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16/04/2012 / Julie

13’s the number

First I would like to say that I am very sorry for the lack of blogging “lately”. Getting the wordpress app on my phone was supposed to see me blogging more frequently, but I just haven’t had the motivation to blog.

11 years old here

But today, April 16th, is a special occasion! Romeo, dear old boy, is turning 13! Even though the day has a weird and heavy feel to it because of what is happening in Norway today, in accordance to 22nd July. But this post is dedicated to Romeo, I may write about 22nd July later, I don’t know.

I have been thinking about Romeo a lot lately, I always do, but in a bigger sense. Romeo came into my life on my birthday, June 19th 1999. I was turning eight, he was 2 months and three days. To get to my bed that morning, my sister had taken him on quite a journey. He left his brothers and sisters, a litter of 8 all together, 2 days earlier and went to my sister’s apartment in Oslo. There he slept on her pillow through the night. The next night he and my sister took the night train to Brumunddal and

Spin right round!

arrived after I had gone to bed. They stayed up discussing names, and ended up with Romeo. Because “how can he be called anything else?” (I’m rolling my eyes at this point……….). The next morning, on my birthday, mum&dad, my brother and my sister all came and woke me up with a birtday song, as usual. What wasn’t as usual was the puppy crawling up my bed toward my head. I remember an adorable curly, black puppy. I remember grinning. I remember my brother staring at me and grinning expectantly. And I remember soft fur. We moved the birthday to the living room where Romeo was a big cuddly part of everything.

Later that same day Romeo got his first walk around the neighbour hood, or, you know, just next door, where I showed him off to the neighbours. The next two months were summer vacation. Lots of sun, fun and puppy. The best time to get a new puppy. I remember his first walk down by Mjøsa. He met a small clover field, and was instantly extatic. So much fun!

It took a while for Romeo to get house broken. At seven months he got tied to a table when we were home, and this, in the end, broke him. Looking back, I can’t remember anyone being very consistent with him. But anywho..

Sticks and Romeo have been mortal enemies all his life

When he was 11 months mum signed me and Romeo up for an obedience class. I don’t remember much from it, luckily, but I do remember some things. I wish I could take it back, and I wish I had been strong enough at the age of 8 1/2 to tell the instructor to stop hurting my dog. Romeo was 11 months, of course he was voisterous. He was being told off for everything he did wrong. I remember the instructor rolling his eyes at me and the other participants when our adolescent dogs weren’t behaving perfectly. We did use treats at this class, but I don’t think they were much use. One of my clearest memories is when the instructor took Romeo’s lead and corrected him into a heal. My usually always “happy go lucky” dog were now hanging his head and tail. It’s one of my worst memories.

Fly, my pretty! Fly! (taken in January)

I didn’t do much with Romeo for the next few years. That class kind of killed my motivaion to train. But I still went to the year’s biggest dog show every year, sometimes I brought Romeo. He was a pain at those places. Way too excited, but after he was tired. Despite not training, walking or really having much to do with him a part from playing or cuddling, my dog interest grew. I did teach Romeo a few tricks, however I can’t remember which ones I taught him first. Probably “beg”.

Ain't he pretty.

When he was about 5, mum and I were walking him down by Mjøsa were we met some other people out walking their dogs. We got to talking, as you do, and they told us about agility classes in Hamar. And there it was, we were off. We went to our first class. I couldn’t take Romeo off lead, he wouldn’t listen to me, and we had a very short lead with us, but the bug had bitten. For the next time we had brought a longer lead, and lots of treats.

Romeo was the perfect first dog. We worked hard, and it moved forward, but it took us a while to get any contact. The instructor there told me about clicker training, and things started moving faster. He also told me that when ever he did something well, it was “Christmas, birthday, New Years and the 17th of May all at once!”. I’ve never forgotten that. He also told me that it would be a good idea to join in on the socilization trainings that the club has. It would build our relationship. So we tried it, and enjoyed it. It really helped, and Romeo became a star eventually. It took a while, but he was a joy to work with in obedience.

Agility wise he was amazing. He could’ve been great, if only he didn’t run off all the time.

They were fast, if not of the very fastest

We would run a part of the course, then he would fly off. When we were inside everything was perfect, and he has the best weaves I have ever seen! They might not be the very fastest ever, but he could be sent from every angle, any direction and I could stand any where! Eventually he did stay on course too. It took us a while, and a lot of hard work. But we had fun getting there.

Romeo has always been beaten up for the way he looks. Other dogs have jumped him just for walking by, and this has made Romeo veary of other dogs, male dogs mostly. But he is not aggressive unless the other dog has given him previous reason, i.e. gone after him. He wasn’t the best socialised pup around, but he did okay. Being a standard poodle he also wasn’t gifted with the best body positure, neutrality wise. Dogs have taken offence. I have split up a few dog fights in my time. Romeo is usually on his back screaming. Poor boy.

When Romeo was 7, Bajnok came into our lives. They have a funny relationship. Bajnok is the annoying little brother. Always asking questions. “Where you been? What you doing?” Whilst Romeo is the annoyed 15 year old brother answering something like “Go away! Get off! This is mine! Piss off, I said!”.


And every now and then, they have a good ol’ play around the field. Romeo can’t resist a good chase or tug.

Bajnok was very good for Romeo. He helped him learn more language skills. He revitalized him in many ways. And at the age of eight, Romeo was getting a bit stiff in his hind quarters from the agility, and Bajnok was getting ready to start training. Romeo was retired, and Bajnok was taken in for full training. I blame myself for his early retirement. I didn’t warm him up much, he didn’t get stretched after practice, I didn’t use warm

At Hara lake

coats during winter or walk him down after practice. He would probably have held a couple more years if I had done all that. But three quarters of a year out of retirement and he was no longer stiff. He was back to his old self, but he was not going back. Apart from the occasional training session. Every now and then dad took him skiing. He did not pull, but just a seriously long walk in snow.

Romeo is a forgiving dog, he is stupid and clever, adorable, gorgeous, and the best friend I could ever have asked for. He has been with me for 13 years now, and doesn’t look a day over five. He would sleep in my bed at night, pushing me out every now and then. He’s my bestest friend, and I would be nowhere without him.

Him at age 7

Taken on Sunday, gorgeous boy!


Leave a Comment
  1. Jen / Apr 17 2012 06:15

    I’m happy to see you post again!

    Happy Birthday, Romeo! He sounds like a love

  2. kenzohw / Apr 18 2012 19:57

    Wonderful story. I think we all wish we would have done better with our first dog, but it is a learning curve. Look where you are today because of Romeo and your natural instincts on how to treat dogs (even as a 8-yr old 🙂 ) So much further than most of your fellow dog owners/persons !

    • Julie / Apr 19 2012 09:28

      Yes, I suppose everyone wishes they’d done differently with their first dog. But there is no one that has taught me more or changed my life as much as Romeo.

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