We were graced with looking after a 6 month old Irish Red Setter by the name of Sven...yes, Sven. An Irish dog with a Nordic name, owned by an Irish/Samoan/German/French/English/Maori young lady and her partner. Much like the travelling grapevines over the centuries.
By sheer luck the crew here at Takatu Lodge & Vineyard became foster parents of Sven while his owners took a 2 week trip overseas. A little uncertain how it was all going to go with our guests, little "Big" Sven was under strict routine of only showing his cute little face when guests were in their suites or out and about exploring Matakana Village and surrounding sites. So Sven was getting a lot more sleep than he anticipated.
Childishly gumpy and still learning to adapt to his big paws, Sven prounced about the lodge embracing his freedom from his parents, not at all dissimilar to a child spending time with their grandparents. He followed you everywhere as he gained his bearings.... and when he saw outside, well that was a bigger world as he would wander the lounge looking out over the vineyard.
Sven was extremely entertaining and kept us on our toes, especially in the first 20 minutes of him being left with us. He disappeared on the turn of our back, sending us in a flurry of anxiety, calling his name, charging around the vineyard, the lounge, in behind doors and the library, only to find him standing by the outdoor fireplace, staring at us with head tilted and a confused look in his eyes. The lounge boasts large ceiling to floor windows on three sides of the lodge, embracing the surrounding views, and to Sven, we must have looked like fish in a gigantic fish tank frantically being chased by a shark! Well….. he knew now, how to keep us busy.
Sven was realising there were more people to hang out with over the days. Watching the vineyard crew in the distance, he would let out a hollow bark, extending his teenage voice and filling the lounge right up into the High-vaulted macrocarpa ceilings. Little did he know, the crew could only see a gallant young lad with a shiny red coat pacing the windows like a Duke in the 1900’s awaiting important news, unalarmed by his roar. It only took 2 days for Sven to become protective over his space and his human companions, so for any new faces, he was eager to meet.
Signs of Sven’s existence became evident, with his squeaky tennis ball on the lawn, fluffy noisy toy duck (aka Duck duck) hidden in the hedge by the outdoor fireplace and his collar under the couch; dog lover guests soon became aware. Although there was a constant effort to take him back to hide on his sleeping mat, in time for guests to arrive, they soon picked up on this four legged charmer, where he would be ushered out of his room by the guests. Our very first culprits that stayed while Sven was with us had lost their beloved dog and immediately adopted Sven while on their 3 day stay. Sven picked up the love from these soft loveable humans. So much that he awaited their arrival from dinner at Matakana Village one evening, poised on their patio watching Little Barrier become a silhouette as the day slipped into the stillness of the night.
With winter upon us at the time, and a very mild one at that, Sven relished over 5 hectares of playground with 3.25hectares under vine. Spending time with his new buddies John, our loyal vineyard manager and his hardworking right hand man, Rhys, Sven enjoyed hanging out with the boys. The cane bundles that were sporadically placed throughout the vines, came in handy in aid of his teething. He took great pleasure in clasping 3 foot canes in his mouth, and carefully taking them up onto the large open lawn which runs in front of the lounge. He would lay there chomping away oblivious to the spectacular view of Mt Tamahunga, behind him. The mountain is an ever changing wonder throughout the day, with the depths of its valleys enhanced by the glorious morning light to the amber glow of the sun as it descends gracefully along the sleeve of the mountain.
Sven's boundaries broadened as the days slipped by, taking him into new territory each and every day. In his adventures he made friends with the cows over the fence and found the 18 olive trees at the base of the property, which provides us with 25 litres of olive oil for the lodge. His hunting instincts came into practice when he discovered magpies lining the vine posts as they settled in at dusk. With sturdy and graceful movements, he patiently stalked the black and white birds with his silky hair luminous against the golden beams casting through the vineyard. These birds may be pests, introduced to New Zealand from Australia in the 1860’s, however they gave Sven a run around, darting and squawking as they protected their territory from this harmless juvenile solo hunter, with one was even brave enough to take on a hawk.
One evening Sven hung out with New Zealand’s only native owl, the Morepork. Actually that evening the Morepork flew into the lit up patio, swooping his large wings against the window, swooned and perched himself on the blossom trees hanging over the patenque terrain. Sven frantically tried to follow its scent, but the Morepork just watched the young goof below him with widened eyes, which was all you could see of this spooky guy as he settled in the darkness.
So, getting back to a Wine Dog….as a pup, the potential is there in having a dog in the vineyard. Aside from being a joyous companion, a watch dog, a bearer of gifts in the shape of twigs and toys all over the lawn, we realised the character and personality that Sven brought to the vineyard and lodge was a comforting suit. Although, as expected, his attention span was limited if we didn’t approach him with discipline and full rigour of training. However, the 2 weeks of babysitting Sven gave little time to be the disciplinary parents as we gave in to his childish and cheeky behaviour whilst he discovered the vineyard with so much eagerness.
So……Takatu Lodge & Vineyard Wine Dog?...........watch this space! In the meantime take a look and enjoy https://www.winedogs.com/t-aboutUs.aspx