Richie


Be-Be on the left, Richie in the middle and their big friend, Danny

I have three dachshunds. Abigail is a couch potato, Be-Be is a wannabee tearaway and Richie is the tearaway.

Be-Be, short for Beatrice is a very small female with little short legs that are hardly conducive to match her personality. She is always out in the yard, poking about in the hopes that she can raise something to chase. With her short legs, the only thing she could catch would be one of the turtles that occasionally get out of the ponds. If she does spot one, she wants to bark it to death always with very little success. As the turtle just withdraws in its shell, Be-Be loses interest and wanders off. No fun chasing something that won’t move…She did get tangled up with a rat early in her wannabee career and the rat fastened onto her neck. Be-Be went tearing around the yard at top speed screaming at the top of her voice. When I finally caught up with her, the rat just fell off and I assume, of a broken neck after Be-Be’s mad dash. A trip to the vet for a shot and she was fine.

Richie on the other hand is a whole new ball game. He is about a mid size dachshund with very powerful legs and is very quick. he can jump onto my lap and even higher if he thinks there is something in it for him. This story is about him and his exploits to date.

Richie came to me almost six years ago from a friend of a friend that could no longer keep him. He was about 4 years old at that time so he is about 9 or 10 now. Having already Abigail and Be-Be, I thought I knew a little about dachshunds. that was, until Richie showed up.

When I picked him up from my friend, he was all over me as though to say, “you are the one I have been waiting for”, at least that is how I interpreted his joyful kisses and excited jumping up and down. Little did I know what secrets lay behind his doggie actions and what hold he would have over me.

As we walked around the my backyard together that first day home, which, I might add, is surrounded by a 6 ft high wooden fence made of 6 inch boards nailed closely together, he heard a mule on the other side of this fence in the wooded area and before I could even move, had dug himself a hole no more than 3 inches big where he squeezed through to the other side. I knew that the mule would kill him if I didn’t move quickly so I struggled to climb the fence and drop to the other side which had the remnants of a barbed wire fence surrounding it, making my movements so much more difficult. I finally broke free, scratched up all to hell and went after Richie who was having a fine old-time trucking around the woods. I didn’t know how well he had been trained but took a chance and called for him and lo and behold, he trotted quietly back to me. That was the first excursion of its kind with Richie saying,”welcome to my world”.  I should have realized there is something wrong with this picture.

The second time a couple of weeks later, he slipped out the side gate as I was closing it when we were working in the yard and immediately made a mad dash towards the main road. This was prior to my knee surgery and I was wearing a leg brace to work in the yard so I ran after him.  We both were running up the middle of the road with traffic behind and in front of me. With one hand as I was trying to get the cars to stop that were coming towards us and with the other, trying to stop those behind us, all of this wearing a brace that did not help my movements very much. Luckily for us, both sets of cars did stop and when I hollered at him, Richie again stopped running and trotted back to me as if to say, “we got our exercise, let’s go home”. We must have looked pretty funny with this little dog going at full speed, tail up, followed by this old man with wildly flailing arms and an enormous knee brace both running at top speed which for me, was not very fast. If Richie had not decided to come back, he could have got clear away as I was no match for him.

By this time, I had gotten a bit smarter and had run an electric fence, powered by a doggie shocker, all around the bottom of the fenced in yard. I think Richie has probably made contact with it a couple of times as he steers clear if it now.

I had been told by the previous owners that Richie liked to chase squirrels and cats. I had three cats at the time and I watched them pretty closely but he never made any move to bother the cats at all so I figured that he was OK with them. Big mistake. I went out one day leaving the cats and dogs all together as per usual. When I returned, the place was a shambles with furniture overturned, blood on the floor and a strong smell of cat urine. I searched around and located two of the cats but could not find the third. I eventually located her under the bed squeezed into a corner. She was a big old fat cat, and between the five dogs, they had managed to tear her up pretty good. I rushed her to the vet but she died overnight from complications. So Richie, as the last dog introduced to the pack that had never had problems with the cats before, was held responsible as at least the initiator of the attacks with the pack instinct the reason why the rest joined in.

I thought that several months later, Richie was over his cat thing and made the mistake of not separating the remaining two cats and locking them up as I had been in the habit of doing. Again, when I came home, there was this same scenario as before and this time between them, they had cornered Ellie, one of the other cats. She was a different target and gave them a good run and was only mildly hurt with her tail still intact. Again, another trip to the vets and this time, the cat came back home with me. I kept her locked up for about a week to get over the trauma but when I let her out of her room, she slipped out the doggie door and away into the night. I thought that was the last I had seen of her but about a week later in the evening, I heard her mewing on the roof and got the ladder out to rescue her. She was as pleased to see me as I to see her. However, she had problems from her injuries and required vet care the next day resulting in her losing her beautiful tail. This time, everything was OK and she remains one of the family pets. What is amazing about all of this is that in the evenings when everyone is fighting (figuratively speaking) for a place on the couch next to me, very often both of the cats and Richie are laying side by side. Go figure. Incidentally, I never go anywhere now without locking the cats in a separate room, a real case of locking the stable door…

There was one other instance of Richie and excitement leading him to attack one of the cats. I heard a knock on the front door which always sets everyone barking. I spent some time talking to the visitor at the door with the dogs still barking up a storm. The next thing I heard was a cat screeching as only cats can do. I tore back inside and Richie again was going after the same cat, Ellie, who by now was tailless from the previous episode and much harder for Richie to catch her. This time, there was no harm done but it is interesting that the excitement of a visitor at the door sparked off Richie’s aversion to cats and his reaction is always violent.

For all of his cat exploits, Richie is still a very loving little dog. He wants and gives affection and it is hard to see him as a cat killer. However, Richie and squirrels are a different story as he will spend hours chasing them from tree to tree. The squirrels for their part, often taunt him by coming down to drink or eat the birdseed with him just a few yards away and it becomes a competition with Richie always willing to give it a try. He actually has done pretty well and in the last couple of years, has caught three squirrels that I know of as I caught him eating two of them and watched him catch the third. Don’t know how he caught the other two but this one came down to ground and Richie caught is before it could get back in the trees.

Richie on a bush

One of Richie’s early exploits was to climb trees. He hasn’t done it in a while and has hopefully outgrown it but he would select a tree that had a curved trunk and then use his claws to grip the bark on his way up. I have a couple of trees that have ground cover climbing up them and he would use that as a means to get up the tree. He has been as high as twelve or so feet off the ground and always worried me that he would fall and get hurt. I have pictures of him up trees, up bushes and even on a load on the trailer.

Richie also gets very excited when the buzzards fly over head. He knows he can’t reach them but tears around all over the yard as they fly their slow circles on the wind currents. It’s real funny to watch him. He went absolutely nuts when the buzzards came in to clean up the last big Koi that died a month or so ago. They would sit in the trees above him as he tore around the yard barking at the top of his voice. He didn’t seem to bother them one little bit. And they ate all of the Koi.

During the fish spawning season, the male Koi chase the females round and round the pond with several of them chasing the one female. I am not quite sure why they do this but I think the action of the chase does something to the female to make her release her eggs which of course the males will fertilize. One day as I was sitting outside just enjoying the sun, I heard the Koi splashing and racing around but could not actually see the ponds from where I was seated. I never gave it much thought until it occurred to me that Richie was acting awful quiet. That was enough to get me looking for him and I found him at the bottom of the garden. Apparently, one of the female Koi, had jumped completely out of the pond in an effort to avoid the male’s attentions. That was the splash that I had heard but as I didn’t react, Richie, not one to miss a golden opportunity of a fresh fish meal, managed to pick up this Koi which had to weigh at least 10 lbs , carry it to the bottom of the yard and start gnawing on it. The fact that the fish was still alive didn’t bother Richie one little bit and he was very upset when I took it away and threw it over the fence where all the dead fish end up.

All of these previous tales pale in the light of the last two episodes, at least up to now, in Richie’s life. One of Richie’s favorite hangouts is under the workshop. I guess he can smell the mice and rats and whatever else interesting things that come along. One day, he was barking up a storm which he does if he gets excited and he wouldn’t stop so I went to see what he had gotten into this time. With him, you never know.

The only way I can see under this shed is with a flashlight and to literally lay down to shine it in. I did this and couldn’t make out very much so I decided to dig down through the leaf pile on the side of the shed so that I could get closer to the action. I was alert enough just in case it was a cornered rat or something like but I was not prepared when all of a sudden, a large snake stuck his head out and tried to bite my shovel. That did it for me as regards digging so I went back to my first position and focused more in the area of the excitement. It was very interesting and scary to watch first Richie and then the snake trying to attack each other. As one would dart forward, the other would jump back. As I still couldn’t see much of the snake except that he had a big body and was marked and coiled like a rattlesnake so had no idea if it was dangerous, I eventually managed to get Richie to come to me where we both went indoors and the slot was put in place to keep him and the other animals indoors for the night.

The next day, as I was standing on the deck and looking over at the big pond, I could see something white in the skimmer opening. My first thought was damn, another fish has died, as the current takes them back to the box so I went to check. Imagine my surprise when I took the cover off and all I could see was this bloody great snake who had decided that the box was a good place to hang out. I could see the head and could see that it was just a tree snake or rat snake and was not venomous so some of my panic disappeared. As I poked around, the snake emerged from the box and swam over to the other side of the pond. It was big and probably at least six feet or so long and the body was at least 4-5 inches in girth. That was the last I saw of it. I could have used its help clearing the rats out from under the shed and would gladly have exchanged free food and lodging for it to stay a few days but I guess that noisy Richie eventually drove it away.

The final episode was nearly just that. It was 3:00 am in the morning and I heard Richie outside and kicking up a fuss. He often went out at night as did the other dogs if they heard any strange noises. Richie must have picked up on something as he was the only one out so I put on some clothes, grabbed my trusty flashlight and went out to check it out. This time, Richie was under the hot tub deck which is at least two feet off the ground and much easier to see under. When I shone the light under the deck, all I could see were this big round yellow eyes reflected by the light. Closer inspection revealed that those eyes belonged to a big old racoon that Richie had cornered and as before with the snake, they were both going at each other in an effort to get in a telling bite. This was a whole different story as for all of his bravery, Richie was no real match for the teeth and claws of a big coon. So, I went back up to the deck and grabbed the hose pipe and squirted it in the general direction of both animals. I couldn’t see what was happening as I could no longer see under the deck from where I was but all of a sudden, Richie stopped barking.

The silence was absolutely deafening as I couldn’t see any sign of Rich as I searched around and was beginning to expect the worst when all of a sudden, Richie came wobbling out from under the main deck with his head all covered in blood. I grabbed him and we went inside. I cleaned him up and all he had was this one little tiny scratch that had either bled a lot or he had managed to take a chunk out of the coon. Either way, Richie was a very subdued little puppy having been spanked by a much larger coon. I think the coon had slapped him across the nose enough to knock Rich out for a bit, hence the silence and before he slowly crawled out from under the deck.

We both went back to bed for what remained of that night and the next day, he was back to his normal jolly little self.

To say that living with Richie is not an experience, would be an understatement. I am never quite sure what he is going to get into next. I find myself wondering where he is or what is he up to if I haven’t seen him in a while. If I have been away, I am always checking to see him and hoping that he will greet me at the door as the others do so I don’t have to go out looking for him. His personality registers more with me than all the rest of the dogs, I love them all and will do anything for them but in his case, he has made that extra special.

Quite the little man.

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