Su Lum: Time and Trudy
My dachshund Trudy has a new phobia: she’s afraid of the slam of the spring-loaded doors on the newspaper box in front of The Aspen Times. The Aspen Times Daily box used to be next to our main entrance, and now that it has been moved across the sidewalk with the others there’s a lot of banging going on outside of the ad office.
Taking Trudy out to pee or home for lunch requires more advance planning than it used to. First, I have to wake her up, nudging the old down sleeping bag under my desk with my foot and calling TROOOdy in a high falsetto, because ? except for loud bangs ? she doesn’t hear very well anymore (neither do I).
After several calls and nudges she’ll lift her head and look around bleary-eyed (she doesn’t see so well either ? neither do I) while I chirp “Let’s go OUTside!” There are usually a few false starts ? the phone will ring or I’ll turn my head for a second and she’ll crawl under the desk and fall asleep again with her back turned to the outside world.
Eventually, I herd her out and across the floor, boosting her over the 3-inch riser to the main ad office (she can’t make it up that anymore ? I still can), then call and coax her to the door. She gets as far as the counter and stops dead, listening, and it’s usually about then that a passer-by stops to get a paper from the rack and BAM slams the spring-loaded door and Trudy, who can go down the riser, heads back under the desk and we start all over again.
Trite to say, but it really does seem that only last week I was holding her newborn self in the palm of my hand, and that instead of the white mask almost covering her face there were two brown “eyebrow” spots.
Now she’s almost 14 ? 91 in dog years ? and her arthritic hind legs are so weak she can’t back up. I took her to a Christmas celebration with my family and she kept going under the tree after the presents and getting stuck until we pulled her out and turned her around. When I let her out my back door, likely as not she’ll wander down the walk to the back gate and sit there thinking she’s at the kitchen door (I do that kind of thing, too!).
I have spent a lot of time with old dachshunds. Heidi and Truchie, the mother/daughter dachshunds I spent my long, formative years with, both lived to be 17 on diets of table scraps, and seemed as indestructible as my grandmothers, who lived well into their nineties on diets of bacon fat and lard.
Peter Mouse, my first Aspen dachshund, died at 16 and, while it was a good, long life for him, it seemed a lot shorter to me than Heidi and Truchie’s 17 years though, for my daughters (he was Hillery’s 4th birthday present and died when she was 20), Peter Mouse was a lifelong fixture.
I must have just turned 52 that yesterday when I got Trudy. I didn’t know then that I would ever look back and think of 52 as Young. If I got another dachshund puppy tomorrow, I would be 80 when that puppy is as old as Trudy is now. And the time will have gone by 10 times as fast!
These are not thoughts to be thought on the cusp of a new year, when we’re supposed to be full of hope for better days and resolutions for a better life. Maybe, when the unspeakable time comes for Trudy, I can adopt an older dachshund and we can live happily ever after.
My advice to the immortal youth is that it’s short, it’s FAST ? love each other, don’t waste it.
[Su Lum is a longtime local who did her share of wasting. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.]
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“If I was moving through the herd, the others would begin walking away, some of them at a jog, taking their calves with them, but the big brown ungulate would face me sideways, reluctant to move, not wanting to give any ground,” writes Tony Vagneur.