ImageI grew up with big dogs. Dogs you could respect. Dogs whose massive necks you could wrap your arms around. So I consider my miniature Dachshunds more "pets" than dogs – almost cats, but without the psychodrama.

When I was in high school, we got a Doberman puppy with floppy ears. As I cradled her tinyness in my hands, I thought, "If only we could stunt her growth." Then my sister got a Gary Larson calendar called (something like) "The Wiener Dog in Art History" (note "The Persistence of Wiener Dogs," below).

We laughed and laughed. Wiener dogs are funny. But one day — I can't say when or why — my disposition went from ridicule to adoration. Maybe it's because I learned that miniature Dachshunds are not high strung, not yappy as I'd been led to believe all small dogs are.

Then I went to a dog show. It was my first encounter with a Dachshund
Wiener dogs are funny. But one day my demeanor went from ridicule to adoration.
(mini, of course. Standards freak me out; they're not right). After I met one furry little show pup, the owner put him in my arms. The dog seemed to say, "Oh, did you wanna hold me now? Okay, you go right ahead. I'll just rest my chin on your shoulder like ... so." That "thwap" was all I needed. Oh how I wanted a doggie!

But I was just starting out in the world, and I wasn't yet financially prepared to care for a pet. So I merely daydreamed about one.

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Years passed. Sometimes I'd muse aloud to friends and family about how that little wiener dog would come running toward me, ears flying in the wind. I talked about her so much that my sister even took to calling me "Wiener." Still does. And then the time came. I was making a decent living; I got my wiener dog.

I tried out various respectable names, but I'd been referring to that dog as Wiener for so many years that there was no getting around it — it was her name. I spent countless hours loving up Wiener, spooning with her, breathing deep her Frito scent (I'm not sure what I used to do with all my free time). She's got two modes: on and off; she's either playing or curled up in a tiny ball of dog. Wiener is my sidekick. My familiar. She completes me.

Dachshunds live a long time (thank God in heaven), but I knew to keep her young I should consider getting her a friend. So one day Wiener got a wiener of her very own: Auggie. They play together, sometimes rearing up like wee rams to challenge each other in mock combat. And they sleep together in a slightly larger, multicolored ball of dog. Sometimes I stick my face in the center of the donut they make.

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My sister once said to a boyfriend of mine, "You're lucky she has that wiener dog or all that punishing affection would rain down on YOU." And ya know, those dergs (as I sometimes call them) CAN take my punishing affection. Nonstop. I don't have to curb my enthusiasm. They're not going to freak out because I love them too much. They like it when I love them too much.

Men are all well and good (they're even warm and occasionally furry), but sometimes they just can't deal. Doggies can always deal. And there's that bonus Frito smell.

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