year of dog

this post is in honor of our dearest ferdinand, our long-haired miniature (rabbit) dachshund whom we adopted one year ago this week!

i’ve only written one other post completely dedicated to him so far, one month of dog, all about that first difficult but wonderful month. i suppose i hadn’t written much else between then and now because i knew there was and was to be a lot of learning that would take place in the time between then and now – not only for him, but with us. in fact, the most surprising thing about this first year with ferdie has been the amount of learning that needed to happen with us before we would get to a successful place with him. did not expect that.

after the first few months with us and his first trips to prague and bamberg, it became clear to me that ferdie was a beloved member of our family. i guess it’s always something that you wonder or worry about, introducing a new family member and all. i gained so much more respect for him after those trips and realized just what a good dog he is and what a joy it is to have and to travel with him.

ferdie is…..

…attached. deeply. to us. in the first few months, i thought he wasn’t much for playing with toys or even eating treats. it turns out, he was just raised differently in his first year and simply hadn’t had access to these things. watching him try to chew a bone for this first time was pretty silly – he didn’t know what to do! he seemed to not have been raised with equal human contact but also in a pack of dogs – he is distinctly pack-oriented and fortunately for us, always knows his place. people are his favorite thing, far more than toys, food, or any other reward you could imagine.

…a bit of a scaredy cat. after our trip to sumava last easter, he seemed to have develop a bit of a fear of big dogs… which turned into uneasiness around other dogs, even small ones. (he has before run from a chihuahua) although dogs that don’t charge him immediately, he’s cool with.

…so eager to please. which has worked out really well with training! he hates to do anything that could upset us.

…not cool with being left alone. it’s a bit sad that he doesn’t understand why he can’t be with us always.

…cool with being brought literally anywhere. we often bring him out with us to a cafe or pub and he lays quietly under the table, not making a peep! it’s funny to see the reactions of people who didn’t know there was a dog there just a minute ago until they heard him shake!

…not interested in chewing on our things. i have no idea why, but this has been one of my favorite things about this dog. just not interested in our stuff. it’s like he knows his place and is just not interested. he will only chew on what we’ve given him as toys. so, so thankful for this. (it was not the case with our family dachshund in my childhood!)

…always adorable. it’s like he knows the most adorable thing possible to do and always does that thing!

there are the three phases of ferdie lounging, which differ depending on how comfortable and secure he feels:

1) phase one: laying down with limbs folded in – can be ready to spring up at any moment.
2) phase two: laying down on his side – pretty comfy!
3) phase three: laying down on his back with two or more limbs in the air. 


this is something that most people have never witnessed because it is the most vulnerable sleep state, conveying top levels of happiness, security, and adorability.

where we’ve struggled…

one of my major regrets with bringing home an adult (one year old) dachshund was the fact that we did not crate train him from the get-go. i’m sure a few friends reading this will say “i told you so!” yep – i admit it. without a crate, ferdie was free to roam the house (and to sneak into another room to do his business) at any time. he was also free to scratch at the door while we were gone or repeatedly mark the fridge (why the fridge?)… and yet, we were not home, so we couldn’t do a single thing about it.

that all changed when we got the crate in october (ten months later – but better late than never). since the day we introduced the crate, there have been almost no house training fails at all.

just last month, he discovered whining in the early morning. this isn’t a “want to go outside” whine, but rather that he is sick of being locked away and he wants to come jump up to lay on the foot of our bed like he used to do. for two weeks, we tried very hard to ignore this (as many training websites suggested), but this resulted in having to use earplugs and getting not much sleep at all. last week, i just had it and let him free at night. some things are just not worth it….

the successes

as i mentioned above, crate training was absolutely key to establish house-training rules, even ten months later.

when we realized that it wasn’t all just on him, but that we had to pay closer attention to help him succeed at this, we were seeing housetraining successes left and right. although he never caught on to the idea of ringing a jingle bell attached to the door when he wanted to go out, we were able to notice behaviors every time:

1) a sudden change from a sleepy state to an excitable, energetic state
2) running up and jumping on us affectionately, then jumping down (which shouldn’t be mistaken as affection, turns out!)
3) audible yawning

upon recognizing these behaviors and asking “what do you want?” he finally felt “heard”. what a win! finally!

i’ve also been impressed with the fact that we can take him off-leash in a wooded or trail area (away from cars) and he will generally walk right alongside us with no bolting away for any reason!
and currently he can sit, come, stay and down… whether he stays down is a different issue.

he’s also been to two new countries this past year with certainly more to come! an excellent travel dog, thus far. now when he sees a bus, he gets excited and will even climb on himself! train travel is a breeze for him (as long as he isn’t forced to wear his little muzzle) and he’ll lay calmly down on the floor. bus travel has been a bit of a different story – he’s comfortable enough with it, but if he is placed on the floor of a regional bus for along enough, he will throw up! gotta hold him on the lap.

most memorable ferdie moments from this year…

1) hiking 22km in the sumava forest, off-leash last easter. no sweat for this little dude.

2) performing a jail break and running away the first day of five that we were without him last july. he was on his own, roaming the city for SEVEN HOURS before the police notified my poor friend who was looking after him that he had been found.

3) the way i thought he might forget us after not seeing us for five weeks last summer, but how fast he wagged his tail when we reunited.

4) visiting so many hotels across czech republic and germany and having most excellent behavior. this isn’t so exciting but i was so ding dang pleased!

5) the way he “flops” whenever he is placed on a marble floor and he won’t budge. i think he thinks it’s water…

in the future, i’m hoping to write a bit about traveling with a dog, but i’d love to have just a little more time and a couple more trips under our belts before publishing that… and if you’ve read this whole post, you are a COOL PERSON. so thanks for keeping up with us.

is there anything you’d like to know about regarding dog ownership abroad?