Thanksgiving Rescue

Truman after being rescued.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I’d share a story that began two years ago.

Months after we put down our dog, Macy, conversation swirled in our home around getting a new pet. My vote, spurred probably by an urge to reconnect with my childhood, was to get a dachshund. My wife became convinced as well, but we couldn’t afford a purebred, and you just don’t find one down at your local shelter. So we put the matter aside.

That Thanksgiving, we received this photo. It came from friends that lived out in the country who found this abandoned dachshund on their parent’s farm. They probably wouldn’t have discovered him if it hadn’t been for the cows. When they heard them moo and saw them dart across the field being chased by a flash of red, they assumed it was a fox. Racing to the rescue, they discovered this pup and assumed he’d chased the cows out of fear. I chuckled. Fear? Although small and wiener-like, dachshunds were bred to attack badgers. This pup was probably trying to kill them!

We decided to visit to make sure the dog would be a good fit for our family. Needless to say, he exemplified all the personality traits of a dachshund on crack. Yet despite the obvious trauma, we could tell there was a good dog inside.

We went home to discuss, and the next day, I called to make arrangements to bring him home.

He was a mess! Not only was he malnourished, but he had so many issues that stemmed from trying to survive. He’d bark incessantly at the ceiling fan. Was this due to an owl or hawk attack (he does have a scar)?  If the back door was ajar, he’d dart out despite the fact that our home kept him safe, warm and well-fed. Even after a good meal, he’d hop onto our dining room table to hunt for food.

With the help of a friend who is a trainer, I nursed him back to health and tried to correct his bad habits without breaking his spirit. Her best advice was using a squirt bottle. I’d flip on the fan, he’d bark, and I’d spray his nose. When he hopped up on the table I’d blast him. Going outside required a leash, and if he growled at someone, he’d get a firm yank with a squirt. When he charged an SUV to attack (dachshunds really do think they’re the size of rhinos!) I’d spray him.

Truman sunning, July 2011

Over time, the trauma issues disappeared and what emerged was a well-rounded dachshund. Well, as well-rounded as one can expect with this breed! He’s extremely gentle with our grandson, playful yet not overly aggressive, loves to burrow beneath blankets, and thinks I hung the moon.

And yet, a week doesn’t go by when our home reverberates from a scolding, “TRUMAN!”

But considering where he’s come from, I’d say that’s just par for the course.

After all, he is a dachshund!