10 things to love about Walter

Today, February 3, 2019, is our dachshund, Walter’s, 13th birthday. I now have three teenagers in my home, though those of the human variety are a bit more of a challenge than Walter has ever been. For instance, now that he’s a teenager, I do not expect him to roll his eyes at me when I ask him (nicely) to do something. Walter makes his bed every day. He is always wearing his silky suit, and so I never have to tell him to go change his clothes into something more appropriate and not wrinkled. He is not a slave to the latest fashion trends and has never wanted to go to TJ Maxx to “look around.” He is unlikely to ask me for money, and will never want to borrow the car. He prefers us to drive him around. He never criticizes my driving. He’s never lost a permission slip, or sneakers, or a cellphone charger. He is always happy to see me and loves my cooking, no matter what, even if it’s the same kibble day after day. If I toss him a piece of celery, he gratefully consumes it and proclaims me a culinary genius. Even though he’s more mature and we treat him like an adult, he still likes when I talk baby-talk to him and he still sits on my lap and cuddles with me, accepting my hugs and kisses without embarrassment.

In honor of this eventful day, I give to you a list of 10 things to love about Walter:

Corn chip feet

While all dogs have feet that smell like corn chips, Walter’s are especially corn-chippy. And who doesn’t love corn chips?!

Performs many necessary jobs

Walter is an excellent bed warmer, pedicurist, food spill cleaner, yard patrol manager, play police captain, (no fun-having during HIS watch!) and security expert. He’s never been clear on the purpose of vacuuming, as he is sure the vacuum is a demon from the far reaches of the netherworld and so he barks steadily at it, ensuring the safety of the household. It has yet to go rogue, and so his efforts are successful, to date. Walter does windows (if, by “windows” one means “smearing one’s cold, wet nose all over the window and barking threateningly at the neighbors.”)

Work ethic

Walter stays until the job is done — maybe even AFTER the job is done, just to be sure no help is needed “putting away” the food.

Comes fully assembled,

with deluxe features

Walter is equipped with the best tools for most jobs, standard issue. With a super-sniffer and a built-in crevice tool, he’s able to locate and clean up food messes and spills that traditional cleaning implements and even sophisticated, high-tech appliances can’t touch. His long, svelte body can reach in the small spaces and around corners. His sleek, glossy coat repels dirt and most noxious substances, always looking and smelling clean and fresh.

Excellent listener

Walter never interrupts or says he’s “had that, but much worse.”


When I howl, he runs from wherever he is and joins me in my sad song.

Superhero skills

Faster than a speeding bumblebee! More powerful than the cat! Able to leap tall blades of grass in a single bound! Respectful of turtles — they bite.


Walter’s small, compact size makes him an easy carry-on. His simple needs and small portions make packing for him a breeze. Have leash, bowl, food, water and a few clean-up bags? Good to go.


Walter is willing to go wherever we go. He’s been on many road trips, met lots of other animals and people, and fits in everywhere. He’s visited nursing homes, stayed in hotels, ridden on tractors and in boats, he’s attended parades and festivals, run on the beach, and has even gone places where dogs aren’t normally allowed like a soccer dome and shopping malls. He always behaves like a perfect gentleman … er … gentleDOG.

Construction expert

Some of his pillow fort and blanket nest masterpiece constructions have been multi-floor, multi-unit dwellings. He is a true creative genius in pillow fort architecture.

Walter has been graced with good health for most of his life, until June of 2016, when we diagnosed him with anal gland carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer that we have managed to keep at bay after 5 surgical procedures and lots of TLC. Make no mistake — the cancer is still there, despite our best efforts and some extensive remodeling of Walter’s hindquarters, but we are taking each day that he continues to be comfortable and content as a true gift. Since we first met, he has always been my best buddy. Happy Birthday, Walter — we love you!

Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She may be reached at life@sungazette.com.