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12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:03 pm
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

As my husband will tell you, I have amassed a large library of dog books and journals over the years. He'd like me to clear the bookcase on the landing which holds them, before it comes through the floor to the room below, but that's not going to happen any time soon.

Rather than enjoy them on my own, I thought that I would bring you some snippets related to our breed, to read over the holiday, which you may not have come across before.

Let's begin then. Are you sitting comfortably? On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Popular dogs: the breeds, their care and management by Phyllis Robson. 2nd ed., 1951 (originally published in 1934).

"A breed which has been brought into deserved prominence, is the Scandinavian Elkhound. It has been cultivated to perfection in both Sweden and Norway, where it has been used for centuries past in the sport of elk-hunting. It is remarkable for its extraordinary powers of scent, an attribute in which it is hardly inferior to the Bloodhound. Intelligence, courage and endurance are amongst its salient characteristics and it is extremely devoted and faithful as a companion. Physically, it is handsome, with a noble head, dark eyes full of kindly expression and erect pointed ears. The rather short body is covered with a deep outstanding coat of fur and the tail is tightly curled over the haunches. The colour is grizzle-grey with silvery fawn shadings on the deep chest and the stalwart limbs. In size the Elkhound is less than the Collie, with an average height of 20 inches. Many of the best of the breed have been imported from Norway, and several successful kennels have been established in the country by enthusiastic admirers. One recommendaton of the Elkhound is that, being naturally healthy and virile, it is easy of management and does equally well in town and country; it is an excellent follower and a notably vigilant watch-dog. As a house companion he is interesting and intelligent. Under wise treatment he shows a devoted attachment to his owners and is extremely obedient. It may or may not be a recommendation that he is particularly sensitive to rebuke and almost resentful of punishment. But punishment is not often called for in a dog so tractable and docile as the Elkhound. To keep him for any length of time on the chain is to spoil him. He must never be imprisoned.
Native of a rough country where extremes of weather are prevalent, the Elkhound is a hardy sporting dog that can live very well in an outside kennel all the year round; but he loves human companionship and is more responsive than most dogs to friendly attentions. On the other hand, he is naturally of a roaming disposition, and if his wandering propensities are not checked at an early age he is apt to give trouble by going off on his own independent adventures."

All for today - more tomorrow, on the second day of Christmas.

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:23 pm
by Brainless64 | 130 Posts

Just love the period style of the description, very true.

Barbara and the Grey Curly tails.
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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:40 pm
by Bluesmate | 62 Posts

And our friends and visitors always ask why we like our Elkhounds, mind you after a convivial evening they do so as well...surprises them but not us though --eh!

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:00 pm
by Brainless64 | 130 Posts

Funny that.

Just had a chat with one of my puppy owners whose boy is now 11 months old.

They were formerly Samoyed owners, but when they died they couldn't bear to ahve another, but much as they hate to admit it find teh Elkhound much nicer generally though admit their Ben is probably spoilt rotten, can be a bit rough in his play at times, yet is as gentle as can be with theit 84 year old friend and their small grandchildren.

Barbara and the Grey Curly tails.
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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:40 pm
by mrsmalenibo | 16 Posts

Loved it Ness, Can't wait for the next 11 offerings. We had a couple pay us a visit this afternoon, first time the husband had been to our house and first time he had met Elkhounds. He spent the whole 2 hours they were here cuddling and petting with either Jenna or Keisha and left absolutely covered in grey hair but with a big smile on his face.

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:43 pm
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

I'm glad you are enjoying them. I have something pretty special lined up for Christmas Day, that you definitely will not have seen before.

Anyway, back to the second day of Christmas. When I visited the US for the National Specialty show in 2000, along with many other UK exhibitors, I made the acquaintance of Karen Elvin, of the well-known Sangrud Kennels. Karen was kind enough to make me a gift of a copy of "My 60 years with Norwegian Elghunds" by Olav P. Campbell, published in 1988. Herr Campbell is known to aficionados of the breed as "The Father of the Norwegian Elkhound", for, as Karen writes in her foreword to his book "With personal qualifications commanding respect and influence, as well as an iron constitution providing a constant flow of energy, he has, during the past 50 years of the 90 year history of the Norwegian Kennel Club, greatly contributed to shaping and developing the Norsk Elghund."

I highly recommend this book to you, not only for the entertaining tales of Olav's life with the breed, but also for the many photographs which serve to educate the breeder and aspiring judge as to what constitutes correct type. I never judge without packing this book in my luggage to read on the eve of my appointment, and I urge you to get your own copy if at all possible. Olav himself travelled to several overseas countries to see and judge the local Elghund population, and perhaps I shall return to some of his thoughts about our UK dogs, but, for now, let's travel back to the 1930s, right at the beginning of his life with the breed.

"......In 1931, I bought a little house and some ground out in the country. In the surrounding woods there was plenty of small game, some small deer and on rare occasions, a visiting moose [this was written for a US audience]. In these pleasant surroundings my family of Elghunds expanded. Usually, I had four generations of Elghunds at the same time in my kennel. The female puppies in each litter I kept until they were four months old, and then selected the most promising for future breeding. The rejects were never used for breeding.. Matings were seldom repeated as I preferred to try out as many of the best studs in the country as possible to see which blood lines blended best. There exists a considerable amount of variability even amongst the best show individuals as well as hunting dogs. If one generations was not as good, or better than the previous one, it was possible to go back a generation and try again. I think I had reasonable success with this system.
Usually the dogs would not go far from the house, but one summer day I heard one of them barking up in the woods. The garden gate was open and a six month old youngster was missing. I recognized his bark.
Dogs were not allowed to run loose outside the hunting season, so I rushed off to see what the youngster was up to. As I drew closer I understood that he was confronting a moose, and sure enough, he was keeping it at bay just like a seasoned hunter. I whistled to the dog to come close enough to me to put a leash on him, but he pretended to be deaf and just intensified his activities. Although the moose did not have wind of me, it had become suspicious and started moving. I have no idea how long it all lasted. The moose would stop and attack the dog again and again, and then move further on for each time. I had considerable exercise before I succeeded in getting the dog on leash. The moose disappeared none the worse for the encounter.
This was not the end of the story. A road worker had heard the dog and had a glimpse of the moose. It was a breach of the law to disturb moose outside the hunting season. He therefore thought it his duty to report the incident to the District Sheriff. The outcome was that I was fined a symbolic sum of ten kroner. The Deputy had a twinkle in his eye when he gave me the recipt for the fine. Olav Campbell has paid a ten kroner fine for letting his six month old Elghund puppy keep a moose at bay for more than one hour.
The story got round and shortly after I received a number of letters from hunters wishing to order puppies from the next litter. This was before the days of Hunting Trial Certificates......"

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:40 pm
by Brainless64 | 130 Posts

Ness is the book still in print, or is it a case of hunting ebay???

Barbara and the Grey Curly tails.
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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:43 pm
by mrsmalenibo | 16 Posts

Fantastic story.

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:12 pm
by kamgaard | 49 Posts

Sadly the book is no longer in print and doubt you will find any on eBay. However, I am quite sure that Karen still has some copies as she gifted one to the winner of the Utstilling hosted by the Garden State and Potomac clubs in October. Would suggest writing her to find out.

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Tue Dec 24, 2013 11:58 pm
by norderhove | 130 Posts

I love that first description; "sensitive to rebuke" How true. I have the second book too. 60 years of. I bought it on ebay.


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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:24 am
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

So here it is, a ghost story for Christmas Eve, as promised. Sorry that it’s a little late in the telling, but maybe close to midnight is the best time…..

The Norwegian Elkhound Club of the Potomac Valley (NECPV) publishes a newsletter called the Voice of the Vikings, just as our club, (NECGB), publishes its own excellent annual magazine. As I mentioned last time, many UK exhibitors went to the National Specialty in 2000, and, whilst we were there, we had the opportunity to pick up a copy of a celebratory edition called Selections from the "Voice of the Vikings" 1970 - 2000.

From this publication, packed as it is with interesting articles and information, I have chosen to relate "Elkhounds See Ghost Dog in October" by Lexiann Grant, first published in the Nov/Dec 95 newsletter. Lexiann (also known to members of the Moosedog list as Lexiann Grant-Snider) is a professional writer who specialises in dog and pet writing. You can find out more about Lexiann by visiting her website Lexiann has given her permission for me to use her story in full here, but please do not reproduce it elsewhere without permission.

“A thick mist, too high from the ground to be fog, hung low in the trees, trailing eerily from branch to branch. Its dampness hushed the natural sounds of birds and traffic.
No wind stirred the drooping leaves and I held my breath against the scentless odor of chilly air. Even the brilliant colors of the fall foliage had lost their glow.
The clock said that it was nearly noon, but the watery light that filtered through the vapor made everything appear suspended in a timeless world.
I felt as though I had awakened into a dream and was moving through a day detached from reality.
The sound of barking caused me to look anxiously around the corner for a dog I knew I wouldn’t see. I recognised the bark. It belonged to Keisha, my Afghan Hound, who had died several months ago.
As I waited for higher sunlight to change this daymare state back to normal, I became drowsy. I laid down to doze, hoping that when I arose from a nap I would find the world as it ought to be instead of this translucent illusion.
The dogs napped with me, the pup in his crate and the others snoozing on the floor by the couch where I slept deeply. Later, disturbed by the padding of soft paws walking back and forth on the floor behind my back, I pushed my head between the cushions and struggled to get back into a heavy slumber.
Sleep was elusive, driven away by the persistent tinkle of pet ID tags clinking together when one of the dogs paced the living room. Whichever one it was, moved restlessly, unable to settle themselves comfortably.
Despite my efforts to ignore the noise, the disruption continued, so I sat up to see who was responsible for waking me.
Wylie, the youngest and most active of my two Norwegian Elkhounds, was securely in his crate, eyes tightly closed. Oslo the other male Elkhound still snored, not raised by anything. The third dog, a black Norwegian Buhund named Libbet, had crept into a chair and was likewise asleep.
Believing that I must have dreamt the disturbance, I lay back down on my side and attempted to return to sleep myself. But the clinking and padding sounds continued.
Warily, I opened one eye. Nothing. I opened the other eye, imperceptibly shifted my head and observed three sleeping dogs. Yet the sound was still there. I was definitely and completely awake.
I had not dreamed the noise, it resounded in my ears, not my imagination. I froze in place as I watched the motionless dogs and listened to the inexplicable sound of canine motion.
Libbet’s keen hearing detected something too, evidenced by the rotation of her pointed ears in her sleep. She awoke, a startled expression on her face, and swivelled her head towards the invisible source of the noise.
Whatever she saw or “sensed” must have scared her. She leapt out of the chair and attempted to crawl beneath the furniture. Her dark, frightened eyes darted across the room watching something that I could not see.
Snorting awake, Oslo looked at Libbet, then peered intently towards the direction where she was staring. His wise brown eyes then caught mine before returning to look at a murky patch of light shimmering on the floor behind a lamp table.
He stood and crossed to smell the particular spot, but jerked his nose away as if a bug had bitten him. He stepped back, wagged his powder puff of a tail once, then walked into the kitchen where Libbet had redirected her tare.
Ever the curious pup, Wylie was awake and intrigued by his pals’ activity. He trotted into the kitchen, but just as quickly double-stepped backwards and hurriedly left the room. As was his habit with new and undetermined situations, he lowered his head, raised his hackles and began a staccato of barking aimed at some unseen thing in the kitchen.
Too curious myself to be afraid, I followed Oslo and just barely caught a glimpse of a miasmic, black form fade through the centre of the refrigerator. Oslo and I gazed out the glass door into the yard where another dim area of quivering light, the same two-by-two foot size as the now vanished spot in the living room, played slowly over the ground between the trees.
However, there was no sunshine outside. The sky was still blocked by greyness and the thin haze still floated in the treetops like a drizzle that refused to fall to earth.
I stood, transfixed until the last sparkle drifted across the width of the yard and disappeared.
Oslo had already gone back to sleep. Wylie was chewing on a toy and Libbet was again curled in the chair, calmly watching the puppy. The whole mysterious episode was now only a memory, prone to change and error each time it would be recalled.
A psychiatrist would explain the event as a delusion and want to bill me for therapy sessions.
But how would that account for the reaction of Libbet and Oslo and Wylie? Any behaviorist would tell me that I was “anthropomorphising” and transferring my own emotions onto the dogs.
A psychic would say that I had been visited by a spirit from beyond the Grave and would charge to re-establish contact; no dogs allowed since they might break our concentration.
What do I believe happened that haze-enshrouded day? I think that for a brief moment, the misty veil between the known and the unknown, merged to permit spirit to touch matter – Keisha’s and mine. And, I am a little richer for the encounter.
Anything is possible in this high-tech, New Age world.
Am I crazy? Definitely; the fact that I live with three dogs should prove it. Besides, it’s the month of my birth, I’m allowed to act a little kooky as I celebrate the aging process. What a unique birthday present.
Keisha couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time for her visit. After all, October is the season for ghosts, apparitions and unexplained sightings."

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:01 pm
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

I promised you something special for Christmas Day, so here it is. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND, JAGER. The oldest piece of memorabilia that I have is an article from the Our Dogs of December 14th, 1901, which gives a fascinating insight into the early history of the breed in this country. Under the heading given above (subtitled THE PROPERTY OF LADY CATHCART, CLUNY CASTLE, ABERDEEN) is written the following:

"The subject of this notice is one of the most interesting of the many good dogs whose photograph appear in this number. He is a splendid specimen and said to be the best that has appeared in this country. He came direct from the forests of Lierdhal (sic), on the borders of Swedish Lapland. There is immense difficulty in getting the pure, true bred ones, as the people won't part with them, and when they do, only at very large prices. Lady Cathcart has done all she can to get them recognised by the Kennel Club, as they are a most attractive breed and charming pets, only they have very decided sporting predelictions, and have to be watched when there are game or deer about. If properly trained they would make most useful sporting dogs.
The Kennel Club have given no encouragement, however, to them, and we fear, with the next to impossible quarantine regulations as to the importation of Foreign Dogs, that they will become more scarce, as people think twice about incarcerating valuable animals at Mitcham Sanatorium for six months. These dogs need all the fresh air and exercise they can get. In their own country the more snow the better they like it, and they sleep out of doors all night. When hunting elk and bear they go any distance, covering often fifty miles on a stretch. Lady Cathcart's husband, Sir Reginald Cathcart, has had these dogs all his life, and hunted with them both for elk and bear, and says there is nothing like them for hardness and sagicity. Jager has taken twenty-five first prizes, many specials, four premierships, three challenge prizes, but of course has never had a chance at a championship as the Kennel Club denies this to them. Lady Cathcart recently, after much search, bought a Norwegian female Elk-dog, and a pup for importation, but the quarantine regulations frightened her against having them over, so she gave them away to a friend in Norway."

The picture that accompanies this article is the often seen one of Jager (Jaeger) (thus giving the lie to the statement that the photo was taken in 1904), but tomorrow I will share some rare, early photos and the story that goes with them. Merry Christmas!

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:29 pm
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

In days gone by, Boxing Day was the time when gifts were exchanged, and so here is a gift to you, on the fifth day of Christmas. The story of a family of dogs from the 1920s.

In Kitty C. Heffer’s The Elkhound, originally published in 1969, one can find an article called Scandinavian Invasion, written in 1938 by Julia Rands, who these days is probably best known as the artist who created the delightful dog that features in the NECGB logo.

Writing about the influential sire, Ch. Woden she remarks “His chief rival as a sire was his nephew, Jansen, his sister Gerda’s son; a bigger heavier dog. He had a massive body and very stout bone; but his expression was rather spoiled by yellow eyes. He was hardly ever shown owing to a lame shoulder from an accident in youth. He lived to be fifteen years old and was a dog of character, a household companion and a useful gundog.”

Turning to the registrations, we find that Jansen’s birth is recorded as being on 20/3/1919. His dam was the aforementioned Gerda; his sire was Hafagr (and not as written in pencil in the illustration above). He was bred by Lady D. Wood, and owned by Mrs Soames. He represented the “English” type of dog resident in the UK before the importation of dogs from the av Glitre Kennel.

Going from thence to the primary sources of the time, we find some mention of Jansen. In the Our Dogs of June 1923, in Will Hally’s column Foreign Dog Fancies, is this snippet: “I have several times remarked in this column on the number of long-time Elkhound devotees which we have in Britain, and one of them is Mrs. Soames, whose kennel at Rugby is now being extended to meet the new activity in the breed. Mrs. Soames has kept Elkhounds for over thirty years, her first dog being got from Mr. Bailie Hamilton, who had then a stud in the New Forest. Mrs. Soames is enthusiastic, as we all are, over the formation of the British Elkhound Society, but she is more fortunate than some of us in having such a dog as Jensen (sic) (who defeated everything except Woden at the L.K.A.) at the head of her kennel.”

We will return to the formation of the Club at a later date. Next, we see an amplification of Julia Rands’ comment about Jansen’s abilities as a gundog in the Foreign Dog Fancies of 14/12/1923. “I have frequently testified to the abilities of Elkhounds as Gundogs, and I am glad to get my experience corroborated by still another fancier, Mrs. Soames, whose stud near Rugby is so well known. Her celebrity, Jansen, is proving invaluable for gun work on Mr. Soames’ shoot, and he is as clever on water as on land. One instance of his ability was the retrieving of a wild duck which had fallen in the middle of a brook; he was sent to bring it out, which he did promptly to Mr. Soames’ feet.” I have illustrated this piece with a photo from Mrs. Soames’ advert from a British Elkhound Society Journal.

One of the pairings that worked particularly well was that of Jansen with the imported bitch, Thora. Her date of birth is given in the registrations as 1/9/1920. Her parents were Smik and Binna V, and she was bred by Mr. K. Boe. Her owner was Mrs. A.O. Lombe.

From Our Dogs in July 1924 comes this piece: “In some quarters, there has been a slight feeling of disappointment in the Elkhound stock which has been imported, but I think that that has been caused by the expectation that the native would be better than the British-breds. But even if the best of the imported may not be quite as good as the best of the home-bred, that does not detract from the inestimable value of the former. They have brought in that new blood so urgently needed if too close inbreeding was to be ultimately avoided, and they are giving us what we have always wanted in Elkhounds – numbers as well as quality. One of the examples of the value of imported stock is seen in Mrs. Lombe’s kennel, established for so many years at Grafton Regis. Thora, the imported bitch, has mated exceptionally well with the home-bred sires, and the best dog which Mrs. Lombe has ever bred is Orna, by Mrs. Soames’ Jensen out of Thora, and who is already a red-ticket taker at Olympia.”

Consulting the registrations, I am unable to find a mention of Orna’s date of birth (athough the photo has beneath it 5/7/23, whch sounds about right). But in the Foreign Dog Fancies of May 16th, 1924, he is referred to as being exhibited at L.K.A.: “Mrs. Powell had a representative lot of the Norwegian breed to judge at the L.K.A. show last week. It was at the original L.K.A. events that Elkhounds first came prominently before the British public. The minor classes are certainly proving an attraction to exhibitors. In Junior Dogs, Mrs. Lombe had a popular win with Orna, while Limit Dogs brought out the championship winner, Colonel Reid’s Thorvah. Junior Bitches were headed by Mr. Thompson’s Droma, but here also the championship was found in Limit Bitches – Mrs. Waterhouse’s well-known Beltsa.”

A critique reveals that Orna, the winner in Junior Dogs “…is rather big in ears, nice head, short back, good tail; not in full coat. Mala has good head and front, also coat. Limit: Bob av Glitre, short back grand front, good head and expression with nice body; rather full in coat. Thor, nice head and fairly good in body and coat. Musti, reserve, full long in back and not good behind. The new face in Open Dogs was Ch. Woden, who scores in head and ears; shown in nice coat and form. Junior Bitches: Ole, on the small side, but full of type and quality, Nora av Glitre, a lovely bitch, out of coat, or would have troubled the winner. Droma is a nice-bodied bitch, with good class of head, not quite nice in tail carriage. Limit: Ch. Beltsa won, also certificate, grand type, good head and front; shown rather fat. Thora, a little out of coat, good head, front and type.”

Another critique at Olympia in 1924, describes Orna as being "a dense-coated, good-headed dog, bar the ears which are soft.”

What strikes me about the photo of Orna is that he is far closer to the modern Elkhound than some others of the time. So it comes as a shock to realise that the Elkhound breeders of the 1920s were not on the same level playing field as we are today. Immediately after the critique above comes the following article, with the dog’s name underlined in red: “I am very sorry to hear that Mrs. Lombe has lost Orna, her best Elkhound dog, the cause of death being suppressed distemper. Orna was generally admitted to be the finest young Elkhound in this country, and as he was proving a very valuable sire, his death means a gap not only in the old-established Grafton Regis kennel, but in the breed itself. Orna was out of Thora, the bitch which Mrs. Lombe imported, and which, of course, is still alive, and it is doubly fortunate that there are also some young stock by Orna.” In the days before vaccination, distemper or hardpad was almost expected to strike a dog at some point during its life, and the animal would either live or die. One has to wonder at how many hopes foundered because of this terrible disease, which I have seen at first-hand, albeit suppressed, in a vaccinated dog.

One of Orna’s offspring was Graftonia Kogi, an important sire of the 1920s, and so the line continued on, despite the tragedy.

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RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:19 am
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

Tonight I bring you an interesting little book, Understanding Your Dog by Eberhard Trumler, published in translation by Faber in 1973. Trumler was an Austrian canine researcher and behaviourist. In his Bavarian research station, he conducted experiments and observations into the innate characteristics of certain “primitive” breeds of dog. Trumler decided that the elkhound and the dingo would make the best subjects, and crossed the two breeds to see which of the parents’ traits would be carried over into the resulting offspring. Further, inbred generations followed, an idea which might seem repulsive to the breed purist, but to the behaviourist was justified in that it resulted in some interesting findings. Here Trumler talks about the reasons for his choice of the elkhound as a subject.

“I decided to acquire Binna, my elkhound bitch, after learning something of the history of these animals. According to Scandinavian cynologists they had been bred in their present form several thousand years ago. Initially they resembled the northern moorland spitz, the remains of which have been found on Lake Ladoga in settlements at least 6,000 years old. This type of dog was already widespread at this period; they were the guard dogs too in the lake-dweller settlements in Switzerland.

My Binna, therefore, comes of a very ancient strain of dog; to some extent she is an incarnation of the stone-age type of dog. This was precisely the reason why I wished to study this breed of dog more closely; it was a breed which had been subjected to no ‘changes of fashion’ like so many of our present-day strains. So I now had a domestic animal, the hereditary traits of which had remained unchanged and uniform from ages ago. Naturally, the expert can detect differences between individual elkhounds, but they are minor; I like to think that they are no greater than the differences within a pack of related wolves.

Elkhounds are, of course, domesticated dogs in the full sense of the word. They are even pedigree dogs, carefully and selectively bred by man over thousands of years. At dog shows, for instance, it matters a great deal whether the long bushy tail curls precisely over the backbone. Can I, therefore, expect primitive traits of behaviour to manifest themselves in such dogs?

An answer to this question is perhaps to be found by considering why and in what way the elkhound was bred. It must first be remembered that all Scandinavians are marked dog lovers with a great understanding of nature. In the few big cities hardly anyone keeps an elkhound – why should they? The northerners’ understanding of the dog guarantees the elkhound the home which suits him; he lives on the farms, whether large or small, out in the country. In Oslo or Stockholm people are obviously dog-lovers because every breed in the world is to be seen, frequently outstanding specimens. But to see elkhounds one must go out to the fjords and the mountains, to the endless pine forests interspersed with birch-ringed marshes – in short to the homeland of the elk.

The elkhound has been bred and kept from time immemorial to hunt those giant stags with their massive heads and spreading multipurpose antlers. The stately elk is an extraordinarily difficult animal to track, adept at evading his pursuers. Without the elkhound an elk-hunt would have small prospect of success. The hound follows the scent indefatigably, nose to the ground; he can distinguish between an old or a fresh ‘hot’ trail and he will eventually find his elk even if he must stay on the trail for three days at a stretch. The scent leads up hill and down dale, sometimes climbing steep rocky hills and then descending into the swamps; it is a considerable effort for the hunter to keep up with his dog. The dog pulls with all his might at the long lead, nose to the ground. As soon as the elkhound is obviously becoming more eager, the lead is slipped and the dog charges off to bring his quarry to bay. It is almost incredible how a dog, standing less than two feet high, contrives to keep the seven–foot giant, who is still full of fight, at bay until his master arrives and can bring his gun into action. The hound circles round, baying loudly, but dextrous though he is, the elk never manages a strike with his antlers.

This is what the elkhound does and it constitutes the foremost principle of selection in elkhound breeding. The more elks (sic) a dog has brought to bay, the better known he will be and the more he will be used for breeding. This whole business of hunting the elk, however, is one of the basic habits or attributes of this breed of dog; wolves similarly hunt elks but they bring them to bay and kill them as a pack. In the wild state a wolf who has not a good enough nose or cannot stand up to the exertion of a long chase, will be debarred from breeding, just like the elkhound. Later we shall see that young wolves learn the refinements of the chase from their elders. It is the same with elkhounds; the inexperienced are taught by the older experienced members of their race. A young dog too stupid or too sluggish to learn is placed on one side, just as a wolf who is a failure is thrown out.

So from time immemorial the elkhound strain has ensured that only those animals which are healthy, intelligent, tough and with the right instincts propagate their species. The process has also guaranteed that at least a large part of the primitive behavioural pattern has remained unchanged.

When she is on a scent my Binna is bind and deaf – I can bawl my lungs out but she does not react. Why should she? – it would be nonsensical, she thinks, to abandon her chase. But when she has brought her animal to bay, that is the end of the matter as far as she is concerned. There is no pack leader to tear the animal down and no hunter to shoot it; so she turns back and goes home; she cannot kill it. I believe that when wolves bring a large animal down they are acting not from innate instinct, but that this is something which needs to be learnt. In the case of the elkhound, therefore, this is not a failure of instinct but a ‘gap in education’. Something which certainly is innate in the elkhound is hunting small animals such as mice. Binna is very good at this; she loves digging for mice.

I made my first beginnings in the observation of canine behaviour with my elkhound bitch Binna….."

We are now halfway through our voyage into this miscellany of the Norwegian elkhound.

Last edited Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:18 pm | Scroll up


RE: 12 days of Christmas (a little bit early).....

in MAIN POST AREA * ELKHOUND BLOGS & BRAGS Sat Dec 28, 2013 10:00 pm
by Vanhalla | 154 Posts

Today's tale has a little touch of Hollywood magic about it.

I have in my posession a rather nice book which I picked up at Elverum a few years ago, which marks the centenary of the Norske Elghundklubbers Forbund (the actual title is Jubileumsbok for Norske Elghundklubbers Forbund 1899 - 1999). I've been flicking through the pages, and wondering which of the interesting articles to bring to you - Johnny Aarflot's illustrations of the points of the elkhound head (ah, but that's available elsewhere in translation!), photos of the 'central breeding dogs', the picture of the first hunting and show champion, or perhaps one of the tales and songs - the picture of Erna Frostad's grandfather, perhaps, with his gun and his dog?

But then the page fell open at a picture which I have seen many times before - a smiling woman and a man with a dog and an arm full of trophies. And I thought that I would tell you a little bit about the picture and the people that feature in it.

Some of the more mature amongst you may remember Sonja Henie, the Norwegian skater and film star, at times perhaps controversial, but certainly a woman of many talents. At the time that this photo was taken, she was already sick with the illness that was to take her life only a few short weeks later. The article that accompanies the photo in the book says the following:
"Sonja Henie, who died in October 1969, was not only the Norwegian sports star who reaped the largest world fame. She was also a famous movie star, leader of an ice show that toured the world and was, with her husband Nils Onstad, a world renowned art collector.
Less known is her interest in the Norwegian Elkhound. She kept for many years, both at the time she was living in the USA and after she got home, 4-5 gray Elkhounds. In the U.S. she was, popular as she was, the Norwegian Elkhound Club's best ambassador.
Her love for the Elkhound manifested itself in "The Sonja Trophy". This was put on annually at two shows: one organized by the Norwegian Elkhound Club and one by the Norwegian Hunting Dog Association...... Sonja Henie herself awarded the trophy to the winner of the show at Elverum on 24 August 1969. The winner was Ola Nesset from Atna with the gray Elkhound bitch "Gravskarets Tussa".

So much for Sonja Henie, who was known to all the world. But what of the man in the photo? In his own circles, he was a celebrity too. Searching for more information about Ola Nesset, I found an interesting pdf all about the gentleman. He started elk-hunting at the age of 13, and felled his first at the age of 15. He was active in shooting and shooting instruction, a breeder of top-class elkhounds and later a judge at both shows and hunting trials for both bandhund and løshund. His favourite breed was the grey elkhound, which above all other he considered the best for elk-hunting. The article closes with a photo of Herr Nesset proudly sitting before a cabinet full of trophies, and above it, high on the wall, can be seen the photo of Herr Nesset, his dog and Sonja Henie, on that day at Elverum in 1969.

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