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Decimation of The Dog House

Alison Berkley

I was on my way to a circuit training class at Jean Robert’s gym yesterday when I saw the most horrific sight: The Dog House has been demolished.

Where the old A-frame on Hunter Street between Spring and Original once stood was a pile of rubble, a bulldozer perched defiantly atop the heap of splintered wood and metal. That’s all that was left of the makeshift offices that the Cool Travel Agent Ladies and their respective dogs at Aspen Ski Tours called home for more than 30 years.

There was something both surreal and terrifying about the sight of it, like the funky old house had been nothing more than a stack of cards blown over by the wind. Or maybe it was the wicked wolf who huffed and puffed and … OK, I’m regressing.

I know it wasn’t a natural disaster that brought down the walls of TDH, but it’s catastrophic nonetheless. Since dogs aren’t allowed in Aspen Ski Tour’s main office at 300 South Spring, TDH became home to all the travel agents who – heaven forbid – wanted to take their dogs with them to work.

I guess there was a time when accommodating dogs was nothing out of the ordinary in terms of Aspen’s professional landscape. Not only did this office allow dogs, it was three blocks from the gondola, with an outdoor deck that was perfect for tying up Fido while the agents took their little midday ski break.

The tiny space took on the air of a quasi-clubhouse, its members like Aspen’s version of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a half dozen or so middle-aged women who are way cooler than your mom, and therefore entitled to an office at TDH and the leisurely whims of independent contractors who enjoy full-time, year-round employment.

I had the pleasure of working with these ladies for the year I spent at Ski.com, the Internet portal for AST’s ski vacation package sales to “The Best in the West” Rocky Mountain ski resorts. (Excuse the shameless plug.)

Despite our difference in age, I fit right in with these hella-cool women, and I’m sure they would have let me in their club were there any space left. I begged and pleaded with my boss to let me move over to TDH. I explained that I ever-so-desperately needed a place to take Psycho Paws during the day on account of his separation anxiety/panic disorder, but he wasn’t having it.

Aside from the fact that my dog did bite a co-worker in the ass during one of his unauthorized visits to the main building, my boss knew I wouldn’t get any work done over there among the Aspen Ya-Yas.

It’s not like I was getting any work done anyway. So after my two-hour lunch, I’d take a break and sneak over to TDH for a minute or two since I had a lot to learn from the female ranks of Aspen’s longtime locals.

I’d grab a Diet Coke from the mini-fridge in Resa’s office and get caught up on all the hot gossip and maybe a few good “back in the day” stories. A self-proclaimed Jewish Princess with thick, dark hair and huge blue eyes magnified behind her oversized red-rimmed glasses, she was practically a stand-in for one of my relatives from back in New York.

“Oh, hello daw-lin,” she’d say, flapping her wrist at me. “You should come with us to Fry-day night soy-viz-ses. I know a nice Jewish boy you really aw-ta meet. He’s rich and he’s not mah-reed yet!”

Her office walls were covered in photographs and art from her travels to countries I’d never even heard of, the far reaches of the world that were common ground for travel agents “back in the day” when they actually got good benefits.

Jelly Bean, an obnoxious cocker spaniel and Dog House mascot, would jump in and out of her lap at least a dozen times during the course of our conversation, yipping and growling and clawing at her chest. “Aw, she’s the most spoiled dawg in the world,” she’d say. “A total JAP, just like me.”

Jelly Bean belonged to Amy, another East Coast transplant who, albeit a little quieter than Resa, had just as many stories to tell. A tiny, ageless blonde, she carried herself with huge spirit. Her office, located on the other side of the narrow hallway, was also littered with documentation of her travels and her past.

She favored the rougher roads of places like Nepal and Africa to the comforts of the Western world, but looked happy and comfortable in every photo. I couldn’t help but notice her array of handsome traveling companions, sinewy muscular men with thick mustaches and strong jaw lines and mirrored glasses that reflected whatever spectacular place they happened to be in.

Most of these women never married. When I asked them why, they looked at me point blank and said, “Honey, this is Aspen. Men don’t come here to get married.” Duh.

There were a dozen or so of these longtime locals who worked in TDH as travel agents for AST, all close friends whose chatter and gossip and friendships were no less intense than a group of hormonal high school girls. Every once in a while, they’d bust out with some shocker like, “Remember that time we did mushrooms in the back of Jane’s Volkswagon bus?” or “This one time, we all went to Christmas Mass together and we were totally s— faced,” and so on.

Even though I know they took their stories and their belongings with them to their new offices at the ABC, it sucks to see the place they called home for three decades get trashed so that the property can be turned into an overpriced parking garage.

Oh-my-gawd. They actually paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

The Princess is very unhappy that her view is going to be destroyed by Burlingame Parcel D. The mayor should e-mail an explanation as to why they’re allowed to do that immediately to alison@berkleymedia.com


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