A trip to Hungary

Finally! The alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Today is the day, Car, bus, airplane, taxi, bus and then eleven hours later he, the breeder of Fehér, will be standing at Bajas’ busstation to say ”Welcome”! The greeting has heart behind it and his entire family is so friendly and want me and Margareta to have as good of a stay as we possibly can.

The pumis come over and greet us, they are very social. I fall in love with the three puppies who are there. One of them is mine (Fehér), one is the daughter, Doras, and another one will be Gabor’s new shepherd’s dog. Two white, or whatever the color is called, and one grey. It had been raining really hard the day before so there were plenty of puddles for the puppies to play in.

Pride and Tradition
We start off by watching Gabor sewing his buttons (pityke) on his new west. It is very easy for a shepherd to drop one of his pitykes which is something you do not want to do as they are very valuable. He threads a thin leather strap which he uses to sew on the pitykes on his west to finally fasten the loose ends on the inside of the west. The buttons are beautifully sewn on, in a long line.

He has his sheep right outside of Baja. They are about to get dinner and we are happy to tag along. He lets his pumi Jonas to manage the work and shepherds the sheep over two roads and leaves them to graze in one of the grassy plains, but only the one. The other plain is to be harvested for hay to be feed to the animals during winter. That is why Jonas gets to do the jobs of getting them back when they stray outside the allowed area.

When we come back again delicious Hungarian food is waiting for us and we are treated to a viewing of shepherd’s staff, crane feathers and a lot more which belong to a shepherd. They want to preserve and protect their traditions to be transferred to the next generation.

When we show a genuine interest he becomes so happy. Poor Gabor, he has to answer the oddest questions we ask. He, however, answers patiently. We fall asleep easily that night.

Swedish Show-case Tricks
We are awake and alert. A new, great day in Hungary awaits us. On today's agenda: fur care on three four-month-old puppies, Rigo, the puppies' mother, and Jonas.

I offer to wash and trim; out comes a plastic tub and a table. The table I like and am satisfied with but I like to shampoo dogs in a bathtub with running hot water. My wish is instantly granted and a rubber mat is placed below the bath tub so the dogs won't slip on the wet tiles.

And like magic the dogs are soon clean, newly cut and glimmering white. I had blue shampoo with me and Gabor was a little bit suspicions to my trick but a very fuzzy Rigo is transformed to a beautiful pumi.

Jonas is also to show-cased, in working-class. So I have to ask Gabor what he thinks. Will Jonas get plus points or minus points if he is combed, newly cut and clean? After some thought we agree that he should be cut. His warm wool mat is carded and he also gets a bath like Rigo. Jonas becomes a very handsome pumi.

Natural Zoos
Thursday afternoon is spent in a national park, an area which floods every spring when the Danube rises above its banks. There is a road through this area which is closed during the flood period of the year. The road then changes its purpose and become a place for the animals to walk dryly through the area.

We see a lot of tracks from different kinds of animals. The rare black stork which lives in the park proves to be elusive during our visit, but what does that matter? The jungle atmosphere is beautiful and the weather as well, staying around 25 C and sunny.

Back from the jungle a trip to Gabor's farm awaits us. Here we are to finish putting all the obstacles for the obstacle course in shepherding in place. We also familiarize ourselves with the five different sheep species there are in Hungary. Gabor has all five of them. They really look different from one another. Some of them have very long, twisted horns.

As darkness falls we are treated to a circus act by Gabor. He makes his horse sit, kneel and lay down. As an avid horse-rider myself I cannot help but question; how do they do it?

There Is Always Space!
Friday, a new exciting day begins and the car is packed. We have to have room for a 6-month-old komondor, the 4-month-old puppies, one eight-week-old puppy, two adult pumis and five people with luggage. But if we squeeze tight we can manage; there is always space if you want to make it.

The eight-month-old puppy ”Stork” is picked up. He is such a cutie. Margareta and I will be responsible for him during our trip which is our pleasure. Our goal is a spring festival with animals in Tükeve. There, shepherding, dog shows and other related things will be done and one of the organizers is Gabor.

It takes roughly three hours before we arrive. The landscape is very flat. We see storks, sheep, cows, deer and lots of other animals through the car window.

When we finally step out of our car we realize that the entire shepherd's crew is there. The whole place is full of pumis and mudis. Our car doors open and out come the dogs. The komondor has to be lifted out of the car because of the trailer where are the shepherding gear is stored.

Hmm... How will we make this work? Male dogs, female dogs, puppies all over the place but everything seem to work and no chaos anywhere. Margareta and I might be perceived as ”worry-warts” as we would prefer not to let the eight-week-old ”Stork” loose among 15 other dogs but we do. What happens? Well, nothing! She curiously starts examining her surroundings. We have a lot to learn. Stop worrying, dogs will be dogs!

Fehér is starting to understand that I am her owner. She is allowed to sleep in my bed which I think was a worse experience for her than I could have imagined. She has grown up outside and the slippery floor indoors wasn't really her cup of tea. The heat makes me have to get up to get her water several times a night. She pants because of thirst and stress I think.

That night we have a couple of beers and go to a restaurant. It is as nice as it can be. Everybody talks to us and seems to take a general interest in us. The younger people have us as English teachers. They want to learn and they think that we are so easy to understand. Maybe that's because I talk so slowly in order to come up with the words I need? There are some misunderstandings, of course. One girl asks Margareta if she has any pets and Margareta thinks she is asked if she has any parents answering that she has her 83-year-old mother! There you go; Margareta's pet is her mother.

Saturday, today is the first day we are going to use a leash for Fehér to walk through the town. How easy do you think that is? I carry her most of the time mainly because we get caught in the festival. A herd of sheep, a herd of cows, horses and foals are shepherded through the town and are followed by carriages pulled by horses, some with musicians. Some ride bareback and some have saddles but not saddle girths!

Everyone is wearing traditional clothes. One very special one is Suban, which is a sheep skin cape which is used by the shepherds. During winter the wool is turned to the inside which warms the body and during the summer the wool is on the outside of the cape to protect against the warmth. It is very practical but very heavy!

We eat together with our young Hungarian friends. The food is cooked in great pots and is delicious.

The Shows and Shepherding
All of the Hungarian shepherding species are showed on the stage. One kuvaz does his own little show; jumping through a flaming hoop. The owner to the kuvaz could come home to Eskiltuna and judge the show there.

After that the shepherding show begins, a little bit of fun and some magic. The shepherding I left to Margareta and she will inform you a little bit more of what she saw and thought of it. But as you might have understood we have had a fair amount of misunderstandings during our trip. The language and the culture! Why there isn’t one language for the entire world?

We pack our bags and go to Pomaz which is north of Budapest. We are going to a place which is high in altitude. The road is so steep that it poses a bit of a problem to get up the hill with the trailer on the back. We are forced to step out of the car and push.

When we are finally there we are met by a magnificent view. This place is not flat. The eight-week-old ”Stork” is turned over to his new owner. It is the family who owns this camp which have the great honor of raising this little black troll, with a roughness in its fur that I have never felt on any of my puppies.

Our friend leaves us and we move in to the family which gives up their home to us. They go to Budapest where they have an apartment. We are treated to a bean soup and bread in the kitchen where the palinka is made, a kind of Hungarian liquor with plums I think.

Margareta and I cannot really understand everything we experience. But we smile and enjoy and laugh. Is this a fairy-tale or not? After one beer we become a little bit philosophical. Will we ever experience this again? Where are we? It is very dark; I can only see the outlines of things. A tip if you are going to Hungary – bring a headlamp!

After a good night's sleep we walk around the surroundings. Fehér runs happily around us. We look at the sheep, the pigs, the people practicing archery and horseback riding. Very soon our friends show up for another day's work.

The Show
But let’s start with the show. Gabor has applied to the show but payment is done on location. I pay membership fee to the Hungarian Pumi Club as well. Roughly 35 pumis have applied to the show but it isn’t easy to follow what is happening as there are no numbers for the dogs and everything is done in Hungarian. There are two Swedish bred dogs here. Lotta Arnes Helka, I recognize her because I went to Hungary with her a couple of years ago. But there is another one, Csillagosz Ali. Unfortunately I don’t know which dog it is. A lot of people came up and talked to us and it was very fun to meet some of the people I have bought Pumis from before and met in other situations. We were lucky there was a breeze as it was very hot, 35-40 C. The shadow was my best friend.

The results of the show in Pomaz were very good. Rigo came in 2nd; Jonas won the working class and was certified. My Fehér won best puppy. We received a white band and nagyon Igéretes was now done. I have no idea what kind of critique we got but what does it matter? She is my little princess anyway, the most beautiful dog in the world!

Almost over
The shepherding ability test was done. The shepherding show was some sort of obedience test, but I couldn’t understand everything.

And so the Sunday came to its end. We said goodbye to everyone and got a ride to Budapest. It was 7 p.m. and 29 C. A quick shower and a change of clean clothes and we were ready to go to the restaurant. Fehér is of course welcome. This adoring little creature has received a head start in social training which none of my other pumi puppies have got, and she has done great! I am very impressed by her.

Food and wine is set on the table. Great entertainment and discussions about our experiences in Hungary becomes the height of our trip. Back to reality and no turning back.

This experience is something I will treasure for a long time. I already have plans to do this again but in Sweden. I really hope I will get the opportunity to do so.