en lektion i lera / a lesson in mud

life in general
1 Comment

Idag har Orion och jag promenerat med Maria och hennes fina BC-flickor! Vi fick en jättehärlig långtur längs väg, över åkrar, på stigar, kalhyggen, helt “offroad” och vid en fin sjö. Tjusiga rådjur såg vi, och ett rovfågelpar som hade ett bo längst uppe i en tall. Givetvis hann vi med fikapaus också, nästan det viktigaste! ;) Orion tyckte att May, Pi, Lyn och Rhea var supercoola, men han skötte sig bra och lyssnade på hundspråket. Jag är så glad för de tillfällen då han får komma ut och träffa andra hundar på egen tass, annars blir det gärna att han tar rygg på sina “syskon” istället för att fundera själv hur en ska och inte ska göra.

Hemma hos Maria så passade jag på att gosa lite med hennes fina får och klappa de ljuvliga lammen. Svårt att inte drömma om en egen fårflock… :) Tack för en superhärlig dag, Maria & Co!

Today, Orion and I went for a lovely, long walk with our friend Maria and her darling Border Collie girls. Orion thought that May, Pi, Lyn, and Rhea were sooo cool, but he was well behaved and paid close attention to the nuances of doggy language. I’m so grateful for opportunities to let him meet new dogs on his own; if his “siblings” come along he’s more likely to copy whatever they do rather than do some thinking of his own. :)

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Finn ett fel! ;) / Spot the intruder! ;)

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En lerig hund är en lycklig hund! / A muddy dog is a happy dog!

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May & Lyn

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Rhea

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Pi

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Badbrudar. ♥ / Beach girls. ♥

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Orion: “Alltså… Jag fattar inte. Va e grejen med det blöta?”
Orion: “I don’t get it? What’s the deal with the wet stuff?”

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Lerig. Lycklig! :) / Muddy. Happy! :)

7 månader gammal / 7 months old

dogs
2 Comments

Idag fyller en viss liten rödtott 7 månader! Underbara unge, jag är så nöjd med honom. Orion är fortfarande väldigt mycket valp och ganska sen i mognaden – han har precis börjat prova på att lyfta på benet. Spökåldern har inträtt och jag har fullt upp med att hålla mig för skratt när han går på tårna och är misstänksam mot trehjulingar som grannen lämnat ute i sin trädgård. Vi tränar lite rallylydnad men väldigt mjukt och lugnt. Orion har inte lika stort föremålsintresse som Sirius och Tintin, så vi leker mycket tillsammans och lägger krut på att jobba upp det som finns. Eller ja, som synes av bilderna nedan så har han ett helt okej föremålsintresse, men inte det där smått maniska som kan bryta igenom vilken störning som helst. :) Han är helt underbar i all hantering och ligger på rygg och småslumrar när jag klipper hans klor. Han har jättetrevlig attityd till andra hundar och människor är det bästa som finns. Och han är sååå rolig att fotografera – det är bara att ge honom en leksak så studsar han runt och busar så fint framför kameran. :D

Today, a certain little readhead turns 7 months! He’s such a dearie, and I’m so pleased with him. Orion is still very much a puppy and seems to be a late bloomer – he’s just starting to try out the concept of cocking his leg. He has entered the “Seeing Ghosts” stage, and I’m trying my very best to keep from laughing when he tiptoes around and looks with great suspicion at the tricycles that our neighbour left out in their garden. We do a big of rally obedience training, but very gently and slowly. Orion is not quite as interested in toy as Sirius and Tintin are, so we spend a lot of time playing together to build up his interest. Well, as you will see from the pictures below, he’s not uninterested in toys, but he’s not completely manic about them to the point where I can use a toy to break through distractions. :) He’s so lovely to handle; when I trim his claws, he rolls over on his back and snoozes. He’s also very sweet and civil with other dogs, and he loves people best of all. And he’s sooo much fun to photograph – I just give him a toy, and he goes about bouncing around in front of my camera. :D

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ett oväntat paket

dogs
2 Comments

I förrgår så kom det plötsligt ett paket med posten. Jag hade inte beställt något så jag blev lite förbryllad, men jag kände genast igen klistermärket på paketet – det var från Vildhunden! Spännande! Vi har ju ett litet samarbete med Vildhunden. Inte så att vi är sponsrade av dem, men Vildhunden gillar mina bilder och jag gillar verkligen deras “tänk” och inriktning som företag. Så när de frågade om de fick använda en av mina bilder på Tintin med en klövjeväska från dem i en annons så sa jag tveklöst ja. Annonsbilder är annars ganska dyra att köpa in, men för mig kändes det självklart att låna ut bilden och därmed stötta ett litet företag så att de förhoppningsvis kan få växa. :)

Och som tack så dök det alltså upp ett litet överraskningspaket! Egentligen borde väl Tintin ha fått öppna, men eftersom Orion aldrig hade fått prova tidigare så lät jag honom börja.

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“Det luktar gott härinne!”

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“Åååh, ett HORN! Ge mäj!”

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“Eh, hallå där,” sa Tintin. “Vem är det som har varit modell här egentligen?!”

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Lever- och blåbärsgodis från Vildmarkens by Åre. Typ så gött att ögonen går i kors. ;)

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Och kolla! Ett superfint reflexkoppel från Hurtta. Vi har redan provat det och jag gillar det verkligen!

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…fast nästan lika spännande som sakerna var förstås fyllningspappret! ^_^

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“Jag gillar det här med att vara fotomodell!”
Vildhunden skickade även med ett ex av tidningen med annonsen i! Visst gör sig Tintin bra i tryck?

Tack snälla Vildhunden för det fina paketet! Vi tycker att det är så roligt att få samarbeta med er. Hoppas att ni får en massa nya kunder från den fina annonsen!

fluffy friends

dogs
No Comments

Today, Orion and I met up with our Finnish Lapphund friends – Finn, Lumi, and Dolly. I want to give Orion the opportunity to meet dogs on his own, without the support or hindrance from our other dogs. I really like his attitude so far; he’s friendly but sensible. The Lapphunds played a bit of tackling and wrestling, but Orion doesn’t enjoy that as much as they do, so he stayed out of their way when they got too rowdy and stalked them a bit instead. :) We had a lovely couple of ours out, walking and talking. Afterwards, Orion and I went home with Anna, Mikael, Finn, and Lumi for a cup of tea and some photography talk. Orion was a very well-behaved visitor today, and I’m so proud of him. ♥

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“Okay, they don’t really look like sheep, but they’re fluffy – I can work with this!”

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“That’s right, move along now, my Pretend Sheep!” ;)

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Orion borrowed Dolly’s squeaky ball – I might have to buy him his own!

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Gorgeous Dolly.

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“Oi! Stop staring at my butt!”

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Lappie Games. ♥

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Brothers Fluff, Finn & Lumi.

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Ready, steady… PLAY!

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This boy. Wow. ♥

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Lumi, six months old.

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The snow is all but gone, but the dogs don’t seem to mind.
Who cares about the weather, as long as you can go outside and have fun!

 

en månad med orion

dogs
1 Comment

Hoppla. Januari månad har verkligen galopperat förbi. Jag tänkte skriva ner lite om den första tiden med Orion, om mina intryck av honom.

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Det är häftigt att lära känna en valp, eftersom valpar förändras hela tiden. Det som var självklart igår kan vara annorlunda imorgon. Jag tittar mycket på Orion, låter min hjärna och mitt hjärta lära sig hur han ser ut och vem han är. “Hur han ser ut?” tänker ni kanske. “Det vet du väl?” Jojo, jag vet att han är en röd border collie med bred bläs och (för det mesta) tippöron, att han har en hel vit strumpa på vänster fram men rött på en tredjedel av höger fram, och så har han tre prickar på höger framben som ser precis ut som Orions bälte i stjärnbilden som han är döpt efter. Men när jag blundar så är han som en ofärdig skiss för min inre blick. Dels för att han växer och förändras hela tiden, såklart, men också för att det tar längre tid än en månad att verkligen lära sig någons utseende utan och innan. När jag blundar och tänker på Ruth så är det ingen skiss, då är det en bild så detaljrik att om jag hade kunnat teckna, så hade jag kunnat återge henne till perfektion. Varje grått hårstrå, varje svart pigmentfläck i det vita, alla lockarna på ryggen. Alla talande blickar och uttryck. Det är en härligt pirrande känsla att få lägga till mentala penseldrag på min bild av Orion.

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Orions bälte.

Vem är han då? En ganska sansad valp, till att börja med. Kanske delvis för att jag jämför med den som senast var valp här hemma, virvelvinden Tintin. Men även när jag tänker lite mera objektivt så jo, det sansade intrycket kvarstår. Jag är väldigt glad över Orions fina inställning till människor. Återigen så jämför jag med Tintin – Tin är mer översvallande glad mot människor. Hos honom så upplever jag att det bottnar i en osäkerhet, som gör att han överkompenserar och blir överdrivet klängig istället. Orion har hälsat glatt på alla som han har fått träffa och låter sig gärna gosas med en stund. Sen är han helt nöjd med att fortsätta med vad vi gjorde innan.

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Jag har lagt märke till vilka starka minnesbilder Orion bildar. Om han har upplevt något positivt på en promenad – typ hälsat på en snäll granne – så har han varit noga med att kolla av platsen varje gång som vi passerat den sen. Det kan naturligtvis vara både en bra och en dålig egenskap för en hund. Än så länge har jag inte sett att han har agerat på samma sätt med saker som varit läskiga. I och för sig, det enda som verkar en smula obehagligt just nu är trafik. Eftersom vi bor i skogen och för det mesta också rör oss i skogen så blir trafik förstås något obekant. Vi har varit inne i stan ett par gånger men där har han inte brytt sig, för där är trafiken konstant och rör sig ganska sakta. Mer spännande blir det förstås på landsvägen här i byn, där det växlar från 70 till 50 och tillbaka upp till 70. Vi tittar på bilar en liten stund varje dag, både med och utan sällskap av de andra hundarna. Orion tycker inte att de är jätteläskiga, men målet är förstås att han ska ignorera dem helt. Han är inte bekymrad när vi går ner mot vägen, vilket jag tolkar som att han inte har skapat obehagliga minnesbilder av att befinna sig där.

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Vi tränar en eller flera små stunder varje dag. Ingenting särskilt strukturerat, utan mest att vi lär känna varandra i träningssituationen. Orion är en liten tänkare och han verkar tycka att träningen är kul, vilket ju precis är vad jag är ute efter. Han har hela livet på sig att lära sig saker, men just att träningen ska upplevas som rolig vill jag såklart uppnå på en gång. Favoritbelöningarna såhär långt verkar vara snörboll (inte helt otippat, det är även Sirius och Tintins favorit) och köttbulle. Apropå köttbulle så har Orion en skön inställning till mat. Han äter alla sina mål med god aptit, men han är inte hetsig på maten utan är helt lugn medan jag gör i ordning måltider till alla fyra hundarna.


Det är inga konstigheter i hanteringen utan han accepterar snällt allt vi tränar på. Gosig är han också – ett av favoritställen att somna på är ovanpå Eriks mage och bröstkorg när de ligger i soffan tillsammans. Helst med nosen instoppad under husses haka. ♥ Än så länge är han rätt så tyst av sig (trots storasyskon som “inspirerar” med sina fina skall, ahem). Vi hörde honom faktiskt inte skälla ordentligt förrän igår kväll, då han skulle gå ut och kissa och blev så överraskad av regnet att han skällde åt det, hihi.

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De andra hundarna då, vad tycker de om Orion nu efter en månad? Aska är väldigt fin med honom, långt över förväntan då hon brukar kunna vara väldigt “chefig” och ha åsikter om hur andra hundar ska bete sig. I början så var hon det och höll noga koll på Orion, men nu verkar hon ha bestämt sig för att han är okej. Han får såklart inte ta sig vilka friheter som helst, men hon låter honom gärna ligga nära och bryr sig inte när han leker för sig själv. Tintin gillar såklart sin nya lillebror, men han är också lite kluven i sin relation. Om vi bara hade haft Tintin och Orion så tror jag att det hade varit väldigt mycket bus, men nu håller sig Tintin lite på sin kant, som för att inte störa Sirius.

Sirius, ja. Han har också hunnit vänja sig vid Orion. Han har fortfarande åsikter om hur livligt Orion får leka inomhus, men emellanåt så “glömmer” han att vara griniga farbror Sirius och går och lägger sig i samma bädd som Orion eller kurar ihop sig bredvid honom på soffan. Det är som att se en upprepning av hur Sirius och Tintins relation växte fram, fast dit Sirius och Orion har kommit efter bara en månad tog det nog ett par år för Sirius och Tintin att nå till. Så jag känner mig nöjd. För att underlätta för alla så har vi faktiskt köpt några barngrindar från Ikea så att vi kan dela av lite här hemma vid behov. Nu har grindarna i stort sett stått öppna sen vi monterade upp dem, men det är skönt att ha möjligheten att stänga i alla fall om Sirius vill ha lite lugn och ro eller om Orion behöver få utrymme att röja inne en stund om det är för kallt för att vara ute. Utomhus har det aldrig varit några problem utan där umgås alla hundarna hur fint som helst. Så ja, jag är väldigt nöjd med hur långt vi har kommit med vår nya lilla flock på en månad.

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Den 8 februari fyller Orion 5 månader. Då börjar en spännande period tycker jag, för det händer så mycket mellan 5 och 7 månader. Valpen blir unghund. Luddet blir päls. Åh, de ska bli så roligt att få vara med om!

nya vänner / making friends

dogs, people
2 Comments

Idag har Orion fått träffa våra lappisbästisar Finn och Lumi, och såklart deras tvåbeningar Anna och Mikael också. Lumi är ungefär en månad äldre än Orion. De lekte jättefint tillsammans från första stund, så härligt att se. När de hade fått träffas på tumantass lite så släppte vi ut resten av gänget och det var inga konstigheter. Så underbart med hundar som bara går ihop och trivs tillsammans. :)

Här hemma går det framåt också, tycker jag. Sirius har nog förstått att Orion är här för att stanna och är mer avslappnad. Vi ser till att hundarna är ordentligt aktiverade och motionerade, då blir det förstås mer harmoniskt överlag och lättare för alla att acceptera varandra och slappa tillsammans.

Igår och i förrgår så började jag klicka in Orion. Kunde inte hålla mig. ;) När energin var på topp tidigare ikväll så hade vi första lilla “träningspasset”. Vi busade lite tillsammans ovanpå sängen och så såg jag om Orion tänkte bjuda på något beteende. När jag satt nedanför sängen och han var ovanpå den så la han sig självmant, vilket jag klickade för. Sedan flyttade jag på mig så att jag satt på golvet på andra sidan sängen – han skuttade efter och la sig ner igen för att komma på samma nivå som mitt ansikte. Klick! Jag fick verkligen hålla band på mig för att inte göra för många repetitioner. Så himla kul att se i Orions ögon hur han börjar fundera och klura. Åh, tänk så mycket kul vi ska ha framöver! :)

Today, Orion has met our Lappie besties Finn and Lumi, and of course their humans Anna and Mikael as well. Lumi is about a month older than Orion. They played really well together from the go, it was lovely to see. When they had played alone for a while, we let out the rest of the gang and there were no troubles. It’s so nice to have dogs who just get along and have fun together. :)

We’re doing well at home, too, I think. Sirius seems to have understood that Orion is here to stay, and he’s a bit more relaxed. We make extra sure to give the dogs plenty of exercise and training right now, because that helps to keep everything harmonious and then it’s just easier for everyone to accept each other.

Yesterday and the day before, I started teaching the clicker to Orion. I couldn’t help myself! ;) When he was extra lively earlier tonight, we had our first little “training session”. We played together on top of the bed, and I looked to see if Orion would offer up any good behaviours. When I was sitting on the floor next to the bed and he was on top of it, he chose to lay down, and I clicked. Then I moved so that I was sitting on the floor on the other side of the bed – he hopped along after me and lay down again to get down to my eye level. Click! I had to restrain myself so that I wouldn’t do too many repetitions. I so enjoyed seeing Orion pondering and trying to work out what triggered the click. Oh, we’re going to have so much fun together! :)

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Dricka blåbärssoppa från kåsa – väldigt viktig kunskap! ;)
Drinking blueberry soup from a cup – very important life skill! ;)

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och så var de fyra igen / and then there were four, again

dogs, life in general
2 Comments

Årets sista dag. Imorgon är det en månad sedan vi förlorade Ruth. Idag har tårarna kommit några gånger, helt utan anledning egentligen. Även fast livet går vidare och tillvaron helt plötsligt är full av rött fluff så är saknaden lika stor. Ja, det är väl så det ska vara, när en har förlorat någon som en älskade så mycket och innerligt.

Orion sköter sig över förväntan! Varken kiss eller bajs inne. Äter bra, sover duktigt, är inte allt för störig mot Sirius. Modig och nyfiken, älskar godis och leksaker. Tintin gillar honom förstås och de har redan busat ordentligt tillsammans flera gånger. Aska bryr sig inte nämnvärt. Förutom när Orion gör något som han inte får, för då morrar hon åt honom. Det är fantastiskt hur hon vet precis vad han får och inte får göra! Han kan busa hur vilt som helst med leksaker utan att hon bryr sig, men sekunden som han sätter tänderna i en lådknopp, köksstol eller sko så säger hon till. Han bryr sig inte så mycket om hennes morr, men det är väldigt hjälpsamt för oss så att vi kan vara där och byta mot en leksak. Sirius gillar förstås inte alls Orion – han tycker att valpar är äckelpäckel. Men det visste vi innan och vi vet att det blir bättre, så vi gör det bästa av situationen. Orion har börjat lära sig att låta Sirius vara ifred och Sirius får beröm och godbitar när han ignorerar Orion. Utomhus är det inga som helst problem och inne är vi med och vägleder.

2015 var ett fint år, alldeles till på slutet. Jag vet att vi upplevde massor av underbara stunder, men just nu hänger förlusten av Ruth som en svart gardin över hela året. Jag ser fram emot 2016 – att få se Orion växa, att komma ut och tävla med Tintin, att bara få rå om Aska och Sirius och njuta av dem. Minst en fjälltur ska vi hinna med. Många vänner ska vi träffa och glädjas åt. Kanske hittar vi äntligen det där huset som vi drömmer om?

Nu slår vi oss ner för ett stillsamt nyårsfirande, bara Erik, jag och våra fyra hundar. Vi är ganska förskonade från smällare här ute på landet, tack och lov. Vi får höja volymen på musiken runt tolvslaget, men annars är det ingen större fara.

Jag önskar alla bloggläsare ett Gott Nytt År 2016! Lämnar er med några dagsfärska bilder. ♥

The last day of the year. Tomorrow, it will be exactly a month since we lost Ruth. Tears have come to my eyes, several times today, for no apparent reason. Even though life goes on and is suddenly full of red fluff, I still miss her just as much. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be, when you have lost someone you loved so deeply and dearly.

Orion is doing really well! He hasn’t messed indoors at all. He eats and sleeps well, and isn’t too annoying towards Sirius. He’s brave and curious, loves treats and toys. Tintin adores him, of course, and they have had several fun play sessions already. Aska doesn’t really care either way. Except when Orion does something he’s not allowed to, because then she growls at him. It’s fascinating how she knows exatly what he’s allowed to do and what he shouldn’t. He can play ever so noisily with toys and she won’t care, but the second he starts chewing a drawer handle, kitchen chair, or shoe, she lets us know. Orion doesn’t really care about her growling, but it’s very helpful for us to be told when we need to go there and offer him something else to chew. Sirius really dislikes Orion – he thinks that all puppies are awful. But we knew that before we brought Orion home, and we also know that it will get better, so we try to make the best of our current situation. Orion is learning to leave his uncle Sirius alone, and Sirius is praised and given treats when he ignores his nephew. Outside, they are absolutely fine, and indoors we’re with them and guiding them.

2015 was a nice year for us, up until the very end. I know that we experienced many wonderful moments, but right now the loss of Ruth hangs like a black curtain over the whole year. I’m looking forward to 2016 – watching Orion grow, competing some more with Tintin, and just enjoying the company of Aska and Sirius. We’re planning at least one trip to the mountains. We have such lovely friends and family members to spend time with. Perhaps we’ll find that house we’re dreaming about?

Now, we’re settling down for a peaceful new year’s celebration, just Erik, the dogs, and myself. Fortunately, we don’t get a lot of fireworks where we live. We usually just turn up the music around midnight to block out the few fireworks we do get then, but apart from that it should be quiet.

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2016! I’ll leave you with some pictures from earlier today. ♥

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välkommen hem, orion / welcome home, orion

dogs
3 Comments

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Dearest Orion,

I will teach you things – necessary things and silly things alike.

I will give you exercise – walks in the woods, swift runs over fields. When you are older, you can join me when I ride my bike and go skiing.

I will let you sleep on the bed and the couch and the armchair and the rugs, and with your little head on my feet.

I will give you good food, yummy things to chew, and lots of treats. And you’ll get to lick a few plates as well.

I will give you lots of play time, with me and with other dogs. You will get lots of toys, too.

I will spoil you with necessary and unnecessary dog stuff – we can always do with another snazzy lead!

I will take you on adventures – we will swim in the sea and go hiking in the mountains.

I will groom you and trim your nails and clean your teeth, gently and with patience.

I will make sure that you get help from a veterinarian when it’s needed.

I will document our life together with thousands upon thousands of pictures. (Yes, you’ll get treats for posing.)

I will give you cuddles and kisses and closeness.

And I will love you. Every day, every moment, with all of my heart.

Welcome home! ♥

vart kommer kärleken ifrån? / where does the love come from?

dogs
2 Comments

Till att börja med så vill jag skicka ett stort tack till alla er som har delat med er av varma och stöttande ord efter att Ruth fick somna in. Vi sörjer fortfarande varendaste dag, men sorgen är inte lika knivskarp och obarmhärtig.

Just nu kretsar tankarna mycket kring Orion. Idag är det bara en vecka tills vi styr bilen mot England för att hämta honom! De senaste dagarna har verkligen flugit förbi. Jag längtar så efter att få träffa honom igen. Senast vi sågs så var han sju veckor gammal, nu blir han femton veckor på tisdag. Kommer intrycket som jag fick av honom i oktober stämma med den lilla pys som vi får ta med oss hem? Eller kommer han att ha utvecklats åt något helt annat håll? Jag har fått några små rapporter från England och allt har varit positivt. Men det är förstås något helt annat att få en hund beskriven för sig, än att själv umgås med den eller att bara sitta och betrakta den.

Jag undrar om han kommer att tycka om mig?

Eller, rättare sagt, jag undrar hur lång tid det kommer ta innan han tycker om mig. Jag tycker att det är underbart, fantastiskt, ljuvligt hur mycket våra hundar tycker om mig. Hur de väljer att vara nära mig inne, hur de kommer och “kollar av” med mig när vi är ute på promenader. Jaja, jag vet att hundarna delvis gör så för att jag är en resurs för dem – det är ju skönt när jag kliar bakom öronen och på promenaden så kanske det kommer en godis ur fickan om en har tur. Men det är mer också. Jag är rätt säker på att hundarna älskar mig, precis som jag älskar dem. Blickarna och de förnöjda ansiktsuttrycken som vi utbyter. Och nu sitter jag och funderar över vart den kärleken kommer ifrån. Hur det gick till. Vad gjorde jag för att förtjäna den kärleken? Aska, som viftar på svansen när jag tittar på henne. Tintin, som skuttar fram till mig i skogen och gör krumsprång av glädje när jag skrattar åt honom. Sirius, som absolut måste sova på samma kudde som jag varenda natt.

Hur kommer det att vara med Orion? Nej, jag är inte ett dugg orolig över att han inte kommer att tycka om mig. Jag undrar bara när det kommer att hända. När vi för första gången utbyter den där blicken.

Hundkärleken har många små byggstenar, tror jag. Närhet, gos, mat, godis, träning, roliga promenader och äventyr. Resurser, alltså. Resurser som ger känslor – trygghet, förväntan, glädje. Och någonstans kärlek.

Ibland kommer den på en gång, som med Ruth. Ibland tar det ett bra tag, som med Tintin. För honom var vi länge bara ett par resursutdelare på två ben. Men sen, helt plötsligt, så såg jag den där kärleksblicken. Jag vet inte om vi hade ändrat något eller om det hade hänt något särskilt. Men kärleken var där.

Hur kommer det att hända med Orion? När, och vart ifrån, kommer den kärleken att komma? Det ska bli så spännande!

To begin with, I want to say thank-you to everyone who has shared such warm and kind words since we lost Ruth.  We are still grieving every day, although the sadness is not quite as sharp and all-consuming.

Right now, my thoughts are full of Orion. Today, it’s only a week until we leave for England to pick him up! The past few days have really flown by. I’m so looking forward to seeing him again. When we parted, he was only seven weeks old, and on Tuesday he turns fifteen weeks old. Will my impression of him from back in October fit with the puppy we will be bringing home? Or will he have developed in a different direction? I’ve had some reports from England, and everything has been positive. But, of course, it’s very different to have a dog described to you, compared to spending time with it yourself, or just observing it.

I wonder if he will like me?

Or, more correctly, I wonder how long it will be before he’ll like me. I think that it’s wonderful how much our dogs like me. How they choose to be close to me indoors, how they keep returning to me on walks to “check up” on things. Yes, yes, I know that the dogs do this because I’m a resource to them – they enjoy when I scratch them behind the ears, and if they’re lucky they might just get a treat from my pocket on the walk. But there’s more. I’m pretty certain that my dogs love me like I love them. I see it in the looks and the pleased expressions that we share. And tonight, I’m pondering on where that love comes from. How it came to be. What did I do to earn that love? Aska, who wags her tail when I look at her. Tintin, who bounces up to me on walks and prances around in delight when I laugh at him. Sirius, who simply has to share my pillow every night.

What will it be like with Orion? Oh, I’m not worried that he won’t like me. I’m just curious when it will happen. When we’ll share that look.

A dog’s love is made from many little pieces, I think. Closeness, cuddles, food, treats, training, walks, and adventures. In other words, resources. Resources that result in feelings – safety, expectations, joy. And, somewhere, somehow, love.

Sometimes, it’s instant, like with Ruth. Sometimes, it takes a while, like with Tintin. For him, we were simply a couple of two-legged resource distributors for a long time. But then, all of a sudden, I saw that look of love in his eyes. I don’t know if we’d changed anything, or if anything unusual had happened. But the love was there.

How will it happen with Orion? When, and where from, will this love appear? I’m so excited to find out!

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Fotat av Catt Le Huquet, tack! / Photo by Catt Le Huquet, thanks!

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a ruthless life

dogs, life in general
17 Comments

Ruth
Mastamariner White Ensign
16 July, 2001 – 1 December, 2015

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Last week, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Ruth.

It feels impossible to write about this, but I feel like I have to. I want to. The sadness is still raw and I am brittle, though my feelings are not as brutal as they were the first couple of days without her. I have decided to write this in English only, as I don’t think I could bear to write it twice.

Ruth had secondary epilepsy. Not the hereditary kind; hers was likely due to a brain tumour. She had her first seizure in January, 2014. I was away then, but Erik was with her. After seeing our veterinarian, Ruth was put on medicine to prevent further seizures. It was a while before we got the dosage right, but when we did, Ruth had a good spring, summer, and autumn. When we went to test the level of medicine in her blood in November 2014, our vet saw such low levels of the medicine that she thought we might as well remove the medicine altogether. A few weeks after that, I went to Ireland to attend my best friend’s wedding. And Ruth had another seizure. Erik was with her again, and I know how well he took care of her. Ruth went back on her medicine, and she did better again.

This summer, Ruth had her 14th birthday. A very old age for a dog. Quite naturally, she was growing slower, more tired, and a bit more unsteady with age. About a month ago, Erik and I sat down to talk about Ruth’s health. The last thing I wanted was to make Ruth suffer, to keep her with us too long for my own sake. Ruth wasn’t seeing very well, especially when it was dark, and her hearing was decreasing, too. But on the other hand, she still seemed to enjoy her little walks, and she happily gobbled down her food twice a day. We thought that she still had good quality of life.

But last week, Ruth had another seizure, the first one while being on medication. The first one that I was here for. Erik had seen Ruth recover from two other fits, and she had come through those quite quickly. This was different. After the seizure, she couldn’t walk properly, she seemed very disoriented and anxious, but also so very, very tired. She couldn’t settle, but she couldn’t walk around, either. My insides were ice cold and I was so afraid. I think that I understood that it was time, but I didn’t want to understand. We called our vet, and decided to go there for a professional opinion.

I didn’t put Ruth in the car crate, but kept her next to me on the back seat. The last few months, she had been a bit anxious in the car and wouldn’t lie down, but that night she fell asleep next to me. Her little head rested on my lap and she was so warm. When we arrived at the vet’s and I lifted her out of the car, she wouldn’t stand or walk. I carried her inside. We talked to the vet, discussed options. But really, I think that I already knew the best option, the only option for Ruth. It was time.

I called Catherine, Ruth’s breeder and other owner. I couldn’t make this decision without her. I think that it was even more difficult for Catherine, because she couldn’t see how poorly Ruth was. But she said exactly what I needed to hear: “I trust you. You have always done what’s best for Ruth, and I know that you will now, too.”

Erik had been cooking beef burgers for dinner. He had brought a couple of patties in a tub, to give Ruth a treat if needed. So, while the vet administered the sedative, we were feeding Ruth pieces of burger meat. She ate, slower than usual but still. She fell asleep with a piece in her mouth. And all the time, we held her and stroked her and told her how much we loved her and how much we would miss her, and that she was the most perfect and wonderful and amazing dog in the world.

I don’t want to write about getting home that night, without her, or the next few days. How strange it is that a small house with three other dogs in it can seem so empty. I have suffered other losses in my life, but none of them affected my daily life this much. No other absence has ever been this painfully and heartbreakingly evident.

It’s a little bit better now. I’m still sad, and writing this makes me cry a flood, of course. But the grief is not quite as all-consuming. Last weekend, I sat down to look at pictures of Ruth from her whole life, beginning with the spring of 2009 when I brought her over to live with me in Sweden. I fully expected to cry – I’d put a fresh box of Kleenex on my desk – but to my great surprise I didn’t. In every single picture, Ruth was running at top speed or snoozing in a comfy place or being fed treats or enjoying the company of various people. In my pictures, she was glowing with health and strength and joie de vivre. It gave me a very powerful perspective on how old she’d really grown in the last year. It didn’t make me miss her any less, but it gave me some comfort because I felt that I had made the right decision to let her go.

The pictures gave me another powerful insight. I couldn’t look past the fact that Ruth really, really did have a wonderful life. Catherine put it so well: “I held Ruth as she was born and you held her as she died. There was never a day between that she was not loved and cherished.”

So, that’s what I want to do now. I want to share some glimpses of Ruth’s life, and our story.

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Ruth is the dark puppy in front, on top of the blue one. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

Ruth was born on the 16th of July, 2001, almost a year before I met her for the first time. But I’ve heard the story about her birth so many times that I almost felt like I was there for it. She was born as the last of five pups in her litter. And as Catherine held her and rubbed her dry, before Ruth had even had her first fill of milk, Catherine chose her. She boldly exclaimed, “This is the one!” Ruth was special from the moment she was born.

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Baby Ruth, taking it all in. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Having a cuddle with daddy Graham in the office. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Partners in crime – Ruth and the goldie pup Dusty. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Ruth with her family. Auntie Marie, mother Deborah, father Hercules, and daddy Graham. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Ruth’s first snow. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Beautiful girl in the bluebells, spring of 2002. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Playing with her aunt and best friend, Esther. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Stunning youngster. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Showing off her movement, spring of 2002. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

In the early months of 2002, I was contemplating what to do after graduation in the summer. I really wanted to work with dogs, and preferably in England. I don’t know why, but I had always felt drawn to the British Isles. I had heard of someone who had worked abroad as a “dog au pair”. So, I went online and put in “dog + au pair” in the search engine. The first search hit led me to a green homepage, for kennel Mastamariner. In England. With Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies – the breed that I was as much as love in as I was with England. It seemed too good to be true. I put together my application very carefully. I’d never wanted anything as much as I wanted to go there and work. I was thrilled when we agreed that I should join them in the summer. I spent hours and hours on the Mastamariner website, admiring all the dogs and learning their names. My favourite was a Border Collie boy called Scrumpy – he looked just like the dogs in my childhood storybooks. I didn’t really notice the young girl with the dark face that was Ruth…

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Ruth, spring of 2002. This is exactly how I remember her from the first day we met. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

I arrived at Mastamariner around midday on June 25, 2002. I met all the dogs and I was given a tour of the house – everything was exactly as I had pictured it and I was thrilled. We had a cup of tea, and then the afternoon lull settled in. And then, out of nowhere, I became desperately homesick. I’d never been abroad alone before. What had I done? Left all of my family and friends and everything familiar. I wandered outside and sat down on the ground. I was just about to burst into tears when I noticed that someone had come up to me. It was the girl with the dark face. With the tiny nose and the huge ears. Her tail was wagging swiftly. She put her paws on me, leaned in and kissed me on the cheek.

And that was it. I forgot all of my homesickness, and I fell instantly, absolutely in love with that little dog. Just like she had charmed Catherine from the moment she was born, she charmed me from the day that we met. I loved all of the dogs at the kennel, but Ruth was my favourite.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

We had a completely blissful first summer together. I thrived at Mastamariner. The work suited me perfectly and Catherine and Graham encouraged me in everything from dog training to photography. Ruth was constantly by my side and we had all sorts of fun together. Catherine and I agreed that Ruth was entirely perfect – hence her epithet, Perfect Ruth – all while Graham grumbled good-naturedly that we were spoiling her rotten and being completely blind to her slightly naughty side. But Ruth was never pushy or demanding. She was just completely irresistible, sweet, and fun.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

Ruth was my ideal dog, but I knew that I could never have her, because she was Catherine’s special girl, too. She was destined to stay at the kennel and, besides enjoying life there, pass on her fabulus genes to a new generation of fabulous Mastamariners. So, I aimed for the next best thing – a sister from the same parents as Ruth. I left for Christmas in Sweden in December 2002, and returned later in 2003 to pick up my little Ruth sister, Aska. I thought that it would be easier to leave Ruth behind when I had my very own Border Collie girl, but it wasn’t. I loved Aska then as I love her now, but she could never replace Ruth.

After a year and a half in Sweden, Aska and I returned to England and Mastamariner in 2004. This was the summer that Sirius was born and I was allowed to keep him. My three favourite dogs in the world – Ruth, Aska, and Sirius – were all in the same place and I couldn’t be happier.

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In 2004, Ruth and her parents graced part of the front and a whole page of the Pedigree calendar as they represented the Border Collie breed.

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Ruth and her sister Rachel, spring of 2004 before I returned. Picture by Catherine Everitt.

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Reunited at last! Summer of 2004. Picture by Charlotte Ragnarsson.

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In the fall of 2004, I got to enjoy Ruth’s babies, too.

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Ruth with her son, Toby.

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With her daughter, Skye.

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An outing in Basingstoke with Johanna, Charlotte, Severus, and Rachel.

In January of 2004, my “kennel dad” Graham had started up his own dog training company. This company offered basic level agility classes, which meant that Mastamariner now had its own agility course. Ruth and I had learned all of the agility obstacles together in the summer of 2002. So, when I first got back in 2004 and the new kennel girls suggested that we take a couple of runs around the agility course, I naturally wanted to take Ruth. They laughed a little at this – Ruth, run agility? They said that she was so slow! I couldn’t believe this, and indeed, when I took Ruth through the agility course she ran like the wind. Of course, I’m biased and human and I always liked to think that I was special to Ruth, but this still seemed like some small proof that I really was.

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Picture by Catherine Everitt.

In the spring of 2005, I had to leave England again. This time I had both Aska and Sirius to take with me, but it was no easier to leave Ruth behind. For purely selfish reasons, of course – I knew that Ruth couldn’t be better looked after. She was happy and loved and spoiled and enjoyed a very full life.

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I spent the next few years studying and working, and I loved the company of my Ruth siblings Aska and Sirius. But I always missed her. Whenever I wrote to Catherine or Graham, I always requested that they should give Ruth a special cuddle and kiss from me. She was never gone from my mind. I could not quite let her go.

Ruth retired from her motherly duties in 2008. Later that year, I jokingly wrote to Catherine that I would come and kidnap Ruth. You cannot imagine my surprise and wonder when Catherine replied that she thought I should do just that. They had never, ever rehomed a retired dog before. I know that some breeders routinely rehome their bitches when they can no longer have puppies, but that was not the case at all at Mastamariner. Ruth was so loved there, and she was so special to Catherine in particular. And still, Catherine was willing to let Ruth go because she knew how much I loved her, too.

My whole heart screamed, “Yes, YES!” but I did not make the decision at once. I sat down and tried to think about it objectively. Could I give Ruth a life as good as the one she already had? What could I offer her? In the end, I decided that I could give her exactly what she already had, but also a bit more special attention, as I only had two dogs and there were many more at the kennel. I couldn’t quite believe it, still. Was I really going to be allowed to have Ruth, my dream dog? In March, 2009, I went over there to make this dream come true.

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An unremarkable picture, perhaps, but in this moment my heart is bursting with joy. Ruth is mine! She’ll be coming home with me!
Picture by Sabina Svensson.

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Of course, in March 2009 there was still lots of snow in Sweden! But Ruth didn’t seem to mind.

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Reunited with her little brother Sirius and her little sister Aska. This sight made me feel like the richest person in the world.

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Snow games.

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Meeting my goddaughter Turid for the first time.

Ruth embraced her new life in Sweden with gusto. She’d been a picky eater in England, but after only a few weeks in Sweden, she started eating better. The kennel had always had many visitors so she was used to meeting many new people and always enjoyed that. Now, she got to see many new places, too. If her ever-wagging tail was any indication, I believe that she enjoyed it all very much.

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On a trip to the mountains, June 2009.

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Patiently waiting for her photographing mum… Picture by Gittan Lingdell.

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Mountain snuggles. Picture by Gittan Lingdell.

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My niece Stella was very afraid of dogs when she was little, but Ruth emanated a calmness that Stella could sense.

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Out on a fishing trip – my grandmother giving sausage to Ruth and their Schnauzer Molly.

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“Which treat would you like first, precious?”

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In the summer of 2009, Ruth’s siblings and I taught her to eat blueberries from the sprigs.
This was all very well, thought Ruth, but it was much more practical to eat straight from my bucket!

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The Perfect Ruth and me – the luckiest girl in the world.

In the autumn of 2009, we moved north to Sundsvall where I started at university again. More new places to explore and more new friends to meet. This was also where I, a year later, fell in love with Erik and he and Tintin joined our life. I could not have asked for a better daddy for Ruth.

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My favourite study buddy.

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Marie, who was at Mastamariner when Ruth was born, is originally from Sundsvall,
so when she came home to visit her family she paid us a visit, too!

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Supervising the gingerbread decorations with some of our friends in Sundsvall.

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Ruth only tried tracking once. She didn’t think much of it, but she was very impressed with me for finding her treat at the end! Picture by Elaine Rodin.

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The ever patient Ruth, letting my little cousin Adele play with her.

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There was always a treat for Ruth.

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The Perfect Ruth.

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With her new adopted little brother Tintin, January 2011.

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And with her daddy Erik.

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Picture by Erik.

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Picture by Erik.

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Picture by Erik.

Ruth was not a “one man dog” – she loved people and people loved her. But I was special to her. She chose me that first day in the summer of 2002, and she kept on choosing me. She was not anxious about being close to me, but to her very last day, she would always get up and follow me, and settle wherever I decided to sit. I was her safe point, and she was mine. When I called my grandmother to let her know that Ruth was gone, she said: “What a gift it was for you to have been so important to Ruth.” And that’s exactly how I saw it, as a gift. I have no idea why Ruth and “clicked”. I can’t explain it. I just know that we did. Instant, mutual love that lasted all of her life and that will last of all of mine.

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Photo by Erik.

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Photo by Erik.

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Photo by Erik.

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Someone, I don’t remember who it was, questioned my decision to bring Ruth over to Sweden. What was the point in taking on a dog that old? We would have such a short time together. But where love is concerned, time doesn’t really matter. I loved Ruth every day from when I met her, whether she was with me or not. I would have brought her home even for only a year, or six months. As it was, she spent six and a half years with me here. I promised Catherine and Graham when I took Ruth from them that I would give her the very best life that I was capable of. When I look through all of my pictures – of everyday moments and big adventures alike – I feel like I did my best to fulfil that promise.

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In the autumn of 2012, we moved to Ruth’s last home in the woods of Värmland. Ruth was 11 years old.
Our new neighbour had a cross between Border Collie and Tervueren called Kimi. He was 10 years old and became Ruth’s boyfriend.

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In the early months of 2014, after Ruth had her first seizures, the new medicine made her very hungry. We went through a lot of carrots!

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With our dear friend Anna.

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“Please scratch my butt!”

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Just looking to see if we remembered to bring the treats…

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Photo by Erik.

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In July of 2014, Catherine and Graham came all the way from England to celebrate Ruth’s 13th birthday with us.

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Of course, there had to be cake.

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As the saying went: “There are no kisses like Ruth kisses.”

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In the beginning of 2015, Ruth was still on the move. In the summer, when she was almost 14 years old, we went for a full day’s hike and walked 11 kilometres and she came along without a problem. Of course, we kept a slower pace so not to tire her out. I remember that people kept complaining about the weather this summer, it was too cool. But I was grateful, because it meant that it wasn’t too hot for the dogs, Ruth in particular.

In the autumn, I couldn’t look past the fact that Ruth was slowing down. She didn’t seem to enjoy her walks as much – we were walking slower and slower, and sometimes I felt like the only reason that she kept walking forward was so that she wouldn’t lose sight of me.

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Photo by Erik.

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Out on our long hike. Photo by Erik.

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From my last proper photo session with Ruth.

So, here I am now. Ruthless. I have three other wonderful dogs and we are expecting a puppy. They help keep me above the surface. They give me something to look forward to. But they can’t replace Ruth – I learned a long time ago that no one will ever be able to do that.

I am sad, but I am also endlessly grateful. To Ruth, for choosing me. For seeing my distress on a June afternoon thirteen years ago, for kissing my face and making all the bad feelings go away. For all the joy she brought to my life. We simply enjoyed each other. We never proved anything to anyone. Ruth didn’t show her qualities through ribbons or trophies, yet she was liked by every single person she met. She was kind and gentle, sweet and funny. No one was ever afraid of Ruth, because anyone could sense how kind-hearted she was. We called her Perfect Ruth jokingly, but that was what she really was – perfect. I would not have changed a single thing about her.

I am grateful to Catherine and Graham, too. For being so incredibly unselfish and letting Ruth come and live with me. I can’t really put into words how very thankful I am. But I think that they know.

I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife of some kind. I hope that there is more. But I don’t know if I can believe it. I hope that I will see Ruth again, but I’m not counting on it. Even so, I would not trade my time with her for anything in the world. She is such a huge part of who I am, she has shaped the way I look at the world and at other dogs. There is a quote that comes to my mind: “Oh, how am I going to live without you?” – “Take the love you have for me, and spread it around.” I hope to be able to do just that.

Thank you, Ruth. For everything.

So this is where we part my friend
and you’ll run on, around the bend
Gone from sight, but not from mind
new pleasures there you’ll surely find

I will go on, I’ll find the strength
life measures quality, not its length
One long embrace before you leave
share one last look before I grieve

There are others, that much is true
but they are they, they aren’t you
And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought
will remember all you’ve taught

Your place I’ll hold, you will be missed
the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed
And as you journey to your final rest,
take with you this… I loved you best

Jim Willis, 2002

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