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The weather was not the best when at 1 pm we entered the train that was to take us to Fredericia, but luckily it wasn't raining, even though the meteorologists had predicted rain. And they turned out to be right for once. Scarcely had we left Århus before the rain came down in torrents, and this kept up for most of the way to Hannover. But this was no problem as long as we were inside the train. Milloup slumbered peacefully in his box, and I was chatting companionably with Lars, a young fellow who was off to see his girlfriend in Dortmund.
Lars left us in Hamburg, and as this meant the seat next to mine being empty, Milloup gleefully moved out of his box and onto the seat. A six hours' trainride without the opportunity to go take a leak can get a little boring in the long run if you're an otherwise active dachshund.
At long last it was 7 o'clock and the train came to a halt at the station in Hannover. Finally, we were to meet Iris and her dogs, Clara and Coco. Some wear a flower when they are to meet each other for the first time, but we were "wearing" each our dachshunds, and finding each other didn't pose any problems.
Milloup delightedly threw himself at the ladies and vigorously sniffed them in both ends, but he was soon made to realize that he'd better behave decently. Clara was not in the least inclined towards accepting the indignity of having this bold-as-brass stranger throwing himself at her back end. He could either come to the front door or get lost, if you please.
Dogs eagerly pulling at their leads we fought our way through the milling crowds in the station and reached the multi storey car park where Iris had parked her stationcar. Coco jumped into her box, and Clara followed suit to take up her place beside the box. Our luggage was placed on the back seat, and Milloup eagerly took up his favourite car-driving position on my lap - he just loves driving a car. And then we set off for Wedemark-Mellendorf.
While we were driving Iris told me that her husband, Jörg, also had a friend visiting, and these two gentlemen had undertaken cook for us. When we reached Iris and Jörg's home we met Jörg and Edgar, and Milloup met Diva. Diva is Jörg's hunting dog, and when it turned out that she was just about to come into season, she immediately found a devoted admirer in Milloup - so devoted in fact that Jörg chose to hide her in a separate room before the courting went too far.
Jörg had composed a stew with wild boar, Edgar had made a salad, and when we showed up on the scene the pasta was immediately put on to boil. Very soon dinner was served, and it was delicious. Milloup, being used to getting the last bite, took up a strategically advantageous position near the table, but as Clara and Coco do not have that kind of bad habits he, too, had to make do with the smell of food. He did try his best to get a foot in with everybody around the table, but all to no avail. Clara and Coco knew this, so they didn't even try.
As it gradually dawned on Milloup that dinner would consist of boring dog food, he might as well give up and start playing with Coco. Back home most of his playing is with his bosom friend Drille, a longhaired mini bitch, who must suffer Milloups ministrations when he feels like a good romping. Drille patiently puts up with being rolled over and jumped on, she merely waits for him to tire of the game and leave her be. Coco, however, was a different kettle of fish. She was capable of offering real resistance.
|Coco is a skilled fox hunter who has already evicted 8 foxes from their dens and just two more will bring her the proud title of "Bauhund Fuchs Natur" - that is, tested from dens in natural surroundings. So Coco knew a couple of tricks that Milloup was not used to, and soon his lordship was lying on the floor, held by an eagerly working Coco. Under her we could sometimes see his astonished face, sometimes his vainly struggling back end. He did not get up until Coco let him.|
|In his favour must be said that he never once gave up winning the struggle - and with the use of entirely sporting means - the eternal gentleman. Every time Coco let him go, he immediately threw himself wholeheartedly back into the game, and just as immediately he again found himself lying on his back with Coco on top.
In the end both combatants were so winded that their feet were almost steaming hot, and we intervened and ordered a break.
|Clara and Coco had already been fed, but Milloup hadn't, so I took him into the hall and served him his pellets and a bowl of water. At home Milloup will quietly sit down to enjoy his food, or he'll collect a mouthful at a time and bring it into the lounge to devour it there, but not when there's competition around. Especially Coco was very keen to have a taste of his food, and I've rarely seen him eat as fast or guard his precious bowl as assidiously as happened here.
Once he'd been fed we all went to have a look at the fenced garden in order to allow the dogs to get rid of this and that. The garden turned out to be quite big. Closest to the terrace is a pond, behind the pond a lawn with some trees, and behind the lawn, hidden behind yet more trees are the kennels. Here, too, is the "digging station" where the dogs can be left to enjoy themselves with some running or digging. Coco and Clara were all for showing us - when the opportunity presented itself - what such a digging station can be used for, so we were given a quick tour of the art of digging.
Around half past nine Iris drove us to her parents' home about 3 km away. Here we were welcomed warmly and shown to a newly redecorated first floor room. Up here a 3 bedroom flat was being done up with a view to letting the rooms to people visiting the fairs, of which Hannover has a fair number. So far the kitchen and one bedroom had been thoroughly overhauled, the bathroom was well under way, whereas the last two rooms were still waiting for new wallpaper etc.
When I'd placed the luggage in our room we were invited downstairs for a chat, and we sat talking and drinking lemonade while I was shown pictures of the four litters that Iris has bred so far and pictures from Iris and Jörg's wedding three years before. Milloup was allowed to take a look at the garden, and he bayed rapturously towards the night sky, until it suddenly occurred to us that we were in fact approaching midnight and that the neighbours might appreciate a little peace and quiet. Then we, too, went to bed.
We woke up around 8, slipped quietly out of the house and made tracks towards the field behind the house that had been pointed out to me as a good place to go for a walk. The weather was cool and clouded, but luckily it didn't rain. After a brisk morning walk we returned to the house. Milloup was served his breakfast, and soon after I could sit down and partake of a laden breakfast table. Nothing was missing there. Iris's mother had even questioned me thoroughly as to my breakfast preferences - and gone shopping accordingly early Saturday morning.
Iris's father had been served his breakfast in his office, so there were only the two of us having breakfast downstairs. If Milloup had had a say, we would have been a threesome. We chatted companionably and exchanged views on various subjects, and suddenly Iris's mother exclaimed: "There's a woodpecker". And there was. Sitting in the pine tree just outside the terrace was a reddish bird feasting on the food provided. We both got up and slipped quietly closer to the window in order to get a better view, and - to my profound embarrasment - Milloup seized the opportunity to jump onto a chair in order to enjoy the smells from the breakfast table at closer hand.
So, when I turned around, there he was with his nose almost in the bread basket. My bellow made him withdraw his hooter in all haste, as he knows full well that dogs don't serve themselves from the table. But sniffing is permitted, he seems to think.. Apologizing for my dog's ill-mannered behaviour I chivvied him back onto the floor. But Iris's mother merely laughed and said that they were used to dachsies there.
Iris showed up around half past nine as agreed, and we now had to decide how to spend the day. For the sake of keeping Milloup's coat in show condition we had delayed making any decisions until we knew what the weather would be like. As the weather turned out to be dry, we decided to give the dogs a good walk in the woods and then do a spot of sight-seeing in Celle.
|Consequently, we set out for Celle, and somewhere along the way Iris turned her car into a lay-by where the car could be left while we took a nice long walk in the woods. The dachsies sped merrily along the wood paths, and on the way we saw clear signs of our being in an area with an abundance of game. Iris pointed out the various types of hoof marks for me in those places where game had crossed the pathways.|
|We saw hoof marks from both fallow (which can be seen also in our fields back home), roe, and wild boar. Milloup was happily nosing about with the ladies, but we stuck to the pathways, lest the dogs would think it was okay to go chasing the game.
In the wood Clara showed signs of probably having a fair amount of retriever blood in her veins. At any rate she picked up one branch after another - the bigger and heavier the better. Energetically she carried each haul along for a good while, before moving on to a yet more interesting branch and started carting it along. At one stage she was in clinch with a branch that was so long, that she had to run almost sideways to move it along, but this didn't deter the lady - the branch must be brought along..
After about an hour's walk we once again reached the car and drove on to Celle. Here I saw the biggest collection of half-timbered houses that I've ever seen in any one place. Celle's entire city centre (and other parts of the town, too) seems to consist entirely of old half-timbered houses - and they are original. Celle was not bombed during the war, so the houses may well be 2- or even 300 years old.
|The dogs were pulling eagerly at their leads, they hadn't done enough exploring for the day yet. We walked around the old city centre and had a look around. Suddenly, in the window display of a small gallery, we saw some tiny, beautiful paintings with hunting scenes. The paintings were no bigger than approx. 10 x 15 cm, so they couldn't be that expensive, Iris reckoned. She was hunting for a birthday present for Jörg, so she wanted to pop in and ask the prices.
We placed the dogs right inside the door and told them to stay there. Then we had a look around.
|Many of the pictures were really grand, but then so were the prices. 2- 3- or 4000 DM was no exception here. When Iris had been to the counter to ask the prices of the small hunting motifs, her eyes were fairly popping out and her hair standing on end. 1300 DM!, she gasped, and we hurriedly left the place. That shop was, after all, way out of our league.
A few streets further on we reached Celle's Saturday Market. Here the stalls were filling the streets, and we had our work cut out just navigating the dogs past the legs of shoppers hastening by and stalls taking up every square inch each side of the streets.
|Once we'd overcome that hurdle, we agreed that the time had come to drive back if we also wanted sufficient time to delve into Iris's collection of German pedigree books - something we both wanted to fit into the visit also.
As it were, this turned out to be a wise move. Scarcely had we reached the car and started driving when the rain suddenly fell in torrents. The shower didn't last long, but it would still have been able to play such havoc with Milloup's coat as to render a major overhaul necessary, so I was happy that Milloup was at that moment inside the car and not outside in the street.
|When we got back to Iris's place, Milloup immediately spotted a much loved smell; the smell of damsel in season. Diva was enjoying herself in the garden, but to Milloup's great disappointment the gate between the terrace and the garden had been firmly closed, so the adoring swain could not get to his beloved. He could, however, enjoy the smell through the bars of the gate - and he did so. For quite a while.|
|Then came the anxious moment of trying to get my pedigree file installed into Iris's pedigree program. As it is, we both of us use Brother's Keeper to keep track of the ancestors, but neither of us had any experience with the import/export of the so-called GEDCOM-files, and it was soon clear that some data had been lost along the way - probably when I packed the file back home. However, there was still sufficient material for us to go on. We were able to look up names in the file to check whether dogs found in the pedigree books fitted into my pedigree puzzle. And a good many new pieces were indeed found.|
|The dogs soon discovered that they were no longer the focus of our attention. Contented, none the less, with their day they soon lay down to snooze on the sofa or on the carpet. Later on they did, however, get the opportunity of an extra walk in the garden when I went outside for a cigarette. All three went along, and at the bottom end of the garden Coco and Clara gleefully rediscovered their "digging station" and immediately set to work.|
|Milloup, on the other hand, did not want to do any digging. He'd soon discovered that Diva was staying in the kennels next to the digging station, and he was sniffing eagerly all around the house looking for a way to the beauty that was so tickling his hormones. He didn't succeed, however, everything was well fenced off.
As always when people with common interests get together time was flying by, and suddenly Edgar was standing in the doorway wanting to know if we'd care for some cake? That was an offer not to be refused, and soon we were able to sit down and enjoy having tea and cake served us while we exchanged news about what we'd all been up to during the day. Jörg promised us a 3 course game menu for dinner, and so as not to disturb the cook in his preparations we withdrew once more to the pedigree books and the computer.
Time was flying. Around 5 Edgar came in to say goodbye. He was off back to the prison, as he put it. Edgar was on leave from a stay at a health resort, and judging from the tales he'd told us from that place on Friday night, it sounded as if anything above and beyond breathing in and out and drinking water was prohibited in that health resort - and people even pay to go there..
Twilight set in, but we merely turned on the light and undeterredly kept working at the computer. At 8 Jörg entered in order to inform us that it was time for a break. Dinner was ready. And then he served us the promised three-course game menu consisting of wild duck's breast, sirloin of wild boar, and saddle of venison, the latter being served with a banana sauce. Only rarely have I been so pampered and spoilt. Milloup had not yet adjusted to the rules of the house, so for good measure he did a begging round just to make sure, but as no tidbits were forthcoming he gracefully accepted defeat. He wasn't starving, either, as Iris had taken a box of homemade doggy game menu out of the freezer especially for the benefit of the visitor from Denmark.
Updated on 14-8-03