Morning News photo
Oscar Meyer and Nina Ballerina check out White Rock Lake
as Larry Gable of Colleyville holds their leashes Sunday.

Elderly canine gets home as dachshund computer pack meets

By Randy Lee Loftis
Staff Writer of the Dallas Morning News

    Is it possible to find the perfect mate, sight unseen, by computer?

    Sure it is. Just ask Nick.

    Nick was no dream catch on the surface. He was getting up in years, facing some big medical bills. That smile had been charming enough in its day, but by now, Nick had just six teeth left.     Who would launch a long-term relationship with Nick? Bill would.

    Bill lives in Florida. Nick lives in Minnesota.

    They found each other through messages on a nationwide computer bulletin board. They met for the first time Sunday in Dallas.

    Bill is a human. Nick is a dog.

    The story of how Bill met Nick is a tale of old loyalties and new technologies. For the past two years, people around the country have sat at their personal computers, logged onto the Prodigy on-line service and typed news about Lady in St. Louis and Charlie Brown in Portland, Maine, and Dudley in Dallas--dachshunds all.

  About 40 people and their dogs from 11 states--until now just dog-loving blips on the Dachshund Circus bulletin board--met face to pointy snout Sunday during a get-together at White Rock Lake.

    Some hugged. Others sniffed. All--all the people, anyway--were happy to be able to put a face with the familiar computers IDs.

    I'm probably closer to these people than to some members of my own family," said Cathy Springer of ******, Long Island, who flew in from New York with "Oscar Meyer the Wiener Dog and Nina Ballerina, his main squeeze," as she puts it. I've never seen a face before, never so much as shaken a hand" dispite a yearlong correspondence by computer, Ms. Springer said. "That's the intriguing part of it."

    Almost 100 people communicate through the bulletin board, said Diane Combs of Dallas, who helped to organize the meeting. The agenda included "doxie" bingo and a crossword puzzle with dogs' names as the answers.

    It wasn't all fun and games. Wendy McQuiston of the Dallas-Fort Worth Dachshund Rescue Organization talked about the problems of unwanted dogs and of animal rights groups that want to ban people from breeding dogs. At that news, two dogs started barking.

    Some who came to Dallas together won't leave together.

    Kathy Cook brought Nick down from Minnesota. She was sort of a foster parent, caring for the aging Nick after his rescue from an uncaring owner. She had asked through the bulletin board if anyone would be willing to give Nick a permanent home.

    Bill Whitaker, the bulleting board's founder, said yes. Nick will go home with Mr. Whitaker to Fla.

    "So Nick is going to retire to Florida," said Ms. Cook. "just like the rest of the snowbirds."

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Last modified on 17-Aug-96 18:18