The FoxDogs: Little Red Rockets

The FoxDogs

The farm was originally named after my (Rikke's) dog, Reyna. Reyna came into my life just after I started the farm in 1994. She was the farm's mascot and icon for almost fifteen years, until late 2009. In early 2010 a new FoxDog, Jaska, joined the farm as a small puppy. She is now full grown and is an amazingly smart and friendly dog.

Both the FoxDogs are Finnish Spitzes. These small-medium sized red dogs are the national dog of Finland and are used in their country of origin as farm dogs, companions, and bark pointers. Did we say barking? Yes, they love to bark. I was attracted to this breed in part because of the barking. I like it. Go figure.

Here's a link to a Finnish Spitz dog, in Finland, doing the kind of bark pointing they are known for. The dog corners or trees the prey, then barks to bring the hunter in. In the video the dog has cornered a racoon dog. This is an animal that was imported into northern Europe from Asia for hunting purposes. I'm not sure if, in the video, the dog kills the prey, or if the hunter does and then gives the carcass to the dog. And here's another link showing a Pystykorva (Finnish Spitz in Finnish) hunting in the snow. Such fun!

Finnish Spitz tend to be family oriented, high energy dogs. Hence the sobriquet 'little red rockets'. Reyna was very energetic when she was young. She slowed down as she got older. Jaska is something else again when it comes to energy. She quivers with excitement and loves to run. She nearly flies as she covers the ground, but has slowed down a bit as she's aged. Now she only zooms rather than jets.

Jaska and Reyna are distantly related. They were both bred by the same breeder. I highly recommend her, so check out her website at Royal Touch Kennels. In the 15 years between the births of the two dogs the breed standard has shifted from a very cobby, square dog to one that is a bit more streamlined, with less thick fur, and longer snouts and muzzles. I love both looks for different reasons.

Jaska

  • Date of Birth: 17 Jan 2010
  • Came to FoxDog: mid-March 2010
  • Favorite Things: Running, car rides with head out the window, chasing vermin, toys! toys! toys!, Rikke, her Mom, and Randy, her Dad, playing on Grandma's bed, being with Grandpa, learning new stuff, doing fun tricks, jumping!, pretending to boss the goats around, working on the farm, guarding goats, chickens and cats, eatin bunnies! (sigh)
  • Hated Things: Loud booms, fireworks, thunder, being startled, when Randy or Rikke leave, local coyotes, local cougar, local weasels, local eagles and hawks, dogs that are not calm and do not obey (she disciplines them like a trainer!)
  • Comments: I (Rikke) went down to pick up Jaska from the breeder the same way I'd gone to get Reyna, only almost exactly 15 years later. A friend drove me, so I could bond with the puppy on the 3 hour drive back. And bond I did. I'll never forget holding that little brown (they don't turn red until they are about 6 months old) ball of fur all the way home. Jaska was just like Reyna, missed home for about 30 minutes, then settled in. After a while, she decided I was her Mom and that was that. It's a humbling feeling, lemme tell you.
  • Jaska is different: I have to admit, I've never had a dog like Jaska before. About 2 months after she came here I lifted her onto the bed, as usual, and petted her. She looked at me, and I slowly stopped petting her as we gazed into each others' eyes. I could almost hear her thinking, 'What kind of creature are you? Am I to live with you? Will you be kind to me?' And I in turn thought, 'What kind of creature are you? Will we live well together?'. After what seemed like hours but was only a few minutes she reached up and licked my cheek as if to say, 'You'll be my mother. I'll be your daughter-dog.' And I told her I would, indeed, be her mother. Moments like this happen fairly often with Jaska. It's really something to watch her figure out a puzzle and see her solve it with thought before action.
  • Jaska is a FARM dog: She has grown into an excited, eager, but appropriately serious and very dependable adult. She has learned, partly through my teaching, partly through her own desires, to protect the animals on the farm. She's very prey-driven. She WILL hunt varmints, birds that bother her, reptiles, coyotes... however she protects and guards our chickens, she watches over and warns our goats, she lays on the end of the bed at night and if she hears something wrong she immediately lets us know. She will stop other dogs from going after the chickens, using dog language and dog tactics. She will very gently let the baby goats climb on her, she will clean their dirty butts and politely lift a leg to let them sniff, then just as politely be offended when they really want to nurse. Every thing on the farm involves her in one way or another and that's just how it should be!
  • Jaska's training: Recall was the first thing she learned. She had to know it well and it had to be instantaneous. She knows many other commands and is smart enough to watch a human's face and hands for clues. If you point at something, she'll find it. If you look at it long enough, she'll find it. She has learned tricks like jumping through hoops, begging, sitting, down, stay, come, walk close, heel, fetch, leave it, drop it, jump on things on commands, search with her nose, search with her eyes, peekaboo, kiss, stand with her front paws on your arm, twirl in both directions, shake, lift a paw, high five, 'whats up', crawl, bow, 'leave it' (a very important command), listen and more. She is so intelligent it's joy to work with her. She's so intelligent it's very challenging to work with her. At 5 years old (April 2015) she earned her Canine Good Citizenship Certificate, proving her dependability around children, other dogs, interested and disinterested adults, those with disabilities and so on. She's great on a leash, while camping, in the car, in stores, on walks...

Reyna

  • Date of Birth: 23 December 1994
  • Came to FoxDog: mid-February 1995
  • Favorite Things: Running, car rides with head out the window, eating!, chasing vermin, Mithras the kittykat, any toys, Rikke her Mom, playing tug with Randy, naps, beaches
  • Passed Away: 9 Nov 2009. She stopped coming out to the fields, something she loved, in early July 2009. We knew the end was near, but she held on, through the pain of arthritis and the horror of Cushings, for a lot longer for us.
  • Comments: Reyna was a lovely dog, a soul companion for me when I lived alone. She was stocky for a Finnish Spitz and tended to get overweight due to her Cushing's disease, which eventually killed her. When Reyna was young she loved to run and hunt. She went everywhere with me, like Jaska does now. When I'd go out to work, Reyna proceeded me, every time, her golden tail marking the way like a fluttering flag. She'd be a little red dot far in the field, waiting in the rows until I arrived. She'd see me settle in to work, and then commence on her dogly duties (sniffing mostly, it seemed). I have to admit, just writing about Reyna makes me cry. She is terribly missed.
  • Reyna is different: When she was just 3 or 4 months old the neighbor's dogs got loose. Unbeknownst to me, they came after Reyna as I was digging in the side garden near the house. I heard panicked yipping and thumping as Reyna threw herself against the front door to try to escape two pretty vicious dogs, bent on tearing her to pieces. I rounded the corner of the house, shovel still in hand. What I saw enraged me, so I took off after the dogs, yelling, and barking!, and thumping their rears with the shovel. Little Reyna watched and then came after me, barking herself as 'we' defeated the invaders. When Reyna was 11 months we were out in the fields, working again. I was bent over, weeding. Behind my back, racing across the field towards me on the attack were those same two dogs. I turned around right before they leapt on my back. Reyna saw what was happening, and lit out after them like a, well, a dog-bat out of hell, barking all the while. After I recovered from the shock I did the same. Those dogs never bothered us again.
  • Reyna was fun: She loved to play games, any kind of game. She loved tug, and fetch, and hide and seek. Her best dog buddy was Watson, my Dad's huge Newfie/Golden mix. When she was little she was small enough to hang on his ear. Amazingly, Watson was a good enough buddy that he allowed this. She'd ride around the house, growling little puppy growls as she dangled from long-suffering Watson's head. It was pretty hilarious to watch. Reyna loved to howl and she loved it even more when I howled with her. We spent some interesting summer nights that way. She loved the beach, and when young would walk for hours with me and my Dad. I do so miss those times.