It begins early every morning around 4 a.m. when our little dachshund Riley does his “I need to go out, right now!” He’s been sleeping all night with my son, Doug, at one end of the house, but he’s come into my bedroom clear at the other end of the house to wake me.
Then the fun begins. Often, when I open the back door for Riley, instead of his going outside to “do his thing,” he instead returns to Doug’s bedroom and goes back to sleep. I figure since I’m already up, I’ll get a cup of coffee and watch the early morning news. It’s as if Riley is somehow checking up on this almost 90 year-old person, making sure I’m OK. Guess I should be flattered?
Shortly afterward Riley’s sister Molly, who usually sleeps with me, awakens. The whole process with going out starts all over again. This time, when Riley sees that Molly is going to “do her thing”, he follows her outside. He then makes sure to put his own exclamation point on the exact spot where Molly did hers. Perhaps it’s something in Riley’s DNA? He has a need to be the boss of everything and everyone.
This process doesn’t just involve me. Riley has managed to make sure that my son Doug also shares in the fun. Whenever Riley wants to play with toys, he makes Doug toss them from one end of the house to the other. No outside for this little guy. It’s either too wet, hot or cold for him so, “let’s stay and play inside.” For the first two or three times, Riley goes after the toys.
Getting bored after a few times, Riley then insists that Doug does the toy “fetching.” He’ll bark at Doug until he complies. And when I say bark, I mean BARK! You can clearly hear Riley making his presence known outside our house, even through our dual-pane windows. Evidently, no one ever told him that he’s a small dog and his voice should be the same. Riley’s just expressing how much he believes he’s “the real boss.”
We first got Riley a few months after we got Molly and just after we’d lost our Yorkies, brothers Benjie and Charlie. Benjie had cancer and having to have him “put down” was the most difficult thing my son had ever had to do. Then, only three months later, we realized that Charlie had a problem that couldn’t be cured and he went to join his brother. I remember how Doug told Charlie what was happening.
He held that little fellow in his arms and explained that he, Charlie, was going to join his beloved pal. Those two Yorkies had been raised together. Just after we’d lost Benjie, Doug and I had to go to town to do chores. When we returned there, on the back of the couch sat Charlie, looking like the most lost little fellah in the world. I cried myself to bed that night.
Looking back I wonder how I ever lived my life without a pet in the house. Most of the time our boys had a dog, but during my young lifetime, my parents didn’t allow an animal in our home. Finding our first pet for my five sons was a revelation to me, and taught me all about the unbelievable love a little dog can bring into a home and into our lives.
The first Dachshund I had was my sweet little Trinket that Van and I acquired via a friend at work. Trinket had been found wandering in a parking lot in Fresno on one of those 100 degree plus days central California has all too often. When nobody claimed her, we got lucky. That little girl had her own bed, a little whicker basket.
Then, one bitter cold day when Van and I were camping at Yosemite, she got out from out of her covers and my husband and I put her down between us inside of the covers of our “over the top of the camper queen sized bed.” I think she thought she had died and gone to heaven. Of course, years later in Cascade, Idaho, she died of old age.
It’s hard to understand how any human being can’t love one of God’s great gifts to we imperfect humans like a little dog who loves you unconditionally as does our little noisy, adorable Riley and his equally wonderful sister Molly.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer.