A dog’s life expectancy…please don’t remind me

‘Stop it with the photos,’ Ella insists

When I go on a trip, especially if it’s more than a few days, the worst part is taking the dogs to the Hundepension and saying goodbye. Don’t get me wrong: I know I’m about to go galavanting around somewhere bombarding my feed with photos of the sky in some far flung locale or food I’m eating that makes people think, ‘Hey we have food here, too. We don’t need another shot of today’s Tapas…

I don’t want to come across as complaining when I’m out here making such a big deal of what a good time I’m having. And to be really candid, a long screed about the frustrations of travel could be equally annoying. Again, it’d come across as ungrateful and somehow entitled. 

However, not being with Ella and Louis is a major drawback of being gone, and particularly now more than ever. Why’s that, you ask. Well, the clueless, bumbling Louis and his wise-beyond-her-years sister Ella are not getting any younger. 

Only yesterday, I wrote a quick caption on a photo that went like this: 

Had to say goodbye to #EllaandLouis. She understood the whole concept of farewell, while her brother? He found another ball & couldn’t be bothered with such sentimental nonsense.’

Then I got on a big jet plane and arrived in a city I didn’t know and juggled figuring out where to go with poor or nonexistent wifi along the way, and at some point I checked social media to discover…

Plenty of people read that text as some sort of final goodbye to one or both of the dogs. Immediately, I could see how that had been misconstrued, so I quickly assured the most worried/agitated of my dogs’ fans and thought to myself, ‘I should write about this comical little mixup, but at the same time now would be rather opportune to talk about a longer project I’ve been mulling over for ages.

Still life with mini basketball


A book about Ella and Louis’ adventures from their perspective. I’ve considered it for years. I’ve got enough amazing photos of them for at least one book. I considered a new site or a web series or whatever it is the kids are doing these days, but last year I worked on a book for somebody and the thought of my own couldn’t quite be shaken away. 

So, the question is: why now? What happened that makes it so urgent to finally get these ideas down on paper?

To explain that, I’ll have to tell you about the guy I used to know with the Great Dane. He loved that dog immensely, and while he was out walking someone would invariably walk up and say, ‘That’s a gorgeous Great Dane. What a shame they only live nine years or so.

It didn’t happen once or twice. It didn’t happen every once in a while. It was a daily occurrence. A constant reminder of his dog’s mortality. He wanted to pull his hair out and say, ‘I know my large breed dog has a shorter life expectancy than smaller dogs…please don’t remind me.

Which brings us back to my dogs. They’re so healthy and equally happy and I’m reminded nearly every day of how I need to savour every moment. That’s where writing about them comes in. 

Would you read something like that. Photos of these insanely photogenic hounds with anecdotes of their take on life. Does that sound like something people would want more of?

Happy Eleventh Birthday Ella and Louis…there’s a celebratory Schweinsohr in it for you

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Is this really what eleven looks like?

Well aware that this isn’t the best photo I have of Ella and Louis, I’m  bit pressed for time. See, it’s their birthday and I’ve been rattling on about these exquisite hounds via social media and responding to queries about them from people who haven’t been following them for years. Which is hard to believe if you think about it.

Numerous people have told me they started reading my stuff only after getting pulled in by images of those two red dogs.

If I wrote a blogpost about them every time they touched my heart, this would be a blog devoted entirely to the smart one and her less than bright brother. That’s all I’d talk about, and there could even be a number of you who’d prefer that anyway.

Here’s the thing, though: how do you get across just how important these two are to me? How might I adequately express why I get choked up at the thought of anything happening to either one of them? The people who are already nuts about dogs already get it. I could write this for them, and they’d nod their heads and insist this is a perfectly reasonable passion for nonhuman beings.

That’s too easy for the likes of me. Instead, I’d love to find the right words to even win over those who shake their heads and say, ‘Why would anyone devote so much time and attention to such creatures? It’s just a dog, after all.

Just a dog? I know. Why would I want to reach such a person in the first place? Good point. I often say to myself that these two give so much more than they take. Once again, that’s only going to make sense to the already converted. Preaching to the proverbial choir, as it were.

I even want to persuade cat people about these two. I know, I’m mad. Truly off my rocker.

So, Ella’s sitting behind me as I sit at my desk writing about them, and she just gave me a look that said, ‘You see the irony of blathering on about how much you love us, but here we are NOT GOING OUTSIDE, which is all we really want. You do see that, right?

Yes, Ella. I get it. It’s time to go out. Has been for a while.

For those of you who see a photo of Ella and Louis and insist that you want MOAR photos in addition to the one I just shared, today’s for you too. I’ll stumble over to other platforms and do some unrepentant spreading of the canine adoration.

Happy Eleventh Birthday, you two. There’s a celebratory Schweinsohr in it for you.

Dragged with vim & vigour

Ella and Louis taking Johanna for a walk

Taking the hounds out for a walk takes on a whole new meaning when you’re wearing your roller blades, doesn’t it?

So much holiday preparation going on this last weekend, but we still had time to go out and seize the day. Apparently, aside from decorating Christmas cookies, letting Ella and Louis pull her along was the best part of the weekend.

Can completely understand. I second that emotion, even.

Mild as it’s been, enjoying late autumn

 

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Louis the boy dog at Lake Starnberg in Upper Bavaria

It’s been mild, we get it. November was rather warm here in Munich, and there hasn’t been much sunlight. It’s a good time to hole up and read. Or write.

However, when you’ve got dogs, there’s only so long you can stay inside. I’ve tried to convince the hounds to take themselves out, but they seem to appreciate my company. So outside we go.

The above photo was taken at Lake Starnberg a few weeks ago, and what a gorgeous day that was. There’ve been plenty of those lately.

Why am I throwing in a photo of Louis and not much else? Well, a little while ago, I wrote Once you get a taste of The Daily Argus, you can’t get enough. It got plenty of attention, and I even got a nice comment from the people over at The Daily Argus.

Here’s exactly what was said:

Hi Ken! Thanks so much for your kind words about Argus. We’d LOVE to see posts about Ella & Louis. Let us know if you ever come to Austin and we can get the pups together. I’d love to hear about living in Munich, also. We’ve traveled extensively but haven’t been anywhere in Germany yet – Munich is high on our list. Cheers!

Looks like we’ve got new Vizsla friends. If you’ve not yet been there, take a look at The Daily Argus. Good stuff.

I’ll leave you with a nice shot of a snail I got the other day:

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Once you get a taste of The Daily Argus, you can’t get enough

This YouTube video made my day, and I was already having a rather good one to begin with. A good day, that is. It’s a Vizsla trying to get a Tater Tot…the YouTube blurb says that after the taping, Argus eventually got the object of his desire. Heart warming, eh?

You know this is my favourite breed, right? I haven’t blogged about them in a good long while, but I’ve got sister and brother Hungarian Vizslas called Ella and Louis.

They are the centre of my world. It’s hard to describe how much joy they bring me daily. I had a friend in college, whose mother was Hungarian, and the family had a Vizsla boy dog. He was such a sweet and intelligent hound.

My family growing up always rescued dogs from animal shelters, and I continue to think that adoption is normally the best option for house pets. However, when I met that first Vizsla more than 20 years ago, I vowed that one day I’d have one of these dogs.

And what a joy it’s been.

So, after seeing the above video with dear Argus, I was thrilled to learn he’s even got his one blog. Can you believe it? Look, here it is:

The Daily Argus

Isn’t that delightful. And they’re even in Austin, which is one of my old stomping grounds. Wonder if I’ll run into Argus when I’m back over there visiting family at some point.

This reminds me: For years, I’ve considered writing some sort of fiction (or nonfiction even) with Ella and Louis as either the subjects or the main characters. I’ve got so many photos of them from when they were puppies, as well as throughout their lives, and even up to just last week. Endless photos, I’m telling you. Doesn’t matter how many I’ve taken of them wrestling and posing and panting, I can’t seem to get enough.

Is that something you think people would be interested in? Stories of Ella and her slightly slower brother Louis? Would you read that?

There have always been some people who follow me online just to see more photos of these gorgeous dogs. Well, here’s one for the likes of you:

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Much younger Ella and Louis basking in the sunlight

Oh, by the way. Thanks again to Argus for giving me a reason to blog about my favourite dogs. That video with the Tater Tot showed perseverance, didn’t it?

licking her lips atop the ‘sea mountain head’

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How did we get up here?

It was the first hike of the season last weekend, and it took me this long to upload the photos. Ella and Louis look rather regal, don’t they?

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The church in the middle of the village.

We took the train to Bayrischzell, which is an area of Upper Bavaria we know quite well. We’ve hiked here often. Sitting in the square before we began our way up the mountain, the dogs wondered what was taking us so long. Here we go…

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Bayrischzell from above.

Since we hadn’t hiked yet this year, I had to stop for relatively frequent breaks. I took the opportunity to snap a photo of the village on the way up. The dogs could’ve run on without any pause.

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‘Why do we have to stop?’

The mountain in the background is Rotwand (‘red wall’), which we’ve climbed in years past. Maybe that’s in our near future, as well.

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Aggressive bovine activity.

These cows might look friendly enough, but they were anything but. We’ve actually been chased off of a mountain by aggressive bovine activity in the past. Not a pretty sight.

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Ella licking her lips atop the Seeberghof at the moment of arrival.

This is the girl dog atop the Seebergkopf (‘sea mountain head‘). Her brother tires after about 6 or 7 hours of hiking and has to lay down, but I’ve never found Ella‘s limit. She doesn’t stop wanting to hike. Ever.

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Louis at the train station on the way home.

For some reason, I’ve always liked old train stations. The one in Bayrischzell is no exception. It wasn’t the longest hike, but it’s good to ease into the hiking season slowly. Well, for me, anyway. The dogs were ready to climb another mountain that very day.

 

 

 

 

the best red dogs on the planet turn eight today!

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doing what they love most…Ella and Louis will definitely spar like this at some point on their birthday

On 13 January 2005 the best red dogs on the planet were born. I went into detail about all this last year at the same time, but I just wanted to share this photo. If I let myself, I’d blog about their love and what an honour it is to take care of them on a daily basis.

My heart doubles in size when I see Ella and Louis playing. These dogs have quite simply been the single most reliable thing over the last several years.

Am thrilled that photos of them bring joy to so many people I know only from the internet. I’ve been using the hashtag #EllaandLouis for a while over at twitter if you’d like a sampling of the joy they bring. Have at it.