Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sadness upon sadness

I have been devasted to hear that Zazzy's sister, little Stitch, died last Sunday, aged just 17 months old. She suffered from hydrocephalus ('water on the brain'), a condition where too much cerebrospinal fluid accumulates around the brain. According to Wikipedia, this condition has around 180 causes, including infection and premature birth (Stitch was the tiny puppy in the litter). She had the best treatment, love and care possible throughout her short life, and a lap to lie on when she was having a 'bad head day'. My heart goes out to David and Sharon Alderson.
RIP Little Stitch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Autumn sunshine

Thanks to Karen for this lovely picture of us out on a walk on Chobham common. (Shame Zazzy was so convinced I was up to something odd that she wouldn't turn around! She just had to keep an eye on me!!)


I have not mentioned Zazzy much before which is appalling, because she is a gorgeous ray of sunshine. Thanks to Karen for this lovely picture of her at 16 months old.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


As the days get shorter, and the weather makes outdoor agility less inviting, my thoughts turn to winter training. I am very sorry to report that getting the osteopath-run joint mobility course going is an up hill struggle. I know it is a bit expensive, although I am certain that it would be well worth every penny. However there are not enough people interested in it at present to make it viable. I am quite disappointed, as from the small amount I have already learnt from Stuart, I know that what I could learn would make a huge difference to Kaydee, Becky and Zazzy. I am going to a one day massage course this weekend, I hope to learn as much as I can there.
Also I will be running a course on co-ordination and balance, which is of course so fundamentally important for agility dogs, in December. More details can be found at:
A nice warm, dry hall with unlimited cups of tea makes a great venue for winter training. This course is intended to help teach dogs, especially puppies, how to use their whole bodies, but particularly how to engage their hind legs, in a balanced and co-ordinated way. I use a number of different exercises, using ladders, cones, rocker boards, wobble boards, pilates balls, ramps to walk up and down over, things to walk over, boxes to stand on and move around etc., for the dogs to negotiate in a slow and controlled way, using lots of reward. The games are great fun, and I have seen these exercises make such a huge improvement to how dogs move, including my own puppy Zazzy, that now that I know about them, I would never start doing agility with a dog without doing them first. I have often seen a dog learn how to 'connect' with their hind legs seemingly for the first time during the course, and learn how to place them rather than them just 'following' the front end. For example when walking through the rungs of a ladder, some dogs find it hard to accurately put their hind feet down between the rungs. Having a good sense of where each part of your body is in space is obviously extremely useful for running up over high, narrow planks (dog walks) safely! Additionally, the hind legs produce power for acceleration, de-acceleration, turning etc. so teaching a dog to fully utilise this power, and using it with good balance and co-ordination, will have a massive effect on its future agility career.

Mid Downs

I took Kaydee to the Mid Downs agility show to see how she was going after her most recent lay-off. I wanted to see whether I should take her to the Chippenham Championship show the following weekend (although that has now been cancelled due to bad weather). The morning was sunny and she had a grade 7 jumping class, which she won. There was also an agility class in the afternoon. After queueing for what felt like an hour, although it probably was only 45 mins, we finally got to the start line..... and the rain started tipping down! I didn't really want to run her in that rain just in case she slipped. But having queued so long I thought that I could at least leave her in a wait, and take her out if she moved..... so without even taking my coat off I left her on the start line. She did a really solid wait, and as I stood there, arm raised, three jumps away, I admit I was weak and thought maybe a training run wouldn't hurt..... so I recalled her and set off, worked her very carefully around the turns, running her to a breif stop on the A-frame, and sending her to the end of the dog walk on her own. Afterwards I was cross with myself for taking a chance, but so pleased with her! She didn't slip at all, her contacts were lovely, and she did most of it working well away from me but still controlled. I couldn't ask for more! She even managed to come fourth, so overall I was very pleased with how she is looking.
Becky, on the other hand, looked a little stiff through her shoulders and I realise that now that she is eating a lot of raw (barf) food, she is not getting as much glucosamine/condroitin supplementation. So I will make sure that I up that for her. Apart from that I am really pleased with the new feeding regime.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Saying goodbye to Hex

The last few weeks have been awful, as Bernadette and Dennis Bay lost their young little dog Hex (Agility Champion Obay Truly Wicked) to poisoning by toxic fungi. Bernadette's posting makes my heart ache:
I know only too well that a long time after such a loss, you realise that you don't just 'get over it', as some people promised me I would, but eventually you learn to live alongside the sadness.
I am still struggling to believe that fit, young, amazing, naughty, agility champion Hex is gone, and am full of greif and sorrow for their loss. Each time I finally motivate myself to get out for a run as I look forward (with great trepidation!) to my biggest event of the year, Olympia, I remember that Bernadette was also in the middle of preparing to taking Hex to that Big Event herself..... and there my heart stops for a moment every time.

This poem is Proud Songsters by Thomas Hardy, it was read at a friends funeral and gives me much to reflect upon in such times of sadness:

The thrushes sing as the sun is going
And the finches whistle in ones and pairs,
And as it gets dark loud nightingales in bushes
Pipe, as the can when April wears.
As if all time were theirs.

There are brand new birds of twelve-months growing,
Which a year a go, or less than twain
No finches were, nor nightingales
Nor thrushes
But only particles of grain,
And earth, and air, and rain.

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