Huskies — and Aussies — are Everywhere

Chris Freeman with Fergus the dog at the Iron Horse in Northampton Mass. on Dec. 8, 2023. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Freeman and ­Fergus at The Iron Horse in November.

A while back, an old friend and colleague from Northampton, Massachusetts, called to ask if I’d talk to a friend of hers who was considering getting an Australian shepherd dog. My first Aussie, Almost Blue, came to the office with me when she and I worked together, and she knows I’ve had a string of them since. I had no idea saying yes would result in a great story for this magazine — and a new puppy for me. (To be fair, no one who knows me would be surprised about that second point.)

Nelson and Alice in 2000

Nelson and Alice in 2000; Stiepock and Blue in 1995

Stiepock and Blue in 1995

Chris Freeman and I chatted about the pros and cons of this dog breed, and when I mentioned I live in Storrs, I discovered not only is he a UConn alum, but also he was lead singer of the celebrated UConn band Poor Old Shine, aka Parsonsfield. A few weeks later both Freeman ’12 (CLAS) and I had made treks to a farm in Appleton, Maine, and returned with 8-week-old pups, Freeman’s Fergus and my Tuxedo, now 2 years old. The Aussie thread running through my life has created countless meaningful connections, some momentary, some lifelong. And now my UConn affiliation is doing the same — on and off campus. I’ve encountered, and had memorable conversations with, gear-adorned Huskies across the U.S. and in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Florence, Italy — so far.

Freeman’s and my shared connection to both UConn and Northampton intersects with Aussies another way. When I first worked with writer Peter Nelson, a frequent contributor to this magazine, he had an Aussie named Alice, who was a fixture in downtown Northampton. I could often find Nelson by glancing down the street to whatever eatery an unleashed and perfectly behaved Alice was waiting outside of, accepting treats and pats with enthusiasm heavily tilted in favor of the former. Nelson is now part of a nonprofit Freeman runs that is working to restore a revered Northampton music venue. Read all about it in Nelson’s story.

By Lisa Stiepock
Photos by Peter Morenus, Contributed Photo, Michael Grinley


No comments so far.

Leave a Reply