It started with constant yelping. There are several types of barking styles employed by my dogs. This was an “I have him cornered!” bark, not an “it’s a snake!” bark or the squealing call which indicates running after a squirrel or a deer.
My three dachshunds are very different from each other, though all are extremely lovable in that way that dachshunds alone seem to know how to be.
Magnus is sweet-tempered and awfully patient until it is time for a snack or a meal. Then he jumps up and down and barks and moans pitifully. He acts as if we starve him. But of course, he eats very well and gets snacks most days, as well. His shiny black and tan coat is thick with curls. He would be a beautiful long hair specimen except for his tail. It is way too short and hooked at the end. However, he has a great plume of feathery fur all along his tail making it appear longer than it is. It is magnificent.
Sisi is the true huntress in the pack. A sleek reddish color, her coat is short and easy to clean. She weighs ten pounds. She is happiest outside tracking animals both big and small. She leaps and bounds and scents her prey with complete concentration. Her high-pitched hunting cry is easy to discern. Once heard, it is never forgotten. She lives to hunt. But when the hunt is over she is happy to curl up on someone’s chest and sleep like a baby. Everyone loves her.
Dandy Dude is a bit more of a one-person dog. And the one person was my mother. We bought him for mother when she was 99 years old. But he knew who his mistress was and he protected her and adored her. When she died at nearly 102, he was bereft. At first I took him on as dog number 3 because I had no choice. But over time he became much more to me. He really is sweet and affectionate when not acting like a crazy wild animal. I have come to love him very much. And he loves ME. I try to give all of them “equal time” with me. I block out time to cuddle each one individually. It works out. And now I believe Dandy is really happy here with me and his other companions. He is less likely to stray than they are. Never going far from the house.
The major hunting expeditions are undertaken by Sisi and Magnus as a hunting pair. On Monday the hunting sounds were constant. When a bark is consistent and loud and fierce it normally means an animal has been cornered. Sure enough, my assistant Marci called to me and said they seem to be under the stump of that big oak tree. This tree which was uprooted during a strange violent summer storm last August was very large. The stump had never been removed as it was sort of out of the way and out of sight. What stuck up from the pad of earth where the tree once stood was just a sawed-off stump now joined by a tiny forest of 12 inch high baby oak tree suckers. Beneath the earth holding the stump were thick roots sticking out at all angles. These once held that gorgeous oak tree in place. There was space, sort of an earthen cave under this cap of clay. It made a great cover for some animal, probably a groundhog. Whatever it was the dogs were going crazy.
The barking went on and on. Marci called me to come out and take a look. Sisi was just coming out from under the base of the stump. Red clay covered her whole body. When I say covered I mean it. Take a look at her photo. Red clay mixed with blood. NOT her blood but that of whatever she had cornered under there. We never did see the animal they cornered as it was too far under the clay surrounding the roots. Sisi lay there, hot and exhausted. She stretched in the grass panting, her tongue lolling out of her mouth. She did not resist when I picked her up and carried her into the house for a bath. I put her in the laundry room sink because it was deep and empty and a good washing place for small dogs. She seemed OK with this idea.
I ran cool water on her at first waiting for some warm water to come. But she was so hot I think she liked that water as a cool down. The thickness of the mud on her face and her paws required multiple washes and rinses. Clay encrusted her collar. She is small and supple and relaxed and she seemed pretty happy to be cleaned up. She was not really seriously wounded herself. A couple of tooth mark punctures on the top of her head and a slight cut near the underside of the mouth showed her fighting spirit.
Magnus was not so lucky. That animal had bitten him in the cheek. It literally made a small pea-sized hole in his left cheek close to the lip. He was bleeding and covered with red clay, too. Marci brought him into the laundry room just about the time I finished with Sisi. What a mess. I put Sisi on the ground and wrapped her up in a towel to dry. Magnus went into the sink. Poor guy had red Virginia clay in his eyes, his mouth, and between all the toes on his feet. His gorgeous plume of a tail was matted with it. This was because he was having so much fun under that stump that he would not come out. He just kept barking and wagging that tail in the wet red clay. Over and over he swept the space beneath the stump and collected bits and pieces of whatever was there in his thick tail plume. Sticks and burs and dry leaves and whatever could have blown in there clung to him. He was so patient as Marci washed him. He did not struggle and even when she rinsed out the wound in his cheek he barely winced. What a prince! Finally, I got him dried off and put him in the front seat of my car wrapped in a monogrammed towel.
I took him to the urgent care vet here in Charlottesville. It is called Autumn Trails. It is a lovely establishment with kind caring people who looked after us well. Magnus was due for a Rabies shot. They also washed out and disinfected his wound. We left there with three staples in his cheek holding the flesh together so it can heal. Even though there was a hunk missing, I believe he will not show much of a scar. He has medication to take for pain and infection. He was not scared or traumatized in any way. He seemed to understand that people were trying to help him. It is a nice, cheery, clean, facility and I will go back there to have his teeth worked on. It turns out he is badly in need of dental work.
Of course I could have had a large party or gone to New York City for the weekend for the same amount of money. But it was worth it for my baby boy.
Copyright©. 2021 Bonnie B. Matheson