Saturday, 25 October 2008

here come the puppies

Last weekend we met up with a bunch of hardy souls at Dolebury Warren near Bristol for a walk organised by the SFLS. We had 17 Lapphunds and 1 Anniebear in attendance with their various people.

It was a great walk, up a steep hill, through a lovely wood and over some fields then back. The only downside was that there were sheep in the fields so we couldn't risk letting the dogs off lead. The last thing we needed was the local livestock terrorised by a bunch of friendly herders trying out their amateur skills.

The best part of the walk (for me, anyway) was the mini puppy reunion.

L-R (puppies): Inko, Tarkka (giving Paula a sneaky lick), Kaija (Sulo), Maija, Rauhan

The walk was a little over 2 hours, so much too far for tiny puppies so they had spells of walking & being carried. Some of us had very tired arms by the end. And some puppies were completely shattered.
This cutie is Rauhan, grabbing a quick snooze in the back of the car after his adventure.

Below, Rauhan with his equally knackered big sister Sukka.

As always, it's difficult to photograph a moving target, hence there are no individual photos of Tarkka or Kaija (Sulo) on this occasion. However, I did manage to get this slightly out-of-focus snap of Inko sporting her extra tan markings courtesy of the Somerset mud.

As for the puppies who were not at the walk, I've been the delighted recipient of new photos of most of them as they grow up.

First of all, Jaana with Baz. Looks like she's finally growing into her ears. What a little cutie. I must say she looks like a complete angel but I hear she has a rather unflattering new nickname. Surely it must only be Harry the cat who calls her the Nutter?

This is Jaska with pretty big sis Kia. Something tells me she won't be his "big" sister for much longer. Luckily he's a sweet-natured, laidback boy. Which will come in handy when he grows into an enormous teenage Lapphund now in about 5 minutes or so.

Viivi having a brief and, I hear, rare sleepy looking moment surrounded by toys.

Finally, here is Tarmo starting to grow into his paws. The first photo looking so much like his mum with his crooked sit and fantastic head tilt.

Here is Tarmo a little younger looking positively scrumptious in a photo that was submitted for the 2009 SFLS calendar. For your chance to vote for the 12 photos to be featured in the calendar, and the opportunity to get your hands on one of them when they're produced, go here. Even if you don't want a calendar, or to participate in the vote, there are some beautiful Lappies to be seen in the 100+ pics that were submitted from all over, including Finland.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

my garden...

... otherwise known as the building site.

The puppies well & truly wrecked the grass in our back garden this year. They weren't entirely to blame, however. The unceasing rain played a large part too as without a modicum of sunshine the grass was never able to recover from the rigours of the puppies in their pen as the pen moved from place to place around the garden.

I wasn't wholly unhappy about the wrecked grass. You see, our back garden was an untame-able scramble of weeds, overgrown shrubs and even more overgrown hedge. The hedge was a disaster, about 20 metres long, 15 feet high*, needing to be cut 3-4 times a year and full of brambles and other unmentionables. Yes, that's right, was. Past tense.

While the puppies were in residence I called in a few fine folk to quote for the job of transforming the abomination into an orderly space I would actually like to spend time in. The hedge had to go. Because it was way too big for us to cut, it cost £150 each trim - yikes! And could I get anyone to hack it to a manageable height & width? Of course not, then it might need a £150 haircut only twice a year. The grass also had to go. Apart from the number the puppies did on it, it wasn't great grass anyway, more like couch grass. Just what I didn't need, more weeds.

As soon as the puppies left home, Jay & got to work. I'm not sure the photo illustrates the full
horror of the situation. The hedge was so much a bigger job than I could ever have imagined. "Oh, I can get rid of the green on top of the hump," I said confidently when faced with an astronomical quote for the whole shooting match.

Two saws, an axe and many blisters later the hedge top was, at last, no more. It has to be said that the final couple of metres were actually burned away when Tony & John moved in to do their thing because I couldn't get past the brambles. Horrid things. The brambles, that is, not the builders. The builders are wonderful.

So, the builders moved in and spent several days disposing of the rest of the green part of the hedge. For the hump and the remains of the grass, the toys came out. Who knew diggers came in my 2 favorite colours?

For the few days this sat on my drive I was hoping the bloke had left the key behind because I quite fancied having a go at driving. Sadly, the day they fired up that baby we were away visiting Jay's folks in Surrey so I missed all the fun. At last the digger did its thing and then was carried off to its next job. I wonder what all the neighbourhood cats fight over at night now that it's gone? If you're wondering who won the contest for digger ownership, it was Gink, who saw off 2 tabbies, a ginger and several black cats to claim his prize.

Pretty dramatic difference, huh?

And so, once the destruction was complete, the construction could begin.

So by Friday most of the work will be completed. Then I have a week to catch up a bit before the builders return to finish up the finer details. That's gonna be a lot of fence to paint...

And the next post will be the puppy update - promise! In the meantime, in case you dropped by to see puppies, not diggers, fences and concrete slabs, here is Maija tucking into her frozen carrot.

*Yes, I'm aware of mixing my measurement systems. What can I say? I was born in pre-metric Canada. survived Canadian metricization and now live in half-in-half Britain where you can get your milk by the litre or pint, order mince at the butcher in either grams, ounces, pounds (or even in handfuls, to be fair) and when you describe to the county council your plans for a fence they hold up the whole thing indefinitely because the height was given in feet, not metres. Yet everything to do with motors is still in imperial measurement. Miles away, miles per hour. Except fuel, which is sold by the litre. See what I mean?

Friday, 17 October 2008

grown-up puppy update

It's amazing how the puppies' personalities develop after they leave the nest and go off into the world. When they're 4 and 6 weeks old, you can take a guess at who will be quiet and laidback and who will be a little more, um, challenging and, er, enthusiastic. But you never really know how it will go once they get their paws under the table in their new home and are no longer under the influence of their siblings and mum.

Three examples of this phenomena from last year's litter:

Koda who was a quiet little mouse in the litter but developed into a very confident and ever-so-slightly boisterous teenager. All Liz's hard work and training paid off, though, and at the age of one-and-a-half, he is now a model citizen.

Keksi was the big girl of the last litter and ruled the whelping box with a paw of steel. No one got anything over on her and I warned Daniel that she was going to be a handful and that he would have to be firm with her. Well, she turned out to be a little angel with delightful manners and caused no trouble at all. It helped, no doubt, that Ismo was happy to have a new little sister move in and start to boss him around. These days she looks like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

Finally, Karhu, about whom I gave the same dire warning to Wendy & Scott. He, too, was one of the more dominant puppies of that litter and had a habit of stamping his rather large paws until he got his own way. But once he had the undivided attention of his new family (not to mention some great training & lots of walks) he, too, is a sweet, mannerly gent. These days he troubles only the plantlife in his park.

On the other hand, Taika, Taito and Tuuri (re-named Torvi by his family) were all gentle sweetie-pies right from the beginning and they kept those lovely characters even through their teenage stages. Here they are at around 12 months old.




As for Seppo (re-named 'Diesel' by his family), although I did take photos of him when I visited a few months ago, I now cannot find them anywhere. So frustrating but becoming increasingly normal in these chaotic days of mine. Guess I'll just have to go back and visit again!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Maija & friends

It's been a busy few weeks since all Maija's siblings left home. With the puppies in residence, we tended to put off all the other urgent business of life. And now it's flooding back demanding to be taken care of with no further delay. Most days I don't know if I'm coming or going. Not much change there, then, you might say. There's the garden re-design which has been zooming ahead (on which, more later). On top of all that, there's the business waiting for me to catch up (2 hours a day isn't getting me very far) and, of course, we too have a new puppy needing to be trained and generally fussed 23.9 hours a day.

Maija has started to attend puppy socialisation where she is the smallest and most clever (obviously). Mind you, the tiny Jack Russell probably won't grow very much more and Maija is likely to be bigger than he is by the next class. She's had her injections but has been out and about on her lead since 8 weeks. In my book, I'd rather take the chance on nasty rare diseases than miss out on valuable socialisation weeks. As a result, she's quite brave and not much bothers her. At the moment we're working on after-dark walks as I suddenly discovered that she's a bit nervous of meeting other dogs when she can't see clearly. So each night & morning before daylight we're out going up and down the park with my pocketful of liver sizzlers.

Great treats, these. The dogs love them, they make a nice attention-getting snap as you break them & they're very clean in your pocket. They're also very useful when I'm out in the park with Maija off her lead as even her most nosey of noseying is interrupted when I call an enthusiastic "Come!" to the tune of the sizzler snap.

We did have a weekend away last week to visit Jay's parents, and here is Keskiyo lounging resplendently in his favorite fragrant evergreen.

While in the neighbourhood, we invited ourselves around to visit Liz and her pack while Paula & Adam were also there with Inko. The weather was truly unbelievably good for mid-October and we sat out on the terrace in the late afternoon sun which left Jay & I both glowing the next day. Maija and Inko had a fantastic time playing in Liz's spacious garden and by the time we finally left, the formerly bright white paws were all the sludgy shade of Surrey mud.

Here is one photo I tried to take of them playing followed by a short video. Check out the artistic, slanting sun rays. Ok, ok, I know that it's just poor photography really. For the best photo of the day, go see Adam's result on Inko's blog.

Pups gone bonkers:

In addition to travelling the length and breadth of the south of England, Maija has also been quite busy at home and work with me. She's a little sweetie, happy just to amuse herself so long as she gets plenty of attention from Jay & me, but particularly her canine family. Here she is playing with Keskiyo. At last I managed to capture them in action to get a picture that is more than simply a blur of fur and teeth.

And, finally, a couple of shots of Maija indulging in her new favorite pastime - chewing.

Under the stairs in Annie's den, hiding her bone from Keskiyo:

Finding all the sticks in Surrey:

Over the next few days I'll try to post an update on some of the other puppies with new photos. Also, for those of you who are partial to building sites, there'll be some news on the state of my garden.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Tarkka at home

My evil plan worked and I successfully managed to guilt Jo into sending me a photo of Tarkka. Heh. Thanks Jo!

Here is the handsome boy munching on a plant pot.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Maija at home / Tarkka at home

Quick update on Maija. We had intended to do a family portrait to tie in with the photos of all the other puppies leaving home. Did we manage to find the time/energy/photographer for the task? Well, no. But we are ever hopeful and might accomplish something before she grows completely out of her puppyhood.

In the meantime, here are a few shots of Maija as new top dog of our house. First, here she is cuddled up with Lenny, enjoying her last few remaining days of being allowed on the sofa.

And, having a game with mum Neka. Neka has always been the master of games, gentle and patient with all manner of puppies, tireless with her friends. I'm hoping she passes on her games skills to Maija. Keskiyo also loves to play with Maija, but his idea of a game is a bit more steal-the-toy-and-run-like-hell. Except when he's rolling around on his back with Maija on his chest. Very sweet and apparently impossible to capture on film.


Displaying her famous super pouncing skills:

If you look closely you just might be able to see the state of Neka's raggedy coat as she's now in full-on post-whelping moult which will, in 2 or 3 weeks, result in her skin gleaming pinkly through the last dusting of remaining hair. If you can't make out the clumps of fur hanging off her flanks, then you can certainly see the effect on my carpet! It's a 4-times-a-day vacuum time now. Do I vacuum 4 times a day? Of course not. In my house, the carpet is lucky to see the sucking end of the vacuum once a day. Hence the grey, furry carpet.

On Wednesday Maija and I went visiting in Plymouth to see Jo and Tarkka. Jo seems to be saving all her puppy photos for the SFLS calendar and Tarkka's own blog, so in order to see how he is developing you'll need to go see him there. In the meantime, here is a very short video of the remaining Devon Two gallivanting in Tarkka's garden. How alike they still are! You can spot Tarkka because he's the one with a little bling hanging from his collar - his fabulous new bone-shaped id tag. You can spot Maija because she's the one scampering and pouncing like a maniac. Nothing new there then.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Inko at home

If you haven't been keeping up with Inko's antics on her blog, here is a chance to see how she's growing up. I thought that we were keeping the naughty pup, but although Maija certainly has us on our toes, I think perhaps Inko gets the award for Puppy Most Like Her Naughty Mum.

Here she is with her reindeer:

And doing a bit of creative gardening that Lapphunds are so good at: