I’m sure most of you have had a deja vu moment when a place, a smell, or a sequence of small events made you feel as if you were re-living a memory from your past. After 16 years rescuing Dachshunds, Rick and I have experienced some very unique personalities. We have loved quiet dogs, loud dogs, playful dogs, grouchy dogs, lazy dogs, and over-achievers. Each and every one has left an indelible mark on our hearts and in our minds. I won’t pretend that we remember every dog and all their characteristics. But the ones that lived the remainder of their lives here with us, whether that was one year or ten years are so easily brought to the forefront of our minds.
Dudley was one of the first five dogs we rescued when we opened our sanctuary in 2001. He was an older Dachshund gentleman that walked with his head high and his chest out. His entire being exuded pride and a sense of order to life. Dudley soon became known as Deputy Dudley Doright as he was the keeper of the rules. Dudley was the judge of when some of the younger dogs were getting too rowdy, and he put a stop to it by charging into the fray and bouncing his big chest off the bodies of the ruffians in our pack. Dudley’s will was respected, and while he was not always successful at getting the younger dogs to settle down, he was almost always triumphant in getting them to move their rough-housing to a different area of the yard.
Earlier this year we rescued a little guy named Gil. We lengthened his name to Gilbert because it just seemed to fit him. He often lays on a big pillow under a table in the bedroom, and he doesn’t have much trouble getting any previous occupants to give way to his desire to be on that pillow. Last week while Rick and I sat on the bed loving on the babies, I watched Gilbert jump off his pillow, run to the middle of a wrestling match between three of our younger dogs, and growl until their fun moved to the other room. Gilbert is not a Dachshund. His coat is white and long. His nose is stubby and his body is short. But for just a brief second our Deputy Dudley Doright was standing right in front of me.
Rickashay came to us in 2002 from Houston. He was estimated to be about 16 years old, and his back legs were stiff with arthritis. His grey face and cloudy eyes masked the spunk that this old man had inside. He waddled across the yard with his nose to the ground, using the strongest sense he had left. Rickashay barked at me sometimes for hours. I would help him get to the bed I thought he wanted just to watch him walk away as soon as I left him there. He barked at me until I helped him get up on the porch, and he immediately walked right back into the yard. He barked at me from the rug in the kitchen while I did the dishes, and his little front feet came off the ground as if he were putting an exclamation mark behind his demands. He often stood in front of the floor length mirror in the bathroom barking at the dog just out of his reach. Rickashay was gentle and fragile, but you could not tell that from his bark.
When Trooper arrived at the sanctuary in September of last year he immediately began to make himself heard. In the beginning he would only bark at me when he was ready for his scrambled egg dinner. But as time goes by and Trooper learns how powerful his bark is, he uses it for everything. He uses it to call me when he has gotten behind a door and wants me to rescue him. He uses it when he wants out of his bed, and then again only minutes later when he wants back into his bed. Obviously, Trooper gets what Trooper wants. Rick and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Last night as Rick and I sat on the bed surrounded by dogs, Trooper made his way into the bathroom and stood in front of the floor length mirror. And then, you guessed it, he barked at me. His little front feet came right off the ground and his reflection in the mirror for one wink of an eye was Rickashay coming back to me after all those years.
Andre’ was our first official rescue in July of 2001. He was young and had been on the streets for long enough for his coat to be dull and dry, and his eyes to be sunken and sad. We knew immediately that Andre’ would spend his entire life with us here at the sanctuary. He was neither senior nor special needs, but he was our Alpha Male and we would never part with him. A few months after Andre’ arrived, our sanctuary had filled up with other babies. One evening when a thunder storm approached from the west, all of our other dogs rushed thru the doggie door to get into a bed or under a blanket. As I looked out the kitchen window Andre’ stood in the middle of the yard with his nose high in the air as if he was telling the storm that he was Andre’ Alpha Male, and he was not afraid. Some of our dogs are more afraid of the thunder than others, but Andre’ was the only one that challenged the thunder and lightening head on.
Mr. Gibbs came to us from a breeding farm and he was one of the most frightened little guys we had ever rescued. It was weeks before Rick could pick him up without having to corner him, and even longer before I could touch him at all. After a year here at the sanctuary, Mr. Gibbs is friendly and approachable. He runs with the pack and he seeks out the love and attention that we are more than willing to give. One evening a few months ago I noticed after a little rain shower that Mr. Gibbs was soaking wet. I was astonished as most of our babies would not even consider going outside if the grass was wet, much less if it was actually raining. We received more rain this summer than we normally do, and on several occasions I noticed again that Mr. Gibbs was soaking wet after a shower. One evening a few weeks ago we had a particularly loud thunder storm moving overhead, and I was busy covering up babies that wanted to hide from the noise. I walked past the kitchen window and there in the middle of the yard with his head to the sky stood Mr. Gibbs. As one huge strike of lightening lit up the sky I saw a flash of our Andre’ Alpha Male standing in the yard challenging the storm.
The continuity of our experiences with our babies is heartwarming for me. To know that one baby we have now can bring back the feelings we had for one from long ago makes our circle complete. They are all so unique and their personalities are quite individualized but for one brief moment here and there I can see my babies that have passed in my babies that are still here. So now when a new rescue comes to the sanctuary I look into their eyes and ask them, “Have we met?”