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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy 90th Birthday Martina!

I don't remember when exctly Martina Quellmann contacted me for the first time. As far as I can recall she read one of my articles in the Dachshund Club of America newsletter, and it must have been around 16 years ago or so. Over the years we have kept in touch mainly through snail mail, e-mail, by phone. She was a strong supporter of John and me when we co-founded the North American Teckel Club in 2000.

Martina is German, and she knows teckels. I love her quick and sharp mind, no nonsense attitude, no drama. I feel in her a kindred spirit. Today Martina is turning 90 years old, and it is a good occasion to reminisce a little.

In 2003 I wrote a short article for the NATC Teckel Talk about my first dachshund, and Martina replied: 

"Hello, Jolanta, the last Teckel Talk has been sitting on my desk since its arrival. It is unreal how many similarities I saw in your "Down The Memory Lane" and part of my life. I simply felt I had to share it with you.I got my first own dog, a mix, from my friends toy poodle's love affair. She jumped out of a first floor window to meet her beau, an all country mix. My friend had gone to one of the islands to not be bothered with male dogs. Little did she know. Somehow at that time one did not think or believe in spaying and neutering. That was 1946. When we ever have a chance to meet I will tell you my adventures trip to pick Pitti up. My friend and I had Pitti, much beloved, till we immigrated to the USA. As I learned that dogs had to be in quarantine for 6 month I made the painful decision to have him put to sleep. He never was separated from us except a few days here and there to stay with my parents. He was 13 at that time. The strange food, kennel live, strange voices....all would he been too much for him.

In New York German people living in our apartment building ask us to keep their dachsie for the time they went to Germany. Knuckles, short haired, badly overweight, skeptical of everything, it took him 14 days to trust me. He got an infected tooth and I had to bring him to a vet. That in the Bronx, to find a cab to take a dog, then pay him to wait so we could get home. All that with my meager money. In spite of or maybe because of I fell in love with dachshunds. I often took Knuckles for walks after his owners came back. I was very unhappy in New York and planed to go back home. Well, obviously, I did not. We moved to Vermont, an old farm house with 100 acres of land. We rented with the option to buy. My friend knew how much I wanted a dog and now we had room. The first Christmas there was a little dachshund, Hummel. He was an offspring of a dog a soldier brought back from Germany. Papers.....what did I know, even cared about it.

Once I joined our all bred dog club my interest for the technicality rose. I imported my wirehaired minis from Germany, but I never had the time to do to much with them. Hunting is not my line anyhow. But I showed in breed and bred some nice litters, always looking for loving pet homes. I never bred until I had at least 6 clients waiting, knowing I would barely have 6 pups, that allowed me to choose the new owners. And I always visited after 3 or so month. My contract stated I was entitled to take the dogs back if their care did not meet my standards. Neither did I cash the checks till then. It gave me the reputation of one of those German. But my pups were  my responsibility. With working full time as a nurse, running a riding stable, there was not much time to be away from the farm for shows. And the judges did not appreciate the smaller size I bred. I also am not at the least competitive. I was happy having all my dogs around, 5 dachsies, 1 great Dane, and time to take them all for a walk. And yes, they hunted on their own. How many woodchucks did they bring home and I had to bury them. Their instincts were there, but I did not work with it."

 In 2003 Martina wrote an article about her mini wire Kirby:

"Kirby’s registered name is Ch. Rose Farm Box Office Hit. He was born November 11th  1995.

As I had the last dog from my own kennel put to sleep, I thought I could do without a dog. Talking to squirrels, birds, petting other people’s dog showed me I could not. I called Dee Hutchinson whether she would help me to find a mini, preferably a male and wild boar, between 5 and 7 years, color and sex negotiable. And, I still can't get over it - Dee had Kirby for me. From the minute I had him in my car we were the best of friends. Kirby was used much as a stud and I anticipated some difficulties.  

An active stud and mostly a kennel dog, How would he adjust to being a house dog ? No problems. The one and only time he tried to mark his new territory I shouted, without even thinking; Oh No. He stopped immediately, run to the door and that was it. After several weeks working with him on come and sit [that still does not work, mostly I cannot see whether he sits or only pretends] we started our walks without leash. A happy hound running through the woods or across pastures. His delight to go in and out of culverts, mostly dry. He makes friends with each dogs after giving a warning growl when they are too bouncy. People are his great friends. In all the dogs I raised from my own kennel I never had such an outgoing little fellow. He greets everyone with a wag of his tail. Also, he is the most affectionate dog I ever had. He adjusted to being the only dog, bed dog, lap dog without any difficulties.  I make sure he has, at least once a day his freedom walk, meaning off leash. And yes, I bribe him to come when I call. Once we met a fox, while I looked for a stick to chase it away, Kirby hightailed back to me. He knew he was no match. Rodents, when he gets them, are taken care of, proudly presented to me.

You may have received my snail mail already about our attack by a rabid skunk. It was frightening.  Four minutes behind our house, a walkway used by dog owners, jokers, bikers. 11am, sunshine. I was bending down to unleash Kirby as I saw it, a giant skunk, beautiful, shiny. A grandfather of a skunk. I picked up the dog and went into the bushes, hoping it would pass me with out spraying. It passed by, as I got ready to move it returned, passed by me again,  me ready to move again and back it came It waddled right in my hiding space, first bit in my pant leg, then without any provocation in my leg, first one, then the other, over and over again. The whole situation made clear that it was rabid. After about 15 minutes, I managed to step on it, then, as it came back again to kick it like a football. Thereafter it took off. In all that, fight Kirby slipped out of my arm and the critter got his left hindquarter. He screamed, he was still partly on my arm, I pulled him and the skunk up, it did not let go. I hit it with my fist; it dropped but bit me in my hand.

I was so shaky, I was unable to use my cell phone to call the police and walked home. From there I called, they kept me on the line until an ambulance was at my door. Kirby had hit in one of his corners, I had no time to check him. Called the Vet from the emergency room, was told I have a 6 hour leave way for him to be seen. The process in the emergency room made clear I would never make it out in time. Plus my Vet is an hour away. I called a friend who brought Kirby to the Vet. They came home 45 minutes after me. Kirby had no injuries, all the vet found was mushy fur on his left rear, not even a puncture wound. But he deskunked him for me. Also send home some of the solution to help with the odor in my home. And Kirby got a booster for his rabies vaccine. That's almost 2 weeks ago now. I am still receiving my shots, the last 12/22. All is well that ends well. But it may be of interest to all of your hunting friends. No, the skunk was not found in spite of 3 police officers who scanned the area. I assume he is dead by now. I still get a bit shaky when I think about it."

When Kirby passed in 2006 I could not stand a thought that Martina would be without a dachshund so we offered to give her our Gela. We imported Gela von Rauhenstein from Germany in 2000 when she was around a year old. A very good looking teckel, talented in the field, she found her niche in field trials. We bred her twice, but both times she had to have a C-section. After her second litter we decided to spay her. Gela was craving an individual attention and her dream must have been to have a human lap just to herself. It sounded like Martina and Gela would be a good match. So in August 2006 John and I drove to Hanover, NH, to bring Gela to her new home. It was a right decision, and Gela does not leave Martina's lap too often. Now she is almost 13.
Gela in 2008

Martina and Gela in 2011

Martina and Gela visited us in September 2007, and it was so good to see both of them. Gela was thriving.

September 2007: Gela and her old buddy Asko.

John and Martina at our place

I wish we lived closer to Martina so could see her more often. She always has interesting stories and insights to share. I cherish our friendship and think of her often; I feel that she knows me even without exchanging too many words.

Martina, Happy 90th Birthday! I am so glad that our life paths have crossed!

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