Like many of you, I grew up around dogs. Our farm had at least one, if not more, pet dogs roaming around the place, both inside and outside. It was a common and natural thought to have a dog, if not a few, to watch the place when we were gone, to be best friends with and to give the cats conniptions.
Perhaps there was one before I was born, but I cannot think of a time when my parents ever paid money for a dog, or of one being purebred.
When one would pass on or not show up for a couple of weeks, another dog would come around, whereby my father would feed it and attempt to discern if it was friendly or not. If so, it would stay and be our new pet, but otherwise, it would be sent packing.
While in high school we acquired a dog we named Belle. She was mostly cocker spaniel, and she became not only our outside dog, but our inside dog as well. She would sleep in our family room in a special bed we set up for her. In return, my father taught Belle some tricks for pancake pieces or, if she really deserved them, bacon strips. She could sit, speak, shake hands, lie down (play dead) and more. Of course, none of this happened without an accompanying treat.
She had a litter, and we gave most of the pups away except for a couple. Both males, they were short-haired and of the German shepherd from up the road, having darker markings. For a lack of better names, I gave them the titles of Barney and Fife. Those two were quite the characters.
Dumb dogs and smart dogs
Barney was a very friendly dog, almost sheepish. He was patient and, surprisingly, rather kind to the cats. He would let them lie on his body while they snoozed together, usually in a sunbeam in the afternoon on a winter day. You could tell he wasn’t a smart dog, but he appeared to reply, “Yep, I’m not too bright, but I’m a good and loyal dog.”
Fife, on the other hand, was so dumb he didn’t know he was dumb. When Barney would be getting a good petting from my sister or me, Fife would amble over and just knock Barney out of the way. But like Barney’s weakness for cat friends, Fife had his own: howling uncontrollably to my mother’s accordion playing.
A certain tune would cause Fife to moan and wail as if the end of days were near; Barney would look at him, trying to ascertain the issue, only to realize it was his dumb brother who wouldn’t know the reason even if he knew it. Or so it appeared.
Having moved back to the farm in 2004, we brought along Mindy, Jackie’s miniature dachshund. While we lived in Huxley, Mindy got walked a lot and, therefore, kept pretty slim. But now on the farm, or rather the farm house, she stayed inside mostly, spelunking under the blankets and pillows on the couches and beds to keep warm, and started becoming a fat, small dog.
Inside and outside dogs
Mindy passed away in 2010, but after her we acquired two more dachshunds: Lucky, a black and tan short-haired male, and Lucy, a slightly younger female, also with the same colors. Like Mindy, they are not much for farm dogs, but house dogs instead. Oh, they will try to exchange words with some coyotes howling in the evening sometimes, but they should remember they would be appetizers for the pack that awaits outside.
They are lap dogs, always there to jump on you when you sit down, and if they can’t find someone to sit on, they will, in typical Dachshund fashion, burrow themselves into whatever blankets they can find and take a long snooze.
We do have an outside dog now, and like my parents’ dogs, we did not pay anything for it and is of unknown breed. Peppy, with short white and tan hair, medium build and a tendency to jump on everything and everyone, came to us a few years ago.
She gets very excited to see people, so much so that she doesn’t always have the best behavior and gets scolded. However, she is very loyal and caring, appearing to say, “I loooove you, Dad, more than life itself!”
There is a prayer that goes like this: “Dear Lord, let me be the person my dog thinks I am, and let me love You like my dog appears to love me.” May our dogs help remind us of this.
Gunzenhauser farms near Humeston.