Can’t Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

By Erika Hoffman

Can’t Teach Old Dogs New Tricks

My two miniature dachshunds can be very vexing. If it is raining, they will not pee outside. If it is the day after it has rained and the blades of grass are slightly wet, they will not pee outside. If the sun is shining brightly, they don’t want to go outside to pee. If they can choose between doing their business in the mulch, on the lawn or on the blue slates leading up to our door, they choose the walkway.

The female and the smaller of the two won’t climb the tiniest step so I carry her – everywhere. The larger one, the boy, will jump on me if I am lazing on a chaise lounge in the backyard. He will lick my cup set next to me and nuzzle in to find the most comfortable spot for himself. She, on the other hand, will lick me whenever I sit down. If a friend comes over, she wags her tail excitedly and pees on my friend’s feet. But, the male dog barks and growls at intruders, and especially likes to startle UPS guys, even chasing one down my stoop, and that guy was as big as Shaq!

Baths are a nightmare. These pets seem to have ESP, and as soon as I even ponder bathing them, they hide. Their places are ingenious, and they often find new haunts and don’t return to old hiding places. Once the male dachshund got down low and crawled under a wicker sofa on the sun porch; I couldn’t find him at all and thought he had escaped outside. It wasn’t until I took out some Beggin’ Strips that I saw his big snoz poke out. Aha! Got cha! They both shake off before I can dry them, and at the end of the bath I often appear wetter than they. Some know-it-all once told me my dogs were not properly trained, and you could train a dog not to shake off until you ordered him to. Humph! To which, I answered with a whiner’s excuse: “I didn’t train these wieners because they were not my dogs. I got them when they were older and – abandoned.”

“Rescue dogs?” she said and arched her eyebrow.

“Yes,” I said. “My daughter abandoned one when she moved to the Island of Manhattan and up several flights of stairs, and my son wasn’t allowed to keep his and his sister’s dachshund when he married and moved to a condo that had restrictions on pets. So yes, I rescued them.”

If I’m to defend myself as to my poor dog training skills, then I have to defend my little charges also. They grew up in the New York City area where they had to poop on sidewalks, and my kids had to carry pooper- scoopers. Thus…their affinity for pooping on concrete! Sometimes, one of them just has an impulse and maybe it comes at an inconvenient time before she reaches the natural areas of a lawn. Recently, I was at Plottfest in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, where Plott Hounds compete for trophies and ribbons. We watched teams of Plott Hounds show off their hunting skills by surrounding a fake boar and baying continuously to alert their masters (hunters) as to the location of the prey; we witnessed hounds treeing a fake raccoon and again barking aggressively at their prize; we also were spectators at the AKC agility champion demonstration, which reminded me of an obstacle course on that reality show, American Ninja Warrior, only this one’s for dogs. Yet, despite some stellar performances, I got the most kick out of the misbehaving canines – like the one that stopped to urinate instead of attending to the mechanical boar being pivoted wildly around by a man hidden in the bushes working levers. After that initial “got to go” contender relieved himself, all the others, rather than encircle the phony boar, bolted to that same spot for a sniff, then a pee, and even a noticeable deposit – by one. On occasion, the call of nature took precedence over their training and over winning a ribbon for their owners.

I also can’t fault my little girl on her not climbing steps. Our vet told me that dachshunds can hurt their backs easily and that they shouldn’t be jumping up on chairs or climbing up high stairs. So, my little Bear-Bear is smarter than I in that she knew she must be lifted and carried. And my boy, Grylls, is protective of me and warns me if a stranger approaches, a garbage truck is rattling down the street, or a squirrel is stealing from the birdfeeder once again!I didn’t choose Bear and Grylls to be my companions now that I’m an empty nester. They needed a new home. I’ve found out something in the two years that they’ve resided with me. Although I didn’t know it at the time they were dropped off, I’ve since discovered that I needed them as much as they needed me.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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11 Responses to “Can’t Teach Old Dogs New Tricks”

  1. I never miss a good dog story. Humorous tales of two dogs … even better. Accounts of savvy, manipulating mini-hounds more devious than my own pooch…the best! Grinned all the way through.

  2. Emily Hungerford says:

    Loved reading about your girl and boy doggies. Your sense of humor always comes through and happy you could rescue them.

  3. Kim Moses says:

    I love this story. I’ve always been a cat lover but this story makes me want to have some mini-hounds.

  4. margaret says:

    Wonderful story and so true!!! How many of us have been “trained” by our dogs?? I know I have! Thanks for another great, insightful and hilarious story. Keep ’em coming! Life is too funny to stop laughing!

  5. Dallas Swan says:

    I love this I have dachshunds and I have a large list of excuses of why they have accidents and why they don’t always like other dogs. When they jump on peoples laps and they say this dog isn’t trained, I blame them for not appreciating a loving welcome. I think these dogs are lucky to have you!!

  6. Barbara Margolis says:

    It was fun to read about your humorous approach to dog ownership (or rescue). I never realized that it would be advisable to wear a raincoat and closed shoes when visiting the home of a dachshund. Thanks for the education!

  7. Rose Ann says:

    What would we do without our fur-babies?!? You’re happy; they’re happy. Sounds like you’ve trained each other. Enjoy!

  8. Rose Ann says:

    What would we do without our fur-babies?!? You’re happy; they’re happy. Sounds like you’ve trained each other well. Enjoy that special companionship!

  9. Erika Hoffman says:

    Thanks for all the comments! One other thing I forgot to mention about my little furry buddies is that they are my co-writers for almost all my stories. I read essays aloud to them, and they look so attentively at me as I do this that I am sure the piece is a winner. And sometimes, the little one even comes over and licks me as I read. What a good review that is!

  10. Carol Trejo says:

    Well, Ms. Hoffman, does it again with her story. She writes in such a humorous way. I appreciate her outlook on life and how she always manages to look on the bright side of life and share her adventures with her readers. Love your stories! Thank you!

  11. Linda O'Connell says:

    Loved your fur baby story. Ever try giving a cat a bath?!

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