Like many an outdoors gal, I went through my big-dog phase. Henry, my yellow lab, could scale any mountain, swim any sea, and drag enormous branches through the woods for hours at a time. He also ate a good portion of my sofa when he was left alone one day.

That’s when I switched to wieners, the stretch limos of the canine world. Wieners don’t eat couches, they only piddle on them occasionally–if they can make it up that far. The problem is, you can’t have just one.

Roxy, whom I adopted eight years ago, is as much an adventurer as Henry ever was, though she’ll pass on the wet stuff, thank you, and retrieval is beneath her. Or would that be above her? But she can scramble rocks like a mountain goat, inch-long legs pumping like pistons. And if we get to a place her little legs can’t reach, then I just scoop up her 10 pounds in my arm for a boost. Fellow hikers marvel at her agility, though they love to ask if her belly drags on the rocks.

Certainly not. Roxy is no overstuffed sausage. At night in the great outdoors we roast wieners and then she burrows into my sleeping bag, following her genetic instinct of rooting down into the badger hole.

My wiener dog Uncle doesn’t burrow because he’s a long-haired dachshund, meaning his badger-hunting genes were mixed with something prissier. Plus, it’s hot under all that hair. Uncle doesn’t do much these days. He’s 18 going on 25. Perhaps his name is familiar? He’s pretty famous in the dachshund world.

I adopted Uncle seven years ago, when he was 11. I was living in Boston, and he, coincidentally, was down here in Asheville. His plight–he the victim of a broken home–was broadcast on a national dachshund rescue listserv. I offered to take him if someone could get him to me, assuming they could not. The result: Uncle became one of the first deliveries via the “Dachshund Underground Railroad.” Insensitive name, yes, as I’m pretty sure wiener dogs were never enslaved or persecuted. Nonetheless, dachshund-devoted drivers along the East Coast signed up to be on the “railroad.” Safe houses were assigned for the three overnight stays. Uncle was passed from person to person, like the Olympic torch, until he was finally delivered to my doorstep.

And then there’s Lucy, my very first wiener, whom I adopted nine years ago. A lady at first glance, Lucy is a raging alpha bitch underneath her lovely red hair. She keeps the fur family in line, and only Roxy is exempt from her glares and snarls. Lucy’s favorite job is to keep the cat in her place, a place that happens to be a couple inches higher than Lucy in stature but several notches down in pecking order. The cat belongs to my future husband. When you marry into a world of wieners, you need to mark your territory.