Click on pictures to see enlargement
Earlier we had always travelled by train when going to Copenhagen, but it turned out that the prices had gone up considerably since our last trip across the country. In fact a return ticket from Århus to Copenhagen was now DKK 500 as against the usual 350, and I thought this was rather a stiff price, so instead I contacted Abildskous' Buses and they offered to transport us to Copenhagen and back again for only 400 - and directly to Valby Station, as it turned out, only 500 meters from Per and Akemi's front door. And when I heard, too, that the Abildskou buses travelled even faster cross country than the train, then there was nothing more to consider. Milloup would be going by bus this time.
The bus left the Århus Busstation at 14.45 and a short while later it rolled aboard the ferry - holder of the Blue Ribbon for fastest crossing of the Atlantic, so the sign proudly proclaimed. As soon as the bus had been parked on the car deck, the passengers hurried up the stairs to the cafeteria. There we made the discovery that Milloup was not the only four-legged traveller that day. In the cafeteria queue we ended up behind a wirehaired male dachshund, and as their two "lordships" did not particularly like the sight of one another we had to keep a good distance while waiting our turn.
With a plate of sausage and bread in one hand and an eager Milloup pulling at the other I carefully picked a course through the cafeteria until we found an unoccupied table. But from the moment I sunk my teeth into the sausage I had Milloup's undivided attention. Not even a playful puppy at a table nearby managed to claim from him as much as a sidewards glance as long as there was food around. We shared our sausage, and then we sat patiently waiting for the ferry to dock so that we could resume our journey.
Once we were back in the bus Milloup curled up on my jacket on the seat next to mine, and then he dozed off with the calmness of the experienced travelling dog - exiting happenings don't abound in buses, anyway. I took out a book and thus we passed an uneventful hour and a half until the bus reached Valby Station.
At the station Per was awaiting us. We hadn't reported any exact time of arrival, but Per had just happened to pass the station 5 minutes before the arrival of the bus, and he then decided to hang around in case we were on that bus. This was nice, because Per immediately took charge of both Milloup's travelling box and my sleeping bag which left me with my hands free to follow Milloup's lead as he scurried hither and thither in his quest for new adventures. Furthermore, Per knew a different route to his house, a route with more green patches on which to mark our progress, and this was definitely very popular with Milloup.
Back home Akemi and the now 4-year-old Askar were waiting. I still remember vividly the first time the two got together, when Askar was 18 months old and Milloup a young hobbledehoy. Back then Milloup didn't miss any opportunity to try and dominate Askar by climbing up and jumping on his well-padded behind every time Askar bent down or got down on his knees. Now they're both of them older and wiser, so the reunion took place without incidents.
After a delicious dinner we were having tea and catching up on events passed since we last met, when suddenly Per mumbled something about having to "fix something" at his neighbours. One and a half hour later he returned in triumph announcing that at the last moment Man Utd. had managed to win the cup. We then remembered a certain alarm clock that was going to go off at 5, so we decided it was time for bed.
The bus ride didn't take long and the bus stop was near the ferry terminal, so we arrived well on time. The early morning ferry was pretty full, so I elected to leave Milloup in his travelling box lest he get stepped on. He didn't mind that, he's fond of his box. On the way to Malmö we had a good view of the new long bridge being built between Copenhagen and Sweden. The major construction work is nearing completion. And then we arrived in Malmö.
In order to make sure that I didn't do anything wrong in connection with "the import" of Milloup into Sweden I had called the customs office in Malmö the day before and notified them of our arrival. As a result a welcome committee of two customs officers was awaiting the opportunity of checking Milloup's ear tattoo and stamping his papers. This operation took about 5 minutes, and then we were legally in Sweden.
|After a bit of searching outside the ferry terminal we found our rented car, and a more thorough investigation also revealed the lady who was to hand us the key to the car. Per had to show his driving licence, and soon we were under way. Going by car is one of Milloup's favourite passtimes. He simply loves driving, maybe because he knows from experience that more often than not exciting adventures are waiting at the end of a drive. |
According to the map it was some 125 km from Malmö to Valje, and after driving for an hour along the E22 and having covered at least half the distance we elected to take a break at a pull-in.
|The weather was nice and Milloup friskily pulled me then this way then the other. He wanted to investigate all corners of the place. To my undivided delight I discovered that despite the warm and sunny weather Skåne was not as dry as I had feared judging from the weather in Denmark. The forest floor was moist, a definite advantage for tracking work, and I grew cautiously optimistic.
When we approached Bromölla, the last town before Valje, we took another break. Milloup and I went exploring in the woods along the road while Per stayed with the car. Our appointment with Bo Pihl from Skånska Taxklubben was for around 11 o'clock, and it wasn't yet 10 so we had plenty of time.
However, we spent a good deal of this time making a detour owing to construction work on the main road, and we also did quite a bit of sight-seeing in Valje while looking for the correct address. This way we managed to get to see both the old and the new part of the town. But despite these wanderings we reached Källvägen as early as half past ten.
We were warmly welcomed by Bo and his wife Märit, who immediately offered to bring us something to drink. However, as it turned out Bo was ready to go tracking immediately if we were, we declined the offer. Instead I collected the necessary bits and pieces from our car and we then got into Bo's car and drove to the woods where the trail was. Per had never seen a dog do a trail, so on the way he managed to obtain Bo's permission to accompany him and see for himself how such a tracking test is carried out.
After a short drive we reached a disused wood track where the entrance was blocked by a discarded car. The trail started at the other side of the car, and as there were pieces of broken glass lying about the wreck it was probably a good idea to carry Milloup past it, Bo said.
|As soon as Milloup saw the tracking line he was fully aware of what was expected of him. He was put on the trail and we set out along the disused track where tall grass and stagnant water in the ruts showed clearly that the track hadn't been used since time immemorial. We reached the end of the track and shortly after this the trail turned right. We followed. We were now in a patch of pine forest, and Milloup continued steadily to the next corner. I was later told that this corner contained the Swedish speciality "återgång" - a type of diversionary scent.|
|This diversion did not bother Milloup in the least, however. Determinedly he turned left and continued on the trail. Gradually we were moving from pine forest into hardwood forest, and all in all the forest floor ressembled something that could also be found in Denmark, so on that account there were no surprises in the test.|
|After continuing for a while in the hardwood forest the trail again turned left, and we were now in a section of the wood where the forest floor was fairly soggy and the mosquitos abounded. Of course, Milloup picked exactly this spot - in the middle of the biggest swarm of mosquitos he could find - to do the only backtracking of the day. Fortunately, he didn't take long to make up his mind and soon we were again progressing rapidly.
A little later the trail turned left again, and we were now walking uphill. Behind us I could hear Per promising that he'd stay behind, and I realized that the guntest was about to take place. Bo made a detour keeping well to the right of us, and Milloup raised his head to ascertain if anything interesting was going on over there to the right. He stopped to look but continued on the trail when I asked him to.
|When Bo had reached a spot some 10 meters in front of us he called out to me: "I'm firing!". I wasn't quite certain how to go about it, so I called back: "Do I stop him?". This wasn't necessary, Bo opined. He then fired his gun, and it made a fair amount of noise. Milloup stopped and stared. And when the gun smoke reached us he looked up at me as if he wanted to say "Hey, this place stinks somewhat bad. How about walking the other way instead?" Fortunately, the gun smoke soon blew away and Milloup took up the trail. The break had probably lasted about one minute while the gun smoke blew past us.
Once he was back on the trail the last part uphill, into the pine forest and halfway down the hill to the end of the trail went without a hitch. Unhesitatingly he led me to the leg of deer and then lined up for his just reward.
|I hugged the laddie. From one pocket I took his bounty bag and opened it. Milloup immediately set to work on the provisions. From my other pocket i fetched the camera and set out to catch the moment for posterity. As yet I wasn't sure if every part of the test had been allowed. I don't know the Swedish rules in detail and there could be things I wasn't aware of, especially where the guntest was concerned. But at any rate I was not in any doubt that he'd done a very decent piece of tracking work indeed.|
|When Bo had finished making his last notes, Milloup had also finished chewing his way through the contents of his bounty bag. I asked whether it was allowed to let dogs run loose in the Swedish woods, and as the answer was affirmative I merely gave Milloup his everyday collar on but left the lead hanging around my neck.
And then we went back to the car. As we'd been walking more or less along the four sides of a square we didn't have to walk very far before we were back at the disused track. Milloup was running around investigating with a will, he obviously wanted to fill up his tank of adventures now that the day's work was over and done with.
When we got back to Bo's place we were invited into the house. There Bo's 13-year-old stud dog Isak reigned supreme, and it very soon turned out that Isak and Milloup did not in the least relish the sight of one another. Two mentally strong dogs, each of which thinking himself to be the salt of the earht, that was just not on. So to his great annoyance Milloup had to stay in his box, but there was no helping that - he was the visitor and had to toe the line. The box was placed in a shady part of the terrace and Milloup was left there to relax on top of his exertions in the woods.
|Märit disappeared into the kitchen in order to prepare something for us to eat and drink after the thirsty work of tracking. In the meantime Bo's gang was presented to us. Isak apart there were 5 dogs enjoying themselves in a kennel in the garden, and roaming free like Isak there was Anja, a cute 12-week-old bitch destined to become the next breeding bitch in Bo's Valjeskogen kennels.|
|Lunch was served on the terrace, and we did justice to all the nice goodies. Per has often been in Sweden before, and to his great delight he recognized several products that are unavailable in Denmark. He made an instant decision that we were going to go shopping on our way back to Malmö in order for him to procure the goods he had been unable to get for so long.
Isak obviously did not hold me responsible for bringing the enemy into the house. He was very friendly and several times he nimbly jumped onto my lap to bond with me. If I hadn't been told he was 13 years old I wouldn't have believed it. To me he looked more like a dog of 7 or there abouts - no sign of arthritis or other old age ailments whatsoever could be detected in him.
|When we'd had lunch Bo disappeared into the house to fill in our report from the trakcing test. A little later he came out to borrow Milloup's pedigree certificate as both Boris and Line's data must be on the report, too. And when everything had been filled in he handed me the report together with a round medal for Honorary Prize and a diploma for having passed the tracking test.|
|Bo also showed me a square medal that could be bought by those whose dogs had passed a tracking test, and of course we had to take one of those home with us, too. In my opinion the Swedish reports are very good. The judge simply has to select from a list of pre-printed statements regarding the dog's work on various parts of the trail. Afterwards you can also see from the report which corners were without blood. At the bottom of the report the judge may put an additional remark, and here Bo had written: "En lugn fin mycket spårnoga hund bland det bästa jeg har sett.". (A very good dog, always working directly on the trail. Amongst the best I have seen). So that was a grand report to take home with us.|
|Around two o'clock we said goodbye to Bo and Märit and drove back towards Malmö. Per had been told where he could find a good supermarket - in Bromölla, next town after Valje. So in Bromölla he disappeared amongst the shelves, while Milloup and I took a walk around the parking lot making sure not to stray too far from the unlocked car. At long last Per showed up brandishing two enormous bottles of ketchup. Milloup curled up in the coolest part of the car - at my feet - and we drove on towards Malmö hoping to make the 4 o'clock ferry. This would mean that we would also be able to make the bus from Valby to Århus instead of paying through the nose to go by train.|
|However, as we were approaching Malmö we managed to take a wrong turn and end up in the commercial part of the harbour instead of at the ferry terminal, and it was touch and go when we finally parked the car and ran for the ferry terminal. Milloup was none too happy about this, he would have liked to have the opportunity of sniffing around for a while and leaving a couple of bar codes for the locals to wonder at. At the terminal we had to queue up with a lot of other people who didn't have any reservations either, and up until the last moment we didn't know whether we would be allowed to board. Fortunately we were.
On board the ferry we decided to demolish the lunch pack we had brought along but hadn't needed. I was not so very hungry, but Milloup is always extremely helpful when there is food to be chewed and swallowed, and Per was also capable of putting away a few sandwiches. So time flew by, and before we knew it we were back in Copenhagen.
The advantage of having a local guide became very clear. On Per's advice we jumped on a bus going to the central station, and from there we took a train to Valby. In this way we arrived directly at the station from whence the bus left for Århus, and with plenty of time to spare.
The bus left according to plan at 17.45, and Milloup curled up on the seat next to mine and dozed off. He wasn't in the least the worse for wear, however, when I suggested we share a sausage on the ferry. And he truly deserved it - this will probably be the only time in his life when he returns victorious with two championships at one time. A few minutes after reaching the Århus ferry terminal the bus pulled up at the Århus bus station and we sprinted towards the central station in the hope of catching the bus number 9 which would take us almost to our front door. We shouldn't be so lucky, though, so instead we had to make do with the number 5. Still we were back at our own place before 10 pm and Milloup was soon sleeping soundly on the bed after all the exitement of the day.
Updated on 14-8-03