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To dachshund owners, these dogs are hot

MONDAY, DEC. 11, 2006

What do dachshunds do when their humans throw them a Christmas bash?

They shriek like junior high schoolers. They pee on the floor. They bob for hot dogs in a plastic pool. They wiggle all over with holiday cheer in their jeweled collars and Santa hats. They run wiener races, their short legs pumping.

These real party animals were having loads of fun Sunday at the Lilac City Dog Training Club, 1612 E. Houston Ave., and it was all for a good cause.

Margo Mossburg, director of the Dachshund Club of Spokane and Dachshund Rescue NW, welcomed dozens of excited dogs and their owners to the third annual holiday party. Proceeds go toward the group’s efforts to rescue abandoned dachshunds and find them loving homes.

Mossburg, a horse breeder who lives on a farm between Airway Heights and Reardan, has been rescuing dachshunds since 1991. She keeps most of the abandoned animals at her farm until they find new homes. So far, she and other volunteers have found families for 350 of the energetic and engaging dogs. Last year they found homes for a record 47 abandoned dachshunds.

What’s so appealing about wiener dogs?

“They are highly intelligent. They have clown personalities, and they’re lots of fun,” Mossburg said.

“They are strong-willed and opinionated – like me,” said Carolyn Smelcer of Spokane, assistant director of Dachshund Rescue NW and Sunday’s coordinator of the zany doggie games.

Oscar, 2 1/2, and Frankie, 3, yelped eagerly as the two women talked, as if to cajole a visitor to take them home. The dogs, decked out in bright crinkly collars, are available for adoption.

The rescue group has firm rules on who can adopt.

A fenced yard is a must, because the dogs are bred to hunt badgers, mice and other vermin and need lots of exercise. Because the tiny watchdogs bark loudly and often, most are not suitable for apartments or condos.

The dogs don’t mix well with babies and toddlers, so children in prospective families should be older than 7. And if you work long hours, it’s advisable to have a “dog buddy” at home so the high-strung dachshunds won’t get bored and destroy things, the group advises.

When the right home is found, the neutered dachshund comes with shots, health records, training tips and a free one-year membership to the dog club. The group has had only two dogs returned since 1991. There is a variable adoption fee, usually about $125.

Once adopted, the dachshunds and their new families get a chance to strut their stuff all year.

In March, they get dolled up in emerald green for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They wear lilac for the Junior Lilac Parade and they also cavort in the Settlers Days Parade in Deer Park.

In June, about 70 dachshunds compete in the annual wiener dog race during Pet Fest at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center.

There are lots of rewards for people who rescue dachshunds, said Steve Gaddum, of Spirit Lake, Idaho, who attended Sunday’s party with 14-year-old Hansel and 4-year-old Juliet.

Gaddum, who is retired from the U.S. Navy base at Bayview, is a Spirit Lake city councilman who also volunteers at a food bank when he’s not partying with his dogs.

“These are my new kids,” said Gaddum, whose own grown children live in the South. “They are friendly, affectionate and smart, and they like the games. Juliet won a race last month.”

Dachshunds are the fifth most popular dog breed, according to the American Kennel Club. The most popular are the Labrador retriever, followed by golden retriever, German shepherd and beagle.


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