Mark Jeffreys (blue jacket) with cameraman Mike Mowbray, co-director Isaac Allen and sound man and co-presenter Jimmy Gore with the star of the movie, Osa the Finnish Lapphund.
Mark Jeffreys (blue jacket) with cameraman Mike Mowbray, co-director Isaac Allen and sound man and co-presenter Jimmy Gore with the star of the movie, Osa the Finnish Lapphund. Contributed

When four men and an amazing dog hit the road

HAVE you ever wondered what makes your pet pooch tick and whether it has a tale to tell?

I did and it took me on an unforgettable 3000 mile round road trip in a campervan with my 13-year-old Finnish Lapphund.

In a campervan, I travelled from Charles Dickens territory in Rochester, England, to the remote Kaaja, in Finland, to retrace Osa's family tree.

It is essentially "Who Do You Think You Are?" with a dog.

 

MEDIA HOUND: Filming in progress.
MEDIA HOUND: Filming in progress. Contributed

The result is the quirky dogumentary called Four Men and a Dog - The Finnish Line, which will be shown at the inaugural Noosa International Film Festival from November 3-6.

Fittingly, Noosa was the place I spent many a long weekend in my youth so I'm chuffed that my first foray into film will be shown there.

The idea had been in the melting pot for many years and when my best mate Osa turned 13 and was still in vibrant health, it was a case of now or never.

The funding came from a pay-off from the Daily Express newspaper, where I had worked as a sports journalist for many years.

 

Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund.
Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund. Contributed

In the spring of 2015, the barking mad documentary became a reality.

Four men and a dog set off from Rochester in Kent in a colourful campervan that literally stood out like a dunny on a country hillside.

Before the epic journey, we took Osa back to meet his breeder for the first time since 2001, and from where his father, Tuuka, had made his name.

Osa was in a litter of five and had one surviving sister, Ellie, so it was given the chance to rekindle family ties before being taken to Crufts, where his old man Tuuka had been Best in Breed in 2007.

 

Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund.
Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund. Michael Mowbray

Little did I know but Tuuka also had some history on his side - he was in the first litter of any breed in the UK to be born under the passport scheme in 2000, which allowed bitches to be mated abroad.

The plan was to camp out all the way but things didn't go according to the script.

The first campsite we turned up to was still a fairground and the second one had shut an hour before we had arrived.

When we finally got into a campsite in Turku, Finland, we discovered we had no gas and ate cold spaghetti.

An Aussie who had lived in the UK for 25 years should have known better than thinking that weather in Scandinavia countries in mid-March would be fit enough for the outdoors.

 

Mark and Osa made many new friends along the way.
Mark and Osa made many new friends along the way. Contributed

No surprise that the only one of the contingent who savoured the cold was our four-legged companion who was in his element.

Minus five temperatures simply blew us away.

In the end, though, it was all worth it.

Osa was finally in his spiritual home in Lumiturpa Kennel, Kaaja, where his grandfather Norri had become the champion of his breed before perishing in a fire in 2006 and where his father Tuuka was conceived.  

It was a real eye-opener as to how these reindeer-herding dogs were suppose to live and will certainly make me think twice about the breed of dog I have in future.

 

Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund during their amazing journey.
Mark Jeffreys with Osa the Finnish Lapphund during their amazing journey. Michael Mowbray

The subtle message here was maybe people should look into a breed and seeing whether they had the right environment to give it the best life.

I gave Osa the best life I could, but not the best life he could have had.

So got check it out. Our film, narrated by the BBC's JoAnne Good, a former Melbourne girl, will be shown at the Eumundi School of Arts Hall on Sunday, November 6, at 5pm.

Director Mark Jeffreys was born in Ipswich and worked for the Queensland Times and Courier Mail before moving to the UK in 1990, where he has worked on national newspapers as a sports journalist ever since. Four Men and a Dog is his first film.



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