quote from Tarja Renolds....Finland.
Eyota-American Indian Dog-in Finland
We are an American –Finnish family living in the countryside, just on the outskirts of the capital city, Helsinki, Finland. Our house is located about 100 meters from a beautiful lake which is partially surrounded by a very old forest. And if we really want to get away from it all a National park containing several lakes and ponds is just a 5 minute drive away.
When our daughters were 3 and 5 years old we started to look for a dog to take along on our hiking trips in the forest. I have owned German shepherds, Border collie and mixed breed. Wallace, my husband, has had Australian shepherds in the past. So the next question was what breed was acceptable to both of us. I had very clear criteria for a dog: child friendly, able to calm down inside the house , service dog trainable and genetically healthy. For half a year I research every breeds that came to mind. Then my husband became involved. Years ago he had seen dogs running free on the Navajo and Hoppi reservations while working as a T.V. reporter in Arizona. He later had his first up close encounter with what the owner descriped as an American Indian Dog, while enjoying coffee in a neighborhood Starbucks. This piqued his curiousity and he promised to one day find out more about this breed of dogs. After talking about his earlier experiences we both agreed this might be the type of dog we needed. The information on the AI Dog at Song Kennel homepage confirmed our feelings. The discovery of Kim LaFlamme and his AIDs changed our lives.
We then quickly read thru Kim’s application procedure and worked on meeting each requirement. Finally, in what seemed like an eternity, our puppy’s birth was confirmed. But how to get this little one from Oregon to Finland? Fortunately we learned there was another puppy from the same litter going to Belgium. Kim arranged it so the two sisters flew together during the long flight to Europe. When the puppies landed I was there to greet them, along with the owners of the other puppy, Michael and Sandra. But first we needed to go thru a long and confusing procedure of customs, taxes and vet inspections. Many thanks go out to the lovely couple from Belgium who helped me get thru this maze of official paperwork.
Once it was finished we finally had the chance to handle the puppies ourselves. We were scared about the effects of the long flight. It was nice to see that once we opened the cage, they just stretched themselves out and started to play. The sisters continued playing happily in the car and then fell asleep. Much to my surprise the flight back home Finland was just as easy. My children greeted me at the airport and they were so happy to meet for the first time the newest member of our family.
The big eared puppy was officially named Eyota Sky Dancer. She settled in as if she had been with our family for years. From the very beginning she took the care of kids as her personal duty. If they cried she brought them toys and howled. She would often come and sit in front of me and howl as a signal to do something. Once the girls grew up and were able move outside by themselves, Eyota would go to kitchen window and howl if she heard them crying.
Our youngest daughter has asthma and when she is not well, Eyota keeps her under constant observation. For example, during the night she does hourly checkups where she climbs up against the bunk bed and listens to her breathing. If everything is ok, she goes back to sleep. If not, she wakes me up. Otherwise, Eyota is a very peaceful presence in the house, very much like a cat. I like to think part of this is due to the daily 1-2 hour walks in a forest where she can run as hard as she wants.
When she got older she quickly displayed a strong instinct for hunting. She likes to go after bob cats, foxes and a small dog sized animal similar to a raccoon. I had tried very hard to stop her from doing it until I realized it was something out of my control. So now when I hear her barking to alert me she has found something I walk over and reward her by taking pictures with my phone. Afterwards she lets the prey loose and we both walk away happy.
When she turned a year and a half I started to train her for search and rescue. She has an extremely sensitive nose and she has made amazing progress; having received high awards in tracking and now herding in Finland. In here first summer she kept up with dogs that had been training for over 2 years. The biggest challenge with her is that she is so smart that she makes short cuts if she thinks her way is better than mine. She is beyond simple obedience training- she pleases me for 10 min then she lays down on her side and starts to yawn. On many occasions it became very evident that she was bored. And that is probably the biggest challenge in our S&R training.
Last summer we started something new, herding. I was worried because Eyota has, as I mentioned, such a strong instinct for hunting. But I discovered herding taps into a totally different part of her instincts. She actually loves doing this more than anything else. She is just a natural. On here first time out she was able to take part in a big training session on a real working farm. The owner was so impressed with her skills she offered to take Eyota as part of her winter drive. But of course she is not available. During that time it was exciting to see her in action. One moment Eyota was gently pushing a the baby lamb forward with her nose. And minutes later she was staring down a big male who was wandering away from the herd. It was also great to see how well she works together with other dogs and how obedient she is while using a shepard’s staff. It was an amazing experience.
When it comes to day to day life Eyota takes on a laid back role. She knows and follows the rhythm of our family. When the girls come home she’s at the front door, when Wallace drives up she can hear the car long before we see him. In the evening she plays a little with girls, checks that everything is in order and then finds a resting place. Usually in a quiet corner. She is especially happy with our daily walks. She can cover quite a distance in a short time, but she always comes back. She usually runs along one side of our hiking trails and slowly circles back. Always keeping in enough visual contact, so one call is all that’s needed to have her sitting by your feet. I have to say she is such a close member of our family that I can’t even think about life without her. I also believe that she would not survive if she would be taken away from our family. I believe her loyalty is so deep that she would cross continents to return home. We love her very much and her eyes tell us every day that she loves us just as much.
We are now on the waiting list for another AI dog pup, along with 2 other expert trainers in Search & Rescue and herding in Finland; hoping to fly to Oregon to see all the AI dogs and learn more about Kim’s breeding program this summer, to fly our new pups home with us.
Tarja Reynolds – very happy AI dog owner in Finland