2020 was the year like no other. When the pandemic hit all our booked courses disappeared within 10 days – and the feeling of free falling showed up. Not just being worried about elderly relatives and risk group friends – the pay check decreased a lot as well, especially for Lena who is 100 % self employed. However, during the later part of 2019 we had focused a lot on creating new online courses so when Covid19 started to spread we could present 15 online courses in Swedish, and later on in English as well. The number of private training sessions increased as well and during the summer we could have classes outdoors again – which was a huge relief.
The first thing that happened the both of us was however that we had a release party for our new book, Valpträning till vardag och fest (“Puppy training for All Occasions” – but it’s unfortunately only available in Swedish).
Here’s a short summary of our dog year!
My year began with me almost loosing Totte, three times in just five weeks. A swallowed metal nail (!) started one thing after another and finally he got a very severe liver failure – but survived and is now back on track again.Totte will soon be 12 years old and every day feels like a gift. He is however slightly deaf and probably a bit senile and easily worried. I’ve had to adapt my every day life a bit. He gets lots of enrichment with food toys, problem solving, tracking – which he loves – and he also gets some extra food like boiled rice and shredded carrots because he seems a bit hungry. It works well and he’s happy indoors and mischievous outdoors. He even joins me for a run every now and then when I run really slow and run in intervals. What he really loves is when I bring out my bike, but then I have to take it very slow so he doesn’t get too tired since he runs a bit too much because he thinks it’s so fun. It’s important to take care of your retired dogs so they feel good, and the day he doesn’t feel well any more I’ll help him leave this world. <3
Tassla missed out on the whole hunting season last year because of her patella luxation surgery (which unfortunately isn’t uncommon for cockers) and the rehabilitation lasted into the first months of 2020. I continued to build her muscles all through the summer and at a little more than eight years of age she’s in better shape than ever, which is amazing! Resting from hunting, however, did not turn out to be such a great thing, so our first training hunt gave me a shock – I basically had no control. She flushed, barked, ran in, checked if the bird was shot and if it was, she rushed like a greased lightning and picked it before the retriever had even started … It was a sweaty start where I had to run after her like a maniac, screaming quite loudly to interrupt her. Not exactly my favorite way to train, but if it’s gone that far you have to stop the dog – otherwise it’s a huge self-reward. Then I had to keep her tight and place myself strategically between her and the shooter all the time, after I had first informed the shooters that I will be in front of them .. PUH! But it only took a few hours until I was almooost in control and the next training hunt was much better and when it was time for “real” hunting she was back to her old self. But she has been quite uneven this hunting season. I must not let her sit and “charge” negative energy in the car and hear that hunting is going on, she must be the first dog out. Otherwise I easily loose her and she barks at the shooters (!) If they miss their shots etc …;) She has to work for quite a long time, slightly big and in varied terrain (definitely not too easy to run in) – then she is absolutely wonderful to hunt over. I’ve shot a lot over her and it’s so much fun. She just works with and keeps an eye on me, most of all I need to turn her around a few times with the whistle. She is always sits my pictures and has a great marking ability.
Quling is the dog that always give me a bad conscience. He has had to live a little more with his original master (my ex) in Gothenburg because he does not feel good about being on the hunts and hearing all the shots and I can not hunt with him. I have a little bad desire to train him because he will never work in the hunt and my time is not enough for that much other training. He is with me and runs and we have done some tracking (blood and people) but I keep my eyes open for a perfect person who wants to play agility, nosework and maybe rally obedience with him (things he loves to train!). However, he is my absolute coziest dog and sooo very charming. <3
The year with Flippa has basically been a pleasure from start to finish! I’m so happy with this little dog that suits me so well. Her hunting has blossomed and she has made so much progress that I can not count it. I had not planned to enter any tests during her first hunting season, but she was so balanced and nice that I signed up for the young dog derby which was so much fun to enter. We got a diploma, which means that we were not good enough to end up on the podium but good enough to be noticed. It was so many experienced dogs and handlers that entered so I was jubilantly happy. She has also been joining some of the big hunts when the situations were right. I also participated on a duck hunt and retrieved together with an experienced retriever. Flippa got to pick a bird from time to time and was absolutely incredible. She sat calmly and unleashed in this inferno that I believe the duck hunt can be (there’s shots fired all over the place, birds are falling down, people are shouting, retrievers run back and forth). I could even cast her in the middle of it all – and she was responsive and did what I wanted. And completely silent. The only thing I have pondered a bit is that we had trouble with the deliveries this summer, and I have really had to work hard to repair them. I’m not quite there yet but on the right track. The last hunt for this year was with some friends in a small format and then she got to pick her first pricked bird. It’s something they have to learn and Flippa was quick to pick it, but then put the bird down some distance from me (which she tends to) and she discovered it was a mistake when the bird then simply ran away. She immediately picked it again and brought it to me so I could dispatch it. The next bird she held all the way back to me so hopefully she learned something good there. 😉
Autumn has become a favorite time of year, and I have been away on about 20 hunts, mostly rough shooting, and sometimes my bonus dog Kat has also come along. However, she had surgery for udder tumors a bit into the autumn (which thankfully was benign). It has been luxurious to sometimes have three dogs to rotate with – and be able to take in Flippa only when the situation is completely right so as not to ruin anything. I have taken the opportunity to practice a lot of heelwork with her, sit and wait for long periods of time without anything happening and practice being in an environment where a lot is happening at once around us. She seems to be more focused when a lot happens and she copes with a lot of distractions – still being able to respond to my cues.
One fun (and incredibly demanding) thing I did this year was that I went as a photographer at the spaniel championship. It was difficult and super fun to follow the competition from the front row and it gave lots of training inspiration. There will be a few more hunts in January, then it will be time to sharpen the form for next season, together with my fantastic training group. I managed to tussle two people I like and who are good dog trainers at the beginning of the year, because I thought they would train together. Then I realized that I wanted to be there too. 😉 We have been seeing each other almost every week and we have also hunted together since the season started. Irene with Archie and Lars with Bix have been a great source of joy and inspiration for me this year. And then I got a new two-legged love in Lars, which was surprising and wonderful too! <3 So after all, 2020 has been a fine year and now I’m looking forward to an even more doggy year next year. 🙂
Looking back at 2020 I realise that a lot has happened, and most of it has, in spite of Corona, been positive.
The first part of the year we spent waiting for Verner, but then, on May 12th, three days late 😉 , he showed up! A wonderful, happy and content little guy who just tags along for whatever we’re up to – renovating, car trips, dog training, swimming and so on. <3
Another huge surprise was that we bought a farm – which wasn’t part of the plan at all 😉 Already when we started to look for a new house six years ago we wanted to move to the country side, but we didn’t find a house that suited our demands so we built a new house in the same neighbourhood. We’ve been keeping an eye out for the real estate ads now and then, and during the spring a farm that we took a liking to showed up. We participated in the bidding for quite some time, but lost. A few weeks later another, much better, farm showed up and then we placed a bid straight away and got the farm! During the summer and autumn we’ve been renovating and renovating, and then renovating a bit more but now it’s become really nice!
In total it’s 13 hectare, of which 5 is fields and 7 woodland. A few friends helped me out in August and then we removed a lot of old rubbish, old sheep fence and built a jumping grid. Later on I will continue to adapt the grounds even more for dog trainng – both my own training and for classes.
The training with Keen has been very fun during the year. He feels very good and does so much right. However, we still have some challenges left to work on to get the whole thing together in trials and tests. Before the spring, we were very excited to start at working tests, but unfortunately they were all canceled. The first trial of the year was the qualification class for warm game trials, which was also the first hunt of the year for Keen and it was not a great idea 😉 The first run went well, all the dogs got two retrieves each in a nice and calm pace. The second run it “rained” so many birds that Keen could not wait for his turn (number 4, last), so we unfortunately did not get a prize there. Then there were no more qualification classes to enter this year, so we are training for next year instead. However, we started twice in open class B-test (cold game) and got a zero prize (due to missed water blind, he did not want to deliver a rabbit properly and a missed double marked retrieve) and a third prize (due to missed water blind and putting a game down while sweeping up, before he picked it up again). To get new inspiration, we have continued to take courses once a month with Jens Palmqvist. The focus has been walkup training in preparation for Swedish Gundog League’s novice trials, but unfortunately we never got to the enter this year. We have also had time for some hunts, which has been the most fun. Both “regular” picking up assignments (where we work and can not train that much) but also some training hunts that we have been able to control more and get really good training. Now we’re making plans for the next trialing season and will be better prepared then!
The most difficult thing that happened this year was that we had to say good bye to Diesel. She turned 12 in April and had become “old” – she went along in her own pace on our walks, shut her ears and stole food when she could and so on, but was happy and alert for her age until mid August. Then she had a really hard time pooping and it turned out that she had a tumor in her rectum. It was inoperable, so after a final, lovely week together she got to go to sleep forever in our living room. Since she really hated veterinary clinics after several visits there (pyometra x 2, eating strange things etc) we wanted her to pass away as nice and calmly as possible, and the end was really peaceful. The last day she got to swim, search for hot dogs, eat ice cream and cuddle. It’s so very empty without her – she was my first competitive dog and we’ve experienced so much together. I can’t even begin to write it down here, so I’ll share some lovely pictures and videos instead <3
Thank you to all students, both IRL and online, that we have been fortunate enough to follow during this strange year! We hope that we meet you again during 2021!
Elsa & Lena