TabanyaRuu Osa was the only male in my first litter, his parents Smuu and Tuukka were my first ever Lappies; first litters are always special, but this one even more so. A bonus is that it is captured in loving details across a whole photo album, yes, back in those days I actually printed photos out! I don't think I've ever done it since, nowadays photos reside in the computer or external hard drive, but there we are in all our young, fresh faced glory, smiling at the camera, pups in arms, owners beaming, puppies looking cute beyond belief. My children were just 10 and 12 when they were born and I was in my early 30's (I felt quite old at the time but looking back I was so young!). Life with a young family was busy and I'd built a house which we moved into when the pups were five weeks old. I managed to juggle a bazillion things at once, but you do when you're young!
Mark and Hazel visited the pups with their hearts set on a girl, but then they saw Osa, the spitting image of his handsome Dad Tuukka, big white chest, dark beautiful face - they melted. That was it, Osa was destined to join them in Essex.
I had let my daughter Carelle keep her favourite pup as an 11th birthday present, so Kallis was a keeper and so was Elli who I just adored - yes, I did very nearly keep TWO puppies. Thankfully common sense eventually took over and Elli went to live just a few miles away with Nigel, Mandy and Tasha. The other sister Ketti went to live with a Mum from my kids' school in my hometown and emigrated to New Zealand with her family when she was about 3. I would regularly meet for a walk with Elli and Ketti when they were still pups, it was so nice to compare notes and take yet another photo for the album.
Osa was the first puppy to leave home so he sadly missed the photo shoot for the book on the breed that Toni Jackson of Elbereth Kennel was writing, here's a small selection.
I last saw Osa when he was 7 months old, when Mark attended the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain AGM and Funday. He had such an impressive head for such a young pup, although he had the colouring of his Dad, he was so like his Mum, my beloved Smuu. It was wonderful to reunite him with his parents and his sister. Kallis was tragically killed in a traffic accident 8 months later - heartbreaking, the pain of losing her was horrific. I asked Carelle if she would like it if Tuukka were to become HER dog and she readily agreed and threw her love into our gentle big bear and slowly we started to heal. I repeated the mating 2 years later and kept Sisko, Finnish for sister, a tribute to the precious Kallis who has never left our hearts. Although I didn't see Osa again, we would exchange Christmas cards and the odd email update.
So fast forward 13 years and THAT email. Mark, is an Australian who came to the UK in 1990 and has spent the last 15 years working as a sports journalist for The Telegraph and in recent years, the Daily Mail and Daily Express; having taken redundancy he decided that Richard Desmond could fund the trip of a lifetime - taking Osa along with three mates (acting as film crew) back to Finland to trace his family tree! Did I mention that it is to be a road trip in a VW Camper?! Osa's story is an interesting one as his Dad Elbereth Tuukka was born in the UK's first ever Pet Passport Litter, which you can read about here. Osa's paternal Grandfather is Ch Lumiturpa Norri, an influential sire from the renowned Lumiturpa Kennel. Toni kindly put Mark in touch with Matti and Riiita and a visit to Lumiturpa is on the itinerary along with the culmination of the trip, a visit to the Finnish Lapphund Spring Festival in Turku, where he can compete in the Veteran Obedience Class (for free!).
Osa has had a very thorough MOT at his vets, who declared him remarkably fit and well and more than ready for such an adventure. Mark has taken incredible care with Osa over his lifteime and his health and welfare are his prime concern. Osa and his lovely film crew comprising of Mike and Jimmy, came here for a visit in February and filmed Osa's reunion with me ("who the hell are you?!"), his sister Sisko from the repeat mating ("You don't look overly pleased to meet me Sis") and my own children, now aged 24 and 25 - I feel SO OLD!! It was an emotional meeting - here is a dog that is the image of Tuukka and yet so like Smuu, gambling across my drive like a youngster - it was like being catapulted back in time - in my mind I could see my adult kids as children again and yet although the dog still looked the same all these years later (only bigger), my children are adults and Mark and I are grey and have gone downhill (although photographic evidence concurs that Mark's fashion sense has improved ha ha!). Osa left me quite speechless, he is in terrific condition for his age!
I can't wait to see the footage! It is hoped that once Isaac has finished editing the trip, it will be taken up by a producer and if not, Mark will have a fantastic record of Osa and will hopefully will have raised lots of money for charity along the way. Already radio stations and local newspapers are getting behind the adventure!
Crufts was fast approaching - Osa was due to attend a photo shoot on the Dogs for Disabled stand and Mark thought it would be lovely to take Osa along to meet the other Lappies and our Judge. Crufts is the world's largest dog show, so one has to put some preparation in as you can see in the lovely short video below!
Osa has an exciting heritage when it comes to Crufts, with his Dad Tuukka winning Best of Breed there in 2004 and his sister Sisko winning Best of Breed there in 2010 (along with Best Puppy in 2005). The day of Crufts dawned - eeeek! More of that in another blog! I caught up with Mark, Osa, Jimmy, Mike and Isaac ringside as they filmed some of the breed judging. Our Judge was Sue Dunger of the Sulyka Kennel (famous for Bichon Frisé), who imported the first ever Finnish Lapphund into the country from the world renowned Lecibsin Kennel, Lecibsin Loru at Sulyka. Together with husband Rodger, they went on to import on loan, Ch. Lecibsin Hissuka who was in whelp to Fin Ch Fohrmans Hermanni. A litter of five was born in quarantine in 1991 and a dog from this litter, Sulyka Lecibsin Nilla was to become a very influential sire. Nilla sired two litters with Loru and out of those pairings came two outstanding dogs and influencers within the breed - Sulyka Valio is Curdeleon ('Valio', top winning male) and Sulyka Mischa at Elbereth (Echo, top winning female). Valio is Osa's maternal Grandfather and Echo is Osa's paternal Grandmother - so quite a heritage.
You can follow Osa on his adventures by liking his Facebook Page or by following him on Twitter @4menandadog. Carelle is now a TV/Radio Presenter - follow her on Instagram or Twitter @carellemusic and don't forget you can see random pics of all my dogs (and a fair lot of food!) on Instagram @tabanyaruuliz or on my Facebook Groups (search TabanyaRuu). Osa leaves for Finland on March 20th.