My hobbies are backpacking, hunting, angling and mountain-biking. I am passionate about sustainability, evidence-based conservation and living a simple, local lifestyle.

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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Holding Court With A Harlequin

See, Riley likes to screw merle breeds too; except when he does it, no puppies died. And he ain’t no deadbeat dad living off of fraudulent disability social security benefits and claiming child supports. After all, his uncle is an upstanding role model.

via meetup.com [Images: Cindi]

Disclaimer: No copulation took place, therefore no puppies between Riley and Cooper were produced at Barnett Marine Park. Thus, foster homes and government kennels are spared of oodles of squirmy cobby blue parasites.

By |June 28th, 2011|Riley|0 Comments|

Film: Dog Nail Clipper

Film: Koirankynnen leikkaaja [trans. "Dog Nai Clipper"]
Language: Finnish
Director: Markku Pölönen
Performers: Peter Franzén, Taisto Reimaluoto, Ahti Kuoppala, Ville Virtanen, Risto Salmi
Production Information: Fennada Filmi, 2004
Breed(s) featured: Finnish Spitz, Norrbottenspitz, Mixed Breed
Availability: Region 0 (PAL) DVD released in 2007
Running Time: 105 minutes

Based on a 1980 novel of the same name by Veikko Huovinen, the film tells a story of a veteran struggling to stake it out postwar Finland. “Dog Nail Clipper” was received positively at the Nordic Film, Festroia and Hamburg Film festival, and won several awards at the Jussi. Internationally, the film was well-received by critics.[source]

Handsome stud, you. Who wouldn't want to marry the devil?

The first scene opens with a bright young soldier departing his fiancée on an army truck to fight the Soviets in the Continuation War. The young soldier and his squad wanders through the forests hunting the Reds until they scatter upon impeding artillery barrages. Once under fire by Soviet troops, the Finns take cover. In a true cowboy fashion, the soldier walks his way forward blazing his PPD submachine gun toward the Soviet line. A sniper, armed with a Mosin Nagant M1891/30 rifle equipped with a PU scope, sights him and peers down the crosshair. The bold soldier swaggers to the ground, and another Finn witnessing the shot rushes in to rescue his downed while sustaining a few bullet wounds himself.

Hero of the day strutting the Pistolet-pulemet.

He ain't no FPS-Doug, or the "White Death," but he sure rocks that Mosin hard.

Note the intense photo-realistic graphic. Oh wait, we're not playing Call of Duty?

Later at the hospital, the hero who rescued his comrade is reunited with his children and his wlfe. The downed soldier, back on his feet again, sitting on a bench in a garden, with head wrapped, is approached by a doctor lifting the burden of marriage off his shoulders, in which the news was followed by an infantile crackle. The head-shot renders the bright young soldier reduced to a man-child.

Enter the imbecile.

Mertsi Arhippa Vepsäläinen (Peter Franzén) did not escape from the war unscathed. By day, he would daydreams about dogs; by night, post-traumatic flashbacks haunts him. His memories seem to be mostly intact, albeit scrambled, receptive processing seems to be fine; however his expressive behaviours left him looking like a retard; and he functions like a child, spending his life as a vagabond, unable to hold down a job. Mertsi finds employment as an assistant of a carpenter, Ville Kuosmanen (Ahti Kuoppala). While on the job, Ville regales about his spitzy gundog named Sakke back home in Kainuu. However, contrary to what the masculine name suggests, the sorely missed canine companion is actually a bitch.

“Females are best for hunting. I wonder how she knows when we are about to go hunting. A couple of days before the season she eats her stomach full – then she stops eating altogether. She hunts better on a light stomach. I wonder how she knows.

She is a good gundog, too. She has such an original and deceiving bark. Even the birds have no idea that a hunter is near and about to shoot.

She is a fine watch dog, too. She can hear and sense everything in the woods. She can sniff out an elk in the east or men working by the river. She can smell what kind of lunch you have in your backpack. She´ll know what type of liquor you are carrying by the rattle of the bottle.

She´ll guard my sleigh if I tie it by the shop in the village. She will even fight a pack of wolves. lf I ever break my leg, or have a stroke, she´ll drag me to the village. Or she will run to the neighbour´s to fetch a doctor – before she comes to save me from the swamp. And if I die before her, well – she will howl at my grave and starve herself there. She will never leave me. Never.”

Despite all the attributes, the perfect dog, Sakke has an Achilles’ heel: her overgrown spiralling hind dewclaws, which gets snagged while roaming the bush.

Oh! Oh! Will we see the dog soon? I hope so!

We shall rule Karelia with an iron (-tipped) paw!

What the heck? Zombie? Looks like a freakin' murder scene. Oh, right... the dewclaws. Bad nightmare.

Fearing for Sakke’s life, Mertsi takes off in the dark of night and boards a train in the morning to Kainuu. While on the train, he meets an old comrade, Eetvi Manninen (Taisto Reimaluoto), who saved Mertsi’s life on the frontline. When asked where Mertsi was heading, the war cripple mentions a logging site. However Eetvi is unaware of what Mertsi actually meant; and as a logger, heading to a worksite in Kainuu, he escorts Mertsi. The reunited duo finds employment under a kind foreman (Ville Virtanen), a Lapland veteran, with Eetvi acting as Mertsi’s guaranteer. Or at least this is how the beginning of the film plays out.

The viewers will gain an insight of the harsh economic climate of Finland after the Winter and Lapland Wars. As the agrarian country struggles to pay off its reparations to the Soviets, her citizens could barely afford food and clothes. Many leads the life of labourers prior to industrialization of the nation. However, the life of living in a logging camp is chosen as a backdrop.

Hi-ho, it's off to work we go.

You know, they don't shout an equivalence of "Timber!" in the film. Isn't that... dangerous?

While Mertsi is the main character and the events revolve around him, one would be mistaken to view “Dog Nail Clipper” as some kind of “feels good” flick about adversity in the face of mental disability. His existence serves only as a mean to drive the plot. The whole premise of the film lies more in the virtues and flaws of the people around him. Those who knows of his war injury treats him with respect; and those who are unaware of his history treats him as lesser. Some are sympathetic, a select couple are understanding, while others are downright cruel to Mertsi. The reactions of the characters to Mertsi’s presence are really what defines “Dog Nail Clipper.”

Before spewing bile about how the film does not emphasize Mertsi’s independence, consider this: prior to the ’80s, many people, in which society deemed unfit to take care of themselves, were usually institutionalized. The condescending attitude of the flick and of the characters within the story correctly reflects the atmosphere of the time frame.

Those who are expecting a Lassie-type plot will sorely be disappointed. In fact, dogs are not even centric to the story– serving only as motifs. Even the main star of the film, the Finnish Spitz, only receives five, at the most ten, minutes of screen-time. Her role in the story is actually quite minimal, and only serves as a climax before coming to a close with the drama that ensues after the attempt to clip the dewclaws.

However not to disappoint a crowd who do not want to sit through an hour and a half before seeing the iconic red dog, here is a series of stills (without spoiling the climax):

A mutt fit for a bum.

</orgasm> Oh, the white stuff on the screen? It's powderpuff. No, really, I swear.

Frapping through the snow.

y hullo thar

Insert some melodic dreamy slow song here. Perhaps a score from Enya.

The mother of all dewclaws.

My, what keen eyes you have.

What? Puppy-speak is forbidden? Sorry.

I just want to pinch her little cheek...

Daaaaaawww...

Are you freakin' kidding me? These things are like coyotes.

Teh cutest widdle face evar!

The obligatory three-second cameo of a native dog.

Do not be misled by the opening scene, there is virtually no action. Most of the film is dialogue, and it is rather a slow-moving piece. Many who are not tolerant of mentally-compromised individuals will find watching this piece difficult, as the main character will repeatedly makes careless mistakes nearing killing himself in the process. However these frustrating moments are instrumental to highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the people who interacts with him.

What’s my take on the movie? I will be blunt: while it is cool to see a Finnish Spitz starring in the film, most of my brainpower was wasted on drooling over the foodstuff displayed throughout the course of the flick. That and I was blown away by the plumed tail on Sakke’. “The Dog Clipper” is a really quirky movie, so I might have to rewatch to gain an actual opinion. Would I watch it again? Maybe on a date night.

“The Dog Nail Clipper” is available in a PAL-format for Region 0 or 2 DVD players. There is no English dub audiotrack, however it does come with English subtitles.

By |June 27th, 2011|Finnish Spitz|7 Comments|

Canuck Dog

A very rare Canadian breed, the Canuck Dog:

Actually, this is a Golden Retriever named Boomer. He and Ri met about a month or two ago at the Farmers Market on Trout Lake. At that time, Boomer was wearing a custom vest sponsoring the Vancouver Canucks hockey team.

By |June 14th, 2011|Absurd Finds, Dogs|1 Comment|

Times Are A’Changing

Well, my mother informed me the leash law will be enforced in her hometown.  In the decade I lived in that city, only aggressive dogs and those prone to taking off were leashed; the vast majority were unleashed. However, this is no longer the case as of two weeks ago. Sad.

Although the leash law was always on the records, it was seldom enforced. So there were lots of dogs running at large. As long they didn’t cross busy intersections, took to doing their bathroom issues at home or in the woods, kept the streets clean, minded their own business and stayed out of trouble, no one saw a reason to leash up a dog.  However, due to the sudden increase in bite reports and numbers of complaints about dog-on-dog aggressions, the RCMP has no choice but to go by the book.

The change in community policy is not surprising since the recession started, there is an influx of city folks, with their big honkin’ gas-guzzling Hummers and Ford SUVs, to smaller towns seeking affordable suburban homes. In the last three or five years, the population of the subdivision, where my parents are living, tripled. With them, the roughnecks-gone-yuppies brought along their dogs. Now that being said, it’s not fair to use the incidents of dog attacks to act in a xenophobic manner as there is a logical explanation for this.

In Chapter 16, “A Looser Leash,” of Merle’s Door, Ted Kerasote went into the details about the social dynamics between tourists and off-leash dogs in Chamonix of France. He then applied what he observed in Europe to our own backyards. On page 311-12, he described exactly what happened to the dogs in city I once lived in:

Innumerable case studies have shown that the large increase in dysfunctional canine behavior, especially aggression, is a direct result of more and more dogs living solitary lives. Supervised free-roaming dogs aren’t a threat to public safety; unsocialized ones are. These are the very sort of dogs who, spending their lives in solitary confinement from their own kind–often in a suburban yard–bark their heads off at passersby, make life hell for the mail carrier, and act aggressively toward other dogs and people when they meet them face to face. Such sequestered dogs may have their own dog door, but if the door leads to no more than a lawn and a fence, the dog has merely been put in a bigger crate. The ultimate truth of living with a dog is the same as that of living with a person you care about: It takes time. And in this respect, many urban dogs may have more fulfilling lives than their suburban counterparts. Their humans, being urban people and not so wedded to automobiles, walk, and when they walk they take their dogs with them. If they have access to a park with hours devoted to off-leash recreation, both person and dog get what most of us need, if not every day, then close to every day: access to a reasonable amount of green space, safety from cars, exercise, and good conversation with our own kind.

So in turn, what happened: people brought their poorly-socialized dogs with them, hailing from cities frowning on unleashed dogs, then expected Fido to behave off-the-leash in an act to imitate the locals. In a roundabout way, the very immigrants who tried not to buck the local customs ended up changing the social norms, unintentionally brought down the iron fist and had their new-found privileges revoked. The people are letting dog owners know there is a fine line to be crossed.

As for me? I am considering moving to a township with laxed leash laws, more like virtually non-existent; although, from the complaint reports filed, it seems like the homesteading hippies from Vancouver, with their free-love roaming dogs attacking joggers and cyclists, are forcing the councils to change their opinions on dog ownership. So who knows what will transpire in the next few years.

By |June 13th, 2011|Ponderings|7 Comments|

Working Swedish Duck Toller

Like the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and its ancestors: red decoy dogs, tumbler dogs and Kooikerhondjes, the Swedes have their own dogs for the art of duck decoy and tolling:

Riley is scouting for waterfowls off the shores.

He spies a Canada Goose.

He wades in to stalk the goose to get closer.

Let see if he can solicit Mr. Goose. Maybe he will be lured in by the siren of the Swedish Duck Toller. Woof! Woof! Woof!

The almighty duck decoy dog ran back to shore after a flock of Canada Geese rushed him, then he barked at them some more, and back into the water he went.

Too bad Canada Geese eat too much algae to be palatable. It wouldn’t be hard to train him as a bird dog, or at least as a goose harrying dog. Maybe the locavores and local foodies can be conned into consuming such foul meat; after all, it is gourmet, no?

Footnote: Yes, this is considered as wildlife harassment. However it’s easy to call him off of them by leaving his butt behind. He stuck like glue ever since he took off on an off-leash trail and I hid in the bush a month prior. Poor thing thought he was lost.

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By |June 7th, 2011|Riley|12 Comments|