But one of the secrets to his tenacity in the political realm may be a sweet little 7-year-old dachshund named Keiko.
“He’s a very calming dog,” Goertzen says. “So when (I) come home from the legislature, which isn’t always the most calming environment, he is a good balance for that.”
Dachshunds are known for their playfulness, and as hunting dogs, for their stubbornness.
The name literally means "badger dog" in German.
Goertzen admits he is attached to the breed, but for other reasons. “They are very well-mannered.”
Keiko is Goertzen’s second dachshund. He said he and his wife lost the first one just a few months after they got him when he developed paralysis, a condition not uncommon for the breed because of its long back.
“We grew really attached to him, and it was really hard when we had to put him down, so we really struggled with whether we should get another dachshund.“
But they got lots of good advice about how to mitigate the risks.
“You’ve got to limit their jumping and their stair-climbing,“ he said. “And keep their weight down, which would probably be good advice for me, too,” Goertzen added, in the first of a couple of parallels he says he has with Keiko.
The precautions seem to have paid off. Keiko is healthy and shows no signs of problems. At least not the serious kind.
“He’s kind of middle-aged at this stage. We’re middle-aged together. We’re both losing our hair,” Goertzen said.
Goertzen said they got Keiko about a year before their son, Malachai, was born.
They wondered how the dog would react to the baby.
“We brought Malachai home the first day. We sort of gently put him down on the floor and Keiko went and sniffed him and then he lay down. He put his head on his chest, and he’s been gentle with him since that day.”
Malachai, who is 6, knows Keiko pretty well.
“He’s a pretty funny dog,” Malachai says. “He’s like, eating bones a lot, and he loves to have belly rubs.”
Goertzen said Keiko hasn’t had any formal obedience training, but it doesn’t show.
“He’s very good with kids. He’s really good with company that comes into the house,” he said.
“So even though we may have been a bit deficient in getting some of the training, he’s made up for a lot of it. He’s a really, really well-behaved and well-mannered dog.”
And he knows his place in the family.
“At Christmas time, he runs by the Christmas tree and waits for his gifts to be opened, because he feels he’s part of the famly,” Goertzen said.
All this time, Keiko is happily chewing on an orange-coloured ball, which just happens to be the colour of the NDP.