It was spring in 1982 when our parents under heavy pressure finally promised us a dog. At the time our family friend had an Irish setter bitch to which we took a fancy and decided that we would like to have one as well. Immediately, we called to one of the Irish Setter breeders but as there were no male pups available with mutual understanding we decided to change the breed. We were that impatient to have a dog! Eija's school friend’s bother a Flat Coated Retriever male called Bona to which we also took a fancy and so we started to look for a flat coated pup.
Auli, Niko & Eija
Niko & Auli
At the time, Christina Helenius was working as the puppy middleman Finnish Flat Coated Retriever Club and we got Tapio Takala's telephone number from her. We called him with great enthusiasm and finally we got our first dog Niko. Perhaps it was meant that the Irish Setter breeder didn’t have any male pups left as the Flat Coated Retriever has totally conquered our heart. Niko was our “working to get to know the world of the Retrievers. But after all in our opinion we managed quite well as beginners. Niko passed the Finnish working trial test for retrievers and obtained titles of Show Champion and Trail Champion. But in the autumn of 1989, had to give up Niko at the age of 7 1/2 years when it was discovered that he had cancer of lymphoma.
In spite of our deep sorrow, we thought that the best medicine would be a new puppy. For a couple of years, we had been members of the Swedish Flat Coated Retriever Club and we got their newsletter Chamören on regular basis. Based on the photographs we were attracted to appearance of the dogs of Almanza-kennel and thus our decision was obvious that we would like to have Almanza puppy. Christina Helenius contacted Almanza for us but it appeared that our waiting time would be very long. Once again we were as impatient as the nature of our beloved breed; because we couldn’t imagine life without a dog or at least as long as it would have taken to get one from Almanza, we began to think of other alternatives. We picked up all encyclopaedias we could get our hands on and studied all the possible breeds in the world. Eventually we found it: A Curly Coated Retriever!
So a week before Christmas 1989, a Curly Coated Retriever Curlicue's Celeb called Pekka arrived. Pekka had a vigorous nature with a strong will so we go through quite many power struggles but after we got things settled he became a gentle dog with whom you could easily go anywhere. Pekka’s youth started promisingly but when he was just over one year old, we got shocking news: Pekka was diagnosed with epilepsy. The disease ended Pekka’s promising career both in show and test fields because on the following night after these events, the epilepsy attacks became quite violent. During the coming next two years Pekka became more and more ill as the attacks became frequently and strong inspite of the medication. When Pekka was 3 and 1/2-year-old, he had a strong fit from which he didn’t recover totally and after a couple of weeks his hindquarters were paralysed. Our decision was difficult but on the one hand easy. There was no other solution than give up this wonderful dog and release him from his sufferings.
Pekka & Kalle
In March 1990, Christina Helenius informed us that a suitable Flat Coated puppy was found to accompany Pekka. Beforehand Ragnhild Ulin, the owner of Almanza-kennel, had chosen this puppy for us and finally we travelled home from Sweden with little Giorgio-Armani alias Kalle in our arms. When Kalle got used to his new environment, mystery incidents started to happen during the daytime when the dogs were home by themselves. The curtains lay on the floors, the plates which were left in the sink were crushed on the floor, all the mulch from the flower pots were spread all over the living room, fine and expensive sofas (in our father’s opinion) were in pieces and our mother's make-up in the use by the dogs. So we had no other possibilities to prevent this happening than carried all loose things into the sauna every morning to keep them safe. Thus we fully agree a common saying that the dog which charms judges and the audience with his appearance in the dog shows isn’t usually an easy dog at home. At the age of 2,5 years Kalle finished his “housework” but still occasionally reminded us of his villainies like he used to by sitting on the kitchen table watching for us to come through the window.
Kalle 8 weeks
Auli & Kalle
Kalle's life, special character and acts you could even write a book. Kalle was full of himself but he was also an extremely humane dog. Many friends of ours used to say that Kalle always seems to know how to pull the right string and make people serve “His Highness”. Kalle was a dog who aroused both admiration and indignation but those who really knew Kalle fell in love with his sensitive and humane nature, especially because of his sense of humour. Kalle's the best achievements are from the show ring. The most valuable victory was two BIS prizes in row from The International Dog Show of Lahti. Kalle also passed the Finnish working trial test for retrievers and we believe that "in the right hands" he could have had good possibilities in field trials as well. We can only blame ourselves that he didn’t got any results from the field trial tests.
After Pekka passed away, we decided to take a new Flat Coated puppy as Kalle's friend. As we were so satisfied with Kalle, it was obvious to have it also from Sweden and from the same line. On the very day when Pekka died, Mikko, Almanza Stranded In A Limousine was born. Along with Kalle’s tender care, Mikko grew into a happy Flat Coated boy. Mikko also passed the Finnish working trial test for retrievers and judge’s comments about the general impression was “Eager working dog which performs all the given tasks easily”. One can conclude from this that also Mikko would surely have had abilities to qualify in the fields but due to Auli's evening school besides daily working hours we simply didn’t have time to practise enough
Our aim always has been to have Kalle's son some day. The opportunity was offered when we got a stud dog enquiry from Sweden. In November 2000, a beautiful bitch was brought to visit us and to be mated by Kalle. Everything went well and the bitch got pregnant. We waited with excitement for Kalle’s puppies to be born. But in the middle of January 2001 we got crushing news, Kalle was seriously ill! The diagnosis was terrible, he had a cancer in the spleen. We were encouraged by our vet Anne Kolsi to make a decision to have Kalle have surgery because if the cancer wasn’t spread elsewhere, he could still have a normal happy life without his spleen. Kalle got over the operation well and began to recover gradually. We had our hopes high even though on the same time we were preparing ourselves for the worst. During this hard time, we got a lot of comfort from knowledge that even if the worst would come true we would still have Kalle’s son. But our wishes fell to pieces when we got information from Sweden that just couple day before the due date the bitch had escaped and got hit by a train and died. This accident had happened on the very same day when Kalle had had surgery. These dreadful moments have surely been the most tragic incidents in our life with dogs. Furthermore, in spite of Kalle's good recovery from the operation, his condition took a fast turn to worse and we finally had to make tough but necessary decision to end up his sufferings. It happened on the 3rd of February 2001. The day was a freezing cold day which we will remember forever. Kalle's death left a huge hole in our hearts but his spirit will live with us forever. Without understating any of our dog’s personality, we may say that Kalle has been “the dog of our life”. For ordinary people who take interest in dogs, this may happen once in a lifetime if ever and we were extremely lucky to have him. In our great sorrow we were comforted by the fact that a couple years earlier a batch of Kalle's sperm had been frozen for the future.
The next Flat Coated we got was Jussi, Blackleaders Flash-Back. Jussi was born in midsummer 2001. He has already proved to be as good as his name and has clearly inherited many of his features from his grand dad Kalle. Jussi has also started his career well. He passed the field trial for retrievers in autumn 2002 and got 5 certificates before his second birthday. According to the Finnish show rules, there is no limit to how many certificates your dog can take but to get the title of Show Champion you have to have one after your dog is over two years old. This decisive certificate Jussi got just couple weeks after his birthday. We hope that we will have enough time, know-how and eagerness to go further in field trials with Jussi. During training last summer he showed steady progress even though we didn’t get any test results yet. Only time will tell how things will turn up with Jussi.
We also own a brown Flat Coated retriever bitch Almanza Chocolate Cream alias Silvia together with Anu Vorobjev. Silvia lives with Anu’s family. Her husband Kimmo has skilfully trained Silva for field trial tests and successfully gained fine credits. Furthermore, Silvia has won titles of Junior Championship 1999 and Flat Coated Championship 2002 of Finnish Flat Coated Club. At the moment Silvia competes in the Winners Class of field trial test from which she has got two victories. Silvia also was chosen for a Flat Coat of the Year 2002 and on the same year she got the title of Show Champion. Silvia has a sweet personality and a strong ability to please. It is a pleasure to follow the co-operation between Kimmo and Silvia on the fields.
In the summer 2004, a second litter was born to Kalle's daughter and Jussi's mother Linda (FIN CH Blackleader’s Dontsayouloveme). Based on the outcome of the previous litter, Linda has proven to be a good brood bitch and in our opinion the sire’s pedigree was interesting and brings a suitable addition to this line. Because we would like to see this line continue in the future, we, together with Anu Vorobjev, co-bought a bitch called Olivia, Artnemisflat Galadriel. Olivia, “The Mistress of Golden Forest” lives now in Parola with Pia Kauppinen and Ville Suhonen where she is enjoying her life as a family dog in a fellowship with other dogs. We hope that Olivia will bring along happy moments to all of us.
I january 2005 arrived Uno, Almanza Lover Under Cover from Almanza-kennel from Sweden. Uno was already 4,5 months, when he came to Finland. In spite of this he agreed well in our family.
Together with Anne Kolsi we also owned FIN CH INT CH EST CH Bothwell Latino called Tatu for a few years. Tatu had a magnificent nature and charmed us at the first sight. Within the years Tatu also conquered many other people with his balanced nature.
Alongside with Niko we became acquainted with many different kinds of activities of retrievers. We first joined to local Retriever Club in Päijät-Häme and in no time we were assisting to organize the field trial tests (Note! We were wearing gloves in the beginning J). Soon after we found ourselves in official course for tracking tests. We used to make long walks with Anneli Koskinen the owner of Kennel Pepperment and Tarja Allonen from who we learned more how to train our dogs. With Tarja we always tried the "latest tricks".
Riihimäki in 1983
Shortly, in the beginning of our hobby, Eija started to operate as test secretary in the local retriever club. At that time, the secretary’s task involved receiving registrations forms of all the tests and preparing all the necessary administrational paper work so in other words this meant a lot of work. As to Auli, she was chosen as a Member of the Club for many years in row and in one year she operated as a chairman. We also took obedience trainer course and worked as trainers for about 10 years. Furthermore, we worked as test officials or organizers in different kind of dog events. We also accomplished a show ring secretary course and worked as show ring secretaries in the Dog Shows. For 10 years time we, together with Salpausselän Greyhound Club, organised all dog shows in this region. We have many pleasant and cheerful memories of those years.
Pekka and Kalle in Group ring
Our hobby has extended along with litters sired by both Kalle and Mikko by following the lives of their descendants. We have always been willing to offer our help to the owners of our dogs' descendants and thus we have had a chance to become acquainted with the owners many of whom have become our good friends. Together we have shared many moments of joy but have also cried and mourned through difficult times.
Along with our hobby, our parents had to get used to all sorts of odd dead animals in their house. Once we were supposed to go out on the evening to training for field test but had forgotten to take the rabbit out of the freezer in time to melt. So, we go this great idea to heat the sauna to speed up the melting process. Unfortunately, our father happened to come home sooner than expected and by noticing that sauna was on decided to have a bath. But as you can imagine, he wasn’t very pleased about the sight he faced when opening the door to heating room. His comment was: “I accept more or less everything, but dead rabbit having a sauna is too much”
In the future …
We hope that we would be able to improve our skills as dog trainers and would have enough patience to take more interest in the field trial tests. Our biggest dream is that some day we would be able to hold in our hands one of Kalle’s puppies and carry it home in our arms.
We decided to complete our story to the following words, which Auli wrote on the last page of Niko’s photo album many years ago…
Niko, thanks for the way of life you taught us. It will continue…..
Auli ja Eija Rajulin
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