Dolce and Calvin
People would always ask Gerry and I of our miniature dachshunds, “Are they brother and sister?” to which we always smirked in unison, “Husband and wife.”
Dolce and Calvin, who were 13 months apart, mirrored many marital dynamics. Most days you could find them snuggled up together on our couch, our bed, a pillow they poached from our couch, and as a last resort, one of their pet beds. Dolce, the female, tidied up their things every evening – she liked to stack their toys in piles of three in every room; any time they were let out of their crates, she would run into Calvin’s first, pull out his blanket and toy and then return to her crate to repeat the task. She kept Calvin tidy, too; pinning him down with her paw on his throat while he groaned, grooming his eyes, ears, and mouth. Dolce was the alpha in the partnership, and Calvin happily gave up any spot or toy she desired; but he drew the line at food and treats. Everyone has their limits. They argued – every now and again, you’d hear a high-pitched squawk come from Dolce, countered by a low grunt from Calvin. They loved, too, with no regard for time or place, as most of their make-out sessions occurred in our laps or when we had company.
It was not love at first sight. Dolce was our one and only for eight months. Like most older children, Dolce sensed Calvin’s coming weeks before his arrival, and to say she was miffed would be an understatement. Dachshund Rescue of North America required all applicants to pass a home inspection, which included a temperament test for current pets. We’re convinced there was a scarcity of adoptive homes because Dolce yapped at the tester Shih Tzu and assumed a dominant spot on the walk, sashaying her upfront tail right in its face.
Dolce served looks of disapproval and verbal huffs as we set up a second crate and food bowl in our apartment. On Calvin’s A-Day, we left Knoxville, Tennessee, with Dolce in tow, to meet his foster mom at a gas station outside Atlanta. As we exited the highway, Gerry and I laughed at the brown pogo stick in the distance who was described as “shy and skittish” in his profile. Dolce welcomed Calvin with a big squawk to the face. Ah, there’s the nervous Nellie.
Gerry drove, so I took turns hosting in my lap. “Yip, squawk, squawk,” is how Dolce felt about my attempt to illustrate fairness. Calvin shook from the hot seat. That night, Dolce positioned herself under the sheets around my ankles. Any time Calvin ventured south of my ribs, he was met with “Squawk!” and a rolling charge north. Calvin tried to sleep on my head, so I ousted both from the bedroom.
The next morning, we found them curled up together in a pet bed in the living room. A year later, when a neighbor’s Pit bull attacked Dolce, Calvin jumped between the two, taking the bite. While Gerry wrestled with their attacker to set Calvin free, Dolce ran circles around the Pit, screaming and biting its ankles.
Dolce and Calvin were married for 105 dog years when Dolce passed shortly after her 15th birthday. Neither were perfect, but the partnership was because dogs mastered something we haven’t – the two key ingredients to any loving relationship: forgive fast and accept the other as they are.
In loving memory: Dolce 5/25/07-6/13/22