In the Beginning

We were introduced to Kiva, Simon and Louise at a dog show by Liz Mowatt (TabanyaRuu) when we were still investigating Finnish Lapphunds and started to follow her progress very closely right from conception!

October finally arrived and we went to collect Miika – a very happy, emotional day.  I still couldn’t believe that he was actually going to be ours. 

Miika fitted very smoothly into our lives.  From the very first night he slept in his crate all night without a peep.  He quickly learnt that “quiet time” meant a treat and time to chill out in his crate, whilst “bed time” meant time to sleep.

As I work three days a week Miika attends Doggy Daycare.  He is collected after I have left for work and spends the whole day playing with lots of other dogs, although apparently Miika struts in and decides who is going to be his playmate of the day and then spends the day with that one friend.  When he comes home he is shattered and sleeps all evening until Mark wakes him for his evening walk.

When it comes to walking, Mark and I quickly worked out a routine – as I am a morning person I walk Miika at 6.30 each morning and as Mark is a night person he does the evening walk and on the days that Miika is not at daycare we all go out together for the midday walk.  We have also joined a few Lappy Walks which Miika loves; it’s a great opportunity to meet with other Lappy families and to be able to put faces to names. 

Miika loves everyone and very soon became well known in Clevedon.  Whilst out one day we were stopped by someone wanting to touch Miika, when I told them his name they replied “Oh, so this is Miika, I’ve heard of him!”  

One of Miika’s favourite hu-friends is Kim, who works at our local pet shop, as soon as we get close to the shop Miika starts pulling to get there faster and then pushes past anyone else in the shop to get to Kim and the treat that she always has ready for him.

Miika has just competed in his first dog show, with Mark being the handler.  I must admit I was very nervous about how Miika would behave – would he just think it was another larger Daycare session and want to play?  In fact Miika was very well behaved; he was quite happy for the judge to examine him and was very self-controlled in the ring, although we are thinking that I will have to be the handler at future shows as Miika spent most of the time in the ring either looking for me or looking at me!

Since Miika came to stay our lives are so much richer, he gives unconditional love and so much joy.  Miika makes us laugh with his high-pitched squeal when playing tug-of-war and his disgust with Mark if he tries to show me affection!  We have found that our priorities have totally changed since Miika arrived – I used to be a shopaholic, now, I can’t remember the last time I went shopping for anything other than groceries or for dog food/toys/treats!

Our lives revolve around Miika and his around us – we thank the day Mark telephoned Liz and started our journey into Lappiedom and we thank Simon and Louise for the fantastic start they gave Miika, which is the reason I believe that Miika is such an amazing little lad.  We are so very proud of our boy, Miika.

Jane Treasure

From the above you might have been able to work out that Jane can't count - when asked for a couple of hundred words she sent over 600.  It's OK as we make allowances for Jane, after all, she is an accountant ;-)

Miika is a One Year Old

It is hard to believe that Miika is now a one year old, the ten months since he came to live with us have flown by so quickly.

I mentioned in my last missive that Miika had just completed his first Dog Show, well; he is now a seasoned exhibitor.  He has been shown at several Championship and Open Shows and has amassed a lovely collection of rosettes.  Unfortunately Miika does think that the shows are just very large daycare centres and wants to play with the other dogs and of course uses his high-pitched squeal to inform me of his disgust when I tell him “No”, although once in the ring he does quieten and perform like a gentleman (well, most of the time).

Miika is the easiest puppy I have lived with, nothing fazes him, he even remained asleep in the garden today whilst the next door neighbour was using a very noisy chain saw on his trees. 

He does not join in when neighbouring dogs bark although he does go nuts with his very deep manly bark when someone rings the doorbell. 

Not a bad thing really as those visitors that do not know him are very cautious until Miika has given them a good sniff and decided it is OK for them to enter; hence cold callers are despatched very quickly.  

Miika travels with us to most places but when we do need to leave him at home he is very happy to curl up in his crate with a small treat and his toys, admittedly we do leave the television on for him as well.

I now work mainly from home and Miika divides his time between my upstairs office and the garden.  Strangely, whenever I go downstairs to check on him, he is generally on his way upstairs, maybe to check on me?  We have been very lucky so far as Miika has not dug any major holes in our garden; mind you he does enjoy a bit of gardening and will “prune” shrubs, including thorny roses, if he gets bored of his hooves or bones.

Miika gets lots of exercise, as well as his early morning and late evening walks he gets a long walk during the day, normally about 4-5 miles every day. 

This means that he has lots of muscle and therefore, is a very good weight however; he does have a waist to die for. 

Being a Lappy, Miika is very intelligent; he knows where each and every cat lives or hides out in our local area.

He can be seen here with his mum, Kiva at a show in 2011

From the first day Miika arrived our three cats have moved upstairs.  We have tried to get them to accept Miika but this is very difficult when all Miika wants to do is chase them and get them to play.  Unfortunately he pushed his luck a little too far with one of the cats recently and ended up with right hook to the jaw, followed by a swollen and infected lip. 

Did he learn his lesson? Erm – No.  However, he goes give that particular cat a slightly wider berth than he did.  We are now doubling our efforts to get them all together and have noticed that Miika is beginning to be a little calmer with them.  Fingers crossed.

It was becoming obvious over the last couple of months that Miika was starting to leave puppyhood behind – he discovered girls!  Whilst on a Lappy Walk in Greyfield Woods, High Littleton, Miika fell in love with Minna and Taika, if we couldn’t locate him we just had to look for either of the girls and there he would be.  Apparently it is the same at daycare, Miika chooses his “girl” for the day and sticks very close to her all day.

So, Miika has his first birthday this week.  Mark and I are taking the day off work and will be taking Miika out for the day – a good, long run, lots of cuddles and treats and a big bone.

Happy Birthday, Miika!

Miika will be two years old this month – two years, good grief where has that time gone?  Well, it has passed by filled with love, joy and laughter all supplied by our wonderful boy TabanyaRuu Karuselli Miika.

You may remember from my last note (a year ago) that Miika was having some success at showing; he continued with his show career until Crufts 2012, however it became apparent, as Miika matured, that he didn’t particularly enjoy showing so we decided to allow him to retire from the show ring.

So a new career was required and we think we found the perfect solution for Miika – he became a live-in puppy-sitter!  In April 2012 we brought home our newest family member, Emmi (Infindigo Riemu Emmi).  We had been considering getting another Lappy for some time but we weren’t sure how Miika would react and the last thing we wanted to do was upset him and his routines.

Our daughter had a new puppy, Buddy, just before Christmas, we spent a lot of time with her and her family over the festive season and were delighted with how Miika responded to Buddy – so decision made, we would get another Lappy.

From the very first moment that Emmi entered our home Miika and Emmi have been absolute best buddies. 

Miika was extremely gentle with her at the beginning but as it soon became clear that Emmi was one little tough cookie their play became full on, laugh a minute joy.  Over the first few days of Emmi joining our family I had a client at home for training which meant I had to remain in the upstairs office a lot of the day, this is when Miika stepped in as “nanny”.  He was amazing with Emmi and as long as she was with him Emmi was calm and chilled.

Miika hasn’t shown any jealousy regarding Emmi; whatever Emmi wants, Miika lets her have, whether that is our attention, his toys, hooves or just simply that particular spot on the floor/sofa! 

However, if Emmi does something she shouldn’t, like digging holes in the garden, Miika comes straight to us to tell on her – so funny!

As I have said before, Miika is not really fazed by much, however recently he did give himself an awful fright. 

We took the dogs for a run on the beach at Weston-super-Mare, the tide was in but we were not concerned as Miika has only ever dipped his toes in the sea on previous visits.

This time Miika decided that he was going to attempt to reach Wales and bounded straight out to sea! 

When the sea reached his chest he suddenly realised what he was doing, turned around to face the shore and froze!   Phew!

The waves kept coming, of course, and one actually went right over his head.  I had already started to wade out to him, calling his name and talking to him to try to reassure him and when the sea was up to my knees he started to come towards me, once he reached me he seemed to recover his senses and ran back to the beach.  He looked like a drowned rat – but with one big shake he was back to normal, in fact you would never have known he had been in so deep. 

Miika still loves his crate/pen, a retired child’s playpen.  When he sees me getting my briefcase ready he knows that I am about to go out to work (most of the time I work from home) and he takes himself off to his pen.  After his late evening walk he is always ready to go to bed and anytime we need to leave him at home we simply tell him that he needs to have some “quiet time” and without any protest Miika opens the pen door and settles down for a nap.  Except for announcing visitors, Miika is still a very quiet boy at home even when Emmi is yelling her head off early in the morning, Miika just continues to lay down quietly in his pen until we open the gate.

Life is never dull when you live with a Finnish Lapphund and Miika is no exception.  There is always something happening whether it is doing zoomies with Emmi in the garden, playing tug with Mark, saying hello to people, having his photo taken (of which we have hundreds), creating merry hell when someone dares to walk up our drive or simply giving the best of kisses and cuddles, Miika is quite simply an adorable, loving, handsome lad and our lives are forever changed for the better for having him share our home and our love.

Happy 2nd Birthday sweet Miika.

Jane Treasure (16 August 2012)

Miika – Having the Time of his Life ~ October 2016

Recently Simon asked me to write an update about Miika and when I checked what I had written before I realised it had actually been some time since I put pen to paper or rather fingers to keyboard.  So where to start on an update, where I left off presumably:

Which was when Miika was two years old, he is now six!

As Emmi settled into the household life settled into a pretty simple and happy routine, up early for a walk, breakfast, rest, watch mum work, another walk, play time, rest, dinner, zoomies, rest, evening walk and bed – not a bad life.

Once Emmi was six months old she started her career in the show ring and of course, Miika would accompany us.  By this point Miika had been neutered and was a much calmer lad.  It seemed a real shame for him to come to the shows and not go in the ring so we sought permission from the Kennel Club and Miika restarted his career in the show ring. 

You may remember from my previous notes that Miika has never taken showing seriously, to Miika the show ring is just another playground.  However, sometimes, Miika will surprise us and actually behave like a real show dog. 

It is always very exciting showing Miika as you never knew whether you were going to be handling Miika the Show Dog or Miika the Clown. 

As time went on though more often than not we had Miika the Show Dog so much so that he started to get good placings at shows.

In December 2013 we added to our little family.  Another little girl but this special girlie, Jaana, came from Sweden. 

Miika was delighted – another female, he now had the makings of a harem.  As with Emmi, Jaana was allowed to do whatever she pleased, Miika adored her from their very first meeting.  As time has passed it has been interesting to watch the relationships between Miika and the girls. 

I think Emmi will always be Miika's best friend, she is the one he seeks out for support, they still play but less than they used to as Emmi is not one for a lot of playing, but they still cuddle.  However, Jaana is Miika’s playmate, she is the one always ready for a romp.

Having three dogs has changed the dynamics in the house, it is now a pack and fascinating to watch them work out their individual roles within that pack.  Emmi is the pack leader (after us), then Jaana and then poor Miika.  However, despite being at the bottom of the ladder, Miika will always take charge if he feels his girls are in danger – god help anyone who threatens Miika’s family.

Miika is still very vocal when anyone comes to the door.  At the end of last year we moved house, in fact we made a complete change and moved into the countryside, just as we had always wanted to do.  Our new home is a converted 200 year old barn with only a few neighbours.  We share a gravel drive with our neighbours and of course, Miika along with Emmi just have to tell us (and everyone in about a ten mile radius) every time anyone drives or walks up the driveway.  Other than that though Miika is still a calm, quiet lad, very chilled about life.

The joy of our new home is that we are surrounded by beautiful countryside and lots of fab walks.  This also means we are surrounded by wildlife too.  Miika and the girls love our new life and they love looking out for deer, foxes, rabbits and hares as well as some super birds, heron, buzzards, egrets, shelducks, swallows and lots of others.

Miika has continued to take part in dog shows and has now started to have some success.

In 2015, Miika was Best of Breed at the Pontypridd Open Show and then was awarded Pastoral Group 3 – his first ever group placing.  Mark handled Miika at this show as I was handling Emmi - I am still apologising to everyone for my scream when the judge pointed to Miika in the group, thankfully the judge found it hilarious as did most of the people who were still at the show.

Miika got his 2nd Group placing this year at the Mid-Somerset Agricultural Show where he was Best of Breed and Pastoral Group 4.

Earlier this year we attended Three Counties Championship Dog Show, our breed do not have CC’s at this show but it is a show that we love and try to go to every year.  Miika won his class so was in the challenge for Best Dog, he had his Show Dog head on that day and after the Best Dog was awarded we had to move around the ring again as the judge, Andrew Brace, chose his Reserve Best Dog.  Imagine my shock and pleasure as out of the corner of my eye I see the judge coming towards me with the card.  Oh and yes I am happy to admit I did shed a delighted tear.

A couple of months later Miika was strutting his stuff again at Paignton Championship Dog Show for judge Stuart Mallard.  He was entered in the Open Dog class and was placed second.  OK so he didn’t win his class but what being placed second means is that he was awarded his Stud Book Number and what that means is that he is now Crufts qualified for the rest of his life.  Yes another or maybe more tears were shed that day – we have always thought our Miika was a stud muffin and now the Kennel Club agrees!

The thing about Miika that judges seem to love is his happy attitude to life, every critique Miika gets mentions what a happy dog he is.  Mark’s photos confirm this as Miika’s tail is always a blur because it is wagging nineteen to the dozen!

There are other strings to Miika’s bow too.  Miika has passed his Bronze and Silver Good Citizen Awards as well as earning his Silver Versatility Award from the Finnish Lapphund Club of GB.   At the Spitz in the Park weekend he had a go at agility, it didn’t take him long to work out what was required and was soon jumping, running through the tunnel and weaving the poles like a pro.

Miika loves doing “stuff”, regardless of what it is, if it means he is having fun and he is with us or his girls then he is totally happy, which in turn makes us happy.

We are still as much in love with this special boy as we were the day we collected him from Simon and Louise.  Oh and he gives the bestest cuddles and kisses – just be careful what he has been eating beforehand!

Miika – Every day is a blessing.

The last time I wrote to Simon about Miika was in October 2016 when Miika was 6 years old.  Thankfully we didn’t know then that we would only have another 4 years with our precious clown.

I mentioned previously that we had moved from a town residence to the countryside, something we had both wanted to do all our lives and it was the best decision we could have made.  We are surrounded by fields, most of which are owned by our farmer neighbour who gave us permission to exercise the dogs in all of them whenever we wanted.  Miika loved this new environment and reveled in wandering through fields and woods. 

We do have to be careful about wildlife as we are often surprised by deer, hares, foxes and pheasants suddenly appearing in front of us, therefore, we purchased long extending leads so that the dogs have the illusion of being off lead, but we have ultimate control.  Miika loved this freedom, he would wander off in front, bouncing along, tail wagging, totally oblivious to everything.  In fact, he rarely saw the wildlife!  We referred to this as him being off in Miika’s World. 

He rarely jolted off and on the few occasions he decided to run forward a simple “Steady” and he would slow back down to a bouncy walk.  He even learned left from right.  If the path we were following forked, we could call out the direction we wanted to go and invariably Miika would turn that way.  One of the rare times Miika showed his superior intelligence over the girls.

The autumn after we moved here when the blackberries were ripening, on our walk I picked some blackberries to give to the dogs.  Emmi watched me once and then picked her own.  Jaana took about 10 minutes to learn how to do it.  Sadly it took Miika about a week to work it out and the following year he had to learn it all over again! LOL

Emmi and I used to visit a couple of care homes as volunteers with Canine Concern Care Dogs.  In 2018 we thought we would see if Miika could join us.  So we arranged for him to be assessed – he passed with flying colours and he immediately began to take turns with Emmi to accompany me.  He was a big hit with the residents who all loved his happy, smiling face and wagging tail.  He would get so excited when he realised where we were going.  He loved all the attention and of course the searching of the floor for biscuit crumbs.  Miika was always such a patient dog, if I stopped to chat with a resident he would simply lay down at my feet and wait until it was time to move on.  It was such a thrill to find a framed photo of Miika in one of the lounges on one of our visits.

Miika continued to enjoy his time in the show ring, in fact he seemed to enjoy it more and more as he got older.  Once he was 7 years old he was eligible to enter the veteran class.  Judges loved his happy demeanour and his exuberance in the ring.  It was obvious to anyone watching how happy he was. 

Every critique he received mentioned his happy attitude and enthusiasm.  Miika continued to keep us guessing in the show ring – who was with us today, Miika the Clown or Miika the Show Dog.  We start even start off with the clown and end up with the show dog or vice versa.  He certainly kept me on my toes. 

The part he absolutely loved was entering the group ring, especially if we were announced, he seemed to know when it was his turn to run in the ring, off we would set and Miika would instantly go into a gallop! A quick “Steady” and he would adjust back to the correct pace.

Sadly he didn’t get his Veteran Warrant award despite gaining 36 points but the award started in January 2018 and Miika had gained most of his points prior to that date.

The Final Chapter

Now we come the difficult part of Miika’s story.  You may have read about this on Facebook if you are a Facebook friend of ours as we made the decision to share Miika’s journey.  We did this for a couple of reasons, firstly the hope that it would help anyone else who was going through the same thing to know that they are not alone and so many are out to help and support and secondly it helped us to cope and carry on during the difficult times, by knowing that or Facebook friends were supporting us and Miika.

So, it started at a dog show.  I was grooming Miika at the show and felt two large lumps under his chin. 

I had groomed him the previous day and hadn’t noticed them.  I didn’t know what it was but thought maybe the lumps would go back down in a couple of days – they didn’t.

We took Miika to our local vet on the Wednesday and the decision was made to do a Fine Needle Aspirate, basically drawing off cells from lumps and sending them off for investigation. 

The vet said we would not hear back for a few days.  However, the next day when I returned from walking the girls, leaving Miika resting at home, I noticed I had missed calls and messages to call from the vet.  Hmm, that didn’t sound good.

It wasn’t good.  The diagnosis was that Miika had B Cell Lymphoma. 

The vet gave us three options, in-house chemotherapy, referral to a specialist oncologist or palliative care.  We chose to be referred to the oncologist at Cave Referrals and an appointment was received for the following Wednesday.

One point to make here is that Miika wasn’t displaying any symptoms of being poorly other than the enlarged glands so how could he be dying – it just didn’t make any sense to us, it was unthinkable – I think we were in denial.

On the Monday Miika enjoyed a lovely walk and a game with his ball in our neighbour’s field.  Tuesday morning he seemed quiet, so I left him dozing on the sofa while I worked upstairs in my office, checking on him regularly.  Later in the afternoon Miika collapsed.  We contacted the vet and got an emergency appointment at Cave if we were able to get there immediately. 

The oncologist gave Miika a thorough examination and confirmed the diagnosis.  He clearly explained our options – Chemotherapy, Steroids or do nothing.  The prognosis for each option was 12-14 months, 6-8 weeks or 3-4 weeks.  We did have pet insurance but it wasn’t going to be enough so we decided to use some of our pension to pay for the chemotherapy.

Miika was put on a four times, four weekly protocol.  Whilst having chemo Miika’s immune system would be compromised so he had to stop visiting the care homes and dog shows.

Miika, and us, went through a lot of ups and downs, it was not an easy process and there were times when I really wanted to stop the chemo because of the effect on Miika.  However, with the support of everyone we kept going.

On Christmas Eve 2019 Miika was declared officially in remission.

He did have some delays with his chemo due to his white blood cell levels dropping dangerously low on occasions.  Come April 2020, the UK was in the throes of lockdown and Miika had completed his chemotherapy.

Emmi took amazing care of Miika.  I would often find her snuggled up to him on his bad days providing comfort.

In fact I realised afterwards that Emmi knew before us that Miika had cancer.  I remembered a couple of times when I found Emmi sitting next to a sleeping Miika simply staring at him and she would stay like that for quite a while. 

She always seemed to know when he needed his best friend to take care of him.

We had a wonderful summer until it all fell apart at the end of September when I felt Miika’s glands were enlarged again. 

It took the vets a while to get confirmation but in November it was confirmed that Miika’s remission was over, the Lymphoma had returned.

Between us, our local vet and Miika’s vet at Cave it was decided that we would not put him through chemotherapy again.  He would be given palliative care, which consisted of steroids to start with.  Of course along with steroids comes a ravenous appetite but also muscle loss and ultimately weight loss.  Miika was given a prognosis of 6-8 weeks.  However, it had already been 5 weeks since we felt the lumps so did that mean he only had a few weeks left?

The country was still under Covid restrictions especially regarding travel and meeting people indoors but we were able to work out a plan for Miika to visit our daughter and son. 

Thankfully Simon was able to arrange for us to use a field near to him which is half way between us and our daughter and is very secure so we were able to meet with her and the family. 

On our way there we popped to our son’s home so that he could see Miika in the garden.  We nicknamed the day Miika’s Goodbye Tour. 

We honestly thought that he would not be with us longer than a week or two at this point.

Within days of Miika’s Goodbye Tour he perked up and was just like the old Miika – we couldn’t believe it. 

The lumps were still there and over the following months they grew to be very large and more lumps appeared in his other gland areas.

Christmas came and went and still Miika was happy and relatively healthy (ignoring the cancer).  However, as we moved into February we noticed some changes and deterioration. 

We took Miika to see his vet every month for a check-up after his chemotherapy was completed last year but since Christmas we had increased those visits to a point that we were going each week to get him checked over to make sure he wasn’t suffering in any way.

We knew Miika was already past his projected time and we could see the deterioration, but he was still happy – his tail was still wagging, he was eating and drinking well. 

It now seemed that every week Miika was having to cope with some new issue, vomiting was one problem along with diarrhea. 

However, on Monday 8th March when I got up I noticed that the right side of Miika’s face had dropped, he was drooling and his eyes were watering.  He was quiet and a little spaced out. 

He spent the morning having cuddles and we also noticed that he didn’t have much control over his tongue.  We booked an appointment with the vet for the afternoon, both knowing that this was probably the end.

As soon as the vet saw Miika she knew immediately what was happening – the cancer was causing pressure on the nerves affecting his face and this was not something we could do anything about.  She agreed that this was the last straw for Miika, we couldn’t possibly ask him to put up with this and whatever else was coming his way over the next few days.

I have always remembered Liz Mowatt saying once that it was better to say goodbye a month too early than just one day too late.  Today was the day to say goodbye to our precious boy.  Our vet agreed that we had timed it just right.

We were both allowed to be with Miika, he passed away peacefully in our arms while we talked to him and gave him kisses, surrounded by our love.

Honestly, it has been a huge struggle to come to terms with losing Miika, it has now been three years and we are still distraught.  We have gone a little overboard with the memorial pieces – a glass charm with his ashes to go next to his paw print on my bracelet, a glass bauble with his ashes to go on the wall next to his picture given to us by Simon and Louise when we collected Miika as a puppy.  A friend crocheted a Santa hat for Miika’s ball, this sits in my office.  We also had a teddy bear made from Miika’s hair (with a little of Emmi’s and Jaana’s) by the super talented Lisa Burrows-Napier, Miika bear also wears a locket containing some of his ashes.  We have saved a little of Miika’s hair to be included in Emmi’s and Jaana’s bears when the time comes.

I also arranged a Facebook fundraiser in Miika’s name on behalf of Canine Concern Care dogs.  Sadly, we were never able to get Miika back to visiting the residents.  The fundraiser reached £1,046 – we were amazed at how generous everyone was and will be forever grateful to everyone who contributed. 

Miika was a wonderful boy, he was always happy, tail wagging nineteen to the dozen.  He loved everyone and was always up for a kiss and a cuddle, he especially loved trying to sneak a kiss with the judge at the shows.  He loved his ball, and he loved us, in that order I wouldn’t be surprised.  He was fiercely protected of his girls and would see off any other dog who threatened them although he thought nothing of bulldozing them when on the beach, but I suppose that was his privilege. 

He was my rock and both Mark, and I are totally lost without him.   We loved Miika for the whole of his life, and we will miss him for the rest of ours.  Team Treasure is not the same without you Miika.