This post was updated July 2018.
When Felicia Drexel adopted a partially paralyzed dog named Miss Buttercup on Valentine’s Day 2011 from DREAM – Dachshund Rescue in Atlanta, GA she was warned by the little dog’s foster mom that she had never come across a dog with a bigger personality. Since that day, the Mini Dachshund/Miniature Pinscher mix has lived up to her reputation as a smart and sassy dog who loves to show off her talents to everyone she meets.
Felicia said she could never have imagined what the foster mother meant until she saw Buttercup in action, solving problems by dragging blankets or pushing down a tower of toys so she could get what she wanted from her disadvantaged perspective of the world.
Felicia thinks dogs with disabilities are smarter because they have to be and for Buttercup, who was abandoned on the side of the road, being clever was her only means of survival. However, having a handicapped dog who is a little genius proved to be challenging once Buttercup came to live with her forever family.
Here is Buttercup’s story:
“Once Buttercup settled in, her true nature began making appearances. I call her my “ear rub whore” because all she does is solicit ear rubs. Buttercup figured out that if she made moaning/purring noises while having her ears rubbed, people rubbed them much, much longer than if she is silent. To inform us she NEEDS them rubbed she swats us on the leg twice and repeats it until her demands are met. Buttercup also knows how to get any slip on shoe off because she likes having her ears rubbed when we use out feet.
If we ignore her, Buttercup throws her body down on top of our feet and rubs her ears against our toes!
Our dog loves playing fetch and starts the game by bringing me a toy. If I stop playing she assumes the problem MUST be the toy so she goes to her massive toy stash and searches for just the right one. Then she brings it back and drops it at my feet. If I still don’t play she repeats the process and picks another toy until eventually ten or more are piled up.
It never occurs to her that I stopped playing because I’m tired. She thinks the problem is that I don’t like her toy selection!
Buttercup has other incredible problem solving skills, as well. Because of the partial paralysis of her back legs she is unable to jump up on anything. One afternoon I heard her making little grunting sounds at the end of the couch where her toy stash is located. The toy she wanted was on top of the pile, up against the wall. I looked over to see her gently tugging on the toys directly under it until the desired toy tumbled off the stack.
I’ve also seen Buttercup use another technique when she wants to grab something up high. She uses a blanket or newspaper to pull the desired treat over to her. I made sure family members were aware of her capabilities and that they never set any food on the sofa where a blanket or newspaper is hanging off.
Buttercup might not be able to jump up to get to what she wants, but she has been known to pull on a newspaper or blanket lying under a plate of food, until it falls off for her to enjoy. I’m thankful I figured out her little tricks before she wreaked havoc on us.
After realizing she was a problem solving smarty-pants, I decided that puppy puzzles would be great for her. I bought one made from wood because I thought she couldn’t destroy it. In just seconds Buttercup figured how to get the treats that were under each sliding compartment.
After a while Buttercup got frustrated with having to follow the rules of the puzzle game so she came up with a plan of her own. She picked up the puzzle and dragged it across the room in an attempt to dump out the Cheerios. She won and the puzzle lost, leaving teeth marks gouged into the wood. Now I refuse to let her dump out the treats until she has played the game as it was intended. You should see the poor puzzle!”
Felicia and her family love having guests at their house so Buttercup can show off. They don’t say anything about the little dog’s abilities and let them unfold naturally. Felicia says that by the time people leave, everyone is talking about the smart dog with the big personality.
“They love to just sit on the couch and watch her play and do her thing,” said Felicia. “You can’t deny that a little dog in a dress and diaper safety-pinned together isn’t super adorable!”
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A Buttercup Update
Buttercup’s story originally posted in April 2014. I checked in with the family via Facebook and was happy to learn that Buttercup is still up to her antics of staying one-step ahead of her pet mom, Felicia. Best wishes to both them. I can’t you enough for sharing Buttercup’s story. She is an inspiration to all paralyzed pets.