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The weather was fine when we took our seat in the Hamburg express from Høje Tåstrup at 14.08. As we usually start our travels from Århus, this was also a new experience for me. Making very few stops on the way, the train made fast progress through Seeland, Falster, and Lolland, and very soon after the train rolled on board the ferry in Rødby. Barely had the ferry pulled away from the quay before Milloup and I made our way up into the ferry's lobbies. For one I wanted to make some taxfree purchases (before those little pleasures are denied us for good by the EU), and, secondly, both dog and mistress needed to stretch their legs while the possibility was there.
Fortunately, Milloup is a darling travel companion, and he had already made himself very popular with our nearest neighbours in the train, an elderly German couple. They, for their part, had generously shared their lunch with him, which placed them high on Milloup's popularity list. Talking companionably we travelled on through the island of Fehmarn and on through Oldenburg, and at 18.15 the train pulled up at the Hamburg Central Station. We said goodbye to our newfound friends and moved towards the exit in order to allow Milloup to go about necessary business before the train to Berlin departed at 19.05.
As soon as we'd settled in the new train I unpacked the last of our food, and Milloup was immediately all helpfulness. In those situations he always gets a certain look in his eyes which I have by now learnt to read. "Don't you want me to help you chew?", it means. So in companionable unison we raided the food while darkness fell and the train entered the former DDR.
When at long last we reached the station Berlin Zoo we were both of us very tired indeed. So it was very nice being met at the station by Herr Reiner Schwartz, the president of our Berlin Group, who brought us from the station and to our rented room. We drove through the North-Western suburbs of Berlin and on through a huge forrest area where, before the Wall came down, DTK Berlin used to hold all its tracking competitions, Herr Schwartz told me. And to my great joy we suddenly saw a fox standing by the road watching the car. Once through the forrest we crossed the canal that used to form the border between East and West, and soon we reached the end of our journey.
Schönwalde Dorf is situated in the former DDR, and our hostess, Frau Wenzel, has a room she rents. That was all I knew in advance about where we were going to stay, and as the price for this room was only DM 30 a night, I had expected very little indeed.
My somewhat negative expectations were, however, shown to have been totally groundless, when we entered our holiday flat - and it was an entire flat. The back building had recently been thoroughly renovated and redecorated and was now a cosy holiday flat for up to three persons. Through the nicely kept garden with sensor-triggered lamps that lit up automatically as soon as somebody stirred outside, we reached the flat and entered a small drawing room with sofa, armchair, table, and TV. To the right was the bathroom, all in green and white, and to the left the bedroom with three beds, all made up. Then we could simply choose which one we preferred, said the nice lady. The kitchen on the other side of the bathroom was accessed from the patio outside the flat and also formed part of our domain. This was value for money indeed.
Herr Schwartz, who had chivalrously dealt with the luggage, and Frau Wenzel both wished us good night, Herr Schwartz with the promise to call for us at 12 the next day. The entire garden was fenced in, and Milloup was welcome to run loose, I had been told. Furthermore, there was a large field right outside the garden, as Frau Wenzel's house is the last one on the tiny dirt road. So after quickly unpacking a little we went to take a first look at our new surroundings - as much as we could see in the dark, anyway.
Once Milloup had sniffed around for a while and done what he must do, we withdrew to the recidency in order to relax after the fatiguing journey.
Coming back we met Frau Wenzel, who offered to take us to "die Siedlung" in her car, as she had to go there, anyway. Then we could walk the 2 kilometers back. Gratefully I accepted the offer, and soon we were underways. On the way Frau Wenzel told me about the old DDR days, when the border between east and west was almost outside her garden fence. Schönwalde Dorf belongs to the former DDR, Schönwalde Siedlung to the former BRD, and the border used to be at the canal which Herr Schwartz had shown me the night before. I was interested to know more and asked several questions. For me, used to the freedom to come and go as I please and where I please, the notion of having a totally closed border at about 1 kilometer from the front door was something I couldn't really picture. "And just venturing close used to be regarded as highly suspicious", so Frau Wenzel told me.
|We got out of the car in the village centre, and after a little shopping we turned back towards Schönwalde Dorf. The first part of the walk took us down paved and shady little roads, but once we had crossed the old frontier we were in open country. It was hot, and as soon as we got back to our guest house we immediately found what shadow we could and sat down to relax.|
|At 12 o'clock Herr Schwartz arrived, and we were taken further into the former DDR. DTKs club area is situated in Bötzow, where the club leased a barren field some 5 years ago and set out to construct a delightful area for dogs and dogowners. The entire area has been fenced in, and there is a double gate which makes it possible for the dogs to roam at will without running away and getting lost.
When we arrived the summer party had not started yet, but a bunch of eager helpers were busy putting up tables and seats, wiping them, and putting up sunshades, making coffee and tea, etc. Milloup could be left to run around and acquaint himself with the other dogs present, and I offered my help with the wiping business.
|As yet there weren't many dogs present, and most were bitches, but one solitary dog must be looked daggers at and a few "pleasantries" exchanged. When the two potential adversaries realized that they were about evenly matched, they decided instead to totally ignore one another, a decision they both stuck to for the rest of the day.|
|As 3 o'clock was approaching more and more people and dachsies arrived, and most wanted to say hello to "the member from Denmark". I had been apprehensive as to whether Milloup would be able to handle being left to roam free amongst so many unknown dogs, but everything went well above expectations. In fact, and to my great surprise, I didn't see as much as one dogfight during that day, but then this may have to do with the fact that the dogs were actually left to roam free - potential adversaries could just avoid one another, and as all of them were of about the same size, no dog could lord it over the others and boss them around.|
|Before the rush hour started I had the opportunity of saying hello to a good many of the members of our own group, Group X. Later on I talked with so many nice people, but given the fact that I am generally lousy at remembering names, I can only recall very few of those names today. But we had a very good time in their company.|
|While I was talking Milloup would thankfully creep into whatever shade he could find under the seats or shushades and remain there panting until the next time I started moving around. Then he'd decide that he'd better keep an eye on me, lest I should lose my way and get lost.|
|At 3 o'clock the party started with a welcome address, and then other events followed in quick succession; bugle players, dachshund racing, Teckel-Quadrille (multi obedience show) and many other things. The bar was open selling any kind of beverages, cakes, and other niceties to stuff in your mouth. Owing to the exceptionally hot weather most people suffered greater thirst than usual, and suddenly there were no more sodas to be had. Consequently, a helper was dispatched to fill his car with new provisions.|
|Later that afternoon the grill was lit, and several heroic helpers spent their time in the double heat from grill and sun in order to serve the rest of us grilled pork chops and sausages. With this there was a choice of potato and pasta salads, and as everything was sold almost at cost dinner was a bargain affair. Milloup had a field day tasting everything that came his way - and I'm sure that's more than what I know of.|
|When the Teckel-Quadrille was taking place with participation of some 10 dachsies and a couple of leonbergers, Milloup sat on the side line in order to monitor the program and keep his eyes open that everything went according to plan. this Teckel-Quadrille impressed me a great deal, as all aspects of the obedience work were shown; walking on a lead, down, stay, etc, and then it wasn't just one dachsie at a time but all of them at the same time, so quite some practice must have gone into that show for the performance to run as smoothly as it did.|
Updated on 12-8-03