ALWAYS thought it was a bit of an inspired photo. Pup dachshund on a barbecue griddle with a bottle of tomato sauce and a bemused look on her pretty poochy head.
Just the ticket after her predecessor, Max, went to the great kennel in the sky for chihuahua/fox terrier hybrids. He’d been sadly sliding down the gurgler with increasing fitting, anger management issues and a taste for neighbouring kids’ ankles.
“She’s a hot dog, kids. Get it?” Yep, blank-face replies. Flat as any other dad joke I’ve ever tried. Not sure why I persist, the kids have much more fun pulling their own sausage dog stunts.
Animated videos of a caped, flying sausage dog, Super Winnie, whipping around the planet saving hapless humans. Clips digging up the garden, bouncing on the trampoline, rolling in backyard burrs like a horse in clover – as a long-haired dachshund, the things are impossible to remove without scissors and a sharp nip or six.
An easy hundred thousand photos, too. Parties, her own puppy parties, beach rockpool trips, strolls all over the place, dressed up in woollen bread rolls with mustard and sauce, steeplechase sprints up and down the hall, clearing prostrate kids by just nanometres, dress-ups and sunglasses, wizard sorting hats … the whole sausage catastrophe. Even has her own Instagram page, winniedarlin – and apparently she’s been dating Rachel’s dog, Sammy Boi. Just casually, mind you.
Mutts. What are you going to do? Kids love ’em. Good for bubs building immunity. Great mates for them. Yeah, yeah, pass the shovel. Can’t own up to ever being totally enamoured by them.
I did like Blackie the lab as a little tacker but he took a bait. Lassie never quite connected. She was a working sheepdog who seemed happier in the boot than the back yard, must’ve thought she was going somewhere. Monnie the mad yapping poodle copped all sorts of acrimony, even the odd vomitus vitriol from boozy larrikins, a source of great, but misplaced, amusement.
Big Red the giant kelpie was good value, though. Thought he was a cattle dog but didn’t know how to duck an angry hoof. Thought he had brain damage. Spent a day or two in the boot by accident and ended up throttling himself trying to jump up and over his two-metre kennel door – sad case of too much lead but not quite enough.
Too much trouble, dogs, I’ve often thought. Too much dribble and slobber, too much hair and way too many landmines. Yet the things people do for them.
My brother’s four-legged mate, a golden retriever, walked out in front of a car doing 100km/h. Cost a fortune to save him. Nicknamed him Tripod afterwards. An old mate with a brand new missus, kid and a tight house under serious renovation decided he needed a Saint Bernard drooling buckets all over the place.
I once shared a house with a couple who had three German shepherds that seriously ate their way out of the wooden shed they were kennelled up in. Then later, they dug their way under the fence and out into the hands of the dog catcher. Exxie stuff. I’ve tangled, played and put up with, and been bitten by, narky cocker spaniels, sweet corgis, cranky labs, suspicious dobermans, neurotic labradoodles and shih tzus, wonderful huskies, brave little Jack Russells, great Danes, pretty pugs …
A fearsome rottweiler named Assassino I met in a South American riverfront compound was only offered swimming from house to house as exercise. Tough as teak and mean as any junkyard mongrel you’ll meet. But he was terrified, bounding backwards in shock, when I belted out a few fast chords on an old Spanish guitar at him. An hour or two later, I discovered he’d mauled the guitar to pieces.
But back to Winnie the Wonderdog. Twelve years of sending the kids into giggles and raptures and she’s cleared out. Woke up gasping for breath, a few short hours later, gone. Not a dry eye in the house for days.
Never really realised until then the thunderclap of pain all those dog-lovers felt when they lost a family pet. Just awful.
As one of my girls beautifully put it: “She’s left a sausage-shaped hole in my heart.”