By Barbara Anne Kirshner
The first time I saw the “dachshund sign” that lead the way up the gravel driveway to the charming Stony Brook cottage perched high on a hill was late March 2012.
The welcome sign depicting profiles of two dachshund pointing the way to the enchanting house gave me a sense of hope even before meeting the owner, Robin Gianopoulos.
I discovered this renown dachshund breeder by researching the Dachshund Club of America and AKC. Both sites named her as an honorable, excellent breeder of dachshunds and that was exactly what I was looking for — someone who loved the breed as I did and cared about breeding so that her puppies grew into healthy, strong dogs.
We had just lost our beloved Madison who suffered from degenerative back problems. She went through two major back surgeries, but on January 27, 2012, at only 7 years 3 months old, the light was snuffed out of my life when my beautiful Madison passed away. She had gone through so much pain; then in the end while she was in my arms, she closed her eyes and she was gone. She took with her all the joy that once filled my life. In its place was a deep sadness that not even her sister or brother could fill. That’s when I started my relentless research for a dachshund of fine breeding in the hopes that we would not experience such tragedy again.
On that fateful day when I met Robin, I was still distraught. Robin understood my sadness and welcomed me into her home that was Disney World for this dachshund lover. At any one time, she housed at least 7 doxies — long-hair, smooths, minis and standards. I was immersed in dachshunds and loving it! Robin became my treasured friend and teacher.
She was a well-known breeder for over 55 years and her dogs were show dogs. She frequented Westminster and a host of other dog shows with her doxies, always coming away with ribbons.
At that charming Stony Brook house, Robin introduced me to a host of other dachshund admirers — people like myself who love the breed and sought her out in hopes of getting one of her prized dogs.
I had no intention of being a breeder, nor showing my dachshund; I was looking for a healthy dachshund whom I could love and welcome into our family. Robin knew that and still she offered me the pick of the litter when my turn came to have one of her dogs.
It was one year almost to the day that I first met Robin, March 13, 2013, when our beautiful Melissa Tulip was born.
Robin made a point of keeping in touch with the people who received her puppies. The first time I brought Melissa Tulip for a visit, I got a quick lesson on the connection Robin had with her pups. As we pulled into that gravel driveway, Melissa Tulip, who had been curled up in her car seat fast asleep, became alert, sniffing the air. When I took her out of the car, it registered where she was and excitement ensued. Robin met us at the front door and Melissa Tulip jumped into Robin’s arms, smothering her with kisses and hugs. I was so happy to see their special connection.
At the time the pups were born, Robin learned that she had cancer and on December 11, 2014, she passed away. Her sons kept their family’s Stony Brook home for seven more years and all the dogs still lived there, being cared for by a dear friend and the sons who commuted from their homes in Arizona and Los Angeles. The sons and daughter became our dear friends.
After 62 years, on May 28, 2021, the Gianopoulos children reluctantly sold their childhood home to people who understood the legacy of the Stony Brook dachshunds. The new owners even presented the Gianopoulos family with a celebratory plaque featuring the house, an inscription and a photo of Robin with one of her beloved doxies. I got chills when I saw that special plaque because the photo that they chose, out of all the photos they could have chosen, was one I had taken of my Melissa Tulip hugging her Granny Robin.
Though the magical house on the hill has found new owners, the legend of the Stony Brook dachshunds lives on through Melissa Tulip and all the wonderful dachshunds that Robin brought into this world.
Miller Place resident Barbara Anne Kirshner is a freelance journalist, playwright and author of “Madison Weatherbee —The Different Dachshund.”