solig vecka

dogs, life in general
1 Comment

Ljuvliga höst! En guldkantad dag följer en annan. Jag jobbade på biblioteket igen i onsdags, och som extra bonus så anordnade vi stickcafé. Jag fick en stund över och pratade lite med de handarbetande damerna. Vi kom in på flyktingfrågan och direkt sa någon av dem att de borde göra en gemensam insats och sticka vantar och mössor till flyktingar som kanske kommer till deras kommun. Någon annan föreslog att de skulle bjuda in flyktingar till stickcaféet, “för tänk, de kan säkert jättemycket om handarbete som vi kunde lära oss också”.

Jag sparar på såna ljusglimtar. Guldkorn som jag kan ta fram och lägga i en hög framför mig när jag tappar hoppet om mänskligheten. Jag är nämligen inget stort fan av oss som art. Rätt ofta tänker jag hur bra det skulle vara för världen om – poff! – alla människor försvann. Jo, det finns många individer i människosläktet som jag gillar, men som art har jag svårt att försvara vår existens med allt dumt som vi gör mot oss själva och resten av planeten.

Fast. Det var inte alls det jag tänkte skriva om. :) Utan de fina sakerna. Varm höstsol. Hur en av stickcafédamerna tog min hand när hon skulle gå, strök den och sa: “Vad du är bra. Precis som en bibliotekarie ska vara!” Valpkursen som jag och Anna startade igår och alla fina valpar och nyfikna ägare. Gladtårarna när jag såg ett filmklipp där Elin hälsade på sin nya hund. Tidningsjobbet inatt när Frykendimman plötsligt skingrade sig och jag såg stjärnbilden Orion i sin helhet för första gången sen i vintras. Turen till Arvika imorse för att vara chaufför när Anna hämtade sin nya bebis Lumi. Paketet med nya saxar och ny borste till hundarna som jag hämtade ut ikväll – här ska pälsvårdas!

Drömmarna. Valpplanerna som genomsyrar min tillvaro. Jag har alltid känt att det är viktigt att ge sig själv saker att se fram emot, särskilt om en inte mår så bra psykiskt. Det behöver inte vara något stort. För mig kunde det vara att jag planerade att köpa ett fint garnnystan eller en penna. Att jag bestämde mig för en särskild hundpromenad och packade en fikaryggsäck. Det är inte nödvändigtvis sakerna i sig, utan att ha något positivt framför mig. Känslan av förväntan har hjälpt mig igenom mycket. Och nu kan ni tänka er, när den känslan kretsar kring det finaste och viktigaste som finns i mitt liv – en hund. Jag gillar att längta.

Önskar er en fantastisk fin helg med några badbilder nu från sensommaren!

To my non-Swedish readers: Just a lot of random blabbering above, really. :) I hope that you have a lovely weekend – have some pictures of the dogs enjoying the late summer lake!

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om livet sådär rent allmänt / on life, just in general

dogs, from the archive, rallylydnad, various creatures
7 Comments

Det känns roligt just nu, livet. Jag känner mig vaken och pigg. Nyfiken. Inte så att jag helt har läkt färdigt efter de mörka åren och depressionen, men någon gång det här året så vägde det positiva plötsligt över. Mitt medelmående hamnade på plus. Jag vet att hundarna, Erik och lugnet i värmlandsskogarna har varit min bästa medicin, och med dem omkring mig så blir jag alltmer hel. Mer som 19-åriga Anna, med världen för sina fötter och full av självförtroende, men samtidigt någon annan. Någon som vet lite bättre vad hon vill, någon som övar på att säga nej och att våga.

Så värst mycket bloggat har det inte blivit, som ni märkt. När livet rullar iväg sådär fint så känns bloggen ibland lite som ett projekt, något som behöver tid som inte riktigt finns. Däremot har jag sent omsider skaffat mig ett  Instagramkonto, vilket passar livet i rörelse bättre. Följ oss på annafantasium om ni också finns där! För er som inte har Instagram så går det ändå att se mina bilder här: https://instagram.com/annafantasium/ Men ja, det här är ju en fotoblogg trots allt, så jag bjuder väl på en bunt bilder! Alla är från mitt besök hos Mastamariner i England i slutet på augusti. Se och njut. :)

Life is enjoyable, at the moment. I feel awake and alert. Interested. I haven’t fully healed after my dark years and the depression, but sometime during this year, the positive stuff suddenly tipped the scales. My average mood passed the point of more cheerful than down. I know that the dogs, Erik, and the quiet of the woods have been my best medicine, and surrounded by them I keep healing. I’m turning into something like 19-year-old Anna, who had the whole world before her and was full of confidence. But still, I’m someone different. Someone who knows better what she wants, who is better at saying now and daring to do things.

As you’ve seen, I haven’t blogged a lot lately. When life turns good and busy, the blog sometimes feels like a project, something that requires time that I don’t really have to spare. But what I have done, is to finally get myself an Instagram account, which suits a life on the move much better. You can follow us at annafantasium if you’re also on there! For those of you who aren’t, you can still see my pictures here: https://instagram.com/annafantasium/ Still, yes, this is a photo blog, so I suppose I’d better give you some pictures! These are all from my visit at Mastamariner in England this August. Enjoy! :)

 

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Vad har då sommaren bjudit på? Jag har jobbat lite som tidningsbud. Kanske en banal syssla för många, men jag har alltid gillat att utföra ett arbete väl, oavsett vad det är. Det är fint att lägga sista tidningen i sin låda alltjämt som solen går upp över ett sömnigt Sunne. Perfekt också när en har en 14-årig hundtant som en helst inte vill lämna ensam så mycket, att jobba på natten när husse finns hemma hos de fyrbenta. Nu senaste veckan har jag faktiskt vikarierat som biblioteksassistent, en ny och väldigt trevlig erfarenhet. Det känns lite som att jag äntligen, efter 32 år, har funnit mitt kall. :) Hoppas på mer biblioteksjobb framöver!

So, what have I been up to this summer? I’ve worked a paper round for a bit. A mundane job, I’m sure a lot of people would say. But I’ve always enjoyed doing a job well, no matter what it is. It’s nice to put the last paper in it’s mailbox as the sun rises over a sleepy Sunne. Also, it’s perfect when you have a 14-year-old dog that you don’t want to leave alone for too long, working nights when the dogs’ daddy is at home with them. But this past week, I’ve actually subbed as a library assistant, which I really enjoyed! I feel almost as though, after 32 years, I’ve finally found my calling. :) I’m crossing my fingers for more library work in the future!

 

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Förra helgen jobbade ideellt jag som tävlingssekreterare på Karlstad BKs rallytävlingar, mitt första sekreterarjobb sen jag gjorde färdigt min utbildning maj. Det var så roligt och givande! Då det var en väldigt stor tävling (dubbla starter i alla klasser) så var vi fyra stycken som jobbade i sekretariatet, perfekt för mig som var nybörjare. Nu känner jag mig redo för 11 oktober då jag ska jobba ensam som sekreterare på rallytävlingen hos Munkfors BK. I Karlstad var jag även protokollskrivare, och det är alltid intressant att få sitta bredvid en duktig domare och höra hur hon resonerar om momentens utförande och bedömning. Mycket lärorikt!

Det bästa i Karlstad var nog ändå den starka känslan av att vara en del av något. Under mina år sedan studenten 2002 så har jag aldrig bott så länge på ett och samma ställe som jag gjort nu, efter snart tre år i Värmland. Det blev så påtagligt i Karlstad, när jag kände igen folk bland både funktionärer och tävlande. När det var så många ekipage som jag brydde mig om och hejade på. När jag hittade dit utan GPS. Jag trivs med att vara rotad. Det passar mig att få ställa upp och jobba ideellt och känna att min tid är värd något för någon.

Av samma anledning ser jag fram emot hösten på Sunne BK. Jag kommer att hålla två kurser, en valpkurs och en fortsättningskurs i rallylydnad. Det är fantastiskt att få dela med sig av sin kunskap, att få klura och planera på hur jag kan göra det på bästa sätt. Min svaghet som instruktör är inte att jag blir nervös eller så, utan att det är SÅ mycket som jag vill förmedla att det ibland är svårt att göra det på ett strukturerat sätt. ;) Det känns extra kul att bästa Anna kommer med och är hjälpinstruktör på valpkursen! Det passar bra eftersom hon snart får hem sin nya valp, en ljuvlig liten finsk lapphundspojke som heter Lumi.

Last weekend, I did some volunteer work as a competition secretary at the rally obedience competitions in Karlstad. My first official secretary job since I finished my education in May. It was so much fun, and so rewarding! It was a big competition with about 260 rounds of rally obedience, so there were four of us working in the secretariat, which was perfect for a beginner like me. Now I feel ready for October 11, when I will do the job by myself at the much smaller competition in Munkfors. In Karlstad, I also did some work writing protocols for two of the judges, and it’s so interesting to sit next to them and hear their reasoning about the performances and the way they judge them.

But the best part of being in Karlstad was how much I felt like a part of it all. During my years since graduation back in 2002, I’ve never lived in one place as long as I have these almost three years in Värmland. It became so clear to me in Karlstad, when I recognised so many people, both competitors and staff. There were so many people and dogs that I cared about and cheered for. And I found my way there without using a GPS! I enjoy this feeling of being rooted. I love volunteering for these kinds of things, and the feeling that the time I put down means something to someone.

For the same reason, I’m looking forward to the autumn at my local dog club in Sunne. I’ll be teaching two classes, one puppy class and one advanced rally obedience. It’s amazing to get to share my knowledge, to ponder and plan how to do it in the best possible way. My weakness as an instructor is not nerves or anything like that, but that there’s SO much that I want to teach that I sometimes find it difficult to do so in a structured manner. ;) I’m extra excited for the puppy class because my friend Anna will be my assistant! I know she will be a great one too, especially as she will soon be picking up her new puppy, an adorable Finnish Lapphund boy named Lumi.

 

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Men mitt eget tävlande då? Ja, det har faktiskt inte blivit någonting i sommar. På de få tävlingar som varit så har jag antingen varit bortrest eller varit funktionär. Men nu är det på gång! Tintin är anmäld till två fortsättningsklasser, och gissa vad? Jag ska även låna Finn av Anna och köra nybörjarklass! Anna har varit i valet och kvalet ett tag, men nu “kidnappar” jag min gudson så att hans matte får se att det går bra, och sen kan Anna fortsätta tävla honom nästa år. Smart va! :) Jag älskar att tävla nybörjarklass, så det ska bli riktigt kul att få debutera med en till hund.

But what about my own competing? Well, I actually haven’t competed at all this summer. For the few competitions that have actually been held, I’ve been travelling or volunteering. Soon, though! Tintin is entered for two rounds in the graduate class, and guess what? I’m also going to borrow Finn from Anna and start him in the novice class! Anna has been considering it for a while, but now I’m “kidnapping” my godson to prove to his owner that he can do it, and then Anna can take over and compete with him next year. Isn’t that a clever plan! :) I love competing in the novice class, so I’m really looking forward to starting up a new dog.

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Våra egna fyrbenta mår bra. Aska har gått på en mild smärtstillande/antiinflammatorisk medicin sedan i maj för att avhjälpa stelheten som hon tidigare drabbades av efter långpromenader. Det har funkat hur fint som helst – hon har inte visat någon stelhet i höfterna på hela sommaren! Det har lett till att vi har vågat motionera henne mer, vilket såklart i sin tur har lett till mer muskler som kan bära upp höfterna. En god cirkel! Ruth hänger fortfarande med på nästan alla långpromenader, men hon får dispens när det är regnväder för det gillar hon inte. Jaja, när en är 14 år gammal så måste en få lite prinsessbehandling. ;) Jag är så lycklig över att hon fortfarande är så pass pigg och verkar njuta av tillvaron. Håller tummarna för en mild vinter då snö och kyla inte heller är Ruths melodi.

Tintin råkade ut för en elak magsjuka nu i veckan och fick ligga inne hos veterinären över dagen för att få dropp så att han inte skulle bli uttorkad. Men han är som bekant Herr Plåtmage och repade sig väldigt fort, så skönt. Nu äter han skonkost ett litet tag och peppar, peppar så verkar magen vara precis som vanligt. Sirius är sitt vanliga perfekta jag (om en frågar hans smått partiska matte alltså). Han får njuta lugnet ett tag nu, för sen så ska Finn och Lumi vara här i två veckor medan Anna och Mikael åker på semester. För valpar, det är pest och pina om ni frågar Sirius. :P Då förvandlas han från Sankte Sirius till Sirius Surgubbe. Men vi har preppat med barngrindar från IKEA så han ska slippa ifrån det hemska lilla monstret så mycket som möjligt.

Och på tal om valpar… Erik och jag har börjat planera för vår nästa hund. “Va, FEM hundar?!” tänker ni kanske. Jo, fast även om de mår bra för dagen så är varken Ruth, Aska eller Sirius några ungdomar längre. Jag vill gärna att vår nästa hund ska få vara med dem en tid, och jag känner mig redo för en valp. Tintin var ju bara Eriks hund från början; vi bodde inte tillsammans förrän Tintin var ungefär sex månader. Och jag försökte medvetet att inte lägga mig i Tintins tidiga träning så mycket, för jag ville att han skulle få vara Eriks hund. Sen hur det gick med det är väl en annan historia… *harkel* Men med andra ord så har jag inte haft en egen valp sen Sirius var bebis, alltså för 11 (!) år sedan. Jag har lärt mig så mycket under de åren, kunskap som jag nu längtar efter att få ta med mig in i en relation med ytterligare ett litet fyrbent hjärtebarn. Om allt går som jag hoppas så blir vi med valp i slutet på 2015. Det känns så spännande! :D Valparna på bilderna nedanför har redan sina nya hem, men förhoppningsvis blir det en liknande skrutt som flyttar hem till oss!

Our own furbabies are doing well. Aska has been taking a mild painkiller/anti-inflammatory pill daily since May, to help with the occasional stiffness she used to experience after long walks. It has worked so well – she hasn’t shown  stiffness in her hips even once this whole summer! Of course, this has led to us allowing her more exercise, which in turn has led to her building more muscle to support her hips. A good cricle! Ruth is still tagging along for almost all of our long walks, but she gets dispensation on rainy days because she does not enjoy bad weather. Oh well, when you’re 14 years old I suppose you’re entitled to some princess treatment. ;) I’m so grateful that she’s still doing so well and seems to be enjoying her life. I’m crossing my fingers for a mild winter, as she also doesn’t enjoy the cold and the snow.

Tintin suffered from a nasty stomach bug this past week, and had to be admitted to the vets for a drip to make sure he wasn’t dehydrated. But he’s not known as Mr Tin-Stomach for naught, and thankfully he recovered quickly. He’ll be on a special diet for 10 days, but – touch wood – he seems to be back to normal already. Sirius is his usual perfect self (if you ask his ever so slightly biased mum). He’s enjoying the calm before the storm, as Finn and Lumi will soon be staying with us for a couple of weeks while Anna and Mikael go on holiday. Because puppies are utterly useless and very annoying, if you ask Sirius. :P Around them, he transforms from Saint Sirius to Sirius the Sour. But we’ve prepped our place with children’s gates from IKEA, so that he won’t have to be around the little monster too much.

And speaking of puppies… Erik and I are planning for our next dog. “What, FIVE dogs?!” you might be thinking. Yes, but even though they are doing all right at the moment, neither Ruth, Aska nor Sirius are youngsters anymore. I would love for our next dog to share some time with them, and I feel so ready for a puppy. Tintin was supposed to be Erik’s dog from the start, and we didn’t live together until Tintin was about six months. I purposely tried not to get involved with Tintin’s early training, as I wanted him to be Erik’s dog. How that turned out in the end is a different story… ;) But in other words, I haven’t had my own puppy since Sirius was a baby, which was 11 (!) years ago. I’ve learned so much in those years, and I can’t wait to bring that knowledge into a relationship with another little furbaby. If everything goes according to plan, I hope that we will have a new family member by the end of 2015. I’m so excited! :D The little darlings pictured above are already booked for their new homes, but hopefully it will be a similar wee thing that moves in with us!

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july birthdays!

dogs
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Eight days ago, it was Sirius’ 11th birthday! And, as Hagrid said, “It’s not everyday your young man turns eleven, now, is it?”

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Yes, totally taking the Crazy Dog Lady thing and my Harry Potter obsession to new levels! :D

And today, it’s Ruth’s 14th birthday! ♥

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I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you… Happy Birthday, precious, perfect, amazing girl!

Today’s dog cake: A base of wet cat food topped with spreadable cheese. Decorated with dog treats, carrots, black pudding, bacon, and dog biscuits. It went down well! ;)

äntligen en klövjeväska! / a dog pack, at last!

dogs
3 Comments

Jösses, så länge som jag har tänkt köpa en klövja till Tintin! Men har velat hit och dit mellan märken och modeller, inte vetat om jag skulle beställa en skräddarsydd eller en justerbar massproducerad. Men efter att ha läst och lyssnat i den supertrevliga Facebookgruppen Vandra med hund i Sverige så föll valet till sist på en Palisades Pack från Ruffwear. Naturligtvis så köpte jag den från Vildhunden.se, den absolut bästa och trevligaste hundbutiken på hela nätet! :) Tanken är att den ska användas till vardagsträning såväl som till framtida vandringsäventyr.

Vi hämtade ut klövjeväskan på posten igår kväll, och idag blev det en premiärpromenad. Världens bästa Tin var så otroligt tålmodig medan jag justerade remmarna hit och dit. Han var helt obrydd av att bära en väska för första gången och betedde sig precis som vanligt. Jag hade tänkt att han skulle få bära tom väska för att prova på, men ändrade mig och tog med lite “fika” till oss – en banan till mig i ena väskan, en morot till honom i den andra. Men ja, note to self: stoppa inte banan i klövjeväskan när du har en hund som gärna rullar sig – även med väskor på! :P Tack och lov så höll skalet, men bananen blev helt mosad inuti, så Tin fick både banan och morot. Förutom att rulla sig så gick det även jättebra att plaska i bäcken, jonglera med kottar, springa i både trav och full galopp och skutta runt i skogen. Känner mig supernöjd med vårt val av klövjeväska! :)

I’ve been meaning to buy a dog pack for Tintin for so long! But I haven’t been able to make up my mind about the make and model, or whether to buy a custom made pack just for Tin or an adjustable pack from a big brand. But after reading so many positive reviews in my favourite hiking group on Facebook, I finally decided to go for the Palisades Pack from Ruffwear. I’m planning on using it both for everyday training and for future hiking trips.

We picked up the pack last night, and today Tin and I took it for a trial run. My darling pup, he was SO patient while I fiddled with and adjusted the straps. He wasn’t the least bit bothered by carrying the pack for the first time, and just bounced along as always. I’d planned for him to carry an empty pack just to try it, but then I changed my mind and packed a couple of “snacks” for us – a banana for me in one bag, and a carrot for Tintin in the other. But, well, Note to Self: Don’t put a banana in the pack when you have a dog who likes to roll over – even while carrying a pack! :P Thankfully, the banana skin didn’t break, but it was completely squashed inside, so Tin got both the banana and the carrot. Aside from rolling, he also managed to splash about in the little stream, juggle pine cones, both trot and gallop and jump around in the woods. Yes, so far I’m very pleased with our choice of dog pack! :)

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summer critters

dogs, various creatures
1 Comment

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Photo session with my beautiful Ruth last night. ♥

 

twenty years with my four legged friends

dogs
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I’m not really one for anniversaries, but considering how important my dogs are and always have been to me, this is a big one. This summer, I celebrate 20 years as a dog owner! Or, if you prefer, 20 years of being owned by at least one dog. ;)

I have never really been able to figure out why I love dogs so much. My parents like dogs, sure, but they’re not the kind of people who would turn their lives around to accommodate a dog, and definitely not two, three, or four dogs. I don’t even know when my dog infatuation began. I remember that when I was very little I dreamed of a kitten, but somewhere along the way that dream morphed into wanting a dog. I was bullied during my first year or two of school, and combined with reading a lot of books featuring animals, I suspect that I became enchanted with the idea of a dog as a friend. A dog who wouldn’t judge or tease, who would be as loyal and and love as unconditionally as all of those fictional dogs.

I know that I started begging for a puppy around the age of ten. I even began getting up early in the morning to take a walk before school, just to prove to my parents that I could take care of a dog. They finally caved in the early summer of 1995, when I was twelve years old. And that’s when my story begins, because I want to celebrate my twenty years as a dog owner by telling you about the dogs that I’ve had the privilege of sharing my life with.

When I say “my dogs”, I don’t necessarily mean dogs that I have owned, but dogs that I have at some point or other felt responsible for. This is why, for example, my grandparents’ dogs won’t be seen here, even though I’ve loved them, too.

SANDY – Happyends Magical Strange Love

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I wanted a dog so badly. I was consumed with the idea. And I knew that I wanted a Border Collie, a male. Because those were always the most loyal and intelligent dogs in the books that I read. Fortunately, when the time came to actually get a dog, I had somehow been informed that a Border Collie might not be the best first dog for a girl of twelve years old. Alas. The next best thing? A Rough Collie. I was also advised that a bitch would be easier than a dog, and my parents, whose families had always had bitches, agreed. But where to find this Rough Collie girl?

This was 1995, mind, so researching breeders online like we do nowadays wasn’t really an option. I remember looking for ads in the Kennel Club’s magazine, and perhaps we even called the breed club. But then, one morning, there it was in our local morning paper – an ad for Rough Collie puppies. My mother called the breeder, and we went there to have a look. I wished for a tricolour and there was a tricolour bitch, but the breeder was going to keep her. The only available bitch was a sable, called Sandy.

Today, I know that this isn’t a responsible way to buy a dog. In 1995, I didn’t know and I probably wouldn’t have cared. There was a puppy. She was mine.

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When I think back on it, there was a lot of irony about Sandy. We chose a female Rough Collie because a male Border Collie would have been too difficult. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been, but Sandy was not an easy dog. She didn’t have that mild temperament so many Collies have. She was stubborn and feisty, and she didn’t have much time or patience for an inexperienced twelve-year-old girl. She promptly decided that she was my dad’s dog (he’s the kind of person that all dogs are drawn to, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised), and I had to work hard to get her to pay any attention to me. We went to puppy class and then more training classes. When I think back on the “methods” that were used back then, I can see why Sandy didn’t respect me.

All that said, I was happy. Being a dog owner was perhaps not the rose-tinted dream of my books, but it was still so right. In the fall of 1997, the local Collie Club arranged a day out in the woods where we got to try on tracking. Sandy turned out to be a natural, and the instructor was very impressed. I remember that she said something like, “If you won’t compete with that dog, I’ll steal her and do it!” I was thrilled; finally something that my dog and I could enjoy together.

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Sadly, Sandy and I never got the chance of taking a tracking class or growing closer. On February 10, 1998, she died in an accident. I was almost fifteen years old, and I met death and loss and heartbreak for the first time.

LAISA – Limetree Dream On

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Laisa on the right, with her friend Lasse.

Laisa was my elderly neighbours’ Rough Collie. She moved in with them in the summer of 1997, and of course I couldn’t resist ambushing them in the street to cuddle that adorable puppy. She soon became Sandy’s best friend, and I often borrowed Laisa to walk them together, even more frequently after Laisa’s master passed away. Laisa’s mum was the sweetest woman, and she would always insist on giving me money for ice cream when walking Laisa. I was embarrassed to accept the money, because walking Laisa was a treat for me. It was my first glimpse of that life I dreamed of, with many dogs. Laisa’s owner even let me take her to dog training class, and I found that Laisa was more eager to work with me than Sandy was. That said, Laisa had her own issues. She was a rather nervous Collie, and afraid of many things. Her owners were a bit too old for a young, energetic dog when they got her, and so Laisa spent a lot of time tied up in the garden, with very little exercise or training. But she was so loved by them, and she almost exploded with excitement whenever I showed up to take her along for a walk, her tail wagging madly.

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She was still with her owner when I graduated from school and moved away from home, but I saw her several times while visiting during later years, and she always greeted me with the same excitement.

FRIDA – Steadwyn Seabound

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Frida. Beautiful, perfect Frida.

After Sandy died so unexpectedly and tragically, I ripped all the Collie pictures and posters from the walls in my room and swore that I would never have a dog again. But about a week later, I realised that the best way to get through the heartbreak would probably be with the help of a new dog. By this time in my life, we had met some local Collie people, and one of them was Micael of kennel Seabound. He was planning a litter from one of his bitches, Frida, but the mating didn’t take. So instead, he suggested that I’d borrow Frida for a while so that I wouldn’t have to be without a dog.

Frida was my first real love.

I have no clue why, but for some reason she chose me. She decided that she preferred me even to my dad, and she did all of those things that I’d dreamed of – slept by my bed, walked perfectly on the lead, stayed close to me always. At four years old, she was sweet and steady and so, so beautiful. I felt honoured, elated that she would be my friend. I never did any dog sports with Frida during our brief time together. She was nothing more or less than a friend. She helped me heal, and she showed me how easy and right it could be to share my life with a dog.

It was very difficult to let her go, even though I had a new puppy by then. To this day, I’m so grateful to Micael for letting me borrow Frida. She forever set the standard for me of what a relationship with a dog should be like.

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A completely blissful 15-year-old me, with one Rough Collie of each colour.

SAGA – Amynatas Blonde-Babe

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In the spring of 1998, there seemed to be a serious shortage of Rough Collie puppies in mid-Sweden. I had learned a little more by then, and I knew that buying a dog through a random ad in the local paper wasn’t a good idea. The Internet was more accessible, and more breeders had their own home pages. I looked and looked, but now I had some standards, too. I wanted a dog that I could work with, from good parents. I’ve thought about it later, and I wonder why I didn’t return to the idea of a Border Collie at this point. But I had my sights set on a Rough Collie bitch again, and finally we found her. Her father was a successful show dog but also a working dog, and I was sure that she would be a great obedience and tracking dog. And this time, I knew that I didn’t have to keep the name the breeder had given her. So I gave her a name that I had chosen many years before, the most beautiful name I knew.

Saga.

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Saga, who spent countless hours and days at the dog club with me. Saga, whom I dragged to obedience and agility and tracking classes, and even obedience competitions. Saga, who was supposed to be my first “dog sports dog”, but who really was the perfect family dog. She loved the whole family, and she loved our home. Her favourite place was underneath the maple tree in the garden, where she would sit and keep an eye on the street and alert us to dangers like cats and pedestrians. Saga was the kindest, sweetest, most obedient dog.

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She would not tolerate the neighbours’ cats, but she loved ours. My little sister and I had two kittens from the same litter, and Saga promptly adopted them. They would curl up with her, she would let them share her food bowl, and when they got a little bigger they would join us for walks. Saga also became friends with Laisa, and had a lovely calming effect on her.

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Really, it was almost as though Saga was an old dog from the time she was a year old. She wasn’t one for adventures, and she didn’t like new environments. So when I graduated from school in 2002, there was never really a question about where Saga should go. She stayed at my parents’ house, where she liked it best and where she could sit under her beloved maple tree. Of course, I saw her at home all the time and I even lived there later, but even when I returned to Sweden after my time in England I never considered moving Saga.

She was so good about welcoming my other dogs to her home, and she was an excellent mentor for Aska. Even today, Aska lights up when she meets a Rough Collie. She can be ever so bossy with other dogs, but she just loves Collies.

I know that the maple tree annoyed my dad to no end in the fall, when the leaves got everywhere. But he would not take the tree down while Saga was still there. She lived to be eleven years old and passed away in the early spring of 2009. Her framed photograph has a place of honour right by the front door at my parents’ house. Even my little sister, who cannot be considered a dog person by any definition, has a special place in her heart for Saga.

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RUTH – Mastamariner White Ensign

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Ruth on the agility course, summer of 2002.

Ruth, my fairytale dog.

I’ve written out our story in great detail before, but that doesn’t make it any less fabulous. For those of you who don’t know, after graduating from school in 2002, I went to England to work as a kennel girl. And guess what breeds they have at “my” kennel? That’s right, Golden Retrievers and Border Collies. I was beyond excited to go there. I stalked the kennel’s website for months and read about all of the dogs, over and over again until I felt like I already knew them. By looks, my favourite was a male named Scrumpy. He looked exactly like the dogs on the covers of my childhood books. Now, that young bitch with the little dark face and the enormous ears, I didn’t really notice her…

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Ruth, spring of 2002. Photo by Catherine Everitt.

…until the day I actually arrived. I became homesick, out of the blue, even though everything was as great as I had hoped. But what do you know, suddenly she was there, wagging her tail like a propeller and showering me in her special Ruthie kisses. And that was it. Love at first sight, like I had never experienced it before. Ruth was gentle as Frida, but she was young and energetic and up for a lot of fun and agility. She was – and is – just a little bit cheeky. My kennel mum Catherine and I would always refer to her as “Perfect Ruth”, all while my kennel dad Graham would grumble good-naturedly that Ruth was utterly spoiled and that we completely failed to see her naughty side. Actually, to this day, Ruth is the only dog I’ve ever had that can get away with simply reaching up to the table and snatch something off my plate without getting even a gentle scolding. Because you just don’t scold Perfect Ruth.

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Enjoying a grooming session together, summer of 2002. Photo by Catherine Everitt.

What makes us love a certain dog so much? All of the dogs at the kennel were wonderful. Ruth’s parents for example, Hercules and Deborah, were equally wonderful, but there was never that connection. Have you ever experienced that feeling, when you look into a dog’s eyes, that there’s just something there, between you? I hope that you have, and if not, that you someday will.

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Ruth and me out hiking, a few weeks ago. Photo by Erik. ♥

Part of the fairytale is how we met and fell in love, the other part is how I was allowed to make Ruth a permanent part of my life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it forever – thank you Catherine and Graham for letting me have Ruth. I know that she was seven, almost eight years old, when I brought her over to Sweden with me. Some people would say that it’s stupid to take on a dog that old, because you will have so little time together. But what you must understand is that Ruth was always a part of my life from the day I met her, even when she wasn’t with me. I would have chosen to share my life with her if it had only been for six months. Now it has been six years, and I’ve been grateful for every single day. Ruth and I have never competed in anything, never proven anything to anyone. We’ve just been the best and closest of friends, and that’s what we’ll always be, together or not.

CAPTAIN – Mastamariner Captain

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Oh Captain, my Captain…

I guess that Captain shouldn’t really be on this list, in the sense that he wasn’t really mine. I was never responsible for him as such, but we still had a very close bond. I wrote a special entry about him two years ago when he passed away. Now, I struggle to find the right words to write here. The Captain part of my heart is still hurting badly, and my eyes fill up with tears as I think of him.

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Photo by Catherine Everitt.

Besides being who he was, Captain was important to me for several reasons. He was the first dog I got to follow from birth to adulthood. The first dog that I got to train that had a real aptitude for obedience (Ruth is of course obedient, but she’s never had any interest in heelwork and down-stays). Practising with Captain, I discovered just how fun and easy dog training can be. Before Captain, I was under that strange misconception that bitches are easier to manage than dogs. He certainly proved that theory wrong, a thousand times over. Captain was just… a perfect dog, all kindness. The storybook dog who would do anything you asked of him.

I really, really miss him.

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ASKA – RLD N Mastamariner Dawn Treader

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June, 2004. Photo by Märit Söderqvist.

It really wasn’t possible to live at my kennel and not dream of a Border Collie of my own. Of course, Ruth was the perfect dog and there was no one I wanted more than her, but she was part of the family and I would never have dreamed that she would one day be mine. So, I set my hopes on the next best thing – a little sister from the same parents as Ruth. I wanted a Ruth clone, a dog who would be exactly like her but my very own. It was December, and I had been at the kennel for almost six months, when Ruth’s mother Deborah finally came into season. I was going home for Christmas, but I had saved up quite a bit of money during my time in England. I asked Catherine if I could leave that money with her as a deposit for my puppy. Even if that mating didn’t take, I knew that I wanted a puppy from this kennel sooner or later. But she wouldn’t accept my money. I was completely confused, and I couldn’t believe it when she said that she didn’t want any money, because she and Graham had decided to give me a puppy. That was one of the happiest moments of my life. Because I knew that they wouldn’t just give a puppy away to anyone; I knew that it was proof that I was special to them.

I went home for Christmas, and I didn’t return until Deborah’s puppies were five weeks old. It’s one of my big regrets, that I let someone persuade me to stay in Sweden then, so that I wasn’t there when Aska was born. But my cousin Rebecca was, and I remember chatting with her during the whelping. I was hoping so desperately for a black and white bitch… and in the end, there were three! When I finally came over to meet them, I thought that I would get whichever puppy that hadn’t been picked by the people who were actually buying a puppy. Catherine just laughed at that and said that of course I had first pick. But how to choose? I had never had the opportunity before. Sandy was the only option in 1995 and Saga was the only one left of her litter in 1998, having been returned to the breeder.

One of the little black and white girls just didn’t “speak” to me. She was gorgeous, but I just didn’t feel the connection. Of the other two, one was heavier and calmer, the other the smallest one in the litter, cute as a button, and very bossy. I adored both of them, but in the end I chose the smallest one, because I didn’t really want another laid-back dog like Saga.

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Really, how could I not have picked her?!

But what to name her? I’d read in a Swedish dog book that dogs respond well to two syllable names and to the letters S and K. Anna and… Aska! “Aska” is Swedish for “ash”. For her pedigree name I played with the idea of “Black Ash”, but in the end I went along with the Mastamariner marine theme. I chose the name of the only ship that I have any feelings for whatsoever – The Dawn Treader of the Narnia books.

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First day in Sweden! At my parents house, with Saga.

Aska. My precious, beautiful girl. My sneaky little Slytherin dog, who knows exactly how cute she is and how to take advantage of this. Aska, who has been with me for twelve years, longer than any other dog I’ve known. Aska, who has moved with me from England to Hudiksvall to Sollefteå, back to England again, then on to Karlstad, Hudiksvall, Tierp, Forsa, Sundsvall, Bredsand, and finally Sunne. Ten times in twelve years, and she’s been beside me all the time.

If there is one of all of my dogs that I wish I could have a do over with, it’s Aska. Not because we’ve moved so many times, that was never a problem. But because it took me so long to learn to listen to her and respect her. She has always been stubborn and she has a lot of integrity. I didn’t know how to handle this and when I asked for advice, I was told to be stricter and firmer with her. To “show her who was boss”. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I lost a lot of her trust, and it took years to rebuild.

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Early spring of 2004 – I remember thinking that she looked SO grown-up! :)

When it comes to training, Aska has been sadly overshadowed by her little brother, something I also regret. We were still patching things up when Sirius entered our lives, so biddable and willing, so I stopped doing formal obedience training with Aska. When I discovered rally obedience a few years back, I fell into my old ways and started competing with Sirius. But when I randomly tried it with Aska last fall, she surprised me and performed four rounds of 100-100-99-90 points, all in one weekend. Just imagine if I’d been able to nurture all of that potential from the beginning…

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June, 2004.

I know that Aska has forgiven me for my mistakes, and I know that she is very pleased with me for choosing Erik to be in our lives. She has taught me that it’s never a good idea to force a dog, that there’s always a gentle solution as long as you have the patience. And she has showed me that every dog is unique – even if you get a dog of the same sex and colour and parentage as one that you admire, it’s still a completely different individual. I wanted a Ruth clone but I got something entirely different. Different, but just as wonderful and perfect once I learned to appreciate the dog that is there, not the one I thought I would have.

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STRAUSS, SUSSI & BARKLEY

During the school year of 2003-2004, I attended the Dog Trainer Academy in Sollefteå, Sweden. There, besides general subjects like obedience training and dog healthcare, we studied six special branches of dog training: guide dog training, tracking, search and rescue, protection work, patrolling and guarding, and substance detection. For practical experience, all of us students got to borrow “school dogs” to practice with. These dogs were supposed to live in the school kennels, only to come home with us very occasionally.

My first school dog was Strauss, a Tervueren.

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In Strauss, I met my first really nervous and stressed dog. I had no clue how to handle him, and in hindsight I know that he shouldn’t have been at the school at all. He couldn’t handle the stressful environment, and because of it he was never really in the right state of mind to receive any training. I think that in a very calm, peaceful environment with steady routines and an owner with lots of patience, Strauss could have been a happy dog. The school didn’t really have a patient approach,though, but more one of discipline, so I was instructed to try and “subdue” him. This kind of “training” doesn’t go well with my personality, so I wasn’t very successful. We attempted guide dog and tracking training together, but neither suited Strauss at all. But dogs are amazing creatures; even though Strauss was under constant stress and a lot of pressure, he was always kind and loved to cuddle. I was happy when we switched dogs within the class and Strauss went to my classmate Gerd. She was a lot more experienced than I was, and with her help he managed to calm down a little.

And I got the complete opposite of Strauss – Sussi the Labrador Retriever.

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Sussi was a bit older, about three years old I think, and such a sweetie. She was rather laid back and not an ideal working dog – she didn’t like our training sessions much, but loved it when I took her home with me and she was allowed to sleep on the bed. I felt like I had failed with Strauss, so I was very determined to do a good job with Sussi. I was especially relentless when it came to her obedience training, and I know that we managed to impress my instructor during our final obedience exam together. We didn’t do quite as well with our special training, search and rescue, but I still learned a lot.

My third and last dog at the Dog Trainer Academy was also my favourite, Barkley the Malinois.

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Barkley was with me for three special branches – substance detection, protection work, and patrolling and guarding. He didn’t have that typical “edge” that so many Malinoises have, that seriousness that makes them such good police dogs. No, Barkley was a soft and silly dog, full of fun and games. He came straight from a kennel in Belgium so he had zero training and wasn’t housebroken, but he was biddable and enjoyed learning new things. During our time together, I learned about clicker training for the first time, and we loved exploring it together.

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Substance detection on the left, obedience training on the right.

He was way too bouncy to enjoy the stillness and quiet of patrolling and guarding, and with his gentle temperament he didn’t really have the physical toughness for protection work. However, he excelled at nose work and we made some really good progress in substance detection. After I graduated, Barkley actually went on to train as a mine detection dog for the Swedish Army. Sadly, he passed away from an illness before he ever went on active duty. He was an excellent dog and I’m grateful that I got the chance to work with him.

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EXI – Kulla Gulla’s Exitha

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After finishing at the Dog Trainer Academy, I decided to return to England with Aska to work at the kennel again. My boyfriend at the time didn’t like the idea of being by himself without a dog. He had liked Sussi a lot, so we investigated the possibility of adopting a Labrador that hadn’t passed the guide dog tests. This turned out to be very complicated, but at the same time my classmate Nadine said that she was looking for a new home for her young Rottweiler girl, Exi. Exi didn’t show a lot of promise as a working dog, so Nadine wanted a nice pet home for her. So, Exi moved in with us!

My family was really worried – a Rottweiler! One of those angry, bloodthirsty beasts! :) It was very amusing to introduce them to Exi, who was the sweetest and the kindest. Very soon, they realised that she was just a big cuddle bug, and a lot calmer than Aska. As planned, Exi stayed with my ex boyfriend while Aska and I returned to England. When we returned with Sirius the year after, all of us lived in Karlstad where we rented the second floor of Nadine’s mother’s house, before we moved to Tierp.

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Once in Tierp, my ex started studying again, and he was away from home for weeks at a time. It was then that we realised that Exi wasn’t as happy as we would have liked her to be. I loved her, but she didn’t really want to hang out with the Border Collies. There was no aggression or anything between them, but while Aska and Sirius would always lie next to me, Exi would just sigh and go to a different room. No matter how much I encouraged her and tried to make her feel like a part of the pack, she would just withdraw.

We didn’t like the idea of re-homing her, since she had already had one home before us. I told myself that I wasn’t the kind of person who would just re-home a dog. But then I looked at Exi, and I had to face the fact that she wasn’t happy with us anymore. We decided to look for a new home, but to only let her go if the perfect person turned up. We saw a couple of people, but neither of them were good enough. But then, she appeared. Her name is Anna-Karolina, and incidentally she’s also from Hudiksvall, my home town. She came by to meet Exi, and from the moment they saw each other, it was a done deal. They were just meant to be. Exi went to live with Anna-Karolina, and they were a perfect match.

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Exi lived a long and happy life with her new mummy, until she passed away last year. I’m so glad to have known this gentle giant, and for the important lesson she taught me – that even if you love a dog with all of your heart, you may still not be the right owner for her.

SIRIUS – LP1 RLD N RLD F RLD A RLD M Mastamariner Sirius Blue

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When I was about ten years old, I read a book called Dogsbody by Dianna Wynne Jones. The main character in the book is the celestial body of Sirius, trapped in the body of a dog. I loved the story, but most of all I loved the name – Sirius. I decided then and there that I would name my first dog Sirius. Naturally, he would be a Border Collie. But of course, you already know from what you’ve read above that this didn’t happen.

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Sirius wasn’t planned, but if anything in my life was meant to be, it was him. I wrote a long entry about Sirius (with like a million pictures) for his birthday last year.

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I really don’t know what else to write about Sirius. What has he taught me? How right and easy it can be to love. How amazing it feels when I dare to overcome my fears and succeed. I don’t want to call Sirius my “once in a lifetime dog”, because I’m sure that there are many amazing dogs that I’ve yet to meet. But at the same time, I can’t really comprehend how anyone could possibly compare to him.

TINTIN – RLD N Trollyckes Atlas

When Tintin appeared in my life, in Erik’s arms, I felt pretty confident. After all, I’d trained a few dogs by then. I’d read countless books, worked at a kennel, gone to dog training school, and taught dog training classes. Surely, I’d seen it all?

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Well, as it turns out – not really! I’ve never met a dog quite like Tintin. We keep joking about how he’s more like a cat than a dog, and that’s pretty accurate. He’s incredibly intelligent, but not necessarily easy to train. While Sirius will obey “blindly”, Tintin always asks, “But why?” I understood early on that there’s no point in trying to force Tintin to do things. To work with him, I need to be kind, patient, and stubborn. There are no short cuts or easy fixes, but lots of thinking and planning. But when all of that pays off, it’s the best feeling.

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Photo by Erik. ♥

When competing with Sirius, I’ve only really had to think about my own performance, because I’ve been able to trust that Sirius will always do what he’s supposed to. With Tintin, I hardly have time for my nerves or worries, because all of my attention has to be on him. From thinking that he would never be able to compete in anything, to our latest rally obedience competition when he was a real star, Tintin has grown so much. I never thought that I would love him as much as I do, never thought we’d be as close as we are now.

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I’ve never met another dog with as much character as Tintin. He makes me laugh out loud every single day, and I play with him more than I have with any other dog. Now I know that I definitely haven’t “seen it all” – living with and training Tintin has made me humble, and I’ve realised how little I really do know. But working with him has given me a much sounder attitude towards dog training, and because of it I feel like I’m ready for anything in our next dog. :)

To love a dog is to set yourself up for heartbreak. With most human relationships that we choose – friends, partners, children – we may expect them to last our whole lives. I know that sometimes they don’t, but it’s not an impossible thing. But when we bring home a little bundle of puppy fluff, we know with absolute certainty that we have no more than about fifteen years before we have to part. Fifteen years is still a substantial amount of time. Enough time to get to know each other inside out, to fall into perfect routines, to learn every little quirk about each other. To love so much and so long that it becomes an essential part of who you are. And we do this, we let ourselves love like this even though we know that it must end.

Why do we do it? Because it’s worth it. Even with the loss and the heartbreak and the grief, the love of a dog is worth it. You know that saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” I think that whoever said it must have been talking about a dog.

Thank you Sandy, Laisa, Frida, Saga, Ruth, Captain, Aska, Strauss, Sussi, Barkley, Exi, Sirius, and Tintin. Thank you for being my dogs, for letting me be your human for however long or short period of time. Thank you for teaching me so much, for all the laughs and the friendship and closeness. For being a part of my worst moments and my best ones.

Here’s to the next 20 years! I don’t know what they will hold, but I’m hoping that somewhere down the road I’ll meet a Kirkko, an Orion, and a Kaylee… :)

utflykt med favvolappisarna / hanging with our favourite lappies

dogs, people
5 Comments

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Anna & Finn är hundvakt till söta Dolly några dagar, och då passade vi såklart på att träffas för lite mys, bus, vatten och sand. :) / Anna and Finn are looking after adorable Dolly for a few days, so of course we had to meet up to enjoy some cuddles, games, water, and sand. :)

själsgodis / sweets for the soul

dogs, life in general, nature, people, various creatures
1 Comment

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tjo! / whoop!

dogs, life in general, people, various creatures
Comments Off on tjo! / whoop!

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Våren alltså! :D Lergrus, dammsugarmaraton, överkonsumption av romantiska ungdomsböcker, gulsparvsinvasioner, nalkande hundkursstarter, te på trappen, sol i ansiktet. Imorgon drar Sirius och jag till Hudiksvall, lite för att det är påsk, mycket för alla fina som jag ska krama på där. Hepp!

Spring! :D Dirty floors and hoover marathons, excessive consumption of romantic young adult novels, Yellowhammer invasions, dog training classes about to begin, tea outside, lots of sunshine. Tomorrow, Sirius and I are heading for Hudiksvall. A little bit to celebrate Easter, a lot to hug all the lovely people there. Yay!

just a perfect day

dogs, people
1 Comment

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Tack för en fin utflykt, Anna, Mikael & Finn! / Thank you for a nice outing, Anna, Mikael & Finn!