The morning wake-up routine has switched from getting dressed and off to school to a good stretch and going potty outside

wake up montgomery

Every morning the six of us (that’s me and the five dogs) have a routine. It’s actually not that different from a few years ago when it was kids instead of dogs.

Back then it was chasing sleepy children out of bed, making lunches, finding shoes, and herding them into the car for school. Now it’s chasing sleepy dachshunds out of bed, finding missing slippers, and herding the pack outside to its business.

The routine begins with the German Shepherds, Sunna and Noet, engaging in a big dog ultimate-cage-fighting-wrestling-to-the-death match directly in front of me as I try to get out of bed. Once a victor has been declared and I’ve managed to establish a footing on the floor (I’m not sure how this occurs, I just know the girls suddenly call their match to a halt), I’ll turn to locate the lumps in my bed that identify where the dachshunds have burrowed.

Now the doxies want none of the shepherd’s morning “Thunderdome” nonsense and generally burrow deeper into the blankets to avoid it. But with some coaxing words spoken in the same high-pitched voice I use to ask “who wants a snack?”, I can usually get Franzi an Rommel to reluctantly poke their heads out to look around (just in case there actually is a snack). At that point I’ll scoop them up and place them on the floor next to the shepherds.

The real trick is capturing Montgomery. He’s a wily one. Not only does he not fall for the whole “who wants a snack?” voice (unless there actually is a snack involved), but he’s also figured out how to burrow deep under the covers, flatten himself and take on a dead weight equivalent to a steamer trunk filled with lead. He’s virtually impossible to move.

After years trying to drag him from bed without success, I finally landed on a new approach that takes advantage of the dachshund’s naturally excited pack hunting behavior. I like to call it “The Running of the Doxies.”

It begins with me announcing in a happy voice “who wants to go outside?” And then I’ll repeat it slightly more excited. And again, even more excitedly. Eventually I’ll have the entire pack on the floor baying, barking, leaping and throwing themselves at the sliding glass door in a complete frenzy. Then I fling the door open and shout “go get `em!” in full voice and the mob charges through in a full speed “unleash the hounds of hell!” gallop in hot pursuit of who-knows what.
Then I slam the sliding door shut and go to the kitchen.

The five hell hounds spend several minutes racing through the yard (there’s two acres, so plenty of distance) before they forget what it was they were so excited about. Then they calm down, investigate the various scents left behind after last night’s patrol of coyotes, opossums, raccoons, weasels, squirrels, etc., do their business, and return to the house through the kitchen dog door where they find me watching them out the window and enjoying a cup of tea.

Rain or Shine, it works every time.

How about you? What do you do to get your dogs outside in the morning?

It’s Food Channel meets Animal Planet in a daily culinary adventure

I don’t how it is with your dachshunds, but cooking with mine is a life challenging event. After years of doing it, I’m pretty sure I could do that scene in Indiana Jones where he has to escape the Temple of Doom without being crushed, flayed, skewered or incinerated while juggling chainsaw with my eyes closed.

Cooking with Dachshunds

My kitchen is fairly small and all three of my dachshunds — as well as my two German shepherds — insist on stationing themselves in it at meal preparation time. Given that the space is maybe 5 feet wide and 10 feet long, movement from refrigerator to counter to stove without stumbling over one of the five, each of whom is in a constant state of jockeying for a position directly under my feet, is an accomplishment in itself. This nightly competition for potential fallen morsels (made more likely by tripping me) begins with the refrigerator opening.

Now, if you’ve ever read anything about Dachshunds, you know that they’re usually described as stubborn and extremely difficult to train. This should not be confused with the breed being slow-witted or in any way un-intelligent. Because I can tell you that for a fact that a dachshund can be at the opposite end of the house in a room with blaring TV, burrowed under three layers of blankets and sound asleep, and the moment the fridge door is cracked open, that dachshund will launch from that bed and head full-tilt for the kitchen like a meat-seeking cruise missile.

A refrigerator door opening followed by paper or plastic rustling is enough to set off a full scale ground invasion of the kitchen by the entire platoon, complete with baying, barking and energetic leaping (but always well short) assaults on the kitchen counter.

Welcome to cooking in my house.

Interestingly, each of the dogs has developed a different tactic for obtaining fallen food. Franzi is always first on the scene, usually arriving just as the fridge is opening. Her method is to come in low and fast, dive into the fridge and see what she can grab. I wised up to this a while ago and moved the meat, cheese, and leftovers to higher shelves, but the occasional casserole pan is still within target range. If that doesn’t yield results, she’ll switch to sitting between my feet and starting upward while I work, waiting for food to drop.

Montgomery, usually the second to arrive, prefers a frontal assault. He spends most of his time leaping at my leg and dancing on my feet. This is a surprisingly effective tactic, especially if he trots across my bare foot or he lands a well-place leap against the back of my leg. Either move can throw me off balance and result in food spillage which he will then be in range to intercept ahead of Franzi (because she is sitting).

Rommel, on the other hand, takes a much less aggressive approach. He tends to arrive last and hang back, standing two or three feet from the main assault occurring under my feet. Being Mr. Ball Chaser, he’s quite fast, maneuverable and, unlike Franzi and Monty, can grab things out of the air. Since he’s standing a couple of feet back, he can often see food heading toward the floor before the other two directly underfoot, allowing him to dart in and snag a falling scrap before the others even realize it’s on its way down to dachshund level.

My two German Shepherds, Sunna and Noet, have altogether different tactics that mostly involve sprawling across the floor and waiting for me to trip over them. This is not as effective as the dachshund’s various methods (it’s hard to miss a 60 lb dog splayed across the kitchen floor), but it does yield impressive results now and then.

For example, I was making lasagna the other day and was going to place a big bag of Costco cheese on the counter. Distracted by trying to avoid stepping on the doxies I didn’t see Sunna laying across the length of the kitchen between the stove and counter. As I turned from the fridge, I stumbled into her and proceeded to dump three pounds of shredded cheese across her body.

Startled by my foot followed by a heavy rain of cheese, Sunna tried to get to her feet. But before she could, the dachshunds were on her like hyenas on a zebra carcass, forcing her back down while they clambered over her cleaning up the cheese.

The doxies made quick work of the spilled cheese and Sunna was even able to get some that had scattered over her head and on to the tile, so it ended well for the dogs. Not so much for my husband though. I had to call and made him stop at the store on his way home from work to buy more cheese. He grumbled a bit, but at least he got a good lasagna without having to battle five dogs for it.

Every night around here is a Three Dog Night

I know many of you already know this, but sleeping with dachshunds is no easy task. For such small dogs (assuming you have a mini or tweenie), they sure have a big impact at bedtime.

It’s not just that they spend half the night moving around, stomping across your body looking for that perfect spot to burrow and settle down with precisely zero concern for your comfort. It’s once they have settled down and you’re finally able to drift off to sleep, every creak or random noise in the house becomes a reason to set off a full four alarm alert that can take anywhere from 30 seconds to fifteen minutes to call off.

Not our best look, but at least we're comfortable

Not our best look, but at least we’re comfortable

Make it three dachshunds and you’ve got a full Chinese fire drill, complete with 120 decibel howling, barking and twelve tiny feet thundering back and forth across your mattress at least once an hour throughout the night.

Thank goodness my spouse is willing to put up with it (he kind of has to. I’ve already told him the doxies aren’t going anywhere) and has taken to a sleeping strategy that involves lots of pillows and 18 horizontal inches of defensible bed space.

Still, sometimes I wonder how we got to this point.

When I got my first dachshund, Rommel, he was so small I was worried that if I left him on the floor our other two dogs – a German Shepard mutt and an English Mastiff — would roll over on him and accidentally crunch him. So rather than risk a squished doxie I put in my bed to sleep with me, promising my husband it would only be until he was big enough to sleep with “the boys” on the floor.

Nine years later he still sleeps with me and he’s been joined by two other pack members, Franzi and Montgomery, in what has become a nightly challenge for the best blankets to burrow under and best knee space to cuddle up to.

I don’t think any of us (husband excluded) would have it any other way.