Life Lessons Learned from a Wiener Dog

Do’s and don’ts from my little diva

I’m working from home today, which is almost always a collection of challenges and perks.

Perk: I get to skip the makeup.
Challenge: There’s a 9-pound attention hog doing her doggie dance, or her doggie whine, or her doggie bark-at-invisible-intruders.

I confess I usually end up “wasting” at least a little of the day playing fetch or just sitting with her in my lap while scrolling through my phone. I put the word wasting in quotes because I count snuggle time as mental health maintenance.

I’ve noticed that while she may be high-maintenance and fond of chewing things, she has some nuggets of wisdom to share. Here are just a few of the things she teaches me.

Enjoy the moment. Ginger isn’t really worried about the future. If I’m tossing her squeaky taco, all she is worried about is chasing the taco. If my husband picks her up, all she is worried about is giving him a very thorough face-and-ear bath. If I hold her, all she is worried about is gnawing on my fingers. The moment I open the back door, she shoots outside and runs in circles and zigzags with abandon.

Give affection freely. Ginger kisses everyone. She even kisses my youngest, who is not a huge fan of animals — it’s a germ thing. But she is determined that some part of him is going to be kissed, even if it’s a finger or ankle. She has no fear of rejection from the humans she loves. She gives every morning and every evening.

If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. I give Ginger a scoop of her food in the morning and a scoop at dinner. Sometimes she eats it all in one “standing.” Sometimes I get home from work, and she still has morning food in her bowl. I’ve refilled a half full bowl in the morning on many occasions. Ginger doesn’t eat just because the bowl is there. I need to learn that little lesson, especially when there’s ice cream in the freezer.

It never hurts to ask. Of course, the above food lesson doesn’t apply to the food on our plates. She’ll always beg for that, even though we almost never oblige. But, you see, we do occasionally give in, so she asks every time. After all, the worst the humans can do is say no, right? She’s willing to take a risk to ask for what she wants.

Pay attention. It’s basically impossible to get anything by Ginger. She knows when someone gets up to go to the bathroom at 2 in the morning. She knows if someone pulls into the driveway. She knows if someone opens the package of cookies in the kitchen. She even knows when I open the dryer, and she jumps onto the sofa in anticipation of stealing socks.

Take naps. I confess, I love naps a little too much sometimes, but we all need rest. Sometimes we don’t actually realize how tired we are until we allow ourselves to be still. I don’t usually sleep through the night, so sometimes I need to just stop. I need to close my eyes for a while, and then my brain works again.

Keep to a schedule. The days of sleeping in anytime I’d like to died when I began having children. A dog is much the same. She gets hungry at roughly the same time every morning, whether it is Tuesday or Sunday. This means I get up as well. I may not get ready for the day right away, but at least I am awake instead of messing up my body clock. I also find that because I get up at about the same time, I go to bed at about the same time as well.

Express yourself. Ginger is very…expressive. When someone knocks on the door, she expresses her surprise or suspicion. When I ask her if she wants a treat, she expresses her excitement by jumping up and down. If I have been typing or working too long, she will express her displeasure over being ignored. Dachshunds are not known for bottling up their feelings!

Forgive easily. I’m not the perfect doggie parent. Sometimes, when I am done practicing music, I will close the extra bedroom door without checking to see if Ginger is in there. Eventually I’ll hear crying from the other side — oops! She is small and always underfoot, so sometimes I accidentally trip over her or step on a little paw. There are times when she wants to be in our bed that it’s just not gonna happen. However, she doesn’t hold grudges. She’s just as loving as before once I’ve picked her up, let her out of the extra room, or given her paw a kiss. She will never come up to me a year from now and rant about that time I forgot the treats back in 2018. The slate is clean.

She won’t be around forever. Ginger is three years old. Hopefully, we’ll have her for many more years. But the truth is that dogs don’t live as long as humans. I’m 52, so unless something unexpected happens, Ginger will leave this world before I will. So I need to enjoy and love her. I need to do that with the humans I love too. We are not promised tomorrow, after all. So there you have it, a few daily dachshund reminders. Now, please excuse me while I go chase her around the yard!

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