Civility and the High Road

Maybe it’s the way I’m feeling today, but I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting for my life, my health, and my right to exist as a full and wholly actualized human being with the expectation that I be “civil” or “lady like” to those who oppress me. Those who name me less than.

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A Civil War hero had his statue destroyed last night

It is hard for me to write in general these days, because there is so much going on that depresses me and things just continually seem to get worse.  It constantly feels like things are on the precipice of getting completely out of hand, and our national leadership seems intent on saying and doing things that generally don’t help and sometimes actually make things worse.

I suppose that compared to a deadly global pandemic, economic disaster, and widespread civil unrest across the country, the loss of a single statue in Madison, Wisconsin, is not that big a deal.  But I still can’t help but feel a little affected by the destruction of the statue of Colonel Hans Christian Heg last night.

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Welcome our new family member

After filling out many applications for many different dogs, Kelly and I were finally approved for adoption of a lovely little girl.

Everyone, meet The Baroness Nymeria Frieda von Hopkins-Michael. Her friends call her Nymeria. She is a short-haired dapple red boar mini-dachshund weighing about 8 pounds with startling blue eyes. She came from a rescue called Out of the Woods Rescue.

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Dash and Nymeria enjoy a sunbeam together in our kitchen near the door to the deck.

Like her dearly missed older sister, Thumbelina, she is a puppy mill rescue. Nymeria comes from Pennsylvania, in Amish country. She did not even have a name, just a tag that said “11”.

Nymeria enjoys some time in the big bed.

She was born in September 2016 so she is about 3 1/2 years old. So she is by far the baby of the household now, which is kind of ironic since she has had a litter of puppies every heat since she was able. This poor little girl lived in a rabbit hutch with a wire floor for pretty much her entire life, until she was rescued.

Nymeria working on her tan on the back porch.

Still, she seems to be in pretty good shape considering all she has been through. She has her appointment with our vet scheduled this next weekend, but her foster mom, Chrissy, and the good folks at Out of the Woods did an amazing job with her initial shots, her spay, and her dental in which she lost17 teeth!

They love spending time together. It really was love at first sight.

She is full of energy and has a great sense of curiosity. So far she gets along well with all the other animals. Just this weekend she touched noses with Violet, which was a huge and pleasant surprise. There were cats in her foster hom who she apparently ignored, but Violet was very concerned upon her arrival. But she doesn’t seem interested in chasing them, and so far she has only had a passing interest in them at all.

She and Dash LOVE to play together, and it’s great because now he will be worn out enough to go to bed without much fuss, the way he would after a long day of walking around at Brimfield.

She is named after Nymeria, one of the direwolves from ASOIAF/Game of Thrones, and after Frieda, a character from Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

The good folks at Out of the Woods Rescue sent us home with food, medicine, toys, and so much more. I can’t tell you how thankful we were for their treatment of our still scared but wonderful little girl. If you are so inclined, please celebrate with us by making a donation so they can continue their excellent work.

~Geoff & Kelly

Thumbelina Anne Hopkins Michael, Ph.D. – October 30, 2001 – March 8, 2020

I’ll be honest, I have been dreading writing this since the day I realized I’d have to do it. I know that when we take an animal into our home we get the better end of the deal. We provide them with food, shelter, medical care, and love and in exchange they give us everything – absolute love, cuddles, comic relief – in short their whole entire selves. The hardest part of the bargain is that we have to help them leave this world when they’re ready to go.

Watching from above.

Rarely are we gifted with an animal that falls asleep and doesn’t wake up. We live in a world where we have veterinary medicine that keeps them healthy through ailments that once would have killed them. We owe them this considering their domestication, the jobs they do for us, and their overpopulation – a problem we’ve created.

But it doesn’t make it any less heart rending to hold them and release them from their pain when the end is finally here. And, after 18 years, that’s what we had to do for Thumbelina yesterday. It was time.

Keeping watch on the front steps of our old apartment.

Thumbelina came into my life through the now defunct PuppymillRescue.com (PMR). They got dogs out of puppy mills, mostly in Missouri and other high mill states, and got them into foster care and then good homes. I had always wanted a dachshund and after some terrible trauma in my early 20’s I was ready for a dog of my own. I did a lot of research. I checked a lot of dachshund specific rescues. But then I came across PMR and found Thumbelina’s page. I wasn’t particularly looking for a puppy, but there she was.  Tiny, recently rescued from a broker after being nearly starved to death because it was “cheaper than shooting her,” and in her photo, proudly sitting on a Beanie Baby dachshund looking as though she’d subdued it. Yes.

That was my dog.

I filled out the application, submitted the references, notified my vet that someone would be calling, and had a home visit. There was also a phone interview and then the waiting. And the waiting. I was sure Thumbelina and I were meant to be together.

And I was right, I got a call that I’d been selected as her forever home. It was a matter of making arrangements to go get her in Missouri where she was in her foster home. That was one of the happiest days of my life.

I flew out to get her, brought her back on her first flight of many over the years, and Thumbelina became a Boston dog, all in one day.

Over the years she would become a foster sister to two other PMR dachshunds who went on to forever homes of their own, appear on stage in Gypsy at Suffolk University, on Chronicle, in newsprint, on Boston.com, appear in a marketing film at a former employer, win awards for obedience and tricks, and be responsible for me meeting not only some of my closest friends, but Geoff as well.

Doing tricks at the dog park
Sitting pretty at the dog park

I’m in my 40’s and Thumbelina was with me since my 20’s. In all that time she cuddled up under the covers with me every night except for maybe two-three weeks in total. She was my constant companion and a very real extension of me. She was my best friend, my little clown, my stubborn little life saver, and so much more that I can’t even articulate right now. Not having her here as I write this feels as if a limb has gone to sleep and I can’t wake it up.

She was more intelligent and intuitive than many/most humans I know and it is absolutely without hyperbole that I tell you that I would not be here to write this if it were not for her tiny little 9lb cuddles, her sniff of consternation, her comic relief, her head butting, and her anticipating my needs. She was a once in a lifetime dog, and I am better for having had her in my life. Thank you, baby girl.

Thumbelina found her sea legs and climbed up on the rope pile.
From a long ago trip to Mystic Seaport.

She is preceded to the bridge by her elder brothers Rerun, Bucky, and Smoky and by so many canine, feline, and human friends and family. Donations in her memory may be made to the MSPCA, where both she and Rerun crossed the bridge.

Rest well my darling, someday I will see you again.

Kelly

I’d be remiss not to add a special thank you to Dr. Barbara Bower at the South Bay Veterinary Group who has been Thumbelina’s primary doctor for I don’t know how many years now. She’s been kind, steady, compassionate, and generous with her care, presence, and heart all through Thumbelina’s golden years. I’ve been bringing animals to South Bay for more than 20 years and it is because of vets like her that I will continue to do so. My life and the lives of the animals in it are enriched immeasurably by her and the care of the staff there.

The famous photo that made it to the Pets section at Boston.com

Choose Your Own Christmas Card

Or Holiday/Yule/Festivus/Kwanzaa/New Year/Whatever card. You do you. You have choices between three photos this year, pick the one that best suits you. Or go for all/none of them, we’re ecumenical here at Casa Dachshund.

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RIP Mrs. Geoffrey Michael

Management regrets to inform you of the death of Mrs. Geoffrey Michael.  Mrs. Michael died the way that she lived, which is to say, not at all.  Mrs. Geoffrey Michael, just like Mrs. Kelly Hopkins, was a figment of the fevered imaginings of the patriarchy and men threatened by equality of the sexes.

Ms. Kelly Hopkins, we are happy to report, is still alive and well and still a feminist progressive working for a more just society for all. Except for those who would disregard her humanity. Those folks can go straight to hell with all the rest of the Trump voters.

For those of you who are humor impaired, the part about taking his first name is a joke.

Management would further like to note that all mail sent to the Hopkins-Michael household addressed to either the late/non-extant Mrs. Michael or Mrs. Hopkins will be immediately recycled without opening.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog posts.

Management

The Battle of Fredericksburg as my ancestor saw it

The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought from December 11th to December 15th, 1862.  Among the 120,000 or so Union soldiers in the Army of the Potomac was a 36 year old French-Canadian immigrant named Moises Beaulieu.  Moises had enlisted in June 1861 in Company A of the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment (sometimes known as the Boston Volunteers) and thus had already been in the Union army for some 18 months when he found himself on the bank of the Rappahannock River across from the town of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Major General Ambrose Burnside, a Rhode Islander who had risen from Colonel of the 1st Rhode Island to commander of the army, was waiting for pontoons to arrive so bridges could be built across the river. At that time the 11th Massachusetts was in Brigadier General Joseph Carr’s brigade, of Brigadier General Dan Sickles’ Second Division of George Stoneman’s Third Corps, part of the Center Grand Division commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker.

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An obscure anniversary and an obscure Union general

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Corinth (distinguished from the Siege of Corinth) that took place on October 3rd and 4th, 1862.  Union forces under the command of Major General William Starke Rosecrans defeated Confederate forces under the command of Major General Earl Van Dorn.

These days Rosecrans, if he is remembered at all, is known for being the Union commander at the gigantic Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, one of the major Union defeats of the war and the second-bloodiest battle of the entire war after Gettysburg.  But up to that point he had actually been one of the most successful Union generals Lincoln had.  I learned a great deal about him during my time at Stones River National Battlefield, where Rosecrans was also the Union commander.

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The loss of B-17 “Nine-O-Nine” today

A famous aircraft (at least in some circles) was lost today at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, and I am just heartbroken.

This type of aircraft, the Boeing B-17G, was one of my favorite planes when I was a kid, and to a large extent it still is.  Many years ago I used to have a HUGE model that I built.  And one day at an airshow in my teens I finally had the chance to climb into one, and what a joy it was.  That plane was the “Nine-O-Nine”, flown by the Collings Foundation out of Stow, Massachusetts.  I had a t-shirt for years that was one of my favorites.

And now it’s gone.

I have no idea what happened, aside from the plane was trying to land when something must have gone terribly wrong.  There were thirteen people on the plane when it crashed – three crew and ten passengers.  I hope and pray that those who survived will be OK, and that those who did not didn’t suffer.  So if you are the praying type, spend a little time thinking about them.

Thanks.

~Geoff