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Shortly after midday Milloup and I entered the bus that was to take us to Billund airport and the plane from Braathen - our trip to Oslo was about to begin. Braathen's weight limit for dogs allowed into the cabin had recently been lowered from 10 to 8 kilos, and Milloup usually tips the scales at around 8.5 kilos. Consequently, he had in advance been confirmed as "special luggage", meaning that a place had been reserved for him in the part of the plane's hold that could be heated.
Preferably, however, I wanted Milloup to take the first flight of his life in the cabin with me to render the experience less frightening, and therefore I had packed the hand luggage in Milloup's usual bus-bag and in a way so that it could easily be taken out and put into his travel box instead, should the possibility of taking him into the cabin with me arise. In the airport I spoke with the nice lady at the check-in counter, Milloup was weighed, and as the weight on that particular day showed a scant 8.3 kilos, and I furthermore pleaded his case with fervour, the lady decided then and there that it would be okay to let Milloup enter the cabin of the plane - sitting in his bag as he usually does on bus rides.
The luggage was hurriedly removed from the bag and thrown into the travel box. The box disappeared down the conveyor belt, and Milloup, who is very devoted to his box, made moves to jump onto the conveyor belt in order to follow his dear beloved box down the belt. Once he discovered that he'd have to give chase on his own, should he want to follow the box, he gave up this venture.
Half an hour later we boarded the plane, and as luck would have it we ended up on a three-abreast seat together with a very dogloving girl from the south of Jutland. Milloup's bag was squeezed into the middle seat and we belted up. When the plane took off Milloup was not too happy about it, but as soon as we were airborne the stewardesses brought out the food waggons and started handing out the trays. Our new friend from the south turned out to belong to that group of people who willingly share their food with the needy, and as a result of this flying was suddenly much more interesting. In companionable unison they raided her tray, and Milloup then turned to me to see if I, too, should be willing to share my provisions with a hungry dog. For once I was.
So it was a well fed and contented dog that landed in Oslo with his mistress. Nina picked us up at the airport and took us to the Anker hotel, a centrally situated and fairly priced medium range hotel near the river, Akerselva. She helped me carry the luggage up to our room and left us with a promise to call for us the next morning and take us out to Lillomarka where the tracking trials were to take place at 10.
Once Nina had left us I unpacked our things, and then it was time for our first little stroll around Oslo. Down Storgata we went, and then back the same way so we didn't risk getting lost on the way. After a quick dinner we turned in after a busy day.
| 26 September
Saturday morning we had our first impression of Oslo in broad day light. Our morning walk took us down a path along the top of the river bank, and soon we reached Ankerbrua. The four corners of this bridge are adorned with statues, and the statues represent scenes from the Norwegian folktales, so Nina told me later.
On the other side of the bridge a stairway led down to a footpath along the river itself, and after a nice morning stroll in the company of the turbulent waters we once again reached the hotel.
At 9.30 sharp Nina's white car pulled into the parking lot outside the Anker hotel, and we set out for the outskirts of Oslo.
|I was very anxious to see the terrain in which we were to do our tracking and to see what Milloup thought about it. Our judge arrived, and Nina donned a pair of wellies. She wanted to come along and see how we would be faring on Norwegian ground. She was in for a treat.
My first impression was of moss and stone, stone and moss, and bushes and trees that looked as if they were growing in sheer rock or in the moss. Huckleberry bushes covered a generous part of the woodland floor in a thick carpet reaching halfway up our calves. Some distance into the woods we were shown the beginning of the trail, and a marking hanging about 20 meters further on was pointed out to me. That was the flight direction. I put Milloup on the trail and he started in grand style. Uphill we went, and in the middle of a patch of huckleberry thicket the dog started searching eagerly. First he checked towards the left, then back a few meters, left again, back, and in the third go he decided on the left track. Probably one of the corner patches where no blood has been spread, I thought. We were now traversing the slope instead of climbing up the hill, but after a short while Milloup turned uphill once again.
To my Danish eyes it looked as were the dog about to climb the sheer, mosscovered rockface. At the foot of the rockface a fallen tree barred the way. Milloup nimbly climbed under the tree, whereas I did not climb equally nimbly over it.. I did manage to follow him upwards, however, but halfway up I was stuck again and from my precarious position I shouted to my dog that I *** hoped he knew what he was about, because I definitely wouldn't be able to climb down the same way again. Nina and Arild were standing at the foot of the cliff having a great time..
Having braved this climb it was no problem at all to navigate amongst rock crevices 3-4 meters deep, or anything else that came our way. The trail had again turned left, and we were advancing pretty rapidly along the hill. At some stage Milloup stopped to listen to a dog barking close by, but a short reminder made him take up the trail again. He hadn't entirely forgotten this dog, though, because shortly afterwards, when we were to cross a rocky footpath, Milloup purposefully turned right and made haste up the path. After some 50 meters I discovered that the judge wasn't following us anymore. I managed to turn Milloup back, but not until he had conducted a thorough investigation of a still steaming piece of dog dirt of generous proportions found under a bush.
|Once Milloup was safely back on the now mainly downward trail everything went smoothly for the rest of the test. The result of our combined efforts was a second prize because, as Arild quite rightly put it, "Had I followed you up the path, we would by now have been on the other side of the mountain".
After our exertions in the woods Nina took us back to the hotel and left us with a promise to call for us again at half past five. We had been invited to dinner by Anne, one of Nina's friends who also breeds longhaired dachshunds.
|After lunch it was time for a spot of sight-seeing in Oslo. I wanted to see the Akershus fortress and castle, and with help from an Oslo-guide I had a good impression of the general direction. It looked rather easy. We set out by following Storgata like the night before. When we reached the cathedral we turned left and followed Kirkegata past Karl Johan and onwards. Having reached this far the number of shops decreased and so did the number of people milling about in the streets. After a good walk we finally reached Akershus, had a good look around, and by sheer luck we also had the opportunity to watch the changing of the guards.
When at long last we made tracks back to the hotel I could feel that both Milloup and I could well do with a little rest. Therefore, safely back in the hotel we lounged on the bed and took it easy until it was time to make ourselves presentable in preparation for our Saturday night excursion.
When Nina came for us a scene of joyful reunion enacted between her and Milloup. It may be that Milloup - being a typical dachshund - may have a tendency to not always accept people at first sight, but once accepted they always get the full red carpet treatment when he meets them again. And Nina had obviously already been added to Milloup's list of approved persons.
|Chatting companionably we drove through a large part of Oslo and finally approached the suburb where Anne lives. I had long since lost track of where we were, but fortunately we were in the company of a local hand. Driving up a long hill Nina stopped the car at a vantage point. From there we had an impressive view of Oslo and environs, and she pointed out some of the sights, i.a. Holmenkollen in the distance on the other side of the city centre. Milloup would have liked to go exploring, but twilight was setting in, and we had to get a move on to reach Anne's place on time.|
|At Anne's place we were greeted by Anne herself and two lovely longhaired bitches, Dukken and Acra. As usual, Milloup wanted to inspect everything, but the two ladies combined forces and gently taught him to behave himself in ladies' company. Once this formality had been taken care of, the three of them were the best of friends. Soon Arild and his wife Tove arrived, too, and were greeted lavishly by a profusion of wagging tails and eager tongues. And then it was dinner time.
When we have prawns in Denmark we usually get them frozen and already shelled - and they are tiny, about 1 cm or so. These prawns, however, were still wearing all their armour, and they were huge. Two brimming dishes of prawns ready for shelling were waiting on the table, and I covertly glanced at the others to get an idea of how to tackle the situation. Nina showed me how, and - courageously, I thought - I set out to deal with the task in hand. When I'd shelled the first four I was no longer so very certain that I would be able to make a career in prawn shelling. By then the others all had a decent pile of shelled prawns on their plates, and Anne did a quick tour of the table stealing some of the others' shelled prawns and depositing them on my plate. So despite my lacking skills I didn't starve, and the prawns were great!
|Once we'd finished eating we were served coffee and tea and then we had a veritable feast of the gab. The dachsies showed up to get a share of the leftovers, and I soon realized that Acra and Dukken were just about as spoilt rotten as is Milloup. Especially Dukken is a true "babe in arms". She'd simply walk up to her chosen "victim" and look up at that person expecting to be picked up immediately - which she was.|
|Milloup was also passing from lap to lap, but he was by now so tired that he fell asleap on my lap. By ten, however, he bestirred himself. Dukken wanted to go into the garden, and Milloup instantly spotted an opportunity for the investigation of new territories. When Dukken started barking, Milloup immediately had to second his new girlfriend. And when Milloup joined the choir, Dukken really put on a performance. So there they were for a good while, those two rascals, singing serenades for the entire neighbourhood to hear|
|By eleven o'clock the party was breaking up, as we all of us had to get up pretty early the next morning. By then Arild would be seeing Milloup again, but Tove wouldn't have the same opportunity. Therefore, she parted from him very affectionately. And Milloup graciously allowed himself to be lifted up and fondled. Not everybody qualifies for such a Milloup fondling-licence.
And so Milloup had to say goodbye to his newfound lady friends. The car was waiting outside, and it was a very tired little dog that half an hour later curled himself up beside mummy's pillow. It had been a long day indeed.
Updated on 14-8-03