Just the other day a hunting friend of mine asked me how I got started in dachshunds and my mind started to wander … back to the beginning and all the years since then. I did not grow up with dogs but with a variety of small pets and rescued wildlife. But one of my aunts had two standard longhaired dachshunds and one of my first memories was that of one of those dogs attacking me and biting me in the face … I was about three. These dogs terrified me ever since.
Imagine my reaction when my new husband insisted on getting a dachshund … he grew up with them in the US and dearly missed them. Well, I gave in and our first dachshund pup moved in. Strangely enough she decided right away that she was going to be MY dog … and I was hooked.
Even though she was from a show kennel she had a keen hunting drive and could not be stopped. To my horror she followed a badger into his den at the tender age of 4 months spending a good half hour underground, just to pop back out with a face expression as if she just had tea with that dangerous fellow. After a while I knew that it was senseless trying to curb her instincts. Slowly I was sucked into the foreign world of hunting. She taught me well … basically to trust her instincts and to come along for the ride - and above all … to enjoy.
Soon we added another dachshund and here we are … many years later with the next generations of dachshunds. Because of my dachshunds I have many years of wonderful and unique adventures to call my own. I swam with my dogs in the Mediterranean off the French Rivera, the Northern Sea in Holland, the Baltic Sea in Denmark and the Atlantic in New Jersey… we climbed mountains in Hungary and Germany, hiked and camped throughout most of Europe, hunted red foxes with some great ‘old’ hunters in Germany and Denmark, searched wounded deer in the Odenwald, flushed game in the Taunus region and lastly - dug for woodchucks with a wonderful group of friends here in the Eastern United States. I was charged by a wild boar and climbed a tree faster than I thought I could ever move … while my teckel chased the boar around the tree below me with obvious enjoyment. We got attacked by crows in the mountains in open terrain and ran side by side in wild gallop for cover (well, actually my dogs were faster and lower – so they had the advantage).
I remember the chill running down my spine when standing in the thickest fog anyone can imagine, completely lost in the dull gray wall … clueless where my teckel were … and all of a sudden I could hear the Spurlaut of my dogs … following their run completely blind, yet knowing exactly what they were doing. AHH! The power of Spurlaut! After they lost the line silence returned … until they appeared out of nowhere right in front of me and unfailingly guided me home. Or how about the time when I sat with a friend on a log at the edge of the woods, dogs lying next to us. It was dusk and in the middle of rutting season for deer. We could hear the mating ritual and the chase in the field in front of us. All of a sudden the sounds came closer, we strained our eyes, the dogs pricked their ears. And here came the doe out of the twilight … straight at us, followed by the buck. They were so preoccupied that they did not notice us sitting motionless. At the last moment, about 6 feet away from us the deer finally saw us and broke away, almost touching us while racing by. We sat frozen for a moment, stunned by the experience … and then looked around to find us sitting behind the log now - together with the German pointer and my teckel – equally stunned it seemed.
Another great moment was to find our first fresh bear tracks in the snow in the US. It only took another year to come across a bear in person during one of our long hikes. My otherwise fresh-mouthed dogs showed their intelligence and instinct and warned me ahead of time by ducking low, raising all hair and growling real low. It was a great moment and thanks to my dachshunds I could avoid a dangerous encounter.
By now we have also met coyotes during our hunting outings and hiking. They scare me more than the bears and I am extra careful not to let the dogs run and I keep a close eye on them, even in the yard at night, since the coyotes have been seen close by.
Sometimes it’s the quiet moments that stay with me … the breaks during our hikes and hunts, just sitting and sharing some treats while taking in the sun or the wind. Once we came across two huge snapping turtles mating in a swampy area. We sat down at the edge of the water and watched. It was like being transferred back to prehistoric times.
Would I have experienced such wonderful things, would I have met the great people I have without my dachshunds? I think I can safely say - more than likely not. Many things stick in my mind … not just the good ones; thoughts of snakebites, injuries (the vets in the area know us well), skunk encounters, final good-byes and peaceful gravesites and urns in the shelf come to mind.
But today is about the good memories, the ones that make my heart sing. So, after coming home from today’s hunt I took out some fresh lamb shanks and gave my four-legged companions an extra treat. And as I sit here on my deck in the sun, watching my happily chomping dogs in the grass - I raise my coffee cup to my beloved teckel and toast to the great times together.