Thursday, 22 December 2011

and... repeat

On a number of occasions I have commented on what an amazing mother Keksi was to her puppies last year. We were all so proud of how well she did - the actual whelping, the nursing, the cleaning, the general care, the calm demeanor. The girl definitely done good. Not to mention the fact that the puppies turned out to be a pretty sweet natured & gorgeous bunch, as well.

So when I casually broached the subject with Daniel & Jim that they might be willing to allow Keksi to have one more go, they were as enthusiastic as I. Can't say how grateful I am to them for their continuing support & help - not to mention the loan of their sweet girl and the breaking up of their canine family for weeks on end. Oh, yes, and having to endure bitches in season combined with a certain teenage male dog...

And so the crucial moment came around again and this time our rendezvous was with a local boy who lives conveniently just a few hours up the M5 from me. But travelling for mating purposes is never that simple for me, somehow, as you will be aware from my past exploits as reported on this blog. On this occasion I wasn't plagued by strikes like last time, and we weren't under threat of the worst snow storms in absolutely years like I was with Taika's mating trip. However, as I drove north to meet with Jim & collect Keksi, it did indeed start to snow, and it got heavier & heavier. I had visions of a repeat of the awful weather we endured getting to and from France wtih Taika, but luckily the busy little flurry ended and the accumulated snow started to melt pretty much immediately as I waited in the car park of the Air Balloon pub for Jim & Keksi.


Whilst on the subject, I recommend this pub. It's pleasingly picturesque inside & out, it has a very friendly & welcoming landlord, and it's conveniently situated a few minutes off the M5, just south of Cheltenham, more or less on the edge of the Cotswolds. And although we didn't stop to eat, the menu looked very nice too.

So off Keksi & I went to deepest Shropshire to visit Liz, Ian & Usko in between visits to Glenchess & Elaine & Steve Short's delectable Ilolas.

Looking very pleased with himself. And quite right, too.

Having a scamper around.

As a puppy himself, taken in April 2011.

I have been in love with Ilo since first laying eyes on him as a young puppy. Not only is he a beautiful dog with a wonderful coat, color, head & expression, but he has one of those fabulous sweet natures that I so admire.

And no wonder, considering who his parents are. His father is the top winning Danish dog Multi Champion Lapinlumon Elämänilo. His mother is another little Lappy I have liked since first seeing her in Helsinki when Elaine was collecting her. Her name is Terhakan Uunu Leenu, and she's still a little beauty.

Keksi mainly enjoyed her daily trips to Wyre Forest, rain or shine.

Not to mention being the centre of attention with no competition for cuddles.

And so now we wait. We hope.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

another Bo show

Not so long ago, Bo and Sisu attended their very first dog show. And they were both quite naughty, as you might expect from puppies at their very first show.

Then Bo attended a few ringcraft sessions with Alan's dad, John, and that made all the difference. By the time of her second show, she wasn't exactly perfect, as such, nor was she standing rock-solid for the judge. However, the contrast was remarkable. I must say that I'm pretty impressed with John for venturing into the sometimes mystifying world of ringcraft, not to mention his coolness under the pressure of his very first show too. A top performance by both of them.

The show in question was the Working and Pastoral Breeds of Scotland show a couple of weeks ago where Karhu was Reserve Best Dog and Bo was Reserve Best Bitch and Best Puppy, in an unfortunately small entry. Here's is Bo & her new pro handler in action.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

another day ...

... another beach

Not that I'm obsessed or anything.

On Sunday a bunch us within reasonable(ish) distance of Weston-Super-Mare met up for a beach walk. Apparently (but unbeknownst to me until I got home & started sorting photos) I have a bit of a thing for this location at this time of the year, as we did the very same thing last year in November.

My but it was a lot colder then than now! My blog last November is full of frost but we haven't had the least twinkle yet this year. In fact, my brand new winter tires almost melted in Weston on the weekend in the 17 degree weather. We even sat jacketless outside the pub after the walk. Remarkable.

There were a few regulars missing, but it's a busy time of year. We still managed to have 6 or 8 car loads of people & dogs. Many thanks to Mark Treasure for getting some photos (they are the ones which are not iPhone quality).

Looks like Maija has had a mouthful of saltwater. Or just didn't want her photo taken perhaps.

Maija (right) doing her gargoyle impression with her sister Kaija.

You can see what a great day & place it was for a walk, even though we kept having to wrangle the dogs up because of cars on the beach. What's with that, anyway?

Taito & Buddy in background begging for sweets. Maija's brother Rauhan in foreground.

Taito, who (unusually) had no siblings present, on a mission.

Usko taking a break before heading for the hills - or, in this case, the sand dunes - looking for adventure & ending up back on his lead.

Usko's sister Kesa on her own adventure.

There were no family group photos this year but a few group play shots. Although the dogs spend most of their time running together & bundling up in furry balls of game, it's hard to get a useful photo of these activities. Here are a couple.

Not sure who this gang is, but Maija on right. The other 2 probably Buddy (left) & Kaija (middle).

Buddy (left) and an unidentified (but very familiar) someone (right). Perhaps Kaija looking very much like her mum but with better tail!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Way-hey, whaddeya know - I won a competition. I won a very stylish and cool Duck and Cover Kirkham jacket. To be precise, this stylish & cool jacket. Okay, so it will neither suit nor fit me, but I know a certain someone in need of a stylish jacket who it will both fit & suit... I dare say... We'll make it work.

Yes, you're not wrong - this is indeed a dog blog. So why am I announcing my big win? Well, for one thing it's worth shouting about if only because I don't think I have ever once in my life won something by chance. Truly. The other reason is actually dog-related. No, really. You see, that jacket was being given away by my super-stylish friend and fashion blogger Wendy at thankfifi. And her blog guest stars none other than Karhu, aka Mr K. After all, what's a fashion blog without a fashionably adorable dog?

Considering I've never won a first-out-of-the-hat type competition before, do you suppose my win wasn't absolutely entirely left to chance? For, you see, Karhu actually chose the winning entry. And after umm-ing and ahh-ing a bit, he chose my entry - what a clever dog! Don't miss the cute video of him choosing the winning bone.

Monday, 31 October 2011


I never yet met a dog who didn't like going to the beach. For our bunch, it's their favorite place to be, and that's something I have in common with them. It's natural for me, perhaps, as I grew up on an island. Granted, where I grew up it was more breakers crashing onto rocks than waves gently lapping golden sand. However, for me there's something about the quality of air at the coast that just can't be bettered by any mountain, plain, desert or wooded valley. When I'm on the beach, I can think more clearly and I can just breathe better.

A month ago we visited this beach in Fuerteventura. Here it is at dawn. Sigh! I loved the golden light, the pale sky in shades of lavender & blue and the 25º C temperature at 7 am.

A couple of days before that, and at 12 or 14º cooler much more to the dogs' taste, we went to this place - the dog end of Exmouth beach, right here at home in Devon. What you can't tell from the photo is just how windy and chill the weather was, nor how ferocious the surf. But a quite fabulous beach in any weather. The looming red cliffs at this end are spectacular and it makes the whole experience very relaxing as there is no danger whatsoever of the dogs running up onto the road.

Maija having a dig in the sand.

Yesterday we went back again on a very different sort of day, weather-wise. It was unseasonably warm but grey with low mist hanging over the cliffs. Unfortunately none of the photos I took with my phone really worked, but I did get a couple of videos of the dogs having fun.

Maija is always speedy, but Neka gains a few kph and loses a few years at every visit to the beach. There's little I love more than seeing them run flat out across the sand.

Meanwhile, Keskiyo likes to paddle in the waves (dragging me with him) and to hunt down treasures like driftwood, shells and - the greatest prize of all - great flaps of seaweed.

Edit: I had a video of Keskiyo playing with said flap of seaweed, but I could not seem to kill the sound on it and I was way too noisy! In fact, I had no idea my phone recorded audio on the videos. Note to self - shut up when filming.

So what could be better than the beach? I think the only thing that generates as much excitement and joy - in fact, more - is snow. Snow is truly the pinnacle of wonderfulness. For the dogs, that is.

All the long-range forecasts say that they will be in luck this year. SIGH.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

finnish lapphund calendar 2012

The winning photos to feature in next year's SFLS Lappy calendar have been announced and you can see all the photos as well as order your copy here. The front cover of the calendar will feature none other than our sweet Marja, as her photo, taken by me when she was barely 4 weeks old, won the most votes overall.

We were thrilled to win the coveted cover spot! Especially as the calendar gets so many wonderful photos from all over the world entered for the public to vote on. So all the hard work trying to get that photo was worth it in the end.

Last xmas we put up a tree and I kept it there long past it's best-before date until well into the new year. In fact, it only left the premises just in the nick of time to make the last local tree recycling day. While it's true that I love having a fragrant evergreen in the house, my motives for waiting so long were a little more specific. I was determined to get some cute xmas puppy photos. I took hundreds. No really, hundreds. And of the hundreds, approximately two were calendar worthy. Who am I kidding - there was no 'approximately' about it - the calendar worthy numbered actually two. Both photos were of Marja (who was Marilyn in those days) contemplating the tree at close proximity. Here are the 2, with the calendar version top:

You might think that Marja was the only puppy I even attempted to photograph with or near the tree. But no, everyone had a go. One or two puppies could not be trusted to stay securely on the stool without trying to leap off, so there are very few photos of, for instance, Buddy. Or Sisu.

However, here are a few outtakes for your amusement.

There were set problems with poorly chosen background colours.

Sisu & Tippi (both still for once!)

Problems with lighting all round - what's atmospheric about a decorated and twinkly-lighted tree in broad daylight? Yet, the vast majority of photos are as well-lit as an operating theatre. Oops.


Then there was the issue of getting the puppies to pose. Or just behave. Or even keep still for 2 seconds.

Bo, Marja, Kuura

Ukko, Tippi, Kuura

Buddy, Marja, Kuura

You can see I was going for a multi-coloured selection for most shots.

Is it time to start planning a photo or two to submit for the 2013 calendar? No? Phew!

Friday, 23 September 2011


If there's one thing that puppies often struggle with when they're learning show craft, it's letting the judge look at their teeth. Judges examine every part of a dog - including teeth, legs, tails & even boy-bits. So puppies have to be trained & trained & trained to stand quietly and let the judge do so. But it's never that easy.

For one thing, during all that training the puppies will be teething and have very sore mouths. Not a good time to be sticking one's fingers in there, really. Also, it is a big ask for a puppy to stand quietly while a stranger's hands descend onto it's face and fiddles about.

So it's often difficult, and so it has certainly been for the Persikka puppies. Remember Tippi not letting the judge look at her teeth a few weeks ago? Well, Kuura also wouldn't at the last show. Daniel has been putting the work in, though, and here he is proving that it can be done. Sometimes, anyway.

I particularly like Kuura's model stare to camera at the end.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

naughty show puppies

Egad, did I manage to publish a blog post without a photo last time? Huh, sorry about that. I'm sure you all tune in for my entertaining prose rather than photos of cute dogs, but still...

To make up for it, I have permission to publish a video that Alan recorded of Sisu & Bo at their very first outing at the Scottish Kennel Club show in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago. Bo is in front being handled by Wendy (of Wendy & Karhu fame) and Sisu is behind her being handled by Kristiina who I must say is looking very able at her own very first show.

From this video you get to see 2 very adorable & funny puppies who are just a bit distracted by all the excitement and just a little eager to get to each other for a game. You get to see just how difficult it can be to show a puppy. You can train & train & train and still this is what happens. Even for the veteran dog show folk, it can be a test. Just ask Wendy.

In this instance Sisu won Best Puppy, but the judge said that she also loved Bo and that she would have placed very well indeed in this competition if only she had allowed the judge to examine her... when you've seen how her siblings act for judges in the ring, it's easy to tell they're all related.

(A small word of warning: turn the volume down! Someone standing near Alan as he recorded the video was enjoying the sound of his or her own voice.)

So this erratic behaviour is something they will grow out of with time & practice. Or at least that's the theory, anyway. I'll get back to you on that.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

to qualify or not to qualify

At the Welsh Kennel Club show a couple of weeks ago, I took both Tippi and Kuura into the ring in an attempt to startle them into distraction by taking them away from their owners and perhaps get them to behave themselves for the judge. That way maybe - just maybe - they might qualify for Crufts 2012.

At their previous shows they were both equally wiggly and uninclined to allow the judge too close. And as for looking at their teeth? Forget it. By taking normally naughty dogs away from their normal handlers, you can often get them to behave well just through the sheer novelty as they are too busy wondering what's going on to play naughty games.

That's how it works in theory, anyway. In practice, it didn't exactly go like that for me at WKC. Tippi moved quite beautifully away from the judge. Alas, that was only because she was determined to leave the ring altogether and go find her brother Tarkka and the rest of the family. As you might imagine, that made returning to the judge just a tad trickier.

She was more or less ok about the judge going over her, though, and did manage to qualify for Crufts by placing 3rd in Puppy Bitch and 2nd in Junior Bitch.

Kuura's turn was somewhat different. He was more than happy to trot around the ring, and he was fine with the judge going over him - even the boy bits. He took exception to showing his teeth - the traditional stumbling block for so many puppies as they venture into the show ring. But the thing that got him disqualified altogether.... that's right, I said disqualified.... was the fact that he had a slight limp.

It was something I didn't notice before going into the ring and once in the ring I blamed his slightly rocky gait on the uneven ground under our feet, as it was quite rough. However, it was obvious to everyone watching that he was actually limping and, indeed, it was obvious to me once I took him out of the ring and saw his movement on flat ground.

The absolute crunch requirement for show dogs is that they are "sound" - i.e. healthy and not limping, dagnabbit, so that was that.

The reason for the limp? He had taken a joyous flying leap from a little height while playing in a garden the day before. This is the reason why breeders bleat on about no stairs, no jumping, no leaping until Lappies are 12 months old. They are heavy for their size and as puppies, before their joints and muscles are fully developed, they can easily hurt themselves. Stopping a Lappy leaping is another matter altogether, of course.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Even with no puppies in the house, we've had a busy summer. Perhaps I should specify that we've had no new puppies in the house. We've had a few to visit.

The latest visitors are Taika & Minna who have been here almost 2 weeks and are going back home in a couple of days. That means that we have 5 dogs in total in the house at the moment. And if you wondered how many dogs is too many, then I think my limit is 5. Or possibly 4, actually.

Don't get me wrong - I have really enjoyed being over-run with canines. And these particular 2 are extremely well behaved, so they don't actually cause much more chaos than our normal daily amount. However, once you factor into the equation the fact that Jay has been almost completely incapacitated with a back problem for the whole time, you can see that I've had my work more than cut out for me.

I'm pretty sure there's still one missing... on the way back to the car, and still no Neka...

Quite apart from the walks (during which at least 2 need to be kept on lead for some reason or other), at this time of the year there is the post-walk daily dog de-seeding. It's only a small exaggeration to say that we have as many seeds in our bin as are left in the woods. What we really need at this time of the year is a dog-friendly beach nearby. No seeds.

In July BF (before seeds) we had Buddy for a week and before that Kesa came to stay for a few days.

Kesa & Maija mid-game

An unlikely pair of bookends

In between, the puppies and relatives went to a few dog shows. Apparently every photo we took of Keksi with her offspring at the National Working & Pastoral show was out of focus. Huh.

L-R: Kuura, Keksi, Ukko, Tippi

Yes, those ears, I know. I think the subject of ears deserves its own blog post.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

devon nine turn 3

A very happy birthday to the Devon Nine, who are 3 years old today. Little did I know that quiet morning 3 years ago what a lot of hard work I had ahead of me keeping up with 9 little black puppies who all looked pretty much identical. They were the inspiration for this blog and they were pretty cute too!

Here's how they looked at 6 weeks:

L-R: Kaija, Tarkka, Jaska, Maija

L-R: Maija, Tarkka, Rauhan, Sybil, Inko

And at 5 weeks:

L-R Back: Rauhan, Inko
Front: Viivi, Tarkka, Sybil, Tarmo, Maija

Looking at these photos brings it all back - oh how it rained for the whole 8 weeks they lived here!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Buddy's visit

The one puppy from Keksi's litter that we hadn't seen since he left us was Buddy (Infindigo Persikka Sonni). A couple of weeks ago he came to visit for a few days and we had fun getting reacquainted with him. He seemed to have a pretty good time, too.

Being a good boy in the house

Running in the woods with granny Neka (left)

Doing a bit of fishing

I was hoping he would get to see his brother Ukko and possibly sister Marja while he was here, but the timing didn't work out that way. Here he is having a game with his uncle Taito instead, who for games is the next best thing to sibling puppies.

In our house, with so many dogs, the play has to be slightly more restrained. But there was plenty of it.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

puppies' first show

So Becca & I set off for the Three Counties show. It was a wonderfully warm, sunny day with a slightly blustery wind. Perfect dog show weather. Never mind that by the time we got into the ring, an enormous black cloud full of rain had swept down the Malvern hills on a ferocious wind and sent dogs, exhibitors and judges scurrying for cover in the sheds and tents with all their various stuff.

Now. Didn't I firmly vow to take the posh camera to this show and properly record Tippi & Ukko's first foray into the showring? Er, yes, I'm pretty sure I did just that very thing in my last post. Well, with no Jay on hand to mind the valuables, I thought it best to leave that particular camera at home. But surely I brought the other, good enough if not very great, camera along, right?

Er... um... enough with all the questions already! Dead battery, yadda yadda yadda. Best we concentrate on the positive. What it comes down to is that I have a few photos of Ukko that Becca took with her camera and a few truly dreadful ones that I took on my phone. Better than nothing? Hmmm, maybe.

Here they are waiting in their crates like a pair of very well behaved puppies before all the excitement of getting brushed and ready for their big debut.

"Don't I know you?"

First up was Ukko's class and I took him in because Becca was positively green with nerves. He did his trot round the ring exceptionally well and was very good indeed about letting the judge go over him. He was even happy to show her his teeth. As for standing, well he wasn't too sure about that, but by the end of the class he was really getting the hang of that too.

Anything for a slice of sausage

While I got Neka ready for the ring, it took surprisingly little persuasion for Becca to take Ukko into the puppy stakes class. He was so well behaved and did her proud on Becca's first ever time in the ring as well.

"Stand. No, not sit. Stand."

In the meantime, Susan was in the ring with Tippi while me and my terrible phone camera were standing further away than ever.

Tippi was a real pro at standing, and she also trotted beautifully around with Susan. Unfortunately she was determined to get at the treats without letting the judge anywhere near her. After the judging I took her around to a few strangers for some practicing and she let them go all over her with no problem at all. It's just a matter of getting her accustomed to the new situation and I'm sure she'll be fine.

Our judge was Mrs J P (Ginty) Gill-Davis and I must say she was so nice with the puppies. Judges tend to vary rather a lot in terms of their patience with - or, in some cases, even interest in - puppies. Mrs Gill-Davis was so patient with them, and very gentle to make their first experience a good one.

So we didn't take away any big prizes from this show, for obvious reasons. The puppies, as you can see, are so very immature - what is known in dog show parlance as "raw". They are skinny, leggy and with very little in the way of coat. However, we had a lovely day and the puppies had fun and games with lots of treats, so there can be little doubt that they considered themselves big winners.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

southern counties show

It was a strange show this year. Strange in the way that it felt so... relaxed, so calm, so relatively quiet. I wasn't the only one who noticed. I think the difference from previous years was down to the change we have had from Rare Breed status to Challenge Certificate qualification. Historically, Southern Counties was always one of those shows where we all dashed from breed ring to rare breed ring to stakes ring and back again. This year, the show layout was different (and better) and on top of that we no longer qualify for Rare Breed classes. So it was all very much less hectic than in the past.

Also different from past shows was the rain we managed to get caught in just after judging. But we can gloss over that bit, as it did remain more or less dry for our actual judging. What happens on the way to packing up the cars is apparently of little concern to the rain gods.

It was Keksi's first show back after her puppies. She doesn't have her full coat back just yet, but what she does have is rather plush. Here she is wondering if she will get the sausages any more quickly if she does maximum head twist & rotation. Funny girl.

Maija was also in attendance and we got her up on the grooming table together with her sister Inko and brothers Tarkka & Rauhan for a family portrait. They are almost never in the same place at the same time, so it was a fabulous opportunity. Unfortunately my rubbish, rubbish, rubbish old camera didn't manage to capture even one of the 3 dozen shots I thought I had taken. That will teach me to leave the posh camera at home. It's in the dog bag already in preparation for next weekend's show.

The grooming tables otherwise getting full use with Rauhan (top) and Tarkka (bottom), who is looking not overly impressed at having his tail area brushed.

For all this brushing, I must say that the Infindigo team looked rather lovely, especially considering how quickly the dogs all seem to be dropping their coats in the current spell of warm weather. Er, with the possible exception of young Usko who, at 15 months old, is at that age where he's in the throes of losing all the lovely coat he has been growing since puppyhood. All this is in preparation for his adult coat which should be coming in over the next few months.

Excellent teamwork from Ian & Usko!
Thanks to Mark Treasure for the pic.

Tarkka looking in splendid form.

And Inko who was the star of the day, winning the Postgrad Bitch class in tough competition. And I heard with my very own ears that Paula & Adam didn't even expect her to qualify for Crufts this year. Egad, they of little faith, whatever next!

In addition to Inko's 1st, Keksi had a 4th & a 5th, Tarkka & Rauhan a 3rd each, and Usko 2nd.

And so next weekend sees the Persikka puppies' show debut. Although Marja won't be there. And Sisu certainly won't be coming down from Scotland. Or Bo. Oh, and Daniel forgot to enter Kuura. However, if the gods see fit, then Becca & I will be there with Ukko and we're hoping to see Tippi and family too. I'm looking forward to a most entertaining day.