A Dog's Life

Dogs may seem crazy, but when it comes to how to live, they might be on to something

When I was a kid, my family had a black lab named Maverick. My parents named him after the character in Top Gun, and they couldn’t have chosen a better name. Maverick was insane. He spent 90 percent of his time destroying everything in his path. His favorite pastime was spreading our neighbors’ trash across their yards. His passion was chasing cars, and he was always on the lam. Once, my parents received a 2 a.m. collect call from “Maverick.” They’d thought he was in his pen in the backyard, but a man had found him on the other side of the county—going through his trash, naturally.

When I was ten, my parents decided to get another dog. Maverick had made them wary of larger breeds, so I arrived home from school one day to find a long ball of fur in our kitchen that wouldn’t stop barking. I later learned this oddly shaped loudmouth was a dachshund. Our dachshund was called Boots. All small dogs seem to have a bit of a Napoleon complex, but in no breed is it more prevalent than the short-legged, hotheaded dachshunds. I spent the next several years constantly trying to bail ten-pound Boots out of fights with other dogs, people, and even snakes. Boots once took on a copperhead. She was bitten twice—once on each side of her snout. The vet noted that it was strange for a dog to be struck more than once—usually they back down after the first bite. Typical dachshund.

I love big labs and retrievers, but there is something about the confidence of scrappy little dogs that I find irresistible. So when I decided to purchase a dog of my own, I went looking for dachshunds, which is how I found my dog, Rosie. At fourteen pounds and with three-inch legs, Rosie is an especially stocky dachshund—and she spends each day trying to ensure that the world knows that in no way will this compromise her ability to dominate every other species.

A few months ago Rosie accompanied me to a photo shoot for this magazine at a country barn. Our third shot of the morning was to take place in a nearby field. The second her paws hit the ground, Rosie took off at a full sprint down a hill toward a huge, white horse, barking at the top of her lungs. Unsurprisingly, the horse didn’t take particularly kindly to what I can only assume it thought was an unusually loud squirrel.

I was doing exactly what I’ve been doing since I was ten years old:
bailing a dachshund out of a fight in which it is at
a distinct disadvantage, but which it definitely started.

The horse dipped its head, biting at Rosie and stamping its feet. Rosie’s barking slowed and she started backing up. Then, two other horses came running out of the woods, heading straight for her. Rosie went into full retreat mode, yelping as if she’d been mortally wounded and running toward me and out of the pasture. By now I had climbed through the horse’s fence, running down the hill. I was doing exactly what I’ve been doing since I was ten years old: bailing a dachshund out of a fight in which it is at a distinct disadvantage, but which it definitely started. I scooped up Rosie and rushed back toward the fence to save both of us from being trampled. She was panting happily, tail wagging from the thrill of the fight.

There are plenty of reasons to love pets—companionship, unconditional adoration, and impressive snuggling capabilities. In addition to loving the dogs I’ve had, I think that when it comes to life philosophies, they’re on to something. Nothing scares them. Every day holds the opportunity for adventure. And, most importantly, they’re confident that whether they need to be picked up at 2 a.m. or plucked out of the path of stampeding horses, the person they love will be there for them.

Categories: Loose Ends, Opinion, The Buzz