Tuesday, 11 February 2020

1 week old

The Onnekas puppies turned a week old this morning.  They have all more than doubled their weight and are starting to really motor around the box.  I really must try to get a good video of that.  In another week they will be opening their eyes.

Puppy 1 - Neot

Puppy 2 - Penny
Puppy 3 - Fowey
Puppy 4 - Trever
Puppy 5 - Kensey
Puppy 6 - Ottery

Saturday, 8 February 2020


Being a breeder is hard. 

Yes, there is great joy.  Usually all those things you worry about - the health of the dam, her comfort and happiness, the health of the puppies, their strength and vigour, all the freak accidents that can befall them when you're unable to sit with eyes on them 24 hours a day - never come to pass. 

Usually the tragedy doesn't happen. Usually the dam gives birth with no complications, is a happy and dedicated mama.  Usually the puppies are all born safely and are strong and vigorous and grow through their first, delicate week. 

Usually there is a period of weeks in which you work hard to raise a family of outgoing, confident and healthy puppies and deliver them into the eager arms of their new families. Usually those families love and care for those puppies and dogs through their whole lives. 

And sometimes things go wrong.  Sometimes you find yourself driving to the vet in freezing temperatures in the middle of the night with a dam who is struggling to give birth.  Sometimes one of your beloved puppies grows up to develop a debilitating illness or condition.  And sometimes puppies die.  Sometimes for a good reason, and sometimes not. 

I've been mostly lucky, I know.  I have had some heart-stopping moments during whelping and especially in a litter’s first fragile week of life.  I’ve had a bitch who was unable to deliver naturally and had to have a caesarean section who then struggled to care for her litter properly.  I’ve had to hand-feed 2 puppies in 2 separate litters for the first 2 weeks of their life.  In one litter I had one puppy who died just a few hours after birth. I had no idea anything was wrong with him, but his dam did, and she kept pushing him away from her.

That's sad.  It's hard. But you can console yourself with the knowledge that you cannot argue with nature, that for some reason you don’t know, the puppy wasn’t viable and that it never had a chance anyway.  But the absolute worst is to lose a puppy a few days after birth.  To lose her to a terrible accident.  A puppy who is strong and healthy and beautiful. 

Last night we lost our precious tiny Loveny. Yes, she was small, but not dangerously so, and she was growing at a good pace.  There was no reason whatever to think she wouldn't continue to develop and thrive.  But somehow she died.

I wasn't there when it happened, but I did arrive shortly after, and the only thing I can think happened was that Anni either landed on her when she jumped into the box after having her after-dinner wee, or that she sat on her and accidentally suffocated her.

Both of those things happen often.  Some mothers are more careful and aware than others, but frequently dams will sit on the puppies seemingly deliberately.  I don’t know if it’s nature’s way of toughening up the puppies by giving them a bit of a fright and a way of ensuring only those strong enough to wiggle out of the way survive.  Normally, when a dam accidentally hurts a puppy as she jumps into the box, they cry out, she comforts them, and everything is fine. When she accidentally, or deliberately, lays on a puppy, they cry out and either she shifts her weight so they can squeeze out, or the humans go running to the rescue before she has a chance to do so.

Whelping boxes have rails on the side for this reason – somewhere for the puppies to go to avoid getting squashed against the side by a tired and heavy dam.  I no longer use the rails because of a couple of bad experiences in the past, but this tragedy has made me re-think that maybe I should.  Although, I don’t think they would have saved this puppy because she wasn’t up against the side. 

Anni had just had her dinner and short walk to do her nighttime stuff before returning to settle with the puppies.  I was out with the rest of the big dogs for their after-dinner wees.  When I returned I went to check on Anni and the babies as I do many, many times throughout the day and night.  Loveny was lying behind Anni and slightly underneath her hip.  I wasn’t worried straight away – this, too, is not unusual.  I pulled her out to place her back at the milkbar but she was already gone.  Heartbreakingly, we lost one of our beautiful puppies.

I showed her to Anni who sniffed and licked and prodded her a few times. But nature is very prosaic; she turned her attention to her other puppies and barely looked as I took the little lost one away. 


Tuesday, 4 February 2020

welcome to the onnekas litter

Here we are, not-quite-a-year later than the last post.  Today we are welcoming the Onnekas litter, who arrived so slowly that I took mama dog to the vet at 1am because I was worried that she was suffering from uterine inertia.  But lo and behold, perhaps because I just didn't give her enough time, or perhaps thanks to the trundle down the stairs and out into the car, the first two puppies were born in the car on the way.  In fact, they were born truly more or less at the same time.  Poor Anni!  There were two yelps from her, as you might well expect from the first-born puppy of a maiden bitch, about 3 minutes apart.  When we got to the vet and opened up the back, there were two of them!  So we stayed at the vet for a few minutes, got everyone warm, had a cup of tea and then bundled everyone back into the car and back home to the quiet & peaceful whelping room (aka Jay's office).  Jay says it's the most expensive cup of tea ever.  I cannot disagree.

But, seriously, I will always ere on the side of safety and caution and I don't begrudge one penny spent on puppies and mama dogs to ensure everyone is safe and sound, healthy and strong.  Waiting a few minutes too long to take necessary action when puppies are being born can be lethal not only for the puppies, but for the dam too.  So no unnecessary chances here. 

Of course, that means we don't actually know which puppy was first and holding up the proceedings.  None of them are particularly big, so I don't think that was causing a delay.  It was more likely that a puppy was coming breech (feet first) or (even worse) bum first.  Certainly, Anni's mum, Tuuli, birthed several that way, and in fact I saw two more come at least feet first in Anni's case too.  So that's the most likely explanation.

I'm taking a guess on the boy being first, but literally only because he was a bit bigger at birth. 

Why Onnekas?  Well, this litter marks my 13th as a breeder of Finnish Lapphunds.  Lucky number 13 deserves a lucky name, and "onnekas" is Finnish for lucky.  It's also the name of my first Lappy, my special Neka.  Although these puppies are not related to Neka, they are named for her <3 p="">
Here is the handsome sire, who is issuing cigars as I type; I couldn't hope for a sweeter, funnier, more gorgeous and fluff-some boy than Arttu.  Big thanks to Shelley & Sammy for helping to make this happen. 

Ch Pavoskas Aly Arttu JW ShCM   

Mama is the Hollisters's adorable Anni:

Infindigo Taysikuu Anniina

We have spent some time today trying to distinguish between the puppies, and I think we got there in the end, but (as always) I reserve the right to fix it later.  Ahem.  And several of them might be wolf sable but at the moment they look brown or black, so I might be changing that later too.

As for the quality of the photos, we do this quickly at this stage, and these puppies wriggle, so don't expect great detail. 

If this is not your first time to the blog, you will know that my puppies' Finnish kennel names are chosen by their eventual family.  In the meantime, each puppy is given a baby name.  These puppies have been given the names of rivers in Cornwall as Anni is a Cornish girl who lives on Bodmin Moor.  Thanks to Jane for the great idea and to the Hollisters for the suggestions - they're perfect. 

Puppy 1 -  Neot
Sex:  Male
Colour:  Wolf sable (or maybe black, tan & white)
Time of Birth:  00:45
Birth Weight:  347g

Puppy 2 - Penpol (Penny)
Sex:  Female
Colour:  Brown, tan & white
Time of Birth:  00:48
Birth Weight:  305g

Puppy 3 - Fowey (pronounced FOY)
Sex:  Male
Colour:  Black, tan & white
Time of Birth:  02:45
Birth Weight:  335g

Puppy 4 - Treverbyn (Trever, like Trevor!)
Sex:  Male
Colour:  Brown wolf sable (or maybe brown, tan & white)
Time of Birth:  03:33
Birth Weight:  295g

Puppy 5 - Kensey
Sex:  Male
Colour:  Wolf sable (or maybe black, tan & white)
Time of Birth:  03:53
Birth Weight:  300g

Puppy 6 - Ottery
Sex:  Female
Colour:  Wolf sable
Time of Birth:  05:29
Birth Weight:  339g

Puppy 7 -  Loveny
Sex:  Female
Colour:  Black, tan & white
Time of Birth:  07:30
Birth Weight:  239g

Monday, 15 April 2019

show milestone


Ch Lecibsin Salo of TabanyaRuu JW ShCM x Infindigo Riemu Emmi ShCM
Date of birth 10 July 2015

Ulla with her Best In Show Rosette & Cup - photo by Mark Treasure
 When you show dogs there are ups and downs.  Even if your dog is not exactly a great match for the breed standard that judges should be working to, you will have a few exciting moments at shows.  Even if your dog is an outstanding example of the breed, you won't always win.  That's the way it goes.  I tell everyone who starts out in showing that you need to be a good loser and you need to enjoy it whether you win or not.  Because, the truth is, you will rarely win.

Occasionally a dog will come along who is extra-special in terms of showing.  They will be a great example of the breed, sure, but they will also love being in the spotlight, have someone willing and able to train them to perform as expected, and someone to take them to shows.  Lots of shows.  I have had all of that with Ulla.  She's a sweet-natured, high-energy, clever little sweetie-pie with owners who did a terrific job of training her and who are committed to keeping her fit and well groomed and are kind enough to let her be my showdog.  And in my 15 years of owning, breeding and showing Finnish Lapphunds, she has given me most of my greatest thrills in the showring.

NWPB July 2019
 There are different levels of winning, too.  There are the open shows where you may or may not get a judge who is knowledgeable about the breed - or even likes them! - and you might not even have specific breed classes.  There are the championship shows where the top winners keep on winning and, under the UK system, other dogs who are still excellent representatives of the breed and worthy of the title of champion unfortunately never reach that pinnacle because they can rarely get past the top winners.  Then there are the special shows, of which you might get two a year, if you're lucky.  In Finnish Lapphunds, there are 3 such special shows each year for me.  They are Crufts in March and the two shows where we get Finnish judges every year:  Southern Counties in June and the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain championship show in April.  I always like to make sure I get to those shows, at the very least, because it's always good fun.  Even better fun when you don't already have a good idea what the judge likes and who they will choose.

My biggest and most exciting show win in 15 years of participating happened 2 days ago at the FL Club of GB champ show.  In an entry of 91 dogs under one of our kindest, funniest, most entertaining and enjoyable judges ever, Mr Juha Kares from Finland, Ulla won Best in Show.

She first won her Limit class in tough competition.  There was even a final, nail-biting run-off with the second place winner.  She then went into the lineup against all the other bitch class winners.  She was looking so good and moving so well that as I stood there I had a brief hope she just might get the Reserve CC.  When the judge gave her the CC, I admit to being rather overwhelmed and tearing up a bit.  The great roar from the spectators was incredibly moving.  No one got a photo of my face at that moment, but one of the few clear memories I have is making the shocked-face emoji in real life with bugged-out eyes, open mouth and hands to face.  Then this happened.  I look just a bit thrilled, and it's so lovely to have these photos of that moment, thanks to Sally McKinlay.

A bit excited about winning the Bitch Challenge Certificate
Outside the ring, gathering my wits and waiting for the Best in Show challenge with the Dog CC winner, there were so many hugs and congratulations and genuine well-wishes.  I was still a bit stunned.  One friend asked me if I was going to be able to pull it together for the challenge.  My reply was (something along the lines of ) ab-so-flipping-lutely!  And so I did.  Unfortunately I can't remember the judge actually awarding Ulla Best in Show, nor the cheering that I know erupted when she did. 
Sept 2017 - Photo by Adele Liu

And then I stood outside the ring, still a little teary, accepting congratulations and watching, rather dazed, the challenge for Best Puppy in Show and Best Veteran in Show.  I had recovered pretty well, and I thought I was holding it all together pretty well.  But the thing that completely "did for me" (as I believe someone commented at the time) was Ulla's mum, Emmi, being awarded Best Veteran in Show.   To do so, she had to beat the lovely Special Vintage Bitch and the top-winning Best Veteran Dog.  Jane's face says it all!

Infindigo Riemu Emmi ShCM, judge Juha Kares & Jane Treasure
These wins were all the more special because Ulla's sire, Ch Lecibsin Salo of TabanyaRuu JW ShCM, also won his first CC and Best Opposite Sex in Show at this same show 5 years earlier.   The family resemblance between Ulla and her special dad made for an emotional day for a lot of us.

Ch Lecibsin Salo of TabanyaRuu JW ShCM with Liz Mowatt
Ulla December 2017 - photo Thomas Hinchliffe

Here are a few of Ulla's top wins in her career to date:

Reserve Best Bitch - Midland Counties - judge Helena Hutchings-Brooks 
Reserve Challenge Certificate - Driffield - judge breed specialist Vikki Lloyd
Junior Warrant 

Best of Breed - WELKS - judge Cath Moffat
Winner Special Beginners Stakes - WELKS - judge Joe Smith
Reserve Challenge Certificate - Birmingham National - judge Liz Cartledge
Best Opposite Sex - Midland Counties - judge Helen Gutteridge

Gave birth to 3 gorgeous puppies, the Sisko litter

1st Limit Bitch - Crufts - judge breed specialist Pat Patch
Best in Show - FL Club of GB - judge Juha Kares, Finland

Just after judging finished

At some point the full results should appear on the Club website here

The judge gave Ulla the most lovely critique I've ever read... but I can't reprint it here until it has been published in the dog paper.  Watch this space.  But it said, among other things, that she was perfect and that he loved her.  Well, who wouldn't! 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

12-week check in

At the time of writing the Sisko girls are just about 12 weeks old.  They are deep into training, socialisation and ... swimming.  At least one is a skilled escape artist like her dad, at least one other is super-clever like her great-great-granny, at least another is a very good girl like her mama.   But they are all, without exception, loving the water like their maternal grandpa.  Actually, come to think of it, he was a pretty good escapologist himself, so I guess these puppies don't stand a chance.  Or, should I say, their families don't.

Big thanks to their families for frequent updates and some photos.  I'm still waiting for the swimming video, but hopefully that will be along too in due course.


At home in her new garden

Got the paddling pool sorted

A day at work

Insta-famous at Pets at Home


Mid-game with new big brother, Bergen

Being a good girl

Growing up pup

Also got the paddling pool sorted

who is now also called Nukka

"I'm allowed on the table, right?"

Getting sleepy

Playing tug with Mr Fox

Another sweet wet pup