For The Love Of Dogs
There are many places on the internet for dog lovers: the adorable #dogsofinstagram feed, the heartwarming UPS Dogs Facebook page, and the VOBS Blog. You may already know that our Minnesota wilderness base in Ely, Homeplace, is home to our favorite co-workers — 70 intrepid sled dogs. This however, is the story of another beloved VOBS dog. This is the story of Hueco.
Hueco (pronounced “Waco”), is the unofficial mascot of our base in Big Bend, Texas. He was named for Hueco Tanks State Park, a favorite climbing site for our Texas staff. Hueco has always been a skinny dog, and his name means “hollow” or “empty space” in Spanish. The name suits him.
Hueco is certainly his own dog, but he technically belongs to VOBS power-couple Brian and Nina. Brian Liggett is our Texas Program Director and Nina Wray is a Course Director for our Texas programming.
How It All Began
In the spring of 2017, Brian and Nina were on their way home from dinner when they met Hueco… and by “met,” we mean they almost ran him over with their car.
Hueco was out in the road in the middle of the night, and he was not in the greatest shape. He was limping, extremely skinny, and positively covered in fleas and ticks.
Brian and Nina brought him home and began nursing him back to health. There are no veterinary clinics in Redford, Texas, so they brought him to the pound to see if anyone had reported a missing dog. Looking back, Brian says it seems obvious that no one was looking for him. So Hueco went home with Brian and Nina and became part of their family, and part of the VOBS Big Bend family too.
“He was and still is very attached,” notes Brian. “He has a little bit of separation anxiety. Basically, he needs to be three feet away from me or Nina at all times.”
In The Beginning
In the early days, Brian had his concerns. They wondered if he might run away, and if he did, would they be able to find him? Then one day, Hueco did run away. One minute he was sitting with Brian on the porch, then the next minute, he just took off. At the time, Brian and Hueco were the only ones on base at Big Bend, and Brian had little hope in finding him.
But, an hour later he was back, and now everyone at Big Bend knows that adventure is just a part of Hueco’s character — he’s always Outward Bound. Hueco’s free spirit has helped him become a bit of a celebrity in the small town of Redford where he likes to explore, yet he always returns to home base.
Hueco also loves being in on the action of course planning. When VOBS Instructors lay out gear, Hueco likes to help by laying on the backpacks, just so nobody loses track of them. He likes to monitor progress as Instructors pack gear and prep for course. Brian jokes:
He is excellent at quality control, but we don’t let Hueco in the food room.
While Hueco is incredibly at home in the high desert of Big Bend, he doesn’t seem to have quite the same love for Homeplace and Minnesota.
Deep In The Heart Of Texas
Brian explains, “We run the Big Bend program from October to April, so we bring him up north with us every summer when we move back to Homeplace.”
I don’t think he likes Minnesota very much. It’s humid and rainy, and he doesn’t like the water, or being clean too much either. In Texas, he’ll just lay in the shade, covered in dirt.
Hueco’s free desert spirit is also at odds with office life. In the summer, Brian and Nina spend a lot of time on administrative duties. “He’s scared of everything, even office supplies. If you show him a stapler he will leave. He’s also scared of everything he’s never seen before, which is a lot! He was once interested in a turtle and then ran away.”
Hueco’s Friend Jefe
Hueco may be a little anxious, but he’s got good friends who stand by him through thick and thin. In addition to Brian, Nina and all the VOBS staff, Hueco has another friend – a giant pitbull named Jefe.
There’s this giant and gruff-looking pitbull, but Hueco just loves this dog. All he wants to do is play with Jefe.
“You would think this pitbull would be sick of Hueco, he is so small and scrawny,” says Brian. “But the pitbull lets Hueco win, always.”
Brian summarizes Hueco’s Big Bend friend quite simply: “Either people will think this dog is really cute and funny…or they’ll think he’s a pain in the rear.”
Not unlike his desert home, Hueco can be challenging and unpredictable. But, like Big Bend itself, Hueco is definitely worth the effort, and easy to fall in love with.
To learn more about programming in Texas, and to score a Hueco sighting, please contact Megan Henning: (651) 968-3449 or firstname.lastname@example.org