Quark' story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Quark was an exceptionally wonderful dog, my best friend, loved by everyone who met him. These are my fondest memories of him, including additions from some of his friends.


P1020584.JPG Quark was conceived in Luukki, Finland– a happy accident. His mum was a pedigree golden retriever, his dad a Norwegian grey elk hound. That was her promising career down the drain!

He inherited the best of both breeds, a wonderful full 'pig' style tail ( when he was young I hoped his tail would end up in a 'down' position, I didnt like the idea of walking behind him and always having the 'bottom' on display, but as he grew older I was very happy it didnt go that way, his happy mode was always with tail up, if it was down he wasnt happy! ) and ears that were pointed in shape, but floppy like the retrievers, he was loved for his gremlin expression – one ear up the other out top the side!


Kongo had died in July and I had been looking for a new friend to keep the elderly Jenga company, with not much success. Marita found an ad in Hesari for puppies in Klaukkala, and she told me her dad had had an Elkhound and that it was a lovely dog, so I went to look


When I picked him up, I knew he was mine, those light rings around his eyes and those lovely brown eyes, I was smitten already.

It was really hard work getting his mums owner to pronounce his name properly, I’d decided a while ago that he would be called Quark, after the big eared alien in Star Trek DS9, little did I know how funny his name would be. I had told everyone what his name would be and no one choose to tell me that in Finnish ducks say quark, in English its quack, how was I to know??


Only when I was standing in the middle of the forest calling for him to come back to me did a friend say ‘ Wow what a silly name ‘


He came to live with me on Dec 12th,2000 and was house trained from day 1. I would wake up a couple of times in the night to pop my ski suit on and take him out to pee, it didn’t take long before he went thru the night, in fact he never once pee’d indoors!!!


We had Peter and his girlfriend over to celebrate the New Year. At 6 pm when the fireworks started Quark and I went to the waste land down the road so he could do his business, and then we sat together watching the early fireworks, he wasn’t at all afraid, it was all just very exciting.


At midnight we went out with Quark (had to leave Jenga at home, although he was deaf by this time, the lights etc still upset him, so I left the tv on with all the curtains drawn.)


Quark loved the celebrations, and everyone else outside was surprised to see a young puppy there enjoying himself, everyone came to say hello and many people bent over to stroke him, and Quark was able to try sips of cider, beer and sparkling wine, no one seemed to mind !!! He was a tiny bit tipsy when we went back inside ?


He was quite a destructive little puppy, he cost me a fortune! Among the things I remember are: multitude of VHS tapes and cds’ usually the ones I had been watching / listening too recently, he ate my beautiful St. Petersburg coffee table book, z-å section of the Finnish / English dictionary, my fax machine (story to follow ), he ate a hole in my living room carpet, sections of the wall in the kitchen and hall, the satellite antenna, lots of plants, the only remote I owned that couldn’t be replaced by a one controls all type, I had to order a replacement from Germany, very expensive!


It was my birthday, he was 6 months old, I went to work, the fax machine rang, I guess he got annoyed with the noise tried to answer it, pulled it off the shelf and started to eat it. This didn’t satisfy him at all, so he thought he’d also take my company book keeping from the shelf and shred it, then the postman came, well some more paper to shred. When I arrived home I just burst into tears and sat there among the mess all over the floor. Then I noticed a piece of paper with my father’s widow’s handwriting on it, I searched some more and found pieces of a birthday card, I got most of it pieced together then I found 2 parts of a 50 pound note, but no more! 50 pounds was a huge amount of money for Daphne to send me, so I cried some more, and told him that this was the last time he would do anything like this or I would give him away.


It was the last time!!


We often visited people, he was the kind of dog that loved everybody. My friends Viveca and her husband Jari invited us to visit them, and while we were there Jari taught Quark the coolest trick. If you made a small circular motion with your index finger, no voice command required, Quark would roll over and stand up again. Sometimes he got so excited and did several circles before doing the roll. Sadly I don’t have this on video 


He also could both bark and woof quietly on command. For a reward of frolic nothing was impossible! He took the frolic from your hand so gently, never did he use his teeth. He could also ‘nibble’ frolic from between my teeth, without us exchanging any bodily fluids 


Sari and Arabi joined us often for walks to the dog park in Lassilla, where Quark would spend up to an hour digging his hole to China. Dig Dig Dig, bark, bark, bark, dig, dig, bark, bark, bark. We had no idea what he was barking at, but it was very endearing! He also dug in Konala dog park! And at Erja's cottage.


After Jenga left us, Enska came to live with us. Like all Belgian females, she didn’t like (puppies ) Quark very much, unless we were in the dog park, then she, like Kira after her, would bark loudly and constantly in his ear as he lay there chewing sticks or digging. Belgians barking is somewhat annoying !!!!


Digging special projects at Erja’s summer cottage took up most of his summers. For the most of the time he dug on the wasteland, but sometimes he made a mistake and dug in the grass, luckily Erja and Mika were very forgiving.


His favourite cottage pastime, after digging, was catching and killing frogs. Then he would spend hours trying to bark them back to life!!!


Its strange, but he hardly ever barked at home, only while digging and ‘frogging’, or then when chasing Moose.


Although I never gave him any training he was a natural moose dog, he even taught Kira how to round them up! Elkhound are notorious for chasing moose for many kilometres, then not finding their way home. Quark always came back.


When he was on the trail he had the funniest poodle bark, which you could hear disappearing into the distance. When he cornered the Moose, he would stand there barking steadily to tell me to come and get it. Many is the time I had to do very hard cross country hikes to make him leave his quarry.

He was very active in making new friends. Our morning walk would take us thought the local forest and past a couple of house’s back gardens. One morning I noticed him greedily vacuuming up bread and other treats put out for the birds, whilst the home owners watched on from their kitchen window. I felt very embarrassed, I called him back, he didn’t come, so I left him there. This happened quite often and one day as I passed the front of said house, looking and waiting for him, I saw him there being petted by the owners, I just walked on by and waited for him to return home, or for them to phone me ( my number was on his collar) . It turns out this family really liked him, they called him Kalle and he adored them also.


This same thing happened in Luukki also, he regularly visited the family whose house was on the lakeside, and I’d get a call from Antero telling me he was there again.


Once Rauni and I walked him and the pack in Ylitakula, which is on the other side of the Vihti road to Vaakkoi and maybe 4 km away. After an uneventful walk, almost back at the car park, Quark caught the scent of an elk, and off he went. We waited nearby the car, calling and whistling for him for almost an hour, I wasn’t terribly worried, but never the less it was a relief when the phone rang and a nice young woman asked if I was missing a cute grey dog. He had managed to cross the busy road and find his way to the wrong car park, but had then asked for help. I was so happy he was OK that I couldn’t be angry with him!


We loved our forest outings. When we walked in Halkolampi he disappeared almost immediately, and I knew we would meet up by his fox hole. He had an excellent grasp of how long it would take us to reach the foxhole and was almost always there digging and barking, trying to unearth the holes resident. The first time I took Dax mushrooming in Halkolampi he found the very same foxhole and I had to drag him out of it! This would be followed by a good search at the bar b q spot at the lakes edge in case someone had left some grilled sausage for him, then a paddle in the lake. When we walked back to the car he always took a different route to us, somewhere along the bottom of the cliff, on the lakes edge, somewhere I could never follow him to. A mystery never to be solved!


We spent many a wonderful time at Vaakkoi. My favourite place was the far side of Sarenmusta lake, where we would sometimes grill sausages, an all year around event. Quark would spend hours paddling and digging in the lake’s edge, Kira would spend hours barking loudly in his ear, but he never seemed to notice this.


He didn’t like swimming at all, but did enjoy paddling. Erja and I tried hard to teach him to swim at the cottage ( ie throwing him off the pier ) but there was no way he’d swim on his own, no sticks or treats could entice him out of his depth, although he was quite buoyant!


Winter was his favourite time, summer was too hot for him with his thick coat, although it has to be said that in the height of summer I could often find him on the balcony laying in the full sunlight, and seemingly very happy. When there was snow on the ground he had a particularly endearing game. He would without warning throw himself on the ground, roll onto his back and wait to be pulled along. I thought of this as the lazy dog back rub. To observers it must have looked like I had one of those dogs that didnt want to walk, and I was being horrible dragging him, along, but in truth he ADORED it! He would growl very happily, and when he'd had enough he'd get up and walk normally again. During his last winter when I was on holiday and Erja and Mika were taking care of him for me, Mika was out walking with him, when he threw himself down for a back rub. Mika hadnt seen this behaviour before, and his first thought was when he felt the dead weight at the end of the flexi, 'Oh no he's dead ! ' How happy he was when he realised Quark was quite OK!


Every year I work at the Huvila music festival, and on occasion Quark would come with me. Everyone there loved him to pieces. Masi, a wonderful German, even made him his own dog-house. I keep it on the balcony every winter, Quark just loved being outside looking from the balcony glass panel at the world below.

I think all of my neighbours recognised him as he balcony dog. Kira kept him company, but I don’t think she enjoyed it so much at all, she was just there for the bone. One of the only times he barked at home was when he wanted in from the balcony, then he would sit in front of the door and bark intermittently until I either heard him, or came home!


There was only one dog in his entire life that he didn’t get on with, the neighbours mixed breed, Tautau. They were both male and the same age, so his owner and I didn’t get to meet each other until Tautau passed, both dogs went into attack mode at the smell of the other. If Quark barked on the balcony it was because he wanted in or because Tautau had gone past.


Quark spent a lot of time with Erja, Mika and Hanna, and also with Marita. Reijo, Kaisis and Tuomas Hänninen. I think he loved them as much as they loved him. If I had long work days, Quark would spend the evenings with one or other family, then they’d walk him home to meet me when I arrived. Every time we would go to visit Erja, he would pull me like mad as soon as he understood where we were going and who we would see. Hanna was his favourite person! His other favorite person was Alexandra.. She took care of him for me when I travelled. She and her then husband lived in Snappatuna, she had a 40 acre horse stables there, and she had 7 other dogs and 6 cats. Both of her male dogs were castrated, the girls not, so as he was a cross breed and I wouldn’t be getting puppies with him I had him operated on. I lived to regret this very much. When he was 3 years old his companion, Enska, passed away, and Kira came to us at 5 months of age. Kira is a full pedigree terveuran Belgian shepherd, and on oh so many occasions I have wished the 2 of them could have had puppies! They enjoyed sex often enough, even tho Quark was done, he still was very interested and capable when Kira was ‘ripe’!


All puppies loved Quark, he had so much patience with them, and he enjoyed playing with them. Uncle Quark we called him.


He loved his food, and especially fresh treats. When he was a puppy tried to use the tip we had read in a dog training book: when your dog begs for your food, feed him a piece of lettuce, he’ll stop begging very quickly. Oh no, not Quark, he loved lettuce! And cucumber. And apples, melon, especially the peel!, pineapple kiwi and his all time fave fruit was green grapes. I only needed to open a pack and he’d be there waiting. I have been told that you should not feed your dog grapes as they can cause kidney failure and death, well Quark was the exception to this rule, he adored his grapes! His other geat treat favorite was Marabou dark choc chip cookies. When he was older ( maybe 12 ) I needed to buy a rahi  ( footstool ) for him to be able to get onto the bed, but sometimes even with the rahi there he didn’t want to climb up. Until that is, I started eating the cookies in bed at night. Then he was there, sitting in front of me, with one ear up and the other cocked to the side, his gremlin face, waiting for his small bit. He came to bed every night, except for his last night.

I suppose I should mention frolic. When you wanted him to come to you in the forest, you called him by name, and then whistled for him ( 2 short blasts ) and if he still didn’t appear, the you called out loudly ‘FROLIC’, and there he would be!

But this didn’t work every time. There was one weekend in Läyliäinen, a February if I remember correctly, Quark was still young, 2 maybe 3 years old, and we had been visiting Antti for the weekend. We went for a long morning walk, and as was kind of normal arrived home’ without Quark. At this point in time I didn’t know what a good sense of returning he had, we were a little worried when the snow storm hit, but not panicking. We took my car and drove through the forest we had walked in that morning, stopping at regular intervals and calling out for Quark, but there was no sign of him. The snow fell all afternoon, getting heavier and heavier, and Antti called his neighbour, the custodian of the forest to ask him if he would keep a lookout for Quark should he be in the forest that afternoon, he said he certainly would, and asked what the dogs name was. This produced the usual conversation along the lines of, ‘sorry what was that?' Say it again.... So I said to Antti, just tell him to call out Frolic :)

It was past 19:30 and we were now getting worried, the snowfall had been very heavy and was showing no signs of abating, so we decided to go for one more drive and look for him. As we were pulling out, turning left, from the driveway I noticed something moving from the righthand side, and lo and behold, there was Quark trotting down the road, a bit wet and cold, but otherwise his usual happy self. After this incident I never worried again when he disappeared.

When he was 3 years old my friend Nina suggested we go to a match-show in the nearby Luukki camp site. I have never had any interst in dog shows, in fact I'd never been to one before, but we thought its something new to do, so off we went. Nina showed her dog, and I showed both Kira and Quark. After the first round Q and K both got red / blue ribbons. Nina and I stood there wondering what this meant, good or bad, neither of us had a clue. Suddenly there is a man telling me, you need to go to the ring with the brown dog. Off I went, another red / blue ribbon, and a woman telling me to go to the ring with Quark now. Another round and yet another ribbon, and still no idea whats happening. Then someone tells me to take Kira back in the ring, and the judge talks and tells me that Kira is the best puppy in the show. I'm very proud, but not so surprised, both of her parents were champions after all. Then I have to take Quark again, and I am told he has been awarded best dog in show, I almost burst with pride!!!!! We came home with lots of free dog food and toys :)

When I had real working hours the morning walk would be thru the woods at the back of my development, across the firemans practice ground, thru the Mäkylä woods, past the old folks home and then home. In the early days I would have Quark free, he was quite obedient, and so friendly I didnt worry he would run away. The he discovered a compost heap, and who knows what else. This resulted in his not being with me when we left the woods at the old folks home. To start with I'd wait there for him, but as it happened quite regularly I no longer waited but went home with the other dog. I would leave my building door open, and also my apartment door, and he'd always come back. When they started to build on the home route I had to stop letting him loose as it wasnt safe anymore for him to come home alone.

Hanna told me he was very determined when he wanted something. He had one day spent some hours laying on the floor, looking under their sofa, barking very softly and trying to pull something to him with his paws. She had gotten on the floor and looked, thinking it was maybe a tennis ball stuck there, but she didnt see anything. So she ignored him. He did the same thing again the next visit and the next one also. So Hanna pulled the sofa out to see if there was anything there that he could need so badly. She found one small dry raisin :)

There is one old lady in the Konala area somewhere who would probably tell you I am quite mad!

I had been walking in the area we called the field, now the Painitty estate, with Kira and Quark when I came to the stream there and saw that there were approx ten ducklings swimming there. Oh how cute I thought, then Kira and Quark saw and jumped into the stream to try and catch their dinner. I called them both back, but they didnt hear me at all. I was getting concerned that they might get a duck or 2, as was the mother duck. She was smart and flew at Kira, trying to distract her, which she did, Kira bounded out of the stream, and I managed to catch her and tie her to a nearby tree. But Quark wasnt being duped that way. He had moved further down the stream, slightly round the corner out of sight. I stood on the bridge calling very loudly QUARK QUARK QUARK, as some of the ducklings came towards me and 'safety', Quark I called, then I noticed this little old lady walking toward me … all she saw was the stupid woman talking to the ducks …... The story didnt end well for one of the ducklings, but Quark dropped it as soon as he had killed it, I was happy he didnt play with it or try and eat it.

We went for a walk in Uusmaki on the Saturday before he died, he was his usual happy self, running loose, enjoying life. In fact he was so happy he had a very long heppuli ( a fit of joy ), which Kira as usual ignored, so I chased and played with him. In hind sight I'm really glad I did, it makes me smile to know he enjoyed his last real walk! I can still see him there in the moss, asking me to play!

The story ends on May 24th. When I woke in the morning he was having mild breathing difficulties. I wasnt too worried at this point as it was a very hot day, and I thought that might be a contributing factor. But as the day progressed he didnt get any better, and only a little worse, and he wouldnt eat anything, not even his new favorite tuna bite treats. I didnt leave him the entire time. But I did call our friends and ask them if they would like to come and say goodbye just in case, as I was going to take him to the vet the following day for a pre arranged appointment and if he was still bad, I might not bring him home. Sari came by, Marita came by, Hanna, Erja and Airi came by with Kusti. Hanna noticed that he didnt want to put his head down, so she suspected it might have been that when he tried his breathing became painful and too difficult.

After lots of tears Hanna came with me to Pieni Elainklinikka where we made the decision to have him put to sleep.

He had had a long and very happy life, he was much loved by everyone that knew him, and he loved everyone back in return.

I decided to have him cremated, and his ashes lived on my sideboard until I went with them to Erja's cottage and we scattered him in his favourite places, with his old friend Saku. He had enjoyed many a summer there so I thought thats where he should be!  RIP my wonderful friend.












Submitted: March 29, 2015

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