Yappy Dog

It’s the day after Christmas and all through the house it’s quiet—blessedly quiet.

Over time I’ve come to suspect that the Man Upstairs not only reads my books, He has a wicked sense of humor.

One of my main fictional characters, in fact my first fictional character, J.P. Beaumont, has often, over the course of twenty-something books made his position on “yappy little dogs” painfully clear—he doesn’t like them. And for a long time, I didn’t like them either.

Beau’s problem with little dogs, especially dachshunds, grew out of my non-fictional husband’s long-ago experience. On the occasion of his first date with the woman who would become his first wife, he went to Lynn’s house to meet her parents. At that point, the family dog, a standard dachshund named Moxie, took one look at Bill, launched himself at Bill’s ankles, and nailed Bill’s achilles tendon, drawing blood and wrecking his sock. Bill and Lynn went on to fall in love and marry, but Moxie regarded Bill as public enemy number one as long as the dog remained on the planet. It seemed like a good story to me, so that became part of Beau’s history.

After a collection of family golden retrievers, Bill’s and my first experience with Doxies as a married couple came when we found a starving and terrified miniature long-haired dachshund abandoned on a busy 116th Avene here in Bellevue. We took her home and named her Bella. She was a dignified little princess of a dog who was able to carry off her duties of being Bella the Book Tour Dog with both aplomb and style. And she was so easy to get along with that we mistakenly assumed that was the nature of ALL miniature long-hairs. Let’s just say we were wrong.

So we came home with Jojo. She’s cute. She’s mischievous. She’s a perpetual puppy. I don’t believe she’s ever going to grow into having so much as a shred of dignity. And then, with Bella gone and Jojo lonely, we went back to the breeder and came home with Mary, a retired breeding mommy dog. It turns out that dogs used as breeders have a whole textbook of issues, and Mary exhibited all of them. It’s been a long learning curve for the whole family.

For the first two months, she remained glued to Bill’s chair, sitting beside him for hour after hour without making a sound. Ah, for the good old days! Quiet is no longer the order of the day.

This past Sunday, two days before Christmas, was Lil Jul Aften, our major family Christmas gathering. For the better part of three days, we had the better part of two dozen people coming and going from our house. And what happened?

Mary and Jojo barked every time someone entered the house and every time someone left the house. Okay, so they announce arrivals, that’s fair, I suppose, but do they have to announce each and every departure as well? And once a visitor has taken a seat somewhere, according to the dogs’ frame of reference, that’s where they are supposed to “sit and stay!” Each time a guest would move to a new location, that was also the occasion of another full-throated barking announcement.

Oh, and did I mention, they both disapprove of having short-legged guests. They did not appreciate having our now year-old great grandson grabbing toys out of their toy box or occupying their space.

So yes, it’s quiet around here, today, and I’m very grateful.

When we took Bella on book tours, there were plenty of small-dog lovers who reminded me of the previous error of my ways. They didn’t appreciate Beau’s snarky comments about their beloved little dogs, and now everybody is getting even.

Karma, as they say, is a bitch—in this case a pair of long-haired miniature dachshund ones. In fact, they’re barking right now. Someone must be in the driveway! End of the quiet. End of the story!