Monday, 28 September 2015

goodbye to Neka

Elbereth Onnekas for Infindigo ShCM
25 March 2004 – 28 September 2015

Neka at 2 Years - Photo by Farlap
At 10 Years
I don’t know how to even begin to say goodbye to Neka.  Words are usually my thing, but for this there are none.  They are too dry, too small, utterly inadequate.  I always say that having to let them go is the price we pay for the years of joy our pets give us.  It is a heavy price, but they give us so much.  It is right and fitting that the sorrow of losing them should be profound, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Neka was my first dog and my heart dog.  She was cheeky, full of fun, so clever and with a great sense of humour.  She went everywhere with me that she possibly could, and I will miss her so much that I don’t know how to face losing her.

As a youngster she was naughty, full of energy and mischief and specialised in escaping out the front door at every opportunity.  Early one morning we had to extract her from the kitchen of neighbours who inadvertently left their door open and had an unexpected visitor join them for breakfast.  On several occasions I caught up with her because she was busy bouncing in circles around the neighbourhood fearless, unperturbed cat.  She was nosey and more than a little stubborn, and she made us laugh every day.
Neka 9 weeks
Neka's First Winter
As a showdog she was always talented, enthusiastic and frequently comical in her performance.  She helped to put Finnish Lapphunds on the map in south west England, doing an enormous amount of winning in Any Variety Not Separately Classified classes when there were few or no breed classes at open shows.  In fact, on 2 April 2006 she became the first Finnish Lapphund in the UK to win the Show Certificate of Merit.  Everyone always knew when Neka was strutting her stuff in the ring because she shouted all about it at every opportunity.  She qualified for Crufts every one of her 11 years and attended most of those she qualified for, her top Crufts win being the best Veteran Bitch in 2013.   

She gave us 16 beautiful puppies in two litters, one of which was a litter of 9 – the largest litter of Lapphund puppies born in the UK to date.  She was a gentle, patient and attentive mother and went on to be a doting granny and great-granny to every litter of puppies we had since.  She was always ready to step in and help out with cleaning up or with keeping the youngsters happy and entertained.  Our puppies have all been immeasurably lucky to have had her in their lives, and they give their families so much pleasure due in large part to her influence. 
Playing with the Puppies - age 11
In middle age, Neka suffered a lengthy bout of pancreatitis.  She almost didn’t survive it, and it took a full 18 months for her to recover.  Nevertheless, she eventually bounced back and went on to take up running with me, a sport she enjoyed until after her 10th birthday when arthritis in one paw started to slow her down.  Her brush with illness did age her, however, and by the time of her 11th birthday, she was older than her years.  In recent months she was declining noticeably, slowing down and becoming rather blind and quite deaf.

While I was in Canada visiting my family, a mild stomach bug triggered another attack of pancreatitis.  Neka fought it the whole time I was away, but the day I returned she worsened considerably.  With suspected tumours, in pain and too weak to stand, she had no fight left.  Our wonderful vets treated her symptoms aggressively with intravenous fluid, heavy pain medication and antibiotics, but she didn't respond and they were unable to get her very high temperature under control.  

I was so grateful that I got back in time to say goodbye and be with her at the end.  I was just sorry I didn't get the opportunity to take her to the beach one last time - her favorite place.  On the 6th anniversary of the death of Anniebear, Neka was given sleep.  I hope Annie was there with her too.

We picked up 8-week-old Neka the day after we moved into this house, so we have never known a time here without her.  It is too quiet now.  Empty.  The other dogs are subdued and don’t even bark when we arrive home without the watchdog of their pack here to raise the alarm.  And they don't even know when mealtimes are anymore because that was her job too.

But Neka will live on in her wonderful puppies, her grand-puppies and through all the generations to follow.  And she will be forever young and full of life in my heart. Run free, my Moo, until I catch up with you.  I hope there are beaches and snow where you are.
Age 6 Years
Age 10 Years Still Loving the Beach

Friday, 4 September 2015

8 weeks old

In case you ever wondered what it looks like when puppies are ready for their new homes, it looks something like this.  Mayhem reigns in the outdoor pen.  It's a bit trashed, there are a couple too many squished-in poos, there is shredded cardboard everywhere, the toys and vet beds are all a bit worn around the edges, and in the case of these particular puppies, the water bowl is up on bricks like an old jalopy.  I'm warning the new owners now, you literally cannot keep water in the water bowls

Many of my puppies have been water babies to one extent or another.  I've usually had at least one who would sleep snuggled up to the bowl, or with head or other body part dipped in.  Occasionally there would be a water digger.  In fact, at least two of Tuuli's last puppies are water diggers to this day.  I have assured their owners that they will grow out of it ... eventually ... we hope.

These puppies were a tad late to the water party.  I was pleased and, frankly, surprised.  You have seen their sire, Salo, right?  No?  Well, check out the videos at the very bottom of his page.  Yes, that is the father of these puppies lying in the waterfall and swimming with the goldfish in the ornamental pond. 

In the end, genetics kicked in and the puppies did discover the water bowls, and, lo, they did create a mess.  Over and over again.  It's mainly Jaakoppi and Ulla, though, so perhaps the owners of the others will be off the hook.  We will see.

Anyway, jacking the water bowl up on bricks did work briefly, but Ulla eventually delighted in finding a way to climb up there and still get her front feet in, occasionally tipping the bowl entirely over.  But often it's too much trouble, apparently, so it usually remains more or less intact. 

The indoor bowl is another matter entirely.

Tomorrow the first puppies fly the nest (or the damp pen).