Friday, 28 June 2013

visits, walks, new faces & the occasional cowpat

On the way to Southern Counties a couple of weeks ago I popped in to visit Miia and family, since I was in that neck of the woods.  I had a great visit with Liz and Jack while Miia entertained her canine guests by showing them all her toys from her toy box, carrying them into the garden one by one.

Taito flirting with Miia & her reindeer (or, possibly, just deer)

Miia is a chip of the old maternal block when it comes to begging for a bit of fuss

Spot the family resemblance?
L-R: Taito, his mother Neka & his neice Miia
Photo: Jack Moore

At the show there was a newcomer visiting from Sweden, the handsome Lappizaros Glazyr, known as Ice.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity of introducing this wonderful character into my breeding plans next year, if everything goes to schedule.

Ice enjoying a bit of English sunshine & wondering what everyone is saying

After that trip was a shorter one up to Somerset for the annual walk in celebration of the first litter's birthday, hosted by the Wilson family and Taika.  Unfortunately, Mark and his fabulous camera were absent due to other commitments, so the only photos captured were mine, on my phone, after we had all got rather damp.  (You're not surprised to learn that it rained, are you?  No, thought not.)

Taika (begging for treats, just for a change) & Usko (interested in other things)

Minna with no ears (again, no change there) & Usko illustrating
the source of his distraction above

Kaija looking exactly like both her parents!

Jay wasn't able to come so I just took Tuuli and Maija with me.  When we got to the field we cross to get to the wood, they both got a little excited to discover that the farmer had recently applied rather fragrant fertilizer.  They both had a good old roll around but it was pretty dry and so did not stick to their magical Lappy coats.  No sooner had I uttered that smug observation than they stormed ahead to find a more appealing moist patch and so I had quite a stinky drive home.  

Both of them went straight into the bath on arrival, but there was still the faint whiff of cowpat about them for 2 or 3 days.

 Maija in the bath - the face says it all:
the bath was worth the cowpat!

 Tuuli in the bath

Tuuli drying herself off after her bath

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

race for life

On Sunday Neka and I ran the 5 km Race for Life for the Cancer Research UK charity.  You might think that we had spent weeks and weeks training for this event.  I certainly had intended to.  But with one thing and another (one thing being my back and another thing being my knee) we hadn't actually managed even one run in the 3 weeks leading up to the race.  And we certainly hadn't done more than 4.5 km for a very long time before that.  Well, not running, anyway.  Not even jogging.

 Outfit ready, including matching pink lead

We turned up on the day of the race at The Hoe, Plymouth, armed with optimism, hope for good weather and a picnic for afterwards.

I had originally intended to do the race at the Exeter venue, Westpoint, because it is much closer to home but they didn't welcome dogs.  Now, am I the crazy one?  In 2 months' time, Westpoint will host the largest dog show in the southwest - Paignton Championship Show.  Yet, dogs were not allowed at the Race for Life.  And I simply wasn't interested in running without my usual running buddy, Neka.

 Warmed up and ready for the off

Neka isn't the only dog I've gone running with.  Keskiyo has also had a turn from time to time.  He's not quite as enthusiastic as Neka (i.e. he's lazier) so I expend a bit too much energy coaxing him along sometimes.  In addition, he also has an irrepressible need to pick up any item of potential interest he passes in the gutter - empty sandwich bags, discarded chips, plastic bottle tops.   It's an infuriating endearing habit, but potentially life-threatening for me - or at least neck-threatening - as he veers off to one side, taking absolutely no notice whatsoever if he happens to trip me up in the process.

So, mainly, I go running with Neka.  Who only threatens my neck in the event of a cat daring to come within her field of vision.  Or a discarded chip.  Or another dog she simply must say hello to. 

The weather didn't have the most auspicious of starts, which was a worry partly because I'm unashamedly (or perhaps there is a tiny bit of shame there) a fair-weather runner.  But of even greater concern on this occasion was that we had planned to meet up with friends after the race for a picnic and I certainly didn't want the weather to interfere with my opportunity to pig out  re-fuel after the race.  

Rain, rain, go away!

 In the end, we got lucky with the weather and there was just a little moisture during the race itself and actual sunshine after the event.  So Neka and I didn't get soaked during the run and our friends didn't bail and actually stuck around to cheer us on.

 The atmosphere at The Hoe was quite incredible.  When my dad asked me on the phone the night before how many runners there would be, I said I thought maybe a couple of hundred.  Well, yep, a couple of hundred alright - plus the other 4000.  And all their supporters.

 The Plymouth "Eye" - only a little smaller than it's cousin in London

 Fabulous atmosphere and all the runners in pink.

 Neka (right) all smiles before the race with one of her gorgeous son's, Tarkka
Luckily Jay was there too for photographic and cheering services.  
And dog wrangling.

Ready! With Neka (R) and Tuuli (L) who came for the day out
and to bark at everyone and everything.

 A sea of pink!

And then, we were off!  The 4000+ participants were invited to separate into "runners", who got to go first, "joggers", who followed on after them, and finally "walkers".  I joined the "joggers" group but quickly regretted not sticking onto the back of the runners because there were already log jams and I spent most of the first 5 minutes or so walking and trying to shoulder my way past some other people even slower than I.  Which "shouldering" I did in the most polite manner, of course.

We're in there somewhere
Photo:  Jo Ross

 The organisation of the event was really very well done.  The route was picturesque along the seafront and through pretty cobbled streets.  There were enthusiastic "official" cheer-ers dotted along the route and even some wonderful entertainment.  I remember seeing a choir of women singing their hearts out and an outstanding troupe of drummers who were well placed so that we all got to pass them twice.  In addition to the officials, the whole route was lined with supporters shouting and clapping us all past.  The atmosphere was positive, enthusastic, energetic and actually really touching, especially when you read each runner's story pinned to their backs.  

I ran most of the way behind another girl with a husky until said husky paused to answer the call of nature.  Luckily I had enough poo bags with me for Neka and every other dog on the route.  Neka, lady that she is, refrained from disgracing me in that manner, however.  

As I neared the end of the race I was even more glad that the rain had stayed away because it meant that I saw no less than 3 separate groups of friends cheering me to the end.  Jo was there with Tarkka, Emma, Adrian and the girls were there with Rauhan & Sukka, and Kelly and Billy were there with the Collies Kye and Maddie. 

I even managed a little sprint to the finish line to make it exactly 43 minutes according to the race clock.  However, that doesn't mean much because I guess the clock started as the very first "runner" group left the starting line and I was quite a way back in the throng behind them.  My own gprs said I did it in 41 minutes, but again it also said I only did 4.5 km, so I'm not sure when exactly I set it going.  Suffice it to say we did the entire route, there was some walking involved, but we did our best. 

Of course there were photos of us nearing the end, but this is all you're going to get.

500 m to the finish line - we made it!

What, you thought I was going to publish the whole photo?  Surely you didn't really think that?  Allow me to paint a picture in words instead:  there was redness of face illustrating my honest exertion, there was gasping for breath as I had just made it up the final hill, there was sweating (see previous detail), and there was no makeup.  But there was also a big grin and a thumbs up.

After the race there were some canine cuddles and a picnic in the sun.

Neka (middle) with the adorable brothers Tarkka (L) & Rauhan (R)

He got me
Photo: Jo Ross

The fabulous lead cover made for me by Jo.  It reads:
Best of Luck at Race for Life Go Jen and Neka

Tuuli & Tarkka falling in love during the picnic

Two tired girls at the end of the day
The 3rd tired girl was probably already in bed by that time.

And thanks to the truly touching and incredible generosity of our friends and relatives, Neka and I raised £360 for charity.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Southern Counties show 2013

A couple of weeks ago I set off up the M5 with Neka to collect Taito and head for Newbury and my favorite show of the year, Southern Counties.  As always, we had a Finnish judge, Reino Korpela, and it's always interesting to see what a Finnish judge will think of our dogs.  For that reason, we always get a good turnout and therefore a chance to see some friends we see rarely.

Kimmi, the sire of Neka's first litter, was there and won the big veteran class in which Neka placed Reserve.  Kiittaa was 1st and Emmi 3rd in Junior Bitch and I was delighted with Taito's performance, which can be, shall we say, somewhat inconsistent - have a look at Emma's face following his turn at Crufts, for example.   But on this occasion my practicing with him the evening before paid off and Taito behaved quite well.  Not perfectly, but I wasn't complaining with his 2nd place in Open Dog. 

Neka looking not like her usual sparky self - photo by Mark Treasure

Kiittaa giving Lexi all her attention - photo by Mark Treasure

Emmi giving all her attention & a big smile to her dad, the photographer
photo by Mark Treasure

Taito being a very good boy - photo by Mark Treasure

Unfortunately, Kuura was absent from the show because he was, shall we say, gastrointestinally challenged that day.  And he has a very fluffy bottom.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Emmi visit

Last week Emmi came to stay.  Some day when (if...) she's a big, grownup girl, she will be coming back to have some puppies here with us, we hope, and so in the meantime we want her to feel as much at home in our house as she does at her own.  Like Keksi does and Taika does.  And Minna.  And one or two others who have come to stay for one reason or another.

This was a convenient week for Jane & Mark, so we have had the temporary pleasure of adding a new colour to our pack of black dogs. 

There was much playing.  Much.  With Tuuli, with Maija, with Neka, with 2 or all 3 of them at a time.  There was no playing with Keskiyo, though - he reserves all his playtime for Tuuli alone.  Emmi is a sweetie pie and loves nothing more than being at the bottom of a heap of Lappies.  At the moment it's hard to believe that she will ever be mature enough to be a mum.  But if Neka could grow up, then Emmi will too... eventually. 

There have also been many dog walks.  Having 5 dogs is just wonderful er, too many for an easy life, really.  It's fun, but it's also a bit complicated without the facilities to simply open the back door and let them run.  Not to mention a dog room in which the 5 can return to and dry off before setting upon the rest of the house.  But we're well used to mud here, so a little more dirt and grime is really neither here nor there.  Or, rather it is all here and there. 

Mainly Emmi did her walking with Tuuli.  It's easier to concentrate on the 2 younger members of the household alone without the distraction of any others.  On the nicer days, there was playing in the field.

 Pause in the game


Run faster!

And on the not-so-nice days there were long road walks for the pair.  Road walking is not as much fun for anyone as racing and leaping around completely out of control in the long grass.  However, it is extremely useful and good exercise - especially around here where there are hills galore to charge up and down.  Or drag up and charge down (the dogs dragging me, not me dragging the dogs, you understand).  This kind of activity is excellent for the showdog who needs firm, tight muscles as well as for the dog who needs to be fit enough to squeeze out a half dozen or so puppies in the near future.  It's also rather good for the human who might just very occasionally struggle with those hills when out running. Ahem.

So there were a couple of 6-7 km road walks involving the many and varied hills around us.

It was also a good opportunity for reinforcing some lead walking manners and some road manners.  Like passing other dogs without freaking out barking and leaping around in excitement.  And like sitting nicely for treats while other dogs pass by.  And like sitting and waiting at curbs before crossing roads.

Very good & patient girls

Even on road walks there is still time to pause for a cute photo opportunity.  Tuuli is accustomed to sitting on this tree-stump-seat by herself, so she did rather hog the space and Emmi had to try and squeeze in.

Oi, move over

That's better

Then it's back home for a nice snooze to recharge the batteries.

Before you know it, it's playtime again.  And it frequently involves someone being on the chair.

It's a shame that it's so notoriously difficult to photograph playing dogs.  There is so much movement, and the movement is often so fast, that you can struggle with angles, lighting and focus even with a good camera.  Using just a phone camera, the results are not great, but I'm still pleased to have captured the moments.  3- and 4-way games of tug are particularly tricky with a phone camera, but I had to share the last pic anyway as it was SUCH a good game.

And then the time came for Emmi to return home.  She was delighted to see Jane & Mark and most especially Miika (have I mentioned the fact that Lappies can be quite insulting at times?)  I was lucky to get this photo, slightly out-of-focus as it is, considering most of the pictures I took turned out more or less like the bottom one.

In the meantime, Tuuli waited patiently, gazing out the window, for her friend to come back.