Sometime in the past two years, I became fairly obsessed with dachshunds. Hot dogs, wiener dogs, whatever you want to call them.
There is a method to this madness. Growing up, our family had a beagle, so I’ve always had an affinity for hounds. Also, one night I was driving home from work through the hills in our neighborhood, and I saw a sweet little dachshund sitting on someone’s front lawn. Just sitting there, all by himself, erect and proud as dachshunds are known to be. I thought he was adorable, and also contemplated going back to make sure he was OK, since he was so little and sitting so close to the street all alone. I didn’t go back, but I thought about him often, and every time I drove down that street, I’d keep an eye out for the dog I had already nicknamed “Hot Dog.”
Then, one day, I saw him. He was walking with his owner, a man who walks around the neighborhood with several dogs at a time. A member of his group was Hot Dog, and to my utter delight and amazement, Hot Dog was wearing a bun. A bun made out of fabric, meant to look like a hot dog bun, complete with fake ketchup and mustard. He was a Hot Dog in a bun. That’s pretty much the moment I went off the rails and starting talking about this dog obsessively to my boyfriend, and creepily looking around for Hot Dog every time I drove through that neighborhood.
The owner seems to recognize me and my car by now, and he seems very leery of me. He’s totally weird, and I suppose it should be a life moment during which you check yourself when the weird guy in the neighborhood is weirded out by you. I remained undeterred.
Since we had already been talking about getting a dog in a general way, I thought it might be fun to get a dachshund.
Now, loving beagles and hounds as I do, I understand that they are bred to be outdoor pets. Their instincts are to hunt birds or small animals, and because of that, without good training from the beginning, they can make unruly house pets. Indeed, our family beagle was adorable, but a brat. She barked, she begged, and she had accidents in the house.
So I’ve been pretty firm that if we are getting one of these dogs, we have to get it as a puppy so we can train it the right way from the start. Also, loving the breed as I do, I really wanted a purebred doxie. We started looking at rescue organizations, and trying to find a purebred anything was like looking for a unicorn (especially in Southern California, where almost everything is mixed with a Chihuahua; fun fact – a Chihuahua-dachshund mix is called a “chiweenie”). I looked a lot, combing every site I could find. I really did. I came to the conclusion that if we were going to find what we wanted, we would need to go to a breeder.
I found a very reputable, AKC certified breeder a few hours from us. From all her reviews and feedback, I was confident that we would get a perfect, healthy little puppy. We brought her home five months ago, and it’s hard to explain how much I love this precious little fur ball. Her name is Daisy.
I have felt judged multiple times for buying a dog from a breeder rather than rescuing a dog from a shelter. The criticism hangs in the air when I answer “No,” to the question, “Is she a rescue?” I have a heart, and the decision pains me when I think about dogs in shelters that may end up being euthanized because they do not have a home.
In fact, we fully intend to be a two-dog household, so once we get the hang of things with the puppy, we will look at rescuing a second dog from a shelter. I’ve recently fallen in love with the idea of adopting a “senior” and giving an older dog a loving and comfortable home for its remaining years.
Of course, I do not explain that to people who throw moral outrage my way about buying from a breeder. It’s none of their damn business. I’d like to point out that there are quite a few children that need to be adopted into good homes all around the world, but people still have babies. Since I can’t have children, we would like to adopt some day. I feel that this more than rights things with the universe for buying a puppy. But, again, I do not feel the need to justify my intentions to judgmental strangers. Adding a member to your family –- yes, even a dog –- is a personal decision and it’s no one’s business why you make the choices you do.
Generally my philosophy is to ignore people who judge me or are mean to me. Life is too short to let that type of noise get you down. That being said, there was one day in particular that it really got in my head. There is a cool family that lives up the street from us, and we often see them when we walk Daisy Dog. They are a young-ish couple with a few dogs, and two adopted children. They are the family I aspire to be some day.
A few weeks ago, I walked by the Mom, who was with one of her kids and one of their dogs. Our dogs did their doggie dance/butt sniffing routine while the Mom asked me, “Where did you get her?”
I knew what was coming, so I tried to be non-committal by saying, “We got her from a woman about three hours away...” and she interrupted a little harshly with, “Was it a breeder?” At this point, her son, who cannot be more than eight, said, in the most awkward movie-moment fashion, “Mommy, what’s a breeder?” It was at that point I hung my head and walked my perfectly-bred wiener dog home.
I eventually shook it off, because of this: every day for the past five months, Daisy has made me laugh, smile or feel unconditionally loved –- or all three. I almost can’t remember life before we brought her home. I love her pretty little face. I love her funny, long body and her even funnier short legs. I love her goofy and sweet personality – she is the perfect combination of athletic/playful and cute/cuddly.
Even though I had never been 100% sure that I would ever want children, having that option taken off the table was shocking. Also shocking was that all of a sudden I had all this maternal energy that I had to put into something. In lieu of any actual children at this point in my life, she is my baby. I’m not sorry for how weird that is, and I’m not sorry for how she came into my life. She was worth every penny, and I’d do it again.
Where do you stand on this issue? Do you have a dog? How did you get it? Do you think it is socially irresponsible to buy a dog instead of rescuing one? Or do you accept that people have reasons for making decisions that we may never understand or agree with?