The beauty or the beast?
Text: Torsti Mäkinen, photo: Torsti Mäkinen & Maud Matsson

Although I have always, all the way from early childhood, had an eye for female beauty, or rather a combination of beauty and charm, I never reflected over why some girls seems to be so much more charming and beautiful than others. At least not before some 20 years ago when I got involved in dogs. I noticed that some dogs attract me a lot while others of quite similar conformation can be repulsive. When I during the coming years with dogs learned about their mentality, I also slowly started to understand how closely tied beauty and charm is not only to a dogs, but also to a girl's mental state.

Barkansjö's Beijla together with her mistress Marie-Louise. Bejla is a daughter to the late Skedoms Fifty-Fifty, also owned by M-L, and Fifty was also a sister to our late Foxy. Both of them had a very strong mentality and beamed out a self-confidence far more than the average for the breed. Even though Fifty-Fifty was mated to a pretty much softer Sir, some of Fifty's strong mentality was brought over to Bejla. Marie-Louise provided the good environment to make the most out of Beijla's inherited social talents and the final result was one of the loveliest ES bitches I have ever met!

Security and confidence seems to be the key words. Security and confidence in life are obviously, the way I have observed them, dependent of two circumstances that interact with each other, namely inheritance and environment. A good-hearted nature can be inherited but later destroyed in an consuming environment. On the other hand the environment can be edifying and rewarding but still the object will not become secure and confident since the inherited susceptibility for a positive environment is not there. So when I today find a positive, charming and beautiful dog, or girl/woman, I like to think that two factors have acted together here, environment and inheritance.

Bejla's mother handed down the strong but yet proportional and lean body of a bare-mountain hunter. The joy of working and the stamina in her work is also there, hence it is a pleasure to watch her powerful quest for game. She is also rather independent and a bit cunning so you can never be sure of what kind of mischief she gets into. That could on one hand be irritating in situations when you expect some type of obedience from her but on the other hand it ads to her charm in the everyday life, at least if you like me can not help admiring such assured dogs... at least as long as they keep it on a moderate and safe level.....

Now, if we can agree on this, then we can go to the dog's actual physical conformation. Some folks like this type of dogs, other folks like some other type. Here I can to a certain extent agree to the old saying's: "A good dog is never of the wrong colour" or "the beauty is in the eye of the observer". To me an English pointer might be charming but I would not like to admit that it is beautiful. It is not to me. I think, for ex., that of the shorthaired gundogs the Swedish hare hound, the Stovare, is more proportional, powerful and smooth in the body but that is only my opinion.

Bejla is now 9 years old but still in full vigour. Her powerful locomotion when playing with our puppy Larka is really impressive and her facial expression tells us without any doubt that she is the sovereign of the territory she occupies for the moment. Still there is this wonderful charisma of friendliness and gentleness that only confident and secure dogs can beam out. It gives me shivers to watch such dogs. "Poetry in motion"

I have noticed, during the years with dogs, that the handler/owner can generally improve the dogs appearance a lot. If we have a mentally somewhat "normal" puppy and give it a good fostering with gentle leadership all the way to it's last breath at the height of it's age, make it secure and train it to become confident, then we also can enjoy a life with a beautiful dog. True beauty simply cannot be there unless it comes from the dog's hearth. The physical conformation, no matter how excellent, means nothing unless the dog also beams out an inner beauty, security and confidence. Heritage gives the dog it's physical and mental conformation but we, who are alone responsible for the environment the dog grows up and has to live in, must into the dogs hearth plant the final touch, that turns that excellent conformation into real beauty. The dog has no actual control over its own life. We are the one's who decide what it will beam out; a beauty or a beast!



Gentleness, friendliness, boldness, calmness are the words of honour to Bejla. Beauty and charm are only the outer signs of a successful example of how heritage and environment has been combined in a judicious way to form a very pleasant whole.

© Text & photo Torsti Mäkinen