Daisy & Bebe
(The Pinnacle of Canine Evolution meets the dregs.)
By: Michael LaRocca - Copyright 2004
Author of: An American Redneck In Hong Kong
Published in 2001, which actually contains very little about Hong Kong. It's mostly cat and dog stories.
"Ya think she's pregnant?" asked one owner.
"Naw, she ain't that big," said the other. "She's just gettin' a little fat is all."
Imagine their surprise when she gave birth to six of the tiniest puppies to ever come out of a Doberman. Upon seeing the puppies, there was no mistaking the father's identity. He was a dachshund.
That's right, a dachshund had bred a full-sized Doberman.
How was this even possible? I have no idea, but once I heard about it, I had to have a puppy. I had to see what in the heck it would look like. Also, I thought Daisy should have a buddy.
I was visiting my neighbor again, and he brought me a tiny black puppy with a pink ribbon around her neck. Her eyes seemed to bug out of her head, like a rat that's been killed in a trap. Her expression was one of pure terror. Her snout was a bit longer and narrower than usual, and her long floppy ears didn't reach the ground, but she was a dachshund. There was no doubt about it.
I held her and hugged her. Her too-short legs wrapped my neck in a death grip that lasted for half an hour. Her little black tail never stopped wagging. Once again... my dog. I have a way with dogs.
But finally, the confrontation. Bebe weighed maybe five pounds. Daisy weighed forty. Daisy was of course insanely jealous. Her daddy walked in the house holding the unthinkable -- another dog. Another puppy. Another black girl. Hugging her. Maybe her replacement.
Oh, the fights I had to break up. Pure hatred. And this tiny puppy, little Bebe, was so terrified and love-starved that she seemed to be taking all my affection.
The day arrived when I had to leave Daisy and Bebe together inside the big fenced-in dog lot. I was concerned. But, I thought, they were acclimatized enough for Daisy not to injure Bebe. I could only try it and hope for the best.
When I arrived home from work, there were two dogs waiting for me on the porch. Best friends, it seemed. Daisy looked guilty. Bebe lacked the intelligence.
An exploration of the fence showed me something truly incredible. Someone, and surely that had to be Bebe, had chewed a hole through the metal. A hole big enough for both dogs to escape. Those two little mongrels had worked out a deal. I was stunned.
The next day, I decided to let them both stay inside the house. How do you stop a dog who can chew through metal? I could only hope Bebe wouldn't turn those jaws against the furniture.
Daisy had matured quite a bit. She was grateful for the second chance at living indoors, with ant-free food and couches and air conditioning. She relayed the message to Bebe, who was positively adorable but dumb as a brick. Many other lessons would follow.
When Bebe was a baby, we decided that she should spend a day at the hog farm. We hoped that maybe a co-worker would think of a name for her. The result, Bebe, was supposed to be a bit like B.B., an abbreviation for Black Beauty. Or perhaps Black Bitch, but that's not fair to the little tyke. Also, as luck would have it, bebe is Spanish for "child."
I don't know how much you know about hog farms, but I've never seen one that didn't have a rat epidemic. Every two weeks, we set out big blue blocks of rat bait and hoped like heck. To make a long story short, if it's not already too late, Bebe ate one. It didn't bother her a bit.
Once Daisy and Bebe became friends, they became inseparable. I was constantly asked if they were mother and daughter, or later if they were sisters. In many ways, they were closer than sisters. Daisy was definitely big sister, gladly taking the responsibility.
The three of us truly became a dog pack. I've never known such acceptance. Daisy's gratitude was overwhelming, and of course Bebe was happy not to be picked on anymore and to have friends - no, to have family.
The play-fights between those two looked scary. Fangs bared, growling and snarling and such. Bebe puffed up her little body, her short fur trying to ridge along the back into hackles, her bared fangs at Daisy's throat. Chests crashing with great volume and much snapping of jaws. But, both tails were wagging the whole time. Great fun.
Bebe quickly taught Daisy that if you're gonna fight, go for the throat. Instinct. Soon after, Daisy returned the favor by educating Bebe.
One day I was cutting my grass with the riding mower. Of course my darling doggie daughters were with me in the yard, playing and having fun and being best buddies. The highway was not a concern. Also, a single whistle from me and the dogs always stopped what they were doing and came running. Full steam ahead and usually trying to knock me down, in fact. They love to run.
So Bebe went running through the yard. Daisy ran beside her, ahead of her, and forced her into the woods. Bebe started again, in the other direction, and again Daisy drove her into the woods. Again. Again. Again.
Maybe I'm stupid, or maybe I was just drunk. But eventually, I figured out what Daisy was doing. Herding. Border collies do that. But what I didn't understand was, this wasn't simple herding. This was another important lesson.
A week later, I adopted my third cat, a stray who wandered up one day and refused to leave. His name was Pumpkin. The first time they saw Pumpkin, Daisy and Bebe herded him. It became their standard greeting.
Of the six original dachshund/Doberman puppies, four had died. One of the survivors was my little Bebe. The other was BooBoo, a male with the size and markings of a red Doberman puppy. The similarity of names was purely coincidental. Bebe was still able to kick BooBoo's butt.
The contrast between the two dogs' intelligence was flagrant. Daisy is the smartest dog I've ever met. Bebe is the dumbest. I thank God or Providence or whatever that Daisy was there to train her, because I believe I would have failed.
I have a theory about Bebe's lack of intelligence. I've heard that a Doberman's head is barely large enough to contain its brain, and that you can thump one and make it dizzy. I will never test this, nor should you. But if true... Bebe's head is smaller than a full Doberman's. Maybe too small. Only a theory... I just know Bebe is stupid.
Daisy explained to Bebe that highways were dangerous. Cars and trucks are great fun to ride in, but one does not race them. Ever. Good girl, Daisy.
During one of Bebe's first rides, she decided to leap out an open window when I reached the driveway. Her momentum carried her into the bushes and stunned her momentarily. She learned right then that it's never a good idea to jump out of a moving vehicle.
How well did they obey me? Well, I always stopped the car or truck at the top of the driveway to get the mail. Then I went back to the car or truck and drove to the house. They knew not to get out until I reached the house.
They only broke that rule once, when Daisy saw some deer in the back yard. Bebe followed, even though she probably couldn't see them. Bebe's eyes are worse than mine. Daisy sees like a border collie, but she knows that Bebe has better smell and hearing. They're one hell of a team.
Bebe had real problems getting on the bed, the couch, or whatever. She looked like a dachshund on steroids, with that massive muscular body and those little short legs. But she learned that if she leaped with all four at the same time, like those old Pepe LePew cartoons, she could manage.
Daisy's greatest thrill was to hop in the pickup truck, up front, of course, go to Daddy's barn, and run with Peaches. (Peaches had moved following a fight between my neighbor and me.) But of course, the dogs were inseparable now. So how would Bebe handle running with a horse? I knew I'd soon find out.
How fast does a standard dachshund run? Not too fast. How fast does a dachshund with a body twice as large as it should be run? This one ran much faster than a human. She developed a slanted gait, as if her back half ran faster than her front. I've never seen anything like it, anything so awkward-looking. But given her heritage, she had to invent her own way of doing everything. And for whatever reason, it always worked out.
Daisy really hates to get wet. Her long, luscious coat must always remain dry. Little shorthaired Bebe can't pass a river, a creek, or even a shallow muddy ditch without leaping in, wallowing like an uncoordinated pig, and charging at Daisy and slamming into her chest.
During any hurricane, I had real problems getting Daisy to pee because she hates getting wet. I tried my damndest to explain to her that she could pee on the porch-I even demonstrated- but she refused to do it. I guess the only porch she could pee on was Daddy's. Perhaps I should have invited him over to come yell at Daisy for me.
Bebe, meanwhile, would run out in the yard Amidst howling winds and pouring rains and squat down with a big stupid doggie grin on her face. A bit like Gene Kelly. "Peeing in the rain... I'm peeing in the rain..."
For months, Bebe did not bark. According to the comedian Richard Pryor, this is a Doberman trait. A Doberman doesn't want to scare the burglar away. A Doberman wants him to come into the house so the dog can get him.
But anyway, Bebe didn't bark. Daisy did all the barking. At some point, however, Daisy taught Bebe to bark. In fact, Bebe became the delegated barker. Daisy only let out a single bark when Bebe needed to stop for breath. The typical barking-at-the-burglar sounded like this: "Ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff WOOF ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff WOOF..."
Teamwork again. Daisy saw something in the yard, and she barked. Then Bebe chimed in, looking in the general direction Daisy was facing. Finally, the bad thing got scared and left. However, Bebe couldn't see that it was gone, so she kept on barking. Once in a while Daisy would check to make sure no new bad thing had arrived.
Fully grown, Bebe weighed thirty-five pounds. I wish she could've lost about ten of them, but there was not an ounce of fat on her body. Solid muscle, a bit longer than a dachshund should be, with short legs that rarely straightened. They only straightened when she and Daisy play-fought, making her taller than you'd realize.
Bebe is a throwback, I've decided. Dachshunds were originally bred to find badgers, hence the nose. Then to pull them out of the badger holes, hence the short legs. They also had to be rather large and muscular, in order to kill the badgers once they'd pulled them out. But once badger hunting lost its relevance, dachshunds were bred to be lapdogs. This meant making them smaller. But seeing as how Bebe is half Doberman, and therefore thirty-five pounds of solid muscle, she could take on a badger with no problems. Thus, she's a throwback.
You know how dachshunds think they're invincible? Bebe has the size to back up her attitude. Daisy was always the boss, of course, but nothing or no one else can scare Bebe. She also has the Doberman's intense "loyalty to one person." That person was me.
Daisy has a very sensitive stomach and a discriminating palate. Bebe, on the other hand, has licked a two-day-old vanilla McDonald's milkshake off an asphalt parking lot. I'd expect an iron stomach, though, since she eats rat bait and chews through metal fences.
Have you ever seen a trained police dog run over a chain link fence? Bebe did that to the chicken-wire fence surrounding my garden. She was much more destructive than Dixie the radish-plucker, so eventually I moved the garden to the old dog lot. It had a better fence.
Let me quote a fellow named Jon Winokur, in a book called Mondo Canine. Winokur wrote: "The border collie's natural herding instinct allows it to handle up to several hundred sheep alone, primarily by means of a mesmerizing stare known as the 'eye.'"
At any and every meal, Daisy showed me the eye. Very soulful eyes. Bebe's idea of begging was a straight-ahead glare. Daisy, on the other hand, gave me the full show. Depressed that no scraps were forthcoming coming, ecstatic (usually falsely) because they were coming-the works. So much work. I was always impressed at the enthusiastic way with which she approached her work. And yes, the "eye." When I first read about border collies, that's really how I knew Daisy was one of them. She's always had that trademark stare.
Next door to Daddy's barn, where I kept my horses, some neighbors kept plenty of animals. Three horses, a turkey, a pit bull, an Australian sheepdog, some dachshunds, some cats, some goats, and two young cows. When the neighbors left for a summer vacation, I agreed to feed them all.
I love the way pure dachshunds stare at Bebe and seem to ask "What in the heck is that thing?" For her part, she stares down at them and almost seems to laugh. They know they're related, but she's so big.
The cows are of interest here. They were kept inside a flimsy wire fence on an undersized dirt lot. The question was obviously not if they would escape, but when. They had escaped before and would again. It was because they had no grass to graze on, but try explaining that to some people.
There was a Daisy BB rifle in the neighbor's barn. Daisy BB-don't you just love the way it seems my dogs are fated to be together? They are.
When the cows escaped, the Daisy BB rifle was to help scare them back. Not shoot them, of course. It wasn't even possible with that crooked barrel. Just scare them.
How, I wondered, did I let myself get talked into these things? The odds of the cows escaping during that week... Ever hear of Murphy's Law?
The moment those cows escaped, Daisy was on the job. Desperately wanting-no, needing-to herd them. Begging me, her Daddy, for guidance. She saw my eyes and needed no more prompting.
Daisy ran along one side of the cows, herding them beautifully toward the fallen wire fence like she was born to it. Well, she was. Bebe tried like heck to run along the other side, but I'm afraid not even super-wiener can keep up with young runaway cows.
They tried again. Nope. Again. Nope. Meanwhile I was running for the rifle, hoping to help my hard-working doggies.
Finally we worked out a system. Daisy on one side, me on the other, Bebe in the middle so the cows wouldn't cut back. Daisy was beautiful. Bebe wasn't, but she was equally effective. I was the weak link. Finally, we drove the cows over the fallen fence. Lisa held up the wire, creating the illusion of capture, until I could quickly repair the fence.
Now comes the mob. Two very proud dogs, happily jumping all over me with wet tongues and muddy paws. I'm pretty sure they wanted me to turn the cows loose so they could do it again.
Daisy is not a face-licker, though she made an exception this time. Bebe, it seems, lives to slide that long thick tongue all over my face and inside my mouth. Yuk! She got Judy in the mouth a lot, too.
But Bebe did find her niche as a herding dachshund. The neighbors had a turkey, as I mentioned. They used to have two, but one was eaten by something from the woods one night. So the deal was, the remaining turkey ran loose by day and was caged at night.
Did you ever try to catch a running turkey? Trust me, it ain't easy. But guess what? A turkey isn't much taller than Bebe. For some reason Daisy couldn't herd an elusive turkey, but it was no match for Bebe. Every day, Bebe ran the turkey into the barn and cornered it so I could catch it.
One night of this was left when Bebe decided she wasn't content to simply corner the turkey. She grabbed its head in her mouth.
"Bebe!" I yelled.
She immediately released the turkey and came to me for reassurance. Well, I had to cage the turkey first, but then I gave her all the attention she craved.
The following day, I fed the animals alone. I was afraid Bebe would eat the turkey.
Daisy had long since ceased to be jealous of Bebe. She simply knew that little mongrel needed the attention. Daisy also knew that she could walk up to me anytime, pant and smile her gap-toothed grin, and I'd rub her until she was sick of it.
I lived in and around Wilmington, North Carolina for thirteen years. During that time, there were no hurricanes except for one long ago, at the very edge of my young memory, not worth mentioning. Then I spent thirteen years in Tampa, during which time Wilmington remained hurricane-free. Then I moved to Watha. After a few more hurricane-free years, we got slammed by five of them in four years. Am I a magnet for these things? I hope not. But the Wilmingtonians will no doubt be glad to hear that I live in Hong Kong now.
Daddy owns over 100 gorgeous acres on the banks of the Northeast Cape Fear River, in Burgaw. The Northeast Cape Fear rises after a hurricane. Sometimes it jumps the banks a bit. Daddy's houses are all twelve feet off the ground, though, making them safe.
About a week after a hurricane, however, the Neuse River was in danger of jumping the banks. So someone opens the floodgates, leading right into the Northeast Cape Fear, giving Daddy and all his neighbors a world of problems. The houses are safe, but the roads leading to them wind up under water. Power is always lost, and it can't be restored as long as the power lines are also under water.
Bebe almost drowned after one of those hurricanes. I was probably repairing a horse barn. They were functional, but never hurricane-proof because I'm not that good of a builder. Lisa was riding Peaches down to the river because Peaches loves to swim. As we all know by now, so does Bebe. A bit of research on my part showed that this isn't a dachshund characteristic. This is a Doberman thing.
Daisy and Bebe were following Peaches, as usual. A hard choice, probably, as they also loved watching me do construction stuff. As the water got deeper, Daisy stopped. She hates to get wet. Bebe, meanwhile, kept going.
Eventually, Lisa noticed that Bebe wasn't with her anymore. She doubled back, to find that Bebe had gotten tangled in some weeds. Bebe couldn't get out, probably due to lack of intelligence. So she was dog paddling. Probably she'd been at it ten or fifteen minutes. Waiting patiently for rescue, too stupid to figure out what else to do.
Lisa was faced with a dilemma. She cannot get on a horse by herself. Bad shoulders, bad hips, etc. If she got off the horse to rescue Bebe, she'd be walking back to the barn.
Okay, it wasn't really a dilemma. She rescued the doggie, of course. When they returned to the barn, Bebe tried her best to tell me all about it, but licks and hugs don't exactly translate into human speech.
When I had Bebe, I didn't need an alarm clock. I know this because I forgot to set it a time or two. Given the choice, Daisy would sleep until noon, then run and herd like a maniac until after dark. But Bebe's bladder demanded otherwise. She had a way of rooting at my face, like she was digging up a badger hole, that made sleep impossible. I've slept through fires, sirens, gunshots and explosions, but nobody sleeps through Bebe.
Whenever I went to bed, Daisy waited on my pillow with her tail wagging. After a big cuddle, she moved beside me with her on the other pillow. Then, being so dainty and ladylike, she would put a paw on my chest. Just one little paw. The white one. I guess she had to know if I woke up because I was Alpha Male, a.k.a. Daddy.
Bebe, meanwhile, would lie on her back and squirm and wiggle and get right under my arm. Usually Taz, the male Siamese, would claim my chest, making the burial complete. Often, Bebe would be asleep on her back, legs spread wide, and Taz would walk up behind her. He'd stop and take a sniff. Bebe would wake up, and her tail would wag.
Not only did Taz have a big black dog for a mother and a medium black dog for a sister, but now he'd found a little black dog for his girlfriend. Both were fixed, so it never got past the sniffing stage.
I have a theory about Bebe's conception. If her Doberman mother also slept on her back, perhaps her dachshund father could... well, it's a theory, anyway. Do you have a better one?
Seven years later, I gave both dogs to Daddy. He loved Bebe too, even though she was the only dog he couldn't scare into peeing on the porch.
Who Moved My Rice? was published September 30, and it's full of stories like this, the link contains free sample chapters. Because you can't eat grits with chopsticks.