It feels like yesterday that I remember the first meeting we organised, here, at the school of the municipality of Ayeneux. That time we brought together the dogs of the very first litter « V » and of the litters « O » and « Q ».
Now it's the second time I've organized the meeting at my place. By number of people, it was the largest meeting ever, the number of dogs is maintained (22).
The weather was beautiful, a little too hot for the dogs, luckily we had our open tents!
I'm so glad to see back my dogs, some of them once a year and also their owners! For me this is the happiest day of the year!
I was already "dead" before the meeting, because yes, I was busy preparing everything for dining for 50 people and on top of it it was also a hot meal. Fortunately I had the very generous assistance of, first Nicole and then the day before the meeting the help of Christel. The day of the gathering I had the very valuable assistance of Christel, her sister, her brother in law and Nicole. Nebi and her lovely daughter, constantly smiling, served us drinks.


Most of the participants arrived between 9:30 and 10 am; however, it took us until 11am to go for a walk while the sun was then already very strong. There were some new 'heads', the owners of two "mates" of the last litter: Alexandra and Michaël, owners of Jovan, called “Alfie” came the night before from distant Sweden, but without Alfie and the family Schaaij came from the Netherlands with Jogi, called “Silvan”. As usual from very far in Germany, Silke and Ralf came with Dragan and Babsy, from closer in Germany the family Gehlhaar with Cakan, called “Anouchka” came and from the Netherlands came the family Jongens with Goranac, called “Zoran”. A big and pleasant surprise for me was the arrival of Mrs. Gregory and her daughter with the 10 year old male Andrak, which I hadn’t seen for many years. There was also his brother Agat, called “Esra” with the entire family Van der Vecker (Olga). Bayka was the only one present of her litter. From the litter "C" there was aside from Cakana, already mentioned earlier, Cica-Vesna with the complete “female” family; from the litter “D" other then Dragan, there were Tom and Els Naessens with Decko, my neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Fagard with Dragas, Dusko with Leslie and Yolande with Duska; from the litter "E" nobody; from the litter "F" Fétich accompanied by Mrs. and Miss Richard; the litter the best represented was the litter "G” other then Goranac there was Ziggy with Garo, my neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Delsemme with Gorstak, Mr. Kusza with Griska, André Obsada with Grivna and of course my Gara. From the litter "H" we had Hodessa and the family Piron with Higor. Jimmy Papp and Ariane joined us as well but without their dog Hooker because of a problem with their car. The family Magnette was looking forward to take part at our gathering, but Andre got sick the evening before and regretted a lot not being able to join us. There were also the owners of Ecka and Zirka who did not bring their "girls". Most of the eyes turned to Jogi-Silvan, a puppy with a unique character, so nice, so friendly, so gay, and so lively, really like a little sunshine, a real happiness!


As usual Huguette and I took pictures of all the participants with their dogs in my garden, from our walk and lunch. I will put an album on the web, available to all participants, and a few friends and relatives, eager to see how the day went off.


This time the area for our walk was completely unknown to my guests. We went through the village Riessonsart, down to the quarry to the monument of the victims of the First World War.
During the short stop, near the monument, in the very pleasant shadow, at some point Jogi-Silvan was suddenly standing in front of his mom Gara, he approached her and gave her a kiss, a lick just on her nose and Gara did not say anything, even she was disarmed!
I thought to go back through the same path, but my neighbor, David knew a trail leading through the fields, that we have followed. Bayka and I, we had hard to follow, we both felt very hot and we were breathless.


The lunch was held on my parking place, in the front of my house, on rented tables and luckily under 4 open tents, the fifth served to make shade for the dogs' cages. It was really easy going, food was served on dessert plates because of lack of others. On the menu there were puff pastry stuffed with cheese, spinach and cheese and meat, then stuffed peppers and for dessert, baklava and strawberries, all as prepared in Serbia. The guests seemed to appreciate, but I was left with a tremendous amount of peppers, so much that I had to distribute whole pots.


Without support of several people I would never have managed. First of all I must thank Mr. Fagard, who was collecting and bringing back the tables and chairs, a few kilometers from my home. I must also thank the team that carried, assembled and disassembled the cages and also assembled the open tents Leslie, Vladimir and Joseph. My young Swedes and Christel helped to place the tables and chairs and set them with the assistance of Huguette. In the kitchen I had an immense help once from Nicole, another time from Christel. The day of the meeting Christel made the salad, cleaned the strawberries and served with her sister and her brother in law. Christel has also done many other things: the dishes (with her sister and brother in law), made some coffee, she took Gara for the walk; she talked with the German and Dutch guests. She really was my very precious "right hand". Nicole walked Bayka, she brought the bread, did the dishes ... Thanks also to Huguette, who has made the selling of the beverages operational, who was the main photographer, who took care of the guests, of the souvenirs and many other things.


Les Montagnes Serbes, Sarplaninci in Belgium June 4, 2011

We went to Belgium to see Macha, Alfie’s breeder, and mingle with other sarplaninac owners on her annual kennel meeting. This was our first time, and unfortunately Alfie was unable to make it since we flew over. However, after meeting several people who told us about the many wonderful journeys they’ve made with their sarplaninac in toll, Mikael and I have decided we’d like to travel with Alfie as well. Now all we have to do is get his passport ready, and maybe he’ll be on the road with us by next year!
So back to the story; Mikael and I were staying with Macha for the next 2 nights, and this year the meeting was held in her garden. We set up tables and chairs and set them with tablecloths and cutlery. There were a few party tents to give us shade, and Macha had made all of the food herself (she’s a great cook!). I don’t know the whole background story, but I do know that Christel, another friend of ours, has helped Macha out a lot with the preparations for the meeting. On the actual day there was no difference; Christel was there being a good team leader, giving us directions on how to help. The weather was marvellous, we had 30 C (86 F) melting us all like ice cream, hot but nice!
Eventually guests started popping in, and one dog after another caught my attention. There was Andrak, Cica-Vesna, Cakana, Fetich, Babsy, Dragan, Decko, Dusko, Gorstak, Goranac, Garo, Griska, Higor, Hodessa, and, of course, Alfie’s littermate Jogi (now Silvan). And let’s not forget my favorite girls, Bayka and Gara, Alfie’s grandmother and mother. They are both the apple of my eye, those two. There were many more but I have forgotten their names (sorry!). Mikael and I were in heaven! Where else would we meet and greet so many sarplaninci? Higor and Hodessa have the same father as Alfie, so they’re half-siblings. The greatest moment for me was to meet Jogi, because I’ve been dying to see the resemblance between him and our own baby boy. I wasn’t disappointed. Although Jogi has another type of coat and color, his facial features reminded me of Alfie’s. Jogi is a little thinner and smaller, but there was no mistaking those eyes and that look! He also had a wonderful temperament and was quite the charmer. Alfie is a bit more reserved with strangers and has more “edge” to him than Jogi. Of the two I’d say that Alfie is definitely more dominant, and Jogi is the teddy bear that everybody loves, including me. Then I was also thrilled to see Gara and Bayka again, and I was happy that Mikael finally got to meet them too. Bayka’s temperament reminds me of Alfie’s; you need to win her over before she’ll come and sit with you. Then she’s just a big baby, not unlike her grandson. Appearance wise, she’s a very large female, with a longer face and thicker bones, which I can see in Alfie too. Gara is the sweetheart I’m absolutely in love with! She’ll win anybody over with her shyness and soft manner. And those eyes! She has the exact same look as Alfie! He’ll look at us like he’s the tiniest, most vulnerable creature in the whole wide world, mostly when he’s done something he’s not supposed to, or when he just needs someone to feel sorry for him and come over and give him a hug…
We were both excited to see Macha. She’s a woman of great knowledge and her opinion is always important to us. Without a proper picture of Alfie in profile and a close up of his head and face (just regular, amateur photos), she was still able to tell us he looks good, and that he has a nice head and face. The theme of the day was Serbian, because both Macha and the breed is of this origin. Macha greeted her guests in a serbian-inspired dress, with an original chaperon typical for Serbia. The food was also typical for the region. We were served stuffed peppers and a sort of pie, one with cheese and another with eggs and spinach. It was delicious! For dessert we had baklava with strawberries - yummy! Before lunch we all went for a nice walk around the neighborhood. Hot like it was though, I’m not so sure the dogs enjoyed it as much as we did, but they were great sports and pulled through like champs. There were many great photo opportunities, but as soon as I brought out the camera the dogs scattered like rats… Though not loving the camera, I managed to capture some of them.
In the afternoon, when people started to thank Macha for a good time and went home, we were left putting away what we had set up earlier that morning, and we finally had time to take in this awesome experience. Mikael and I couldn’t stop talking about what we had just seen and who we had just met, and we shared our thoughts and opinions from the day. We were exhausted in a good way.
Then I realized the girls were still there, so once again I took out my camera and started bothering poor Bayka with it while she was trying to get a well deserved rest after a hot and heavy day. Unfortunately the time flew by all too quickly and we had to accept that we needed to go to bed to not miss our flight the next morning. With heavy steps I joined Gara in the yard and took even more photos of her, the last ones of this year, I guess. I was sad to say goodbye, but just as if she had known what I was thinking, she gave me the same puppy eye look Alfie always does, and when she reminded me of him again, I felt better about returning home. I told you she’s an angel!