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Tyson & Luna, the Executive “Welcome To Norway” Greeting Officers  ❤ ❤

Ingvild wrote – my husband will be waiting at the airport with a Great Dane and a Basset Hound. My SAS flight landed at Oslo airport in Gardermoen on a sunny cool day. It was Friday the 13th of May – the only Friday the 13th of the whole year – and it was full moon apparently. Good thing I don’t suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia (yes there is such a word ! look it up!) – but how could I ? Apart from triskaidekaphobia itself being utter nonsense, the first element of the word is Frigg, the Norse goddess after whom Friday is named. On top of being fond of goddesses in general, and Norse ones in particular, as any learned Great Dane lover ought to, my own beloved Kali’s registered name was Dogiwogin Fricka Flicka – also a derivative of Frigg, goddess of wisdom and prophesy. So anything with that association for me is fine and positive, like my own supreme canine goddess was.

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No I didn’t go to Trolltunga (the Troll’s Tongue) and I didn’t walk on the ledge – but that’s absolutely where I’m going next time  – who could resist ! I just need to have a good length of rope with me…to tie myself down…

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I was a great omen, in fact, if you happen to believe in omens. The plane didn’t crash – the flight was just a little late, as Dublin airport was friggin‘ busy and there was a large queue for take off – and I had a great weekend. Darrin, Luna and Tyson were there to welcome me – and what are the chances of being greeted in Oslo by the Londonest of London accents ? Ingvild had omitted to inform me that her lovely husband is a darling of a cockney – and a hoot to boot ! I’m not going to post a photo of Darrin to save you from palpitations as he is devastatingly handsome – did I also mention, a darling? – and very, very, deliriously happily married to stunning Ingvild – they are the best couple in the world and proud parents to three gorgeous daughters; and darlings Tyson and Luna. Gentlemanly Tyson, who’s 5 and a half, is very aptly named Smalltalls Best Friend (by Ch. Owlwatch Summer in Sweden x Ch Hotpoint’s You Know Me) and Luna, who’s 8, the most kind and adorable Basset on Earth, is Wioletta av Kalvskinnet (by Ch. Bassbarr Night Music out of Basoon Aisophos – who is by Clavidar Brian Boru; for more Irish connections, read on). And they all love cats 😊 No I didn’t meet the Southorn cats, much as I would have liked to as they are two gorgeous Ragdolls – but Darrin dahling and I chatted ’bout most everything else on the way to Rena except the dog show – so I’ve learned a lot about the amazing Skogkatt (Norwegian Forest, or Viking Cat) – which is just a wonder of natural adaptation and able to survive winters that no other domestic cats could. Oh and did I tell you ? – people who love dogs and cats (or cats and dogs) are the best ! 🙂

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Norwegian Forest Catsource

Darrin, phone in hand, pointed the automobile North – in the general direction of Rena, which is NE of Oslo, very, very conveniently close to the Swedish border (handy for dog show exhibitors) and off we went, yapping all the way like old mates in-between phone calls – as Darrin is a busy businessman and although he admitted that his family is telling him to get a hands-free for the car, he is obviously a very hands-on kind of guy when it comes to his job – and that includes holidays. Thank Frigg I’m not singlehanddrivingphobic either ! The dogs, seasoned travelers, were comfortable and quiet sprawled out in the middle of the van – and I was taking in the vast Norwegian landscape, breathtakingly sculpted by glaciers. I started having a feeling of deja vu, mind you, even in Norwegian (that I don’t speak a word of, neither before nor after the visit, to my eternal shame) when the GPS lady insisted in getting us lost, but Darrin, as he’d never been to Rena before, did the wise thing – turned the damn machine off and took directions from real people – which made him even more of a hero to my eyes: because how many men do you know that actually are clever enough to ask for directions?

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So we got there in the end after miles and miles of beautiful Norway. Driving at a sensible speed because the limit is 11o km/h and over that you lose your license – although their excellent roads and low traffic allow for much higher speeds. Not in the winter, mind you. The population of Norway is just over 5 million (about 600 thousand living in capital Oslo – slightly more than Dublin) so it feels more sparsely populated than Ireland which has roughly the same population but is smaller in size (and has much crazier drivers and speed limits, more friggin‘ tractors and fewer Vikings). We were all staying at the very comfortable hotel Osterdalen, which must be powered by the same oil field as the hotel in Wales –  it was as hot as the Devil’s arse indoors. Well, okay; I get it; hot plays a lot in Norway, as it is so friggin‘ cold in the winter… I had to get ready for my lecture, but not before a nice grab to eat and a glass of champagne or two (just the way to start a judging weekend in style…) The seminar went down very well and there were around fifty very keen people in the audience. I will post the contents of it in the blog when I get around to it. Rena is a small city, population two thousand, on the Osterdalen valley, where Rena river and Glomma, the longest river in Norway, meet. It is a very pretty and picturesque place, set in gorgeous Nordic landscape. I must certainly visit again, stay longer and explore. Norwegian judge Tore Fossum told me many moons ago about the ‘coming of age’ ritual for young Norwegian males – they have to prove their bravery according to the old Viking custom, by climbing to the top of mountain Galdhøpiggen, the highest mountain in Northern Europe. Was he pulling my leg ? I don’t know but he claimed he had done the feat…

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I don’t have a clue why I feel so at home in Scandinavia but I do. Maybe my Irish ancestry had a dalliance with some Vikings. Norwegians are great people, my kinda people, and fantastic exhibitors, second to none for good sportsmanship, ring manners and eagerness to learn something new all the time. Good sense of humor, too. I was made feel extremely welcome by everyone and very honored. The Club – Norsk Grand Danois Klubb – is obviously working very hard for the breed under the leadership of tireless Heidi Lund and her wonderful committee, and the set up was just perfect for the Specialty – the Pinsetreffet 2016. Norwegian Great Dane breeding owes everything to the late great Borghild Moen (Hotpoints) and may her legacy never be forgotten. I had 55 entries – which I’m told is very good – and some non-for competition dogs to go over, including beautiful Tyson, so I couldn’t be happier. Dawn Coward (Pinza’s kennel) from Denmark was judging the Color Format show the next day – and to say that we hit it off instantly – as we share the same wicked cantankerous sense of humor – and that we had great laughs together would be another one of my famous (or infamous) understatements… 😉

the ring, complete with judge’s tent and table for the secretary to sit and write the critique for each and every exhibit

I just love the Scandinavian system of judging, the top professionalism of the Ring Stewards and scribers that take down the critique and allow the judge to concentrate on the job at hand. Aud Fossum is a legend in the field so I didn’t have to worry about anything – just enjoy the intellectual challenge of evaluating the exhibits against the standard. I also love being able to award the “excellent” grade with or without giving the special CK (Champion Quality) degree which allows more nuance & accuracy. Ida Kleive was the brilliant young lady that I have to apologize to in case she got carpal tunnel syndrome from scribing my extra long critiques; I had a trainee judge also, the lovely Ann Wisemann Stavdal who has an excellent eye for a dog and I think will make a fine Great Dane judge; I also have to thank her for taking the photos for this post with my old pocket camera, which is surprisingly still adequate outdoors and in the sunshine – that we had plenty of; it was a cool day with a northern breeze, perfect for the dogs despite all seasons making their appearance within a space of a few hours – we even had a couple of minutes of hail – so that might partly explain why I felt so much like home; maybe I packed some Irish weather in my suitcase. I have to thank Rikke too, for solving the suitcase saga – that I won’t bore the reader with…

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the Osterdalen valley

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The first time I judged in Scandinavia was before I became an FCI championship judge, back in 1989 in Finland at the Color Format Specialty of the Finnish Great Dane Club. I had nearly 190 entries if memory serves and they blew me away with their quality. A lot of water under the bridge since and the general consensus is that the breed has gone downhill since then, almost thirty years later – but I have to say I was very happy with the Danes in Denmark two years ago and I wasn’t disappointed in Norway either !

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BISS Dane and magnificent BISS trophies !

There are some lovely puppsters and youngsters, full of promise for the future. I’m very pleased to report that the breeders in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries exhibitors traveled from keep up the intelligent tradition of blending imported and native bloodlines with great care for health & soundness. My BISS Puppy is a Very Promising young harlequin lady bred by Lisbeth Sørflaten Høgmo by the American Ch. Windycity-Orion’s Guitar Hero out of her Nordic Giant’s Delicious Etta Place. Nordic Giant’s I’m a Knockout is a 9 months old very well marked puppy with a classic look, very balanced and even in growth at this stage. And what a delighted young handler ! Best Opposite Sex was the fawn, Ganteus Moonstruck In Starlight, bred by Sofia Gidlund, Sweden, by Ch. Ganteus Alfa Americano Il Decimo x Ch. Ganteus La Ragazza Sesto Amato, another very promising puppy.There were two puppy dogs, one baby puppy bitch and four puppy bitches. I’ll update the post when the full results come online in the Norwegian Great Dane Club’s website, to include the Color Format on Sunday.

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 BISS – puppy, Nordic Giant’s I’m A Knockout

My winner in the Junior Class males (6) was the fawn, Finlandia’s President of Norway, bred by Frank Pettersen, by Diplomatic’s Mel Brooks out of Ch. Smalltall’s Call Me The Hot Girl. This well pigmented rich fawn filled my eye and is very together for a tall youngster, with beautiful head detail and the excellent required balance between strength and elegance, while retaining the masculine look. He moved very true and soundly when he behaved. It’s quite OK to be exuberant rather than dull, especially at his age  🙂 so I loved him. I think he is going to be a star with some more ring practice (that was just his fourth show!) and only needs time. He’s a big dog with a large stride and his handler has to run fast to keep up with him. I gave him the CK, the Cert (his third, as I was told afterwards, which means he has the Champion requirements – two all breed shows certificates and one Club show certificate – he just needs to come of age for his championship to become official, if I’m not mistaken). He is just 16 months old and was my 3rd Best Male in the show.

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Finlandia’s President of Norway with two big rosettes for the Cert and Best Junior  🙂

The winner of the Junior bitch class (8) was the fawn Maxidan’s Welcome Papergirl, bred in Denmark by Winnie Mertz by Paper Moon’s Valentin out of Ch. Maxidan’s She’s A Rainbow. A very beautiful and feminine girl of quality, I awarded her the CK and Res Cert and she ended up my 4th Best Bitch in really tough competition among top class bitches at the young age of merely 11 months. She should have a great future as she only needs time. Stylish, with great ring presence and attitude for one so young, a lovely mover – and beautifully handled. Another Junior I liked much was the smart brindle Hoppingham’s Im Hearsay Hot Hearsay bred by Anitta Kilpelainen in Finland, by Sardi’s Secret Agent 007 out of Hoppingham’s Talking-Point to Gms.

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  Maxidan’s Welcome Papergil, first in Junior Bitch, BOS Junior, CK, Reserve CERT & 4th Best Bitch.

In the Youth classes (2, 3), the male winner was Highesteem Holy Shit I’m Hot and the female winner was Highesteem Hotter Than July, litter brother and sister bred by May-Britt Karlsen & Thomas Sopp, by Northern Explorer De Casaarabal out of Ch. Highesteem Play My Jazz, both with CK. The male was also my 4th Best Male in show and he is the EUJW-15. Both very elegant, stylish, with long well-chiselled heads; the male filled the eye with his very pleasing outline and lovely expression; he won his place in good competition against quality males. Sorry I don’t have a photo of the bitch.

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EUJW-15 Highesteem Holy Shit I’m Hot, ck, Best Youth & 4th Best Male

In the Open male class (4)  my winner was Smalltall’s Eyecatcher, bred by Heidi Lund and Roger Sjølstad by Blaaholm’s Master out of Ch. Hotpoint’s X-Cuse Me, a nicely balanced young male coming up to two years of age, with a long pleasing headpiece and strong topline. He just needs time to mature. Sorry I’ve no photo. The Open bitch class (8) was excellent; I loved the winner, the very smart and stylish black Sekila’s Charming Quality, so well-named, bred by Ida Nygaard by Danemanian Quality Perfect out of Ch. Grandisons Good Luck Charm. I gave her the CK, and the CERT (CAC) which made her a Norwegian Champion on the day, congratulations. She was also my 3rd best bitch; I could have taken her home; the same applies to the second in the class, the very lovely dark brindle Ganteus Elsa Eccelente II Decimo, bred by Sofia Gidlund in Sweden by Divine Acres C’mon Sir Alfa out of Maxidan’s Quality Di Prima. 5 CK winners in Open bitch, a lovely class to go over.

Sekila’s Charming Quality & Ganteus Elsa Eccelente II Decimo, 1st & 2nd in OB

And then came the Champions and worthy champions they are. In bitches (10) I could have given several firsts and I could have stolen all four and more and taken them home. Winning such a class is an accomplishment in itself. It does make me question the wisdom of the system that requires to place them 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. Each of them is a very typical Great Dane in my book separated by minor details and performance. I’m annoyed I don’t have pictures of all of them. First, after having the breed standard thrown at her and coming up tops in presence, style, lovely co-ordination, sheer quality and flawless performance on the day, the beautiful blue Ch. Sekila’s Coupe De Coeur, bred by Ida Nygaard by Danemanian Quality Perfect out of Ch. Grandisons Good Luck Charm, litter sister to the Open class winner; she’s a very shapely blue that can hold her own against any color in my opinion. (Not to mention she has an Irish name – Nuala ! What are the chances of that?) Delighted to see afterwards that she had won BISS at this very Specialty previously. What a beauty. I loved her so much that she pipped into second place a champion that I adore and had the great pleasure to select for BISS in Denmark two years ago, not an easy feat; I was ecstatic to see the mature Ch. Danish Danehouse’s Wega (bred in Denmark by Kim & Karen Pensdal by Ch. Dane Garden’s Swan The One For Me out of Grand Fergo’s Equinoxe) looking absolutely stunning and very hard to beat. 3rd was the venerable lady Ch. Paper Moon’s Billy Jean (bred by A. Foss & E. Bugge by Ch. Dal’z Lord Fred out of Ch. Hotpoint’s You Play The Game), an almost 7 year old gorgeous brindle that stood the test of time; she would look just perfect on my sofa 🙂  and 4th the beautiful Ch. Smalltall’s Forever Yours, EUJW-15, bred by Lund/Sjolstad by Ch. Edendane’s Thunderstruck out of Ch. Smalltall’s Believe In Me). It was a most pleasurable class to judge and very happy to see nice depth of quality in bitches, each of them worth their weight in gold, well done.

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 Ch. Sekila’s Coupe De Coeur, Best Bitch and BOS (Reserve BISS)

If you don’t think the above picture is enough, please bear with me as there’s more later on. So now for the class that produced the BISS winner, Champion males (9). A very good class where again I could have given several firsts prizes. In reverse order, my 4th was the lovely fawn from Denmark, Ch. Danish Danehouse’s Wellington (litter brother to my 2nd Best Bitch), 3rd the very worthy Ch. Tikitoo’s Ferrari (bred by Idun Huseby by Lulubelle’s Imhotep The Immortal out of Ch. Tikitoo’s Baileys), 2nd the beautiful Ch. Smalltall’s Evident (bred by Lund/Sjolstad by Blaaholm’s Master out of Ch. Hotpoint’s Excuse Me) and 1st, pulling out all the stops and all the way to BISS, Ch. Liberline’s As I Expected, just three years old and coming into his own, bred by Wenche Kjellbakken and owned by the breeder and E. Kristiansen, by Ch. Blaaholm’s Loke out of Ch. Highesteem Queen V Liberline. This was the Dane that out-performed every other for me and satisfied my quest for a dog that looks and moves as a unit. Very pleasing and typical, clean head with super expression, balanced, with a super topline and powerful drive from the hindquarters, alert, confident and in great, fit condition. He won over some top quality dogs on merit and I was delighted to see after I came home and googled him that he is one of those rare group winning Great Danes, having won Best in Group at a big International all-breed show just two months previously. A classy dog that I would very proudly own, congratulations to his breeder and owners.

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so happy to have found another Dane to shout home about: BISS Ch. Liberline’s As I Expected, call name “Ask”. I asked him everything and he delivered. Top class. 

So my Best Males line up was: No 1 from CH class: CH Libertine´s As expected. No 2 from CH class: INT CH Smalltall´s Evident. No 3 from Junior class: Finlandia´s President of Norway (3rd CAC) and No 4 from Youngster class: EUJW-15 Highesteem Holy Shit I´m Hot. My Best Females line up was: No 1 from CH class: CH Sekila´s Coupe De Coeur. No 2 from CH class: CH Danish Danehouse´s Wega. No 3 from Open class: Sekila´s Charming Quality (Champion on the day) and No 4 from Junior class: Maxidan´s Welcome Papergirl.

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‘”Ask” and thy shall be given’. Photo by Vilde Kjellbakken Knapp. Thank you !

To top it all I had a very nice quality Breeders Class group from the kennel Smalltall’s, AND a certain someone who had forgotten to enter the show but begged and was allowed by the officials to grace the ring with two outstanding Veteran bitches that brought tears to my eyes with their quality and amazing condition and beauty; when they did their lap of honor they showed a thing or two about movement to the young ones! Norwegian & Danish Ch. Opertunity’s Giga Byte and N. Ch. Opertunity’s Got You, 9 years young litter sisters, bred by Andre Brun by Jaydania Delaware (Imp. UK) out of Opertunity’s Candy Girl. The breeder must be so deservedly proud. Here they are (no photos from the show).

N. D. Ch. Opertunity’s Giga Byte and N. Ch. Opertunity’s Got You, 9 years young litter sisters  ❤  ❤ 

I also awarded the Cert to the beautiful black boy from Finland, Int. Nord. Balt. Ch. Rivercrest George Clooney who was 5th in the Ch. class and a very worthy champion, bred by Kirsi Maki by a dog I adored, Ch. Catapha’s Legacy of Atomic, out of Ch. Dundane’s Shooting Star. So there you go – as I told you, many clever breeders in Scandinavia making the best out of international bloodlines and imports. Think of that next time you complain there’s no dog to use in your ‘hood 🙂 And yes, it’s alright to use a black !

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close up and personal with Clooney – Int. Nord. Balt. Ch. Rivercrest George Clooney  ❤

And as if all that wasn’t enough there was a puppy there, called Binna, that stole my heart: judge for yourselves – she was only a few days shy of being able to enter the minor puppy class. I think I have a black ‘thing’ coming on… but who could resist this little madam ?

The less said about the after show celebrations the better. Well, at the beginning things were respectable and we had a lovely dinner and presentations and I got some fantastic presents from the Club and everyone who worked their socks off got a gift or a superb rosette (the rosettes were out of this world – made in Sweden). And I drank some of the beer Dawn had tried earlier and wasn’t impressed (she was right) followed by another beer that was much better. I’m always energized after a full day’s judging (took my time and I gave very long critiques and verbally explained my placings which I was told was very appreciated) so after most people went to bed as we had another show the next morning, I stayed up with the night owls talking, gossiping and having fun until the small hours… At some point I lost my room key only to find it later in somebody’s pocket…and I was told the next morning (when I managed to wake up just in time to watch the judging that started at ten, only because my room was too friggin‘ hot to sleep!) that a certain exhibitor slept in a bathtub – and he looks just like Viggo Mortensen ! I mean they could be brothers. Only he has longer hair.”Wella hair”. Oops… 😀

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Best Bitch and Reserve BISS, BOS Ch. Sekila’s Coupe De Coeur , photo by Roger Sjolstad

If you put a gun to my head to get a number, I’d confess that I could take home about two dozen, maybe even a couple more, of the Danes I saw at Pinsetreffet; and that’s a friggin‘ high percentage, methinks…had a whale of a time in Norway and made new friends. I can’t thank you all enough for having me and I can’t wait to see you again before long ! Take care and Best of Luck with your beautiful dogs –Takk skal du ha & ser deg igjen snart!

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Open Class winner, CAC & Champion on the day, 3rd BB, litter sister to the Best Bitch, Sekila’s Charming Quality. Roger Sjolstad photo.

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Ch. Paper Moon’s Billy Jean, 3rd in Champion bitches. Roger Sjolstad photo.

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2nd in Junior bitch class, Hoppingham’s Im Hearsay Hot Hearsay from Finland. Roger Sjolstad photo.

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Best Bitch line up. Roger Sjolstad photo.

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Best Dog line up. Roger Sjolstad photo.

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“Ask” BISS & “Nuala” RBISS !

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Minor puppy, Highesteem Nova

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BISS & BOS puppies, Lisbeth Sørflaten Høgmo photo

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“Ask”

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“Ask” again…what more can you ask?

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a favorite photo from the show. My old camera is not giving up the ghost yet!

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beautiful Norway !

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and some more snapshots :

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a photo I took with my phone, of the majestic Trophy won at the Color Format Show. I’d love to know the artist who did the original relief as it is just outstanding craftsmanship! All the trophies at the show were stunning pieces with great history – fitting for our noble breed.

Many cordial thanks and wishes to everyone I met in Norway – see you again !

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