Testing the abilities of Finnish retrievers (part 1)

The more I’ve studied retrievers (mainly flatcoats and goldens) around the world, the more confused I’ve become by the various terms that are used to describe tests, trials, and such. Since we blog about our dogs bilingually and have a large amount of foreign readers, I’ve decided to write a description of how Finnish retrievers’ hunting abilities are tested.

The following description is based on the rules governing the different types of testing that are still in a trial period (the trial period ends by the end of 2008). The rules are created by the Finland’s Retriever Association and approved by the Finnish Kennel Club.

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Why a yellow Flatcoated Retriever

As today’s the Life of Jalo shows, we got a new addition to our family a few days ago. Flatcoated retrievers have taken their place in our hearts and Luka is the third on in our household. What makes him special is that he is a yellow FCR.

Two yellow and one black flatcoated retriever The breed standard for FCRs is quite clear in stating that the only accceptable colors are black and liver. Due to the history of the breed, the yellow recessive gene is probably quite widespread across different breeding lines. But because the breed standard doesn’t allow it, yellow flatcoats are quite controversial. This post is meant to clarify why we took a yellow flatcoat and how we feel about the whole matter.

Before you read any further on why we chose a yellow flatcoat, read Mr Read Flower’s article on the matter (republished by the Flatcoated Retriever Soctiety, now from the Internet Archive) and an American breeders page about their yellow flatcoat (link currently not active).

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Dog Photography

Taking pictures of dogs is always a challenge. Even the relative peace of an evening at home with a tired young dog can turn interesting.

Jalo and his new toy

The problem is, that in order to get good pictures of dogs you have to go down to their level. When positioning yourself lying on the ground you generally forget to think of what route you’re blocking this time. Sometimes, the end result of lying between the dog and a door with a doorbell is the following picture:

Jalo\'s leap

And of course, a bruise on your forehead.

Flat-Coats and cold resistance

Yes, it’s that time of the year now that the lakes, rivers, ponds, and the sea in Finland are getting colder and colder. Just waiting for a thick layer of ice to coat them for several months. A Finnish blog about flat-coats blogged (in Finnish) about the surprise her flat-coats gave some scouts (boy or girl, Finnish doesn’t differentiate) by swimming in a lake this last weekend. Naturally, it reminded me of some of our boys escapades with water.

Never mind that Jalo’s first contact with water was the cold sea last autumn or that Flippe can barely stay out of any body of water he can find, including puddles. Flippe did surprise us this spring by starting to swim as soon as a few metres of water was revealed by the melting ice (this was in early May). His best trick however was swimming to the ice and climbing on it, as pictured below.

Flippe on the ice

Flippe back in the water

These pictures can be used as an example of the cold-resistance that flat-coats exhibit. They are also a very good example of the work ethic that flat-coats have. Flippe’s only reason to climb on the ice was to look for a stick we had thrown for him to retrieve. The same day was Jalo’s first real experience with swimming. After that day he’s been just as enthusiastic as his brother when it comes to swimming and being in the water.

This may sound like too much praise of a breed by a very biased person, but in all honesty we can recommend flat-coats for anyone who needs working dogs in varying conditions. However, remember that with flat-coats you must have a very good sense of humour.

The Life of Jalo updated

To honour the upcoming first birthday of Jalo we created a new layout for his photoblog. The layout is a shift away from the darker and heavier look and Anna certainly had fun creating the banner at the top. Below are screenshots of the old and new layouts.

Old layout
New layout

In the more geeky news, the Atom feed of the photoblog was updated to conform to the new Atom 1.0 specification (even if it isn’t approved yet). In getting the feed to validate Niels Lenheer’s listing of changes between 1.0 and 0.3 would have been helpful. Well, reading the spec works just as well though.