them as people. Sometimes better than I treat people.Or family. As a disclaimer,may I add that I am a nice,humane,gentle person to be with…just that the “nice-ness”,”humane-ness” and “genteel-ness” goes up a notch or two when it comes to the four-legged creatures. In my defence, being an only child who was raised in a house over-run with dogs has probably led to this peculiar phenomenon.)

All my plans to begin the weekend by sleeping in late today were laid to (un)rest by hysterical whining,scrabbling and scratching. “Twiddler,let it be” I muttered with my eyes closed trying to block out the sound knowing deep within that Twiddler never lets-things-be. With sleep heavy eyelids that refused to open more than a crack I tried peering into the pre-dawn darkness to catch a blurred glimpse of the black shadow at the bedroom door, persistently attacking it and pawing the edge while letting out tiny yelps and whines. A cold wet feeling swept over my toes sticking out of the covers. No I was not coming in for a paralytic stroke. I tried drawing  my feet back inward, with as much energy as a sleep deprived half awake person could, but the wet feeling followed. Tudloo , the younger dachshund was also awake and though not entirely involved with the other dachshund trying to crawl out from under the bedroom door, had also been woken up enough to proceed with his “good morning” act, sniffing and drooling over my toes.

As a long time owner of two dachshunds ( also known as the wiener dog), I have learnt that words like “no” and “stop” are not processed by the wiener brain. Don’t get me wrong, dachshunds are smart,intelligent,sassy, brave creatures. Twiddler for one has a hugely diverse vocabulary with a fair understanding of words like “walk”,”let’s go”,”khana” and most importantly unsaid words and sounds from a biscuit packet being opened. A mere whisper or rustle of these sounds are heard from a mile and he rushes to you with eyes wide open and expectant.

A lizard, a baby one at that was responsible for the early morning scrabbling.It isn’t  Twiddler’s fault really. Dachshund’s were bred and trained historically  in Germany to hunt and flush out badgers and rabbits from under ground with their long snout and short legs. Twiddler is a miniature dachshund, who may not hunt badgers and rabbits but the legacy he has inherited from his German ancestors means that no lizard is safe from his twitching nose. I hauled myself out of bed bleary eyed aware that either I needed to shoo away the lizard myself or risk Twiddler scratching the fragile government house door down. Obviously the lizard had long vanished and Twiddler continued to twiddle his long tail and paw the door hoping it would come back.  Tudloo the second dachshund had joined in. My morning had been effectively ruined.

I proceeded to step out into the garden , the super excited Dachshunds close at my heels. Once out I nearly put my foot into a hole right in the middle of the lawn. Tudloo’s attempt at destroying the lawn last evening apparently. “Tudlooooo” I yelled, startling a few early morning birds out of their perch on the trees. I didn’t need to. Oblivious to my obvious consternation,  Tudloo, had found his happiness dose for the day. Snout safely buried in the hole and paws digging up the loose earth his tail was wagging in gay abandon as mud flew in all directions. The weekend was well and truly under way I thought to myself as I sunk into one of the garden chairs trying to position myself away from the missiles of mud flying in all directions. Tudloo is a regular dachshund who loves to burrow as deep as he can. A few minutes later he came running and flopped at my feet panting, paws, nose, snout and ears caked with mud. The gardener had his task cut out for the day with filling the giant pit in the lawn.

Tudloo and the gardener have a unique love-hate relationship. Tudloo loves the gardener and all the work he does and the gardener hates Tudloo and all the work he does! Summers are not so bad . A few holes in the lawn every now and then.  It’s winters when all the baghwan bhayia’s detest for Tudloo peaks. Winter is about a packed kitchen garden.And radishes. And ecstasy for Tudloo. Tudloo loves radishes.And some unique dachshund instinct enables him to sniff out  in the radish bed, the largest ripest radish, scrabble it out, yank it by the leaves, and then bite into the white, ripe root till nothing is left but a pile of green leaves and a day (and night) of endless cursing by the baghwan bhayia not to mention a host of  groaning and rumbling sounds from Tudloo’s tummy .


Tudloo post vandalising the radish bed

In my entire lifetime of growing up with dogs I have not known of dogs to hunt out and swallow pungent ,acrid radishes. But like human-beings I believe each dog is born with their own unique kinks and weaknesses and so it is with Tudloo.

In the meantime Twiddler is off on his own hunting expedition. I yell out his name in vain ,he is stone deaf when busy in the bushes. If you have a dachshund in your family, you will know that there is no human or animal more stubborn than a dachshund who has made up his mind to do  something( or more importantly avoid doing it). Twiddler came back a little later with a largely satisfied expression on his face. “BOTH of you are mean waking me up this early ” I grumbled as  Twiddler proceeded to launch into a stretching routine sticking his legs outward. His normally twiddling pointy tail was still pointing straight upward. A concerned innocent stare met my stern gaze as Twiddler rolled his eyeballs upwards showing the whites of his eyes.

Twiddler has a repertoire of facial expressions to match the tone and tenor of my voice. Stern admonishing is met with the rolling of eyes and a “I-didn’t-do-it” look.  Biscuit packets and papaya slices  or any form of food really, usually get firm-unto-death stares where the  dark-brown eyeballs stare at you fixated hypnotically until a biscuit/papaya slice slides down from your fingers onto the waiting pink tongue. Then there is the all innocent look especially reserved for moments when you are trying to  get  the canine off a bed or a sofa. I have so many years later realised that this is a waste of time. Dachshunds will find the softest cushion or pillow in the room and stretch out on it and there is nothing you can do about it.


Tudloo and Twiddler taking a nap

I wish my parents would realise that. Particularly my father. The battle of man and dachshie was won by the dachshie eons ago,and the cushion was the trophy reserved for the dachshie. My dad however believes otherwise. Pointlessly so I may add. Dachshunds know cushions belong to them and will go to any extent to brainwash humans into believing that as well.

A little later I snoozed off in the garden itself with the dogs at my feet and the refreshing morning breeze. Woke up about twenty minutes later when the dogs started to bark in unison at the newspaper delivery boy. Between the two of them the barking was enough to wake up the entire lane. Ordinarily Twiddler is quite welcoming of guests. In fact when friends come over he put his head on to their knees, begs to get petted and then proceeds to take everyone on a conducted tour of the house-room by room. Which does not bode well for the safety and security of the house- isn’t that why people keep dogs?! But thankfully there is Tumble my brave Pinscher who was brought home as a dachshund puppy but grew into a tall ,lanky strong pinscher in a very ugly- duckling-who-was-not-aware-he-was-a-swan-esque way but that is another story for another blog post.