Below the Common View: A Dachshund’s Guide to the World

This is for Discover Prompts #7 for April 7 – Below.

Photo: Herman the Dachshund / by Author

I have a dachshund named Herman. He’s 17 pounds of double dapple short-haired red with white flash on the back of his neck and a white stripe from his foreheard to his nose, white booties on his feet, and a white tip of his tail that makes his tail look like a paintbrush. His double-dapple darker spots are hard to see but shine brightly (darkly?) in full sunlight.

Herman is a year and 4 months old, born on December 1, 2018. We got him on Februray 9, 2019, when he weighed in at 4 lbs. He’s the cutest thing, and I think we’re going to have to get more storage capacity on our phones or fill them up with Herman pictures.

Photo: Herman the Dachshund / by Author

Since Herman’s arrival, I’ve had to adjust my perspective and keep track of what’s going on below my feet, and even below his own eye level. I’ve never had a small dog before, though I’ve had many dogs in my life. Dachshunds, I’ve learned and read about, are noted for only about 50% obedience. They do what they want, when they want. But he learns quickly and gets used to routine quickly. And if he doesn’t get what he wants, he starts a strike routine of demand barking. And if you try to scold him or tell him no or take a step toward him, he runs. It looks like he’s scared, a little dog running from someone who is scolding him. But he’s really using all the powers of his small frame to instigate a game of chase.

I’m tall, at 6’1,” and imposing to a little dog like Herman who is very small. So when I give him commands from above, he doesn’t know if I’m scolding him or commanding him or playing with him. So I’ve found that I have to get down below him to get him to come to me. I have to get to his level and see the world from his point of view. That means laying completely flat on the ground. Getting on my hands and knees isn’t enough. I still tower over him, so I must slither on the ground like a snake. And even then, if he knows he’s being a trouble maker, he won’t come to me.

But he’s a scaredy cat for a little dog, too. He doesn’t like cars or buses or motorcycles, and we live in the city, so he won’t walk. He just sits and puts all his muscles into not moving at all because he doesnt’ feel safe. He will run and jump and play when we take him for walks in the woods. But getting him to walk on city streets is a hassle. Often we have to give up and carry him, as he shakes in our arms. And if he’s in one of his scared moments, the only way to get him to come to the end of his leash is to lay down on the ground and then he’ll run and climb into my lap to be protected. Of course, he’ll dive into the small carrier we have for him, that he rides in in the car. That’s his safe home.

I’m sure you can tell from the pictures just how Herman can melt any heart. Below my feet, all day long, is the sweetest, most obstinate, most adorable and playful dog that will remain a puppy for his entire life. I’m sure I’ll be writing much more about Herman in the future.

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