Monday, May 3, 2010

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

There’s lots of mayhem and probably just as much magic in this life. Most of us (at least I do) pay more attention to the mayhem than the magic, because that’s what gets our hearts pumping and our blood pressure rising. But I was thinking about something the other day that might well have something to do with both mayhem and magic. That particular something was: why do some items or events cling to some people and not others?

I guess what I’m asking is: have you ever wondered why certain things in life seem to, well, repeat themselves? I understand that one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and still expect a different outcome when you do the same thing again. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about are the recurring themes in a person’s life. For instance, I’ve heard of a guy who’s won two (count ‘em) huge lottery prizes. Other people are accident-prone. Others are extremely lucky (I’m not one of them, dang it). Tragedy stalks a couple of people I’ve known, who have lost children. For those of us who read, books and libraries are and always have been there for us. However, for me the one compelling object that shows up over and over and in vast numbers is the dachshund!

I can remember the first dachshund I ever saw. I was only about five or six years old, and I think (although I’m not sure) that it was around Halloween time. Anyway, we lived in El Monte, California, and I saw a woman walking a dachshund, and I fell in love. I’d never seen such a silly-looking dog in my entire life (which, come to think of it, wasn’t exactly bursting with experiences at the time). Come to think of it, I guess humor has always been a big part of my life, too.

Anyhow, this is no small thing. Well, the dogs themselves are small, naturally, but this magnetic attraction I have for the little beasts is downright scary sometimes. At the moment I’m taking care of seven dachshunds—well, six dachshunds and a ringer, but that dog was presented to me as an “emaciated dachshund puppy” when he showed up in my life. What he is in truth is a cross between a miniature pinscher and a Chihuahua. But the rest of them are wiener dogs.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. When I lived in California, people were forever giving me dachshunds. “It’s only until we can find a real home,” they’d say. Right. And sucker me, I’d believe them every time. When I moved to Roswell in 1996, I had been given or rescued five dachshunds. I’ve been up to nine at one time, but thank the good Lord and other people, several of those hounds were adopted to good homes.

I swear, this dachshund thing isn’t my fault! Mind you, my very first dog was a dachshund (Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Pancho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan), but it was an accident. You see, my friend Dena Mossar knew someone who’s dachshund had had puppies and was trying to find homes for them. I’d been wanting a dog for a long time, but my parents wouldn’t allow me to have one until we had a fenced yard. Well, my dear cousin Dorothie finally paid for the fence, shortly thereafter Dena told us about her friend’s pups, and voila (or viola, as Julia Child once said, which cracked me up) I got Hansel. So you see, it was a complicated series of accidents that first presented me to the dogs that have . . . well, dogged my life from childhood. Hansel, renamed Spike, is the dog I gave Daisy Gumm Majesty for her husband Billy when he needed something to cheer him up. What’s more, Daisy and Billy eventually took Spike to the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club in order to teach him manners, just as I once took Hansel to Pasanita at Brookside Park in Pasadena. I had to stretch the point to get Spike into a class at Pasanita, because the obedience-training classes didn’t start up until 1940 and Spike went to school in 1922, but what the heck. The Pasanita folks didn’t mind, and I think they deserve all the publicity they can get. Too bad so few people read my books, huh?

But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that I now have a Chipper, a Skipper, a Scrappy (the minchihuahua), Rosie, Daisy (my winner-picking wiener), Heidi and Louie (the only dachshund I’ve ever known who could climb fences. He can also leap over short fences with a single bound. Maybe I should have called him Clark). I keep telling myself that my herd will thin out one of these days, but I dunno. It seems as though every time one of my fosterees finds a home, six more show up needing homes. Sometimes I wish people would just stop breeding dogs. Period. I know that will never happen, but for those of us who belong to rescue organizations (I belong to New Mexico Dachshund Rescue and the Roswell Humane Society), there sure does seem to be too darned many dogs in the world. Dogs are wonderful. Too many dogs are tragic. Sort of like too many children.

At any rate, Spike the dachshund, will appear (in school, by gum) in GENTEEL SPIRITS, which will be published in July of 2011. However, you can meet Spike if you haven’t already done so next month, when HUNGRY SPIRITS will be released! I guess it all ends in magic eventually.


  1. That has got to be one of the best dog names i have ever heard. LOL


  2. Well, people kept saying Hansel was such a boring name for a dachshund, so I gave him a lot of middle names :)

  3. Alice, you are such a fun person. And I admire you for being a rescue person. That takes a special talent. One of my daughters recues cats and the other used to rescue dogs. We are all animal lovers, and our animals are each rescues, but I don't think I have it in me to rescue on a full-time basis.

  4. Thanks, Caroline. I keep thinking I'm an idiot for doing this, but it just hurts my heart to see all the dogs and cats people toss out like rubbish, and I can't seem to help myself. Of course, many people treat their children like garbage, so I guess it's not surprising they don't care about animals. Still, I can handle dogs. Kids are another matter entirely :)

  5. I always like when a book has a dog or cat in it. It makes the characters seem more human and of course you can learn a lot about a person by how they treat animals. Looking forward to reading about Spike in GENTEEL SPIRITS!

  6. LOL, Alice. I guess there are worse things than being a weiner dog magnet. At least they're small! And I love an animal in a story too.

  7. Wonderful blog post, Alice (which is no surprise since you're such a wonderful writer - and wonderful person). Count me in as another lover of animals, both in stories and life. I adore Spike in the Daisy books! :)

  8. Thanks, Cynthya, Norah and Mimi! By the way, guys, Norah and Mimi are great friends. I often borrow Mimi's brain when I'm in plotting trouble (which happens all the time). And Norah and I share a birthday! Well, I'm several years older than she is, but we still share a birthday :)

    Hope you enjoy GENTEEL SPIRITS, Cynthia!

  9. Alice, you have such a big heart! Your generosity toward dogs is admirable. And I love your writing style. Your books are always well-written and enjoyable.

  10. Thanks, Jacquie! I must say I think the same about your books!


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