Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
My friend Hilary got online looking for rescue dogs not long after she had to put her old friend Tucker into the deep sleep. Too soon, I worried, and my worry wasn’t just an abstraction because I would become, in effect, the newcomer’s step-mother. How would I take to a partial new member of the family and, more important, how would my dachshunds Freddie and Nicky take to it?
Nicky and Freddie, known as The Germans at the paper, have absolutely no interest whatsoever in the many dogs who reside at The Aspen Times. They resist new puppies, snarling at them if they want to play or if they invade their space under my desk, and then ignore them.
Nicky and Freddie liked Tucker, and grew up with Sam, an older brindle dachshund belonging to my friends Nancy and Roger, suggesting identification within the breed, though Freddie and Nicky were both horrified when they met their mother and sister in a grand reunion (not) after a year apart, so who knows.
Anyway, it was with some trepidation that I received the news that Hilary was off to Golden to look at a 2-year-old rescue dachshund/Chihuahua mix, and I was not surprised to get a phone call that she was on her way home – with the dog, named (after considerable debate with Hilary’s co-workers) Huckleberry.
The next morning Hilary arrived with Huckleberry in arms, lifting his lip at Nicky and Freddie, who were leaping around and shrieking, in a state of frenzy and insanity at the sight of this interloper, clearly conveying, “That’s not Tucker! Who the hell is THIS?” and Huckleberry responded, “Who the hell are YOU?!”
I was thinking lordy lord, this is never going to work and there goes what’s left of this weekend, but after a few minutes The Germans began approaching Huckleberry with more curiosity than hostility. “Is he one of us? He kind of looks like us.” Huckleberry was black with white chest hairs, just like Nicky and Freddie, and his face was a spitting image of Freddie’s (he’s the one in my column photo) but, at 7 pounds, he was half Freddie’s size and Nicky weighs a Huckleberry more than Freddie. Next to Huckleberry, Nicky looked like an old wart hog.
Nicky and Freddie nosed closer, Huckleberry nosed out of Hilary’s arms and suddenly they were romping around the living room. As a small child can infuse a staid household with new energy, Huckleberry breathed new life into the stodgy 4-year-old Germans.
Like Peter Pan, he flitted on and off the couch. “Come on, Uncle Freddie; come on, Uncle Nicky – I’ll teach you how to fly! Put your ears up like mine and follow me. Catch me if you can!” and they zoomed through the house, out the dog door and back inside, until the Germans collapsed, exhausted, and Huckleberry fell asleep – BONK – in Hilary’s arms.
A few nights later Nancy and Roger brought Sam over to meet the newcomer and all four of them went so crazy that Sammy and Huckleberry, racing around different sides of an easy chair, actually collided in mid-air.
They are a treat to watch. Huckleberry worships his uncles, industriously washes their faces, and leaps into action if they make a move (“Wait for me!”), but he’s the first to start barking at real or imaginary menaces, a bad influence on the Germans, who have problems of their own containing their vocal enthusiasms. Hilary is kept busy running to the door with the spray bottle of water, which can shoot all the way across to the corner of the yard, while I cry, “Hut, hut, hut!” – pseudo-German for “cease and desist.”
Summer’s coming (it really is), pedestrian traffic will increase, and everybody’s got to learn to keep their little yaps shut.
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.