Aby-a-Day – 11 Augusti: Wordless Wednesday (Two years ago this week…)

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Aby-a-Day – 10 Augusti 2020: Happy Gotcha Day, Dashiell!

One year ago today, Dashiell arrived in Finland. As you may recall, it was an insane day, and we didn’t actually “get” him until the next day, so I guess we have a two-day Gotcha holiday.

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But we were in the same country at the same time, so today counts.

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But even once we had him…we still had to get him home.

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First by ferry…

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…then by train…

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…And finally by taxi.

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Little did Dash know when they met that Izaak was destined to be his best friend.

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There really weren’t any real problems integrating Dash into the family.

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…Well, okay…maybe there was a little bit of hissing.

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We also introduced Dash to the outside world, including Markis.

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Look at him now! He’s still a little skittish, but he’s getting braver every day.

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Happy Gotcha Day, Dash!

Aby-a-Day – 8 Augusti 2020: Celebrating International Cat Day with Jacoby, International Cat of Mystery (Special Saturday)

As most of you know, Jacoby was a very international cat.

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He even had a passport to prove it!

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He was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada…

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…and moved to Boston, Massachussetts, USA.

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Jake travelled extensively throughout New England.

He also went to New York and Pennsylvania for cat shows

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Later, he moved to Sweden, where he visited Stockholm…

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…Göteborg…

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…and Jönköping.

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He saw Helsinki in Finland…

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…and Tallinn in Estonia.

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Jake was no stranger to hotel rooms.

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Jake travelled by air…

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…sea…

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…and land, most famously by subway in Boston.

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Jake also loved elevators.

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I’m sure there are cats in the world who are more well-travelled than Jake…but Jake’s the one I got to travel alongside with.

Tiuku hunts with StarClan

Yesterday, my good friend Anne posted on Facebook: “Tiuku 12.5.2001 – 13.7.2020
(EC, Ch Habibin TirNanOg DM)
She was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.”

Tiuku was 19 years, 2 months and 1 day old, but no matter how long you have with them…it’s just never enough.

Tiuku with her grandkittens; Anne said she was a grandmother twelve times! I never met her in person, but I feel as though I knew her. My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend has stopped running today. Sleep well in Tuonela, dear, sweet Tiuku.

Aby-a-Day – 19 Maj 2020: Kiipi and her kitten – Work in progress (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last week, my friend Sanna-Leena posted this awesome photo of Kiipi and her kitten on the Facebook group This IS an airport, please announce your departure: Aeroplane ear posting. I love Kiipi, and I have drawn her before. When I saw this photo, I wanted to draw it.

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I tilted the photo a little, so I could add in their tails. This is my preliminary sketch.

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I decided I wanted each cat on its own layer. This is my second sketch of Kiipi.

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And this is the second sketch of the kitten.

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And here they are together. The next step is ink, and then after that colour and texture. Stay tuned!

Aby-a-Day – 13 Maj 2020: Wordless Wednesday (When you try to use the litterbox at a show and your little sister is being a brat)

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Aby-a-Day – 10 Maj 2020: Remember when we used to go to cat shows..? (Cat Show Cinema Singapura Sunday)

A friend on Facebook posted a photo of her cats today with the caption: “Is this really all we do now? We can’t leave?! When is the next cat show?! We’re tired of sitting home!!!!”

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Dude…I so know that feel.

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Because we weren’t able to go to our favourite show in Örebro this year, we haven’t been to a show since November, when we went with Lorelai and Izaak to Turku. It’s the one thing I really miss since the pandemic started.

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So, I went back in my backlog of photos and found this set of Zak at the Turku show, after our collection of show wand toys fell over.

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He was so cute, playing with the toys. We mainly only ever play with wand toys at shows, so this was a treat.

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I even made a short video of it (click on the image to view it on another tab in Flickr).

Aby-a-Day: 9 Februari 2020: Instead of Örebro, a tale of Finland (Cat Show Sunday) (Part 2)

Sunday greeted us with a chilly, frosty morning. We checked out from the hotel, went to the show hall, and got ready for the second day.

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Our judge for the day was Marina Vinkel from Estonia. She was very thorough in examining Jacoby on her table.

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Koshka and Jake waited for the Nomination…but alas, it was not to be. However, that ultimately worked to our advantage.

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Not having to be on alert for the panels gave us a chance to explore the show hall and the merchants. Koshka was especially excited to see Arja’s Art, the woman who makes the harnesses the cats wear.

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Koshka raves about these harnesses, and was thrilled to discover that Arja also makes passport covers for the EU Pet Passports.

Because we weren’t Nommed, we were able to get permission to leave the show a couple of hours before it ended, as we had to get back to Helsinki, return the car, and make our way to the port to catch our ferry. It was lucky that they let us leave when they did, as it took a bit more time than expected before we were ready to go to the ferry.

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Jake was such a seasoned traveller, he lead the way to our cabin. After setting up our quarters, which was a mirror-image of the cabin we had on the way to Finland, we pretty much repeated what we did on our first trip, with a couple of exceptions.

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This time, we took Jake to the aft sun deck for some pictures and a final look as we departed Helsinki.

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We also took some porthole portraits with Jake in one of the elevator lobbies.

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After our ship exploration, we settled Jake in the cabin with a snack while we hit the buffet for dinner and then visited the duty-free shop, where we bought liquor, cosmetics and candy well below mainland prices. The seas were calmer on the way back.

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We arrived to Stockholm on Monday morning. A bus took us back to the railway station, where we caught the train for Skövde.

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Finally, 6 o’clock in the evening, we were back home. Jake’s first trip abroad as a show cat was over.

Aby-a-Day: 8 Februari 2020: Instead of Örebro, a tale of Finland (Cat Show Saturday) (Part 1)

Note: today and tomorrow’s posts were written by Björn. We were supposed to go to our favourite show in Örebro, but for a constellation of reasons, we had to stay home. Since I had planned to do cat show posts this weekend, I thought I would share Björn’s account of Jacoby’s Big Finland Adventure.

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We left for Stockholm on Thursday, 29 September.

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It was our first time travelling with a cat EU passport!

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Jake made himself comfortable on the train – his first big trip since he moved to Sweden. The train ride took two hours.

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Once in Stockholm, we caught the bus to the ferry port on the eastern outskirts of the city.

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We checked in, and boarded the ferry.

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Jake, of course, made friends as we waited to board.

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While in the queue on the gangplank, we could see the cars waiting to board (it is a ferry, after all). Sweden is known for its fascination with vintage cars, and it’s always fun to see them. There may have been a car show in Helsinki that weekend.

There was a photographer at the gangway, snapping photos of Jake.

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After finding our cabin and setting up the litterbox, we left Jake to enjoy the comforts of the cabin while we explored the ferry.

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The Baltic Sea ferries vary in standard, but the best are like cruise ships, albeit on a smaller scale. There was a mall, several restaurants and bars, and the inevitable gaming areas. The photographer sold prints of the photos they took during boarding, and those with Jake were awesome.

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We stuffed ourselves at the buffet, and feeling content, we went looking for amusements. Of course, Koshka found a slot machine game with an Abyssinian.

Later in the night, high winds made the ship roll, making us walk like we were more intoxicated than we actually were. Jake was happy to see us return…but the rolling ship didn’t seem to faze him at all.

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The seas were calm next morning when we neared our destination, Helsinki, the capital of Finland. We left our cabin, Jake riding in his stroller, and went looking for a cab to take us from the port to the city center.

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As it was Koshka’s first time in Helsinki (and my first time in 15 years), we stored our luggage at the railway station, and did some sight-seeing and shopping. In every shop (more than half a dozen), we made sure that it was OK to bring Jake.

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Not one turned us down; on the contrary, the staff in every shop were charmed by our furry companion, almost forgetting the other customers.

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After a late lunch at a Finnish restaurant, we went to the rental car pickup place.

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As the driver, I quickly realized that getting out of an unfamiliar city at rush hour on a Friday was a challenge. I sent grateful thoughts to the inventor of the GPS navigator, as it made finding our way a thousand times easier. Jake began meowing straightaway, and kept up the song of his people for the 45 kilometers (28 miles) to Siuntio, a small town west of Helsinki which was the location of the show. We found the hotel, the Rantasipi Siuntion Kylpylä, and checked in.

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The sprawling hotel was pretty labyrinthine, but we found our room and installed ourselves. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, and by the looks of the other guests, most of them were there for the cat show.

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Saturday, 1 October: Jake’s debut as a show cat in Europe. The vet check was pretty early, but we were there in time (again, thanks to the GPS).

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We found the show cage and set it up with curtains, bowls and litterbox.

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We were benched right next to Jake’s good friend Sketsi.

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As it was the 50th anniversary of the first litter of Abyssinians born in Finland, the Aby people had the goal of showing 50 Abys and Somalis, a goal that was surpassed.

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Our friend Anne Kontula was especially invaluable, helping us find our way in the strange world that is a FIFe show. Anne also shows in CFA, and she was just so great at helping Koshka navigating between the two systems. She and her friends and family treated us to snacks, and made us feel very welcome.

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Koshka said that she had no idea what she was doing, apart from going where her friends told her. That said, our first judge, Martti Peltonen, was very impressed with Jake, and said almost immediately that Jake looked like an Instincts cat! Nailed it!

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There were three ruddy neutered males, so Martti got to name a Best in Variety (BIV). Jake ended up being chosen!

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Martti also Nominated Jake for the final! Of course, we didn’t know what, exactly, a NOM was…but we knew it was good.

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Jake was awarded a rosette and a little charm on a purple ribbon as his award.

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Then it was time for the panel. Jake was up against some stiff competition. It was nice to have someone else handle the cats to display them rather than the owners, as it gave us a chance to just watch the proceedings.

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All the Category 4 judges examined each Nominee, including the judge who nominated the cat. Then they vote for their Best In Show. Jake only got one vote (from Martti), so we didn’t win BIS, but we were pretty happy with our first go.

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When the first day was over, we returned to the hotel. After dinner, there wasn’t much in the way of distractions. A bar, a slot machine…

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and the TV in the room…But we knew we had to get up early for the show’s second day, so we went to sleep fairly early.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Januari 2020: International Champion S*Backilandets Mercedes von Ekorntorp (Cat Show Sunday)

Unlike Izaak, Lorelai did not become an International Champion on Saturday at the show in Turku.

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That’s because she was in direct competition for the certificate.

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We saw Thea Friškovec, who loves Zak, and who has seen Rory before on her judging table.

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There was another blue Aby female in Category 7: Ch FI*Redcheetah’s Erin.

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When there are two or more cats in the same category, sex and colour, only one earns the certificate. The other gets an Ex2.

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I am sure it was hard to pick the best cat…they are almost the same age (Rory is four months older), same colour, same level of achievement…

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…It was pretty tense to watch.

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In the end, our friend Jonna and her cat Erin got the certificate. Congratulations!

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But Erin was only entered on Saturday. On Sunday, Rory was the only blue Aby in her category.

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We saw Martienn Tausen, a judge from Iceland.

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He didn’t Nominate her, but that wasn’t important.

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What was important is that she earned her non-Swedish certificate and achieved the title of International Champion. It’s a bit ironic; we started showing Rory earlier than Zak because we had to wait to get his pedigree entered into Sverak…but he earned his title before she did!

Aby-a-Day – 11 Januari 2020: International Champion Joy Minimali*PL (Cat Show Saturday)

We went to a cat show in Turku, Finland, back in November. The main reason we entered this show was so that Lorelai and Izaak could earn their International Champion titles. In order to achieve this, cats must earn three certificates from three different judges in two different countries. We had the three certificates from three different judges locked. We just needed to go to a different country. Turku is a convenient ferry ride, and a place we hadn’t visited yet.

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As is not uncommon, Zak was the only Singapura in the show, so we were pretty certain that he would become an IC.

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His judge for the day, Pia Nyman, loved him. She praised his perfect “reindeer” colouration.

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She also knew Singapuras, which, in FIFe, can be rather hit-or-miss when it comes to judges. But Pia was actually “babysitting” a litter of Singas at home for a Finnish Singa breeder friend.

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Singapuras are almost always the last breed in the ring in Category 3 (unless there are Selkirk Rexes, Sokokes or Snowshoes entered, and honestly, they’re almost rarer than Singas! But because we are last, we usually just hang around for the Nominations, because we’re almost always under consideration. The Champion males were stiff competition. We were up against a Korat, a British Shorthair, an Ocicat, and an Egyptian Mau.

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But you could tell she really liked Zak.

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It was super close and really tense. I am usually the one who’s taking the photos, not holding the cat during the Nomination.

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Pia took close second looks at the Brit and the Oci…

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…and she also revisited the Mau.

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But she kept coming back to Zak.

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Pia had good things to say about all of the cats.

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But, in the end…it was Zak who won the NOM!

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Then it was time for the panel (basically, the FIFe finals), and we had a great steward assigned to handle him.

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It was close…there was a white British Shorthair and a seal Burmese with Zak…Zak did get one vote, but in the end it went to the Burmese.

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That didn’t matter, though. We got what we came for.

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Zak earned his International Champion title.

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And he also earned a really nice NOM medallion. The prize you get for winning a Nomination can really vary between clubs. We have gotten trophies, plaques, banners, and simple rosettes…but medals are by far my favourite, and the Turok medals are seriously the best I have ever seen.

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It seems that they had them custom-made somewhere. They are really heavy and really nicely made (this coming from someone who did metalsmithing and jewellry making in college and coin-making in the SCA). It’s one of the best cat show trophies I’ve ever won.

Aby-a-Day – 3 Januari 2020: Using the tools you have to get the results you want (Photoshop Friday)

The ferry boarding photos I posted yesterday were not, exactly, the photos I originally purchased on the boat. We did get a photo of Izaak and Lorelai, but it was the close-up above. I had wanted one of them together in a photo with one of the special frames (I really like those because they have the date and the ship we were on). The photographer told me she couldn’t get that photo to fit the frame, and she had only gotten one shot of just the cats.

I asked if I could have the digital photos with my purchase, and she emailed them to me. I assured her that I could fix it.

Then too, that nice photo of Björn and me boarding together with the cats? Yeah, that also wasn’t exactly the perfect shot. They got one of me…with a cheesy Minnie Mouse suitcase behind me. And they got a decent one of Björn, dragging our crippled suitcase onto the boat (this was the trip that it finally became an ex-suitcase and ceased to be).

So, as you saw yesterday, I fixed that, too.

Aby-a-Day – 17 Augusti: Dash on the Silja Line

At long last we boarded the Silja Symphony ferry to Stockholm. First we rode the elevator to our cabin to put our luggage away and set up Dashiell’s food and litter.

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Dash really seemed to enjoy the windowed lift.

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This is kind of a dark photo, but you can see the shopping promenade and the cabins with overlooking windows. We stayed in one of those cabins on the way to Helsinki and it was kind of fun do have that view. They don’t have pet rooms in that block of cabins, though.

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After we got our room set up, we went up to the deck to say goodbye to Helsinki.

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This is what the ferry looks like from Helsinki. We happened to be at the waterfront the day before when the ferry was leaving for Sweden.

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Here is me with Dash.

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I posed almost the exact same way with Jacoby in 2016.

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Björn posed with Dash as well.

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On the aft deck, there is a little sandbox for dog owners to let their dogs go to the toilet.

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I have to say, it was pretty amusingly decorated. I have seen dog toilet areas on other ferries, but none decorated like this.

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Dash was not impressed.

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He was more interesting in people-watching from the vantage of a deck chair.

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Just then, a dog passed by on his way to the toilet. I guess we took a look at it in the nick of time.

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Despite what it says on the website, the crew staff assured us that cats were allowed anywhere onboard the ship. We thought a nice refreshing beer would be nice before taking Dash back to the cabin and checking the duty-free store.

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Dash was happy to sit in his carrier and watch Björn pour his beer.

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Dash never even tried to get out of his carrier.

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After our drinks, we took the elevator back to our cabin.

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I think Dash was happy to go back to the cabin and take a nap after all the excitement of the cat show and boarding the ferry.

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Ferry rides are a lot of fun. They go overnight, and some people treat it as a party. On this trip, there was what looked like a stag do going on. Not sure which guy was the groom, but my money’s on the guy in the bell bottoms.

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We had seen them in the bar earlier. They were going around to people in the bar with a straw, asking if they could have a sip of their drink, taking photos of it. It was pretty funny.

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There was also a new machine in the ferry’s casino – Diamond Cats! It’s a bit like Kitty Glitter except with no Somali. It was not a bad game; at least the Siamese have blue eyes on this game. But it was fun to play and I ended up winning a little, which is always nice.

Aby-a-Day – 15 Augusti: A quick visit to the cat show

On Sunday, we spent some time at the cat show in Lempäälä (near Tampere) that Russell and Carol, along with my friend Pam, were judging. Because we had to catch the ferry back to Sweden at 16:45, and it was a long drive from the show hall to the ferry terminal, we couldn’t enter Dashiell in the show – it didn’t matter, pointwise, because he’s still a kitten, and exhibitors aren’t allowed to leave until the show’s posted closing hour. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t drop by for a visit.

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It was a very small show, held in a shopping mall (which was actually rather cool). One-day shows in CFA aren’t common, but they happen; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show with only three rings!

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My friend Anne set us up with a small pop-up tent and a litter box for Dash. While in Sweden, people mostly use the metal show cages and spectators view the cats on the same side of the cage as the exhibitors, in Finland, people use SturdiShelters and pop-up tents with a clear back, and the spectators view the cats from the back whilst the exhibitiors sit with their cats by the cages’ doors. It feels a bit strange, not really being able to interact with the people coming to see the cats except over the top of your cage.

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Dash has been to shows before, so he knew what to do.

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He was very interested in this one little boy who stopped to see him.

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Dash wanted to make friends with the kid, but it’s hard when you’re behind plastic.

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If it had been a metal cage, Dash would have reaching out to touch the boy.

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I think both kitten and child were equally fascinated with each other. It was adorable.

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We were only able to stay for about an hour and a half (the show, being so small, didn’t start until 11), but it was nice to hang out with Meg and Anne a little bit more. I also managed to get a photo of Anne’s stunning tattoo…isn’t it lovely?

Aby-a-Day – 14 Augusti: Wordless Wednesday (Dashiell’s Ferry Photos…and one of Jacoby)

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JakeFerryboardingMag

Aby-a-Day – 13 Augusti: Remembering Jacoby in Helsinki (Cartoon Tuesday)

When we went to Aino, the Finnish restaurant in Helsinki, I noticed a sign-in book.

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When we visited Helsinki with Jacoby in 2016, we ate at this restaurant.

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I just thought they needed to be reminded of that event.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Augusti: Finally meeting Dashiell (Cinema Sunday)

As I posted yesterday, Meg, Russell and Dashiell arrived far too late for us to be able to meet them at the airport and collect Dash on Friday. So he stayed in Meg and Russell’s in the hotel near the airport.

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I awoke to some smexy photos of Dash lounging in bed. Everyone slept in, and rightly so.

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We had a day in Helsinki planned for Meg, Russell and Carol Fogarty, another judge, so Dash spent the day at Anne’s house.

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There, he bonded with Anne’s teenaged daughter. He’s very good with kids.

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After a day of walking around Helsinki, we had dinner at a great Finnish restaurant we’ve eaten at before on previous trips to Helsinki. Here’s Meg and me after dinner.

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On our way back to our hotel in Tampere, we stopped by Anne’s and collected Dash. This is the grand opening of the carrier when we finally got him into our hotel room (click on the image to watch the video in another tab in Flickr).

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We had a wonderfully spacious room, with places to put the food bowl, the water bowl…

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…and the litter box house.

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In anticipation of Dash’s arrival, my friend Molly sent him a welcome home present. It was even addressed to him.

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I saved it to open when we finally were together.

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He wasn’t entirely sure about it…but it will be his for the rest of his life.

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Next, Dash explored our room.

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And that was how we finally got Dash…

Aby-a-Day: 10 Augusti: Comedy of Errors

Yesterday was…interesting. We were supposed to meet Meg, Russell and Dashiell at Helsinki International Airport at 17:15.

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That…did not happen. Their flight from Newark was delayed, and they ended up missing their connection in Frankfurt to Helsinki.

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This is the photo Meg sent me when she finally got to Frankfurt.

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And here is Russell with Dash (under the banana), waiting for the connecting flight.

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Above is the Facebook Messenger conversation we had about meeting up and collecting Dash. FINALLY I got the bright idea to include my friend Anne, an Aby breeder who happens to live in Helsinki near the airport. We had booked a hotel in Tampere, two hours away from Helsinki, which was supposed to be the show hotel, but it got overbooked because of a German heavy metal band who were having concerts nearby. Turns out, we might have been able to cancel our “non-refundable” reservation…but, yeah. 20/20 hindsight.

But we had to drive to our hotel, so there was no way we could be at the airport to meet them and collect Dash on Friday.

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So my hero friend Anne met them at the airport instead.

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They landed sometime after midnight, and my friend Anne was there to meet them.

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This is all of them, taken by Anne, at sometime around 1am. At this point, Dash had been in his carrier for 30-something hours.

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Meanwhile, our hotel had been notified that we would be arriving with a cat, so they prepared a little gift for us: a packet of wet food in the cutest little bag.

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Look how cute the print is on the bag, all little kitty faces! I just wish we had had Dash that first night.

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But here he is on Meg’s bed, happy to finally be out of that carrier!

Aby-a-Day – 15 Mars: Remembering Logan in Finland (Friday Flashback)

I have been thinking a lot about Logan recently. I suppose it’s only natural; his birthday was last Saturday, and this is the month before we found out about his FIP. I guess March is going to be hard for a while. But this is a memory that always makes me smile.

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When we took Logan to Finland for a show, Logan discovered the heated bathroom floor.

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He loved it!

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He was always a little less stocky than Izaak is.

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It was so funny to watch him rolling on the warm, but hard, floor. He was like, “What is this sorcery!?”

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Have you ever seen a happier little cat?

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He really loved it.

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When we couldn’t find Logan anywhere else in the room, we knew he had to be there on the bathroom floor. He even slept in there instead of on the bed or the chair!

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We haven’t stayed in a hotel with heated floor since then with any cat. I was looking forward to seeing what Logan would do when we encountered one again; now I’m just wondering if Lorelai and Zak will have the same reaction.

Aby-a-Day – 8 June: “Come, Ferries, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind” (Fashion Friday Flashback)

We have gone to cat shows in Helsinki twice and Tallinn once since I moved to Sweden. To get to these cities, we travelled by ferry from Stockholm. It’s quite a fun way to travel; you get on the ferry in the early evening, do a bit of duty-free shopping (alcohol, perfume and watches are the main reason many people take the ferry as the selection and prices are so much better), have dinner at one of the restaurants or at the fabulous buffet, lose some loose change at the casino slot machines whilst having a cocktail, then go to bed. When you wake up, you’re in your destination city. It’s brilliant, really. But the best part is that, when you board, they take your photos, and later on in the evening, you can go round and check out the photos and choose to buy the ones you like.

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The ferries also carry cars, of course, and allow pets. So when you board with a cat, the photographers, who are likely quite bored of taking photos of arguing middle-aged couples and squalling children, light up and put extra effort in their snapshots.

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Sometimes they make the photos into false magazine covers. I really love how this one turned out. This was on our first trip to Helsinki in October 2016.

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And this photo was the only one we really liked from the return trip from Helsinki to Stockholm…but we both really loved it. Sadly, when we took the ferry to Tallinn, the photographers packed up early, both directions! We were quite disappointed, and actually complained about it. They missed out on making some money, too, we pointed out; we would have purchased at least one taken each way!

The next time we went to Helsinki, we took Logan, as Jacoby had decided he was finished showing for the time being.

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It was a bit chilly when we left Stockholm, so Logan had his parka on. He enjoyed the warmth the parka gave him…but he wasn’t thrilled about wearing it.

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The photos are a bit awkward, but I love them anyway.

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The problem with the cat photos is, they always look good in them, so you want to buy them all. It’s the ones of ourselves we never really like. This one was tolerable, mainly because Logan looked so happy to be boarding the ferry and have his photo taken on the way back!

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Either that, or because it was warmer, and he didn’t need to wear his parka. These are a bit blurry, but I love them because of how utterly happy he looks in them.

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This one turned out lovely as well. I can’t wait to see how Lorelai looks on her first ferry trip!