FINLAND (aka FINN, FINLANDIA)
My name is Finland, I came from a rough situation in North Carolina. Abandoned and neglected, I shared
a pen with some older dogs and my puppy siblings. Food was scarce and we had to fend for ourselves. When I was rescued, I had no human social skills, people called us feral. My foster mom, Emily, welcomed me into her home where I met her pack. I was very skittish. Shortly after arriving at Emily’s, I met two visitors who came to meet me. I kept my distance but they kept coming back week after week, even bringing their pack along. It is there that I met my Borzoi uncles Duma and Danya. We all went on
walks in order for me to relax. Duma and Danya were great, they sniffed me once and knew I was
anxious so they left me alone. After about three weeks, Emily drove me to my new home at Club Borzoi where my uncles welcomed me into their home. There were two human caretakers, let’s call them Mom and Dad. They believed that I was still a puppy and that I would grow as I am rather small and light at 65 lbs, but I was fully grown and remained the same size.
I had no clue how to handle humans. My human experiences were bad and I was afraid of them and so started my journey getting familiar with them. Mom and Dad are experienced trainers and had rehabilitated many pups before me. But I proved to be
different, I quickly adopted the mantra of “NO”: No, I will not do this obedience training. No, I will not be doing this silly agility. Instead of all these tasks, they gave me plenty of room to get comfortable in my new home. Dad saw my intake photos and he promised me that I would never be cold or hungry again as long as he could help it. I took him up on it and quickly focused on being as comfortable as
possible. I became the first and only hound ever to be allowed on the sofa. I am exempt from all sofa
rules. The first few weeks were really challenging as I did not know how to communicate with those humans. I was sleeping next to Dad, but was restless most nights. I stood next to the bed and stared at him, often
nudging him with my nose if he tried to sleep or ignore me. He did not understand me so he always assumed I had to go out: … 2.00 a.m., … 3.00 a.m., … 4.00 a.m. We spent a lot of time that winter walking in the rain, sleet, and snow. As the days went by, he started to look really tired. One night he just stared back at me and lifted me into the bed. I squealed before landing under the covers. Oh, I liked that: a nice warm bed with a warm blanket and I was getting rubs as well.
They observed that I was really nervous most of the time and quickly determined that my nervous stomach was keeping me up at night. It is then that Mom started feeding me a midnight snack, usually some warm rice and a warm slice of honey wheat bread. I still remember that first night, I slept like a puppy. My uncles were eternally grateful as they also were getting the midnight snack. I am still known as the puppy who introduced third-meal at Club Borzoi. I had awful nightmares in the beginning. Dad is a firm believer that dogs experience PTSD; Mom and Dad often woke me if I had a bad dream. It worked, the nightmares went away within a year. I was also not allowed to sleep all day, Mom and Dad observed that too much sleep made me somewhat depressed and more prone to bad dreams. They forced me out of my comfort zone and it worked. I admit that I have a real weakness for ear rubs and Dad has totally exploited my weakness to get close to me. I was getting ear rubs in the morning, the more intense the rub, the happier I started my day. I was settling into a good routine, but many things alluded me… Mom and Dad tried all sorts of play with and without toys. My uncles too tried, but I showed no interest. I continued my mantra of “NO” and refused all obedience and agility lessons so I remained tethered to a leash each time we went out. This in stark contrast to my uncles who walk around freely in the yard and other safe places. I even got the nickname “Flight Risk Finn” which I really disliked. A momentous
event happened on my one-year anniversary at Club Borzoi. Dad took me to the backyard and took a gamble by releasing me from my leash. This was my opportunity to show him that I was not a flight-risk! I remained glued to his hip and still am today. In fact, I never need a leash. Once I slipped out of my collar on a street walk and nobody even noticed. I always walk within a couple of feet, nothing will disrupt my commitment to Mom and Dad. Months went by and my uncle Duma got sick and eventually passed away. Mom and Dad were grieving and turned to the NBRF website. There they saw a write-up about a Borzoi needing help in Russia.
Before I understood what was going on, they were on their way to the airport to pickup some guy
arriving from Russia. Uncle Danya was in total disbelief, who was this guy and why was he coming to our house. I met Altai (Ty-Ty) and it was so obvious that we had nothing in common, I am quite dandy, reserved, and sophisticated, I enjoy the finer things in life especially food. He on the other hand was loud, brash, unsophisticated, overweight, and acted like a bully, not to mention the whining, singing, and howling… Sure we all are proud of our Russian heritage, but this guy was just reinforcing every
Russian stereotype! He only needed an Adidas track suit and a gold chain to fit the profile. But as the days went by, I started to realize that he too had a rough past, I stepped up to help him just as my uncles had done with me. First it was obvious that he was insecure, he did not speak the language and, just likeme, lacked communication skills. He is most often misunderstood. Mom and Dad discovered that he is
loud because he is deaf; he often looks at me for clues. Altai is quite obsessed with playing with ropes and one day I got a bit curious so I joined in and tried to
tug on a rope. It is so primitive but I enjoyed it, to my own surprise! I started to play with Altai and Danya but only in secret. I did not want Mom and Dad to see me engaging in such a tasteless activity.
My secret was quickly exposed, I spotted dad behind a tree with a camera and a long lens, he was taking pictures of me like some cheap paparazzi. I knew my cover was blown, so there was no reason to keep
hiding it. I still play these days but have to admit that my game is a bit more mischievous, I enjoy
messing with Altai and Danya and steal their toys when they do not pay attention… I also enjoy running through the field at full speed at night with a glow-in-the-dark ball. It has a ghostly effect that Mom and Dad enjoy watching. Sometimes I join Altai in a duet, we sing together in the field for the neighbors to
enjoy. Altai and I have become friends despite our differences. I sleep next to dad and Altai sleeps next to me. I only have to stare at him and he will get up to let me by if there is not enough space. He knows that I
have no qualms correcting his behavior despite that he is much taller and much bigger than me. As far as my hobbies, I love to sleep and I have a sweet tooth with gastronomical tendencies. So to be
specific, I love human food and candy. I do not care for processed dog food or those jerkies they call dog treats. I like my dishes to be served warm, so Mom prepares fresh chicken, vegetables, and rice for
me with a slice of warmed honey wheat bread. With Dad I go more to the extreme with unusual and
spicy foods which I love… So jalapeño chips, spicy salami, red pepper humus on crackers or bread, pita breads, Indian dishes with Nan bread, imported jam and preserves on bagel or English muffin, cheeses
like Munster, Havarti, Finlandia (should not be a surprise there) and others. As far as candies, I love gummy bears and especially the sour and bitter kinds, like Sour Patch Kids, Twizzlers, and more. Now I know what you are thinking, but Dad just let me savor them, I am not allowed any quantities. It is all
about moderation but I always insist on getting my share. I do make Mom and Dad proud, while I still maintain my mantra of “NO”, they say that they have never met a puppy that pushes himself so much. I do not like strangers, I do not like new places, I like my
routine. But I will push myself to experience new things when I have to… the reward of liking something new is just too tempting!