Chapter 9 - Pines Penny Whistle

On a trip to Finland to the IHF annual conference, Elaine had got to know Anita, and was impressed by her stock. We decided that it would be suitable to try to use one of the dogs she had bred with Mercedes, and happily Anita agreed. We did not realise at the time, but it was Anita who had the reserve best bitch when Mercedes had her win in Amsterdam, so she was very aware of her. Just like it was with Cricket, John flew to Helsinki with Mercedes, and was met by Anita for the long journey to her home. She had two possible dogs in mind for us, and we chose to try first with Ice Bear, a young dog that lived with a family some two hours north of Anita in the delightfully named Kokimaki, which is in the middle of forests and lakes, beautiful but very remote. On our first visit, although nothing substantial took place, Mercedes was in a very flirty mood, and played a lot of “catch-me-if-you-can”, with a gallant if frustrated Ice Bear in close pursuit. We felt that the morrow would produce dividends. Back to Anita’s for a real Finnish sauna, something everyone should experience, before returning in the morning. Today’s the day… was it hell! Mercedes, somewhat smaller than Ice Bear, had every intention of tearing him limb from limb if he as much as sniffed her hindquarters! Back home again to lick our metaphorical wounds and regroup. The decision was that our timing must have been completely off, and to give it another go in six months.

The six months duly passed, and John returned to Finland, this time at the beginning of Mercedes’ season. Flying with a dog is a strange experience, as you can often watch them being loaded onto the plane as you are sitting waiting for take-off, and then, in the baggage hall at your destination, they are just left out, in their crate, usually a bit away from other passengers, so that you feel somewhat of a pariah. Still, Mercedes emerged none the worse for this treatment. It was, of course, much too early, so John flew home again, leaving Anita with a lot of “to’ing and fro’ing” until finally success, and Mercedes came back on her own, in a new, bigger crate, the outward one was perfectly acceptable to British Airways, but not to Finnair. Getting bitches in whelp is not for the faint-hearted or the very poor!! Mercedes was duly delivered of a lovely litter of 11, this time named after musical instruments, for no better reason than that Elaine wanted a dog called “Penny Whistle”, so Whistle was added to the Pines establishment.

Happily, Anita was able to come over to see the litter that she had been so influential in arranging, a visit again picked up by the local press. As well as Whistle, whose exploits will feature later on, the litter contained DJ (Saxophone), who has done such a lot of winning in the show ring, both here and on the continent, including two appearances at the annual “Contest of Champions” with Maggie Spencer, and Venka (Piccolo), who is doing search and rescue with James Dunn in Kent, and is the foundation bitch for the Spicemill hovawarts with his wife Caroline.


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Chapter 8 - Landmark Dates