Today we all enjoyed a sausage tea in celebration of Nicholas the Dachshund’s first birthday. It is hard to believe that someone so small was once so much smaller, smaller than any of us boys could even have imagined. His wrinkly brow and delicate frame, matched by his bird-like appetite, were a constant source of wonder, but thrown into relief by his exuberance and growing confidence as he encountered one new thing after another, taking everything in his stride.
At the first vet’s puppy party he attended, he humbly kept under the chair, or clung to Kemo Sabe, astounded that there could be other dogs as big as us (of whom he had absolutely no fear); within a couple of weeks, he was joining in the fun a bit more. His fragility was a kind of magic, evoking fascination from one little boy in particular, whose own puppy, a bold West Highland terrier, was named after a mathematician. To be a Dickens hero, a bit naive but honourable through and through, seemed quite ordinary by comparison. His first collar, visible in the picture below, was a cat’s – there was no puppy collar sufficiently small.
Before we brought Nicholas into the Dickens Dogs we’d been told how difficult dachshunds could be, both to train and to control, but all that’s unsubstantiated. He was quick to learn and eager to please, his need for physical protection creating a bond even more quickly than might happen with a larger breed. Like the rest of us, he loves his family with a depth and constancy beyond the wit of man and, more than anything, Nicholas thinks only of being with us; unlike the bigger boys – and I have to admit this – he is unfailingly obedient, and an eager (if somewhat unwelcome) companion of mine, in particular, whose ‘go-for-it’ outlook on life he shares. ‘Do they all get on?’ people will often ask. Of course we do. We are brethren, bound by love and knowledge of each other’s foibles, to live in the pack we know as home. Lucky us. Happy Day little chap!