Friday, December 11, 2009

Time passes so quickly!

It was mid-summer when I didn't finish my last post, I can hardly believe that it is now December!!


The most important thing that I didn't get round to writing about at the KC Festival was that Karen and Todd, as well as Bernadette, qualified for Olympia.
WELL DONE GIRLS!!
For me Olympia is the most exhilerating agility competition (that I have been to), an unrivalled atmostphere unlike anything else I have ever experienced, with a huge arena, sparkley lights and an immense (and immensely loud!) audience. I wish them, along with Toni and Natasha, lots of luck on Thursday in the mediums, I hope they have a fantastic time. And to everyone else who has done so well as to qualify, well done, I hope you enjoy your day(s). Zazzy sends special best wishes to her brother, Rocky, of course! (he is running in the Novice section on Sunday) and also to all her Waggerland and Nedlo relatives! I understand that including medium, small, large, novice large, and ABC there are 100 competitors running over 5 days of top notch, exhilerating agility. Wish I was going to watch, can't wait to see the videos! It's a huge achievement to qualify, I hope everyone enjoys their time there.




My special news


Well I do have some special news! There is a new addition to my family. Meet Deece, aka Little Munchkin, here pictured at 7 weeks old.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

KC fest and DIN

Before I set off for my 'Big Holiday', I felt 'fluey' for a few days, and I felt absolutely exhausted (and achey) for a week afterwards. Everytime I sat down I fell asleep! There was one evening when I thought about going home, as with extra hormones being thrown into the mix, I felt I wasn't coping very well. However, in the past when things haven't been going well, it has paid off to put my head down and keep going because eventually things turn around, and this strategy paid off again this time. I only realised how bad I had been feeling when I started feeling better. Unfortunately that wasn't until Thursday, nearly time to go home! Thanks to the people who were so great despite having to put up with me!
The KC Festival was massive! Lovely venue. Bit of a mix up with camping, the helpers and non-helpers camping areas were miles apart and despite being down as a helper, I was not sent the right pass. Thanks Sara for sorting that out! Although not with Karen, I had a nice spot near the exercise area. These things make a lot of difference to how much you enjoy the experience! I timed the journey to the rings at 7 minutes which didn't seem too bad. Well, not bad if you only do it once. Example, the journey done four times (there and back) to walk courses, four times to check on progress, six times to run = 28 x 7 = 196 minutes (if walking @ 4 miles an hour that over 12 miles!!). In actual fact it felt like non-stop walking all day. Wow how small things build up! Now if we apply the same principle to dog training, many small things that don't seem very much on their own could build up to something really impressive. While away I loved being with my dogs 'full time', and felt our bond really strengthening. I had the time to do everything how I wanted - individual attention. Now that I am back at work I am really hating my lack of time! I had time to worry about being made redundant while away, it would mean a complete career change. Well maybe from my dogs' point of view that would be a good thing! There was some fantastic agility to be seen, and I did try to make it to see the finals (unfortunately missed a lot as I was working on the rings at the time). Zazzy did very well and qualified for the novice cup finals (someone said there there were 500 dogs entered, but possible there were more, I thought there were 150 grade 3's in each of 3 parts, plus there must have been 100 G4 and another 100 G5, that would be 650, perhaps someone still has a ring plan?). Anyway my handling let her down in the final, I tried to tighten the turn off the second jump too much and pulled her right off it, I should know better than that, disappointing! As an example of the standard of competition, Zazzy came third in one class with the first place dog only 0.04 seconds faster.
Straight onto DIN, I like that venue too, lots of dog walking around it. Will have to continue later as I am late for work!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Burridge

I love the Burridge show! It really is a chilled out show, only one ring, so it's easy to keep an eye on what is going on! Quite a contrast to what I think the KC International Festival with 20 rings will be like this weekend! These pictures attempt to show why I love it so much:

You can just see the caravans of people camping at the show nestled in the valley in the background. These pictures are taken from Butser Hill, the highest point on the South Downs Way. If you keep going on the road you can see in some of the pictures (the A3) you get to the south coast. It is just beautiful on the top of the hill, looking in all directions.

Despite being small, don't be fooled into believing (as I hoped!) that the competition would not be fierce! It holds the last Olympia qualifiers of the year, so for many an all-or-nothing run was called for. So I was very pleased with Zazzy, who got good places in all but one run. Thank you to all the lovely people who mentioned that they could see a difference in the way she is going. She is much happier, and I am still looking for, and finding, little things to make her even happier and more confident. I hope we can keep making progress. I was thrilled and surprised and happy when she placed fourth in the Olympia qualifier. She came fifth in the last one and sixth in the one before. Shame, then, that it was the last one this year, as only the top three qualify! However the big news comes from Becky yet again! With her good friend Jessica (run by Karen Cole) she came second in the pairs, qualifying for the Pedigree pairs final!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UKA Nationals

This is the first year I have taken a week off to go to the UKA Nationals. I have mixed feelings about the show. Greg and Laura Derritt did a fabulous job as usual, working hard organising the agility competantly from early in the morning, and carrying on working late into the night running the entertainment. I have never seen Laura without a smile and cheery greeting. The weather was against them, we had a lot of rain, particularly on the Wednesday when everyone in the lower parts of the camping area had to be moved due to flooding. I enjoyed great company and fun times with my friends, however there were a couple of very ugly selfish people around. A few driving way, way too fast around the camping area, who, when asked to slow down, responded with foul verbal abuse. And a few who thought it was OK to let their dogs wander around the camping area unsupervised, and blatantly not bothering to clear up after their dogs. I had to pick up for other people after returning from a walk during the day off, and twice after coming back from watching the finals. Yuk. Of course my own dogs do perfectly acceptable solid little nugget poos, but picking up other dogs' cold sloppy piles is dusgusting! Also sickening was whoever stole some agility equipment during the last night. On the up side, it's a beautiful place (see pictures of our walk in the Malvern Hills), and we had brilliant evenings playing Bingo, card games, there was a great live band the last night so lots of dancing, and lots of play all week with Bernadette's fabulous puppy 'Vinny'. I was ready to stand in, in the (unlikely) situation that his new owner changed her mind about having him! Sadly no such luck!









Agility-wise, well Zazzy hated the rain and didn't want to run. Also - disaster- her running A-frame went wrong. Possibly it started with a short-distance and awkward angle to an A-frame in one class where she had to throw herself over the top, having a rather scary flight and landing. It got me wondering whether I would really teach another collie running contacts, just because there are so many courses with minimum distance and horrible angles set going to (and from) contacts. In the class I have just mentioned it was one (nasty angled) stride off a jump to the A-frame, and a bounce off the A-frame to the next jump pushing away to the side. And yes, all these horrible courses have been in grade 3 (the KC calls these 'graduate'). So I trained all Zazzy's agility courses all week. Becky, on the other hand, was an absolute star, despite hardly any training, and only being entered in one or two classes a day. Bless her, she came home with many first places, including winning the champ snooker, despite being up against some fabulous younger dogs trying out for next years' IFCS World Championship team. She might also have won the gamblers too, apart from a hiccup where she missed a turn-around straight back onto the dog walk. As we lost a lot of time there I did not attempt the 5-point circuit I had planned, but still ended up 4th only 3 points behind the winner, and her gamble (a series of distance push to a jump-pull to 'wrong' end of tunnel-pull over a jump-push way back to the finish) impressed Greg enough for him to suggest that she should be trying out for the IFCS team. Wow, clever Becky. She also got through two heats to make it to the National final, although unfortunately we had 5 faults in the final as I had to push her so hard, well at 9 1/2 she does not have the speedy legs of those younger dogs, and it was a very fast course, so no twisty places for her experience to make up for lack of speed and power! I felt terrible for poor Kaydee, the exercise area was small and became even smaller when the camping had to move up from the newly-formed lake! She is now on a course of massage and I will take her back for more osteopathy. Sometimes she looked so bored and miserable it almost choked me, I feel so sad for her.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mid season review




I am soooo pleased for Karen. To win with two dogs so quickly , one of which was a 'thrown away dog,' a rescue, most certainly highlights that the driving force behind the success is the trainer and handler. Way to go! And keep up the good work (Don't worry Karen, once we are partied-out, you can trust us to keep your feet on the ground, lol!)

I am really pleased with Zazzy. She is really enjoying her agility, and I love running her. Last night I noticed how much she has tuned into me, I only have to think about what is coming next and it happens. Good thing really, although I haven't noticed her run faster, I have noticed that she is taking less strides between obstacles, so it's getting more and more important that my handling is clear and that the timing is right! Last weekend we met a tough running A-frame sequence in the KC Olympia course ( I love Dave Jolly's courses, they are always clever, interesting and testing, well more testing for the handler than for the dog, as long as the handler does his/her job properly!). Coming out of the weaves Zazzy had a 180 degree turn and space for just one stride before the AF. I knew she would find it hard to get the impulsion to hurdle the top of the AF and get her striding long enough to hit the contact on the down side. Zazzy naturally has a long stride, the drawback of this is that it takes her a while to build up momentum. Like Becky, her best runs have been when I can keep her flowing without too much stopping and starting. I have began to work more on training acceleration, and I can see her gradually getting stronger, but I must admit Kaydee had it naturally, she can go from stationary to flat out, and flat out to stationary in the blink of an eye! Anyway I had about a 5 minute opportunity to do some proofing on the AF this week, and the course at Bookham turned out to be a perfect opportunity to test it. The tunnel was under the AF, so no run up at all! Whereas I really struggled with such things when she was first learning the AF, I was really happy to find her much more successful last night. Just a couple of instances of being higher than I would like. She is such good fun and so lovely to have around. I am also over the moon with Becky, she is really enjoying herself and is really impressing me with hard she is trying. Of course, I am still sad for poor Kaydee, but I am still looking for ways to get her looking and feeling on top form.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thundery downpours!

Visitors often ask why the Brits talk so much about the weather. After a short while it becomes obvious that there is a lot to discuss! After I had to leave the girls at home during the day last week because it was so hot (feeling guilty because they missed an hour of free running every lunchtime), yesterday we went for a walk in Richmond Park at lunchtime, during which we got caught in a torrential downpour of rain. We took shelter under a huge old oak tree, some of those trees are up to 500 years old, isn't that incredible? I guess they have seen a lot of weather! Then it started to thunder and I decided it might be better to leave!
Actually perhaps we don't talk about the weather enough, more dogs died in hot cars last week, including two police dogs. It's appalling and really upsets me.


Now that I've got the camera phone working again, I can show a couple of good reasons why it is good to be home! The smell of Jasmine in the evenings, and fresh strawberries!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tuffley



What a great show! When I read that the venue was in the grounds of Berkley Castle, I didn't realise that I would actually be camping under the castle!
Berkeley Castle has been lived in by the same family for over 900 years. It is where Edward II was murdered, where the Barons of the West gathered before Magna Carta, and where Queen Elizabeth I hunted and played bowls. It was a lovely weekend, cooler than of late thank goodness! We started getting heavy showers Sunday afternoon, but it only really badly affected one of my runs. Zazzy seemed to be enjoying each run a little more, and it made me really happy. She came home with more trophies! Becky also had a couple of runs, and although she had some faults, wow! She really enjoyed herself!! Kaydee had a special walk exploring the area with me. There was plenty going on, lots of great people and interesting conversations. I was reminded of how sensitive Zazzy's litter are when Shaun told me how badly Fix (or is that Phix?) was affected by the sounds of sizzling from a nearby burger van at the show last week. Fix didn't want to do any agility most of the week, and he is a dog that is obsessed (or is that transfixed? ha ha sorry) by agility. After a week of work, however, Shaun seems to have sorted out (or is that fixed - sorry I'll stop that now) the problem, he looked fantastic in the run I saw, really powerful, and he came second. Well done Shaun! I also saw Cookie (with Claire Murray), who is also looking phenominally powerful, fast and keen! Claire said Zazzy is the polite one of the litter, that made me laugh!

Karen Cole Superstar

What can I say? Karen won more classes with Todd over the last couple of weekends than I can count, but not only that, she also won some with Jess. So not just Todd, but also Jessica are now grade 7. Champion!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zazzy is attacked

It has been really hot this week, I thought I would take the girls down to the river near Chertsey Bridge where they could have a paddle and swim. We had just got out the van and they were running through the long grass, when out of nowhere a large tan and white greyhound/lurcher appeared, chasing them down. I only had time to call once, as they came back to me the lurcher chased down and pounced on Zazzy, knocked her to the ground and held her down as it stood over her tearing chunks of fur out of her as she screamed. Luckily she was close and I was over there in a heartbeat, lifted it up and backwards by grabbing under its hips, taking its hind legs off the ground, I threw it away from Zazzy. Thank goodness for all involved it reconsidered going back in, as I was now in its way and left it no doubt it would have to go through me first; it turned and ran off. No owner in sight. Poor Zazzy was whimpering and crying and staggering to her feet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HOT!

It has been getting hotter and hotter, going over 30 centigrade now, so keeping the dogs cool has become my priority. I saw my friends dog collapse from the heat once (and it wasn't as hot as this!) so get quite anxious. I have got them cooling coats, electrolyte drink, and covet shade for them. I get upset when I see dogs in cars if the owner has not taken precautions to keep them cool.
Last weekend I went to a UKA show nearby, intending to do some training runs. Unfortunately, after Zazzy's contacts didn't seem that good on Saturday I noticed that she had scraped a pad. Not too badly, but I decided not to do any more contacts with her. Instead, I used the time to reward her waits. After having to put an enormous amount of work into Kaydee's waits (she is a nervous, can't sit still for a second, twitchy fidget!), Zazzy has been a dream. But it can't hurt to take the opportunity to reward her anyway! However, she did do (and win) a senior jumping run (can't remember if I mentioned she has won up to senior level in UKA). Becky also did some training runs, and also won a champ jumping (and got a couple of seconds). As I only do one or two runs a day with her now, I usually enter agility runs. But I noticed that she only needed a jumping win to gain her the UKA title of Win Champion of Agility Performance (WCAP). So clever girl, she has got that now. Actually she also has nearly enough points for a second CAP. I am very glad for UKA shows, providing a place to train if you want to, where Becky can compete at a lower height which has brought her back out of retirement, and where even Kaydee got to do a casual run over low jumps and tunnels. She was very happy about that, and grinned for the rest of the day!

Karen and Todd win into grade 7

Huge congratulations to Karen Cole and Todd, who have won more classes than required to take them up to the highest level, grade 7.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The last week and Golden Valley show

Last week was full on, and full of things breaking.... the van needed some new bits, the caravan needs new bits, even the zip on my fleece broke....
Zazzy's training went really well last week, I was trying to keep her flowing forward smoothly and things seemed to be clicking into place (dog walk will need more work though!). I'm still doing very short sessions with her, and she shares her training at Bookham with Becky now. I have been doing a bit more with Becky and she is loving it! I keep a close eye on her though, at 9 1/2 I worry that I will make her shoulders stiff if I do too much. I am pretty sure it's to do with her conformation, her wrists and back are not very flexible and she has always jumped in straight lines and then turned on her shoulders. Anyway, she is really enjoying herself and I am enjoying running her. She can't be faulted for lack of keeness! I have done something crazy, and entered her into the championship class at Rugby(July). It will be her last champ class, a bit of fun.
At Golden Valley (lovely venue, on a hill, great views, new toilet and shower block!) we had a quiet weekend, as Karen et al. had gone to Axstane. I was very pleased that Zazzy qualified for the Alpha Agility final (out of a class of around 430 dogs!) which will be at Stoneleigh on the same weekend as the Olympia semis and pedigree pairs and team finals. She came second in her agility on Saturday, and I was kept in suspence as she was in the lead for around 230 dogs in her agility on Sunday, but in the end, bridesmaid again!

Karen and Todd - two more wins!!

Sadly I missed seeing Karen and Todd winning two more classes, as we went to different shows, but huge congratulations, just one more win will take them to championship level, grade 7.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thames Champ show

Well last week, the day after I cancelled the holiday in the Lake District, Kaydee looked completely sound again! I can only guess that it was a bad reaction to a sting. This weekend we went to the Thames show. Fantastic weather, fantastic company, and a fantastic band Saturday night! Agility people love to dance! I judged grade 6 agility Saturday . I was pleased with my course, and it was interesting watching all the different ways of handling, I think I learnt a lot. It was won by Lesley Osborne with Fizz (Nedlo Lets Get Fizzical) (A fabulous run, and no doubts about that dog getting her contacts!), Fizz's mum is Zazzy's mums' sister!

On Sunday Zazzy had three runs, a pairs run where she met a wall for the first time (it took two attempts, sorry Karen!). She is looking happier and that is such a relief to me! It was horrible running her when she was flat, in fact I realise now probably a big mistake, as apart from the obvious, that it isn't nice, I wondered if long term I have taught her to do agility slowly. But I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as I didn't really know what what going on until we tried it and it wasn't right, and also with her three months off over the winter for various other things, she would easily have had six months off and we would be starting from scratch about now! Anyway things are what they are, and I have what is in front of me. I am very pleased with her performance over the weekend. Her running A-frame was good, and her dog walk was not too bad. We have had some homework because of my bad handling; in the last few shows she had been hitting the AF contact a bit high, and her dog walk was getting slower and more creepy. Both of these problems were my fault. I had been trying to encourage her to go a bit faster, so she was trying to leave the AF faster (shorter strides = not hitting low enough) and I was releasing her DW too early (confusing her criteria therefore uncertainty was making her creep - how many times have I advised other people not to do that!!!). Thames is a large competitive show, and so I was pleased that she came 6th in ther KC Olympia qualifier with a very shabby wide turn (bit of homework needed there!), and 8th in her jumping where she got caught up in the cloth tunnel and had a real struggle getting out! I thought that the KC qualifier course (judeged by Rob Davies) was really good, it looked deceptively easy! Zazzy's brother Spider (with Laura Derret) came third, and we thought had qualified for the semi, but I am still to find out whether they have, as Lauren Langman (who won it) has already qualified, but there was uncertainty about whether it was Matt's dog that she was running in that class. (By the way Lauren, is there any chance that I could have my wobble board back, please?) I couldn't decide what to enter Becky into (choice was highly demanding KC or Crufts qualifier courses, championship.... or veterans - talk about extremes!) wallowing in my indecision I ended up missing the closing date! So apart from helping me to test out my course, she didn't run. I really enjoyed watching the championship, the pangs of not running in them myself any more are still there but not as bad, although I still miss running Kay terribly. It was great to have a chat with Char about Tia who is going through the same type of thing. Thames is a very well organised show, and top of the list of 'must do's ' because of the Saturday nights! Overall a very enjoyable weekend! (I didn't want to come home - shame I have to go to work now!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Poor Kaydee

Poor Kaydee was running round a field when she suddenly came to me tail between her legs and very distressed. She was skipping on one back leg, after much examination we wondered if she had been stung by a bee. However over the weekend she began to look worse, hopping on both back legs Saturday and looking lame on three legs by Sunday. I took her to the vet today and he could not find anything, nor can I. No heat or swelling anywhere, no pain response to manipulation, no loss of range of movement. I was looking forward to a week of walking in the Lake District hills and was due to leave Friday..... as she doesn't want to walk anywhere right now I guess I had better cancel! It breaks my heart to see her so miserable. And so frustrating that I don't know what's wrong and don't know how to help her.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Well done Karen and Todd - wooohooo!

It was a hugely sunny day today at Cippenham (24 centigrade). Huge congratulations to Karen and Todd, who have just moved up to grade 6. They got their first win towards grade 7 today and are looking fantastic!
Little Zazzy showed today that she is feeling better, she came third in her grade 3 jumping and second in her agility, so she can now enter the Novice Cup at the KC festival.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tunbridge Wells and BATS

I judged part 2 of the grade 3-5 jumping, so a relatively easy day for me! Not only was I only needed for half a day after after lunch (which meant that the dogs got a lovely long walk around the cross country course in the morning- Ardingley is a lovely venue!), but also I already had a course ready built! (Although I did make a couple of changes so that it was more personal to me, I took out the pull-through by moving jump 5 round from the end of the first line to make a fan instead, along with moving the number 6 to the other side of the jump. I also moved the tunnel and jump 15 further out). I am happy to report that Zazzys brother Spider (with Laura Derritt) won part 1! It was interesting that not many people used a recall on this course, Laura did though, and I'm sure the perfectly executed push-through 5 to 6 helped win the class.
Below is the grade 3 jumping Zazzy did at BATS last Saturday. I love the variety that you get in agility courses, but when I walked it I thought it was not terribly suitable for grade 3 dogs. In fact there were quite a few clear rounds, and some very good runs. We did get eliminated, but she did the first half of the course beautifully. It was only when I relaxed too much and sent her off down the line 9-13 that it went wrong, she didn't start turning for 13 and looked like she was going to keep on going past it, so I gave a very sharp call and pulled her right off the jump! She then completed the course perfectly!
I am happy to say that Zazzy is beginning to look much happier, and although she still has udders it looks like the lights are beginning to come back on! It makes me so happy to see her looking like the perky old Zazzy again! Thanks to Mike Douglas for giving her some homeopathic remedy for phantom pregnancy, whether it was that, or whether it is that, if there had been pups, they would have been born now, and she was coming back out of it naturally, I can't say for certain.






Sunday, May 17, 2009

May is flying by!

Wow how quickly the spring progresses, everything is lush and green, in a couple of weeks my garden plants seem to have grown about a metre higher!
I attended a fantastic meeting on the evolution of flowers at the Royal Society in London this week http://royalsociety.org/event.asp?id=7434, absolutely brilliant and inspiring. I have worked with one of the organisers, Peter Crane, when he was the Director at RBG Kew, and admire him immensley. He has phenominal intelligence, ability to see the BIG picture (I'm talking evolution of plants here which is a massively large subject!) and focus on the detail at the same time (I have carried out and published results of two pollen projects with him). All this while being in charge of the Gardens, he was jetting off to a different part (or parts)of the world every week, and has a family. Rumour has it that he only needed four hours sleep and was out running round the Gardens at 4am. Shame on me for thinking it is sometimes a challenge to fit dog training around work!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The camping season is underway - horray!







I am very much enjoying getting to shows again, and camping with my friends, although it is still a bit cold at times (3 degrees centigrade in my caravan when I woke up last Sunday morning!).
Kaydee
I am going back to the vet tonight to discuss future options. She does look better after her course of cartrophen, and even her nails are wearing more evenly. I am trying to fix up an appointment with the physio who saw her last, before her cartrophen treatment, to see what she thinks by comparison, as I really value her expert opinion (boy she is hard to get hold of though!). I have tried to get her to trot steadily beside me to try and build more muscle, but I can only get walk, pace or canter (pacing being moving two legs on the same side at the same time, as opposed to trotting with opposite diagonals). I have always wondered about whether her predilection for pacing might have started as a pain response, but also know that it is a habit for her now. I am told that some dogs pace in preference to trot and not to worry. (My other two have nice normal trots!) She seems very happy these days, and calmer (less anxious, less nervy) than she used to be. I think they all look very well on the barf diet. Current thoughts are, if she can return to agility training, it is obviously going to be a long slow process. A) Too much work at a time could flare up joint pain so sessions must be very short and not too frequent; B) increases in amount/intensity kept very small; C) I bear in mind that it takes around six weeks to replace cartilage/ligament which is what I have to be really careful to protect; D) as she gets older, any repair to damaged tissue will get slower. It will all have to be done on gut feeling, and I think free running is an important component here because you can watch how well they are moving and much running they feel like doing. The problem that Kaydee has is that if she ever competes again she will have to run grade 7 courses, designed to test dogs at the peak of fitness and training. Actually the same problem that I face with Becky as she gets older, but there is no veteran class option for Kaydee for years yet unfortunately! Anyway I'm getting ahead of myself! I have been thinking about contacts. To reduce compression on her spine, would it be better not to have stops on the contacts? Dawn Weaver, highly experienced and successful at teaching both running and stopped contacts, thinks that you cannot retrain to running contacts if the dog has first been taught to stop. However the challenge of re-shaping Kaydees contacts so that they are smooth and of less impact is worthwhile if it maintains a happy and fit dog. Of course it also has to be done with minimal training......
Lets talk about Zazzy!
Zazzy is looking perkier and happier, for example for the first time last weekend she initiated play with another dog. Oh that makes me happy! At the GT UKA show Sat/Sun she won another gamblers class, came second in her Royal Canin agility qualifier, and won a steeplechase that qualifies her for a final and gained a £20 dog games voucher. I was really happy that her brother Fix (run by Shaun Hunt) won the large dog section of the same steeplechase class. We trained other classes, which was good bar the last one. I was tired and a bit down about some other stuff going on. I shouldn't have tried to run that class, without my full energy input Zazzy was soooo flat I could have cried.
Becky continues to have the best time a dog can have at UKA shows, doing no more than two classes a day at standard height. I was over-optimistic in her gamblers, and over-cautious in her snooker classes, I trained one agility run, and over all we had a fantastic fun time and she gave it her all. We both loved it. Not sure what happened in her Royal Canin qualifier, there was lots of clapping and complete strangers very nicely came up to say what a good run she had done, I assumed she was clear , but unfortunately didn't check her ticket until later when I found she had 5 faults.
I am judging one day this weekend and am looking forward to another camping weekend. I have decided that I really do need a fridge in the caravan so am on the look out to see if I can find an affordable one!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bits I forgot to write earlier

Two other lovely things that made the Patanden show special were firstly the lovely picnic we had on Saturday (Karen was the key organiser, on Sunday when she selfishly went to a different show neither Bernadette or I had brought any food..... lol!), and secondly the nightingale that was singing it's heart out.
Only a couple of bad things, the most important of course was missing Karen's happy fun company on Sunday, and the second is that I realised that there hasn't yet this year been a day at a dog show where there hasn't been an upsetting incident involving dog aggression.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Patanden UKA show

This weekend I went to another small UKA show, one that was held close to where my sister lives, so I stayed a night at her house (Thanks sis!). A great weekend, not only a fun relaxed show but also a night out partying as it was my cousin's birthday. Becky had a fantastic time, she is never as happy as when we set off to compete. She dances and plays (and, ahem, barks) and nothing else makes her as happy. She had four runs, she won three of them and came second in the last (missed a distance weave entry in the gamblers class). What a fantastic little dog she is. I am very grateful that she can jump lower jump heights at UKA shows and continue having so much fun. Zazzy is beginning to perk up, although she still has udders due to her phantom pregnancy. I have been working as hard as I can, really truly, playing with her, doing everything I can think of to motivate her, and keeping everything upbeat. I really can only do short bursts because I put absolutely everything I have into it, and it is exhausting!! I really like the UKA shows as you can train when you need to, so we had a good mix of running some classes and training others. Perfect for now as her contacts are still a work in progress, and I can build in short highly rewarded sections to keep her motivated and happy. Interestingly she is more motivated if I frequently change the toy I am using. I ran her agility class on Saturday and she won that, she has already won a jumping class so she moved up a level to novice. I'm glad about that as her novice jumping class on Sunday had some subtle but short spaced zig-zags, and this showed where our homework is needed, she was not looking for the jumps but running in straight lines. Her gamblers run on Sunday was laid out in such a way that I could easily find a perfect course for her, and then she was a really good and clever girl doing the closing gamble, so she has had her first novice win and we finished the weekend on a high.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kaydee

Well Kaydee has had her fourth of four injections of cartrophen prescribed to help arthritic changes in her spine, and I think she looks really well. I don't know if she will ever do agility competitively again, for now it is just about fitness and quality of life, which means lots of this kind of thing.....













Fantastic! Going walking is why I have dogs, and in this glorious spring sunshine I can't think of anything I would rather be doing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter

I'm hoping to sort out the videos from the Easter Celebration show, meanwhile here are some pictures from my beloved new 'phone:

Who is herding who??!




















Back at Pollys field (Monday) - the sun comes out at last! (have you seen the triangle of collies behind Polly?!)


Last walk of the weekend (Chobham Common)




























Back home everyone gets comfy, and Zazzy gives Kaydee a wash!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dog tired!






My dog seems to be finding it too exhausting to sit up long enough for me to take a picture...... I guess this is my definition of her being a bit flat! Poor Zazzy!
This is Zazzy with her brothers (from L to R) Spider (Laura Derritt), Fix (Shaun Hunt), Rocky (Hazel Barker). (Zazzy of course being the one lying down!)











Good old Becky did her stuff though, she was rewarded for her nice championship agility run by winning first place.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My day off - woohooo!!



Here is a group of some of the usual suspects on a SUNNY Friday afternoon, at a UKA show (Scrambles). Leah claims she is no good at running (hate to think what her definition of good running is then :-)) but I've never seen anyone move so quick as her when I produced my new 'phone! Yes this one is a camera phone!! So at last I can have a pretty blog like other people.



Becky had one agility run at standard height. I decided that we would train it, more to reward a wait than anything else. She LOVED it and threw herself 100% into her run! HUGE fun for both of us! (p.s after trying a couple of lunges which usually makes me start running, oh yes she has shaped my response under competition conditions really well, she waited perfectly, just like at training! Mind you she always has been able to tell the difference between a training run and one I want to really run. So it will be interesting to see if I can keep her believing that I am now always cool, calm and in control...someone get Cesar Milan over here quick! lol!)

Zazzy ran her jumping first (standard height), and won it! Her brother Fix (with Shaun Hunt) won the large height section, so a fantastic day for the family! I trained the other two of Zazzys runs, so that she got lots of short sections with high reward to build up her drive and enthusiasm, and this seems to be working. Although there is still plenty more room for improvement I am happy as long as she is happy! I feel that it is important that everything she does in agility is rewarded fantastically at the moment, even if I'm not always quite sure that it is!!
Kaydee had a pamper day (grooming and massage). After discussing her problems with my vet, we have put her on a course of cartrophen to see if it will help with the arthritic problems in her spine. Up until now, she has been able to lift her left back paw on cue, but could only shuffle her right back paw forward and ends up sitting as she tries to lift it. Well today I asked her for each hind paw in turn and could hardly see a difference in the way she lifted both. Co-incidence.....?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cold-hot-cold

This describes our spring weather, and the state of health of some of my friends! I had an awful cold last week, and feel guilty that Karen was feeling terrible over the weekend (actual degree of guilt not established).
Zazzy had a little scrape on her pad Monday, but I didn't want to take any chances with it so she had a quiet week, and it had healed by the weekend. Saturday we went to Waverunners, a local UKA show. Freezing cold wind! I kept my dogs in coats most the day! Becky had a run in the casual agility class which meant she ran at standard height rather than large ( I have always run her in large without measuring her because it is the same height as KC jumps). She LOVED it! (and got 1st place for her efforts). I decided to get her measured, and she is easily inside standard height, which is fantastic news as it will be great fun to be able to keep competing with her (I had decided to run her in veterans classes this year, which I will still do at KC shows). Better get her a bit fitter! (Do you think at nine years old it is too late to teach her to wait at the start?!)
Well isn't it so much easier to see where other people could improve than do a perfect run yourself?! Zazzys first run was snooker. I walked my course, then thought about it, and decided I would do a training run instead. Except I found myself running my pre-prepared course and only realised I wasn't going to get to do the bits I wanted to train when the whistle signalled my time was up. What a fool!!
I thought most the 'beginners' courses at the show were very hard, two that I did needed a recall across the entire ring (three or four obstacles); happily Zazzys waits were fantastic. (Well I say fantastic, sometimes I wonder if she is ever going to move!) She is still a bit flat, I have been told this could go on until the puppies would have been due, so I guess there could be many weeks of this yet! Zazzy's responce to my handling was very accurate, just one misunderstanding. She slipped and nose-dived going into one set of weaves, unfortunately just as I was crossing behind her (no comments on the size and/or weight of her nose please Toni, you are soooo rude), so she came out of those. Otherwise her weaves were good, also her see-saw was confident so I was happy with that (she has been very unhappy doing see-saws for a long time due to an early scare which had made her very cautious). There were no dog walks (taken out due to a very strong gusty wind). She didn't miss an A-frame although one was higher than I'd like, so we need to build on that technique a bit more. She won her steeplechase by three seconds, and I'm pleased with her jumping style. We are starting to do a few grids and turns in training now, I think this will be really beneficial. I'm looking forward now to doing a few more shows as I am hoping her confidence will grow with more experience.
Sunday I had a Toni Dawkins training day, which was a hoot, and included rather a lot of hilarious banter forming the background to some very good training. I was disappointed again as about 30% of Zazzy's A-frames were higher than I wanted (although again she didn't actually miss any). Toni had us recalling the A-frame from beyond other equipment, a good way to see if our body positions are affecting the dogs performance. We did some handling of more testing turns, and with a bit of help from Toni I was really pleased with our progress. Between those two things I have plenty of homework!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fabulous weekend

Sunshine, laughter, friends (chocolate, beer, takeaway - see post below) and some fantastic training with my dogs - it doesn't get much better than that.
Natasha Wise's training was excellent (as always) and my lack of fitness quickly became apparent! Now this is the second time I have been told that Zazzy needs much, much earlier indication of turns so I must make sure that I don't need telling again! (Kaydee would respond instantly to positional changes, but Zazzy has a very long stride).
On Sunday Polly and I did a short session working on building speed on the contacts and I was thrilled with Zazzy. She is still a bit flat, and very cuddly in the evenings, but bless her trying really hard.
Then I rushed off to prepare for the co-ordination and balance course. I failed to make a decent small ladder for the sheltie pups, but in the end they got on very well with one rung of a normal ladder. It was a superstar class, many of the pups had already been doing lots of similar things and were very impressively co-ordinated and balanced.
Have to leave for work now, so will write more later.

My pants are too tight

I must be washing my clothes at too high a temperature because they have all shrunk. At least my dogs are running faster, they must be because I can't keep up with them any more.
Good luck to Jason with his cabbage diet. I will be egging you on (from a distance ha ha ha). I can't pretend to have that kind of self discipline, but I have been for a run this morning, and (birthday permitting) will be trying to amend my ways (at least until the clothes fit again!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stolen - Miniature Poodle


Please can you spread the word and keep an eye out for a miniature apricot poodle that was stolen from a van outside his house in Southampton on Saturday night. He has recently had an operation and has a big scab and shaved area on the top of his head which is likely to need further treatment. He competes in agility and has a full length tail. He is not chipped but their vet has found 2 back teeth with slab cracks which will also need veterinary attention at some point. This boy is a relative of Dawn Weaver's Chelsea. See the doglost website for more details, dog ID 17474:

Jacket off, sunhat on!!

I took the day off work today - oh my goodness what a treat! It's a beautiful sunny day, the birds are singing, FANTASTIC!! I have been in the garden mowing the lawn, tidying and sowing vegetable seed, I am full of the joys of spring. (The house could do with a spring clean too, but hey, I only had a couple of hours and don't have super powers!) The main purpose of this day off was to have a private lesson with Dawn Weaver. What a good decision that has turned out to be. She has given me really good, clear advice for Zazzy's current stage of A-frame training, plus help with distraction weave training, and finally some thoughts on handling ideas concerning pull-throughs. We kept everything short with as few repetitions as possible, particularly as Zazzy has been a bit flat lately, I'm guessing that's to do with hormones. Afterwards I took all the girls for a walk over Chobham common which is looking fabulous in the sunshine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Red Queen

In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the looking Glass’, The Red Queen said, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." I have come to know how that feels over the last year!
Every time I have a moment to look up and catch my breath another week has passed! But I seem to have little to show for my work, probably because I am being landed with heaps of other peoples’ 'grunt work' which I am told gets priority. That means that my own research is not getting done. Bit demoralising. Today I looked out the window to see some beautiful sunshine out there, and I just wanted to be out having a nice long walk with the girls, but unfortunately it’s just work, work, work at the moment! Never mind I will be able to take lots of leave later in the year. More worryingly, there are rumours of redundancy rippling around the place, and the likelihood of my department having no operating budget at all from April. Maybe I will be getting more leave than expected lol! The standard response to ‘how are you?’ has become ‘clinging on to employment’! At least people are still joking about it.
It’s important to have something good in your life, which is why I am grateful for having my dogs, and all their wagging and grinning when I get home!
Mid Downs
I haven’t rushed to write about Zazzy’s first two KC jumping classes. Compared with a couple of practise runs that I have got on video, done before all her problems and time off, well she just didn't seem 'up for it'. She was concentrating and careful, ever the thinker bless her! Unfortunately I over-encouraged her through the weaves in the first run as she was going really rather steadily, and this resulted in her coming out. In training her weaves are good, but obviously more proofing from distractions are needed! Her second run could have been tricky, but she was looking at me rather than attacking the course, so no problems with getting caught out taking the wrong course. She got the weave entry but then seemed to loose her way again and came out. At the end, for the first time in her life, she didn’t want to play. Worrying and upsetting for me! Perhaps because we got caught between the queue of lunging barking dogs, and the dog on course coming up to the finish, while waiting a long time for her lead and toy to arrive; must see if I can get a kind person to make sure she gets a toy as soon as she finishes in future! Despite this, I have felt great progress in our relationship and training recently. I am looking forward to building on this with a couple of training sessions in the next few weeks. I am hoping that Dawn Weaver will be able to help with her running A-frame training, we have had a couple of set-backs in the last two of her weekly training classes (the only two I have been doing A-frames in!). The courses were too testing for her level of understanding. I have learned too late that it is a mistake to get a young, thoughtful dog to attempt more testing running contact scenarios for the first time in a club environment (those that cause a shortened stride rather than encouraging the long stride necessary for a running A-frame). (The first week the A-frame was up in the corner of the indoor school close to and pointing into the wall, and unfortunately there was also a target left at the bottom. The second week it had a tunnel underneath it, difficult for her to do from an extended stride off the A-frame). My ‘allotted time’ ran out with the problem ongoing so I had to end the training session there, resulting in one confused dog and one frustrated handler. Bit tricky training with different training methods to the trainer! I have also got booked some training with Natasha Wise, which should be a fantastic injection of enthusiasm, drive and energy. Then our last training day for this season, the last in the series of Toni (Dawkin)’s Winter Agility Training (work out the acronym that the group proudly calls themselves for yourself!) (what a shame Zazzy missed nearly all of these!).
It was lovely to meet up with everyone at Mid Downs, and I am really looking forward to the summer season now, I remembered how much I enjoy travelling around to shows, camping and spending time with friends. With the winter down time and Kaydee having six months off last year, it seems like a long time since we were out and about (fingers crossed that we get some good camping weather this year!) A year ago a lovely handsome blue merle dog called Kye (handled by Bridget Fletcher) caught my (and Zazzy’s!) eye, and he did so again at Mid Downs. He has a lovely temperament (just like Zazzy), is calm and quiet when not working, yet keen and clever when asked (just like Zazzy), and has a strong athletic build and is beautifully put together (just like Zazzy). I can’t help but think that they would have wonderful puppies together! At completely the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, I was gutted to hear that one of the two rescued puppies that Leah was hand rearing has lost his fight for life. I am hoping and praying that the little girl keeps going from strength to strength.
I’m looking forward to (or is that bracing for?) a busy few weeks now, not least of all looking forward to the last co-ordination and balance course that I’ll be running this season, which will be on Sunday. There will be a gathering of O’Bay sheltie sisters; I am hoping to finish a bespoke sheltie puppy sized ladder in time! It is also a big month for birthdays, including my Mum’s, two of my nephews, and lots of other friends and work colleagues, as well as MINE!!!!
By the way my sisters clever boyfriend has (I think) worked out how to get my camcorder videos onto here. Unfortunately (for me) they are both on holiday in Vancouver this week - top of my list of places I'd most like to visit. But there you go, somehow they have to make up for not having the three best dogs in the world sharing their lives. Poor them!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Many Tears Rescue

I have been very touched by what a great job the people at Many Tears rescue do. Everyone I have spoken to is obviously completely committed to the welfare of dogs, and are also hard-working and driven to do their best for the dogs. At the same time they also have all been so kind, wise and really good to talk to, wanting the best for potential new owners as well. Well I don't have much money to give to this great cause, with the current financial problems I dare say that most people find it hard to donate anything to charity. Which must mean that fantastic places like Many Tears, who take on hundreds of dogs that have been thrown away, will really struggle. So I am starting to plan a sponsored walk, and am hoping that many people might give just a little money so that eventually there will be a helpful amount available to Many Tears. In that way I hope to give something back to dogs that maybe have had a bad time, so that they have a chance to find themselves in a happy home, in return for all the tons of happiness and joy that dogs have given to me.

Snoopy


I have wanted to have a little scruffy dog for years, as my poor long suffering friends will testify. Last week Leah Gardiner told me that there is a fantastic little puppy that has all the attitude and energy to make a wonderful little agility dog. Her name is Snoopy. She is a Terrier cross collie, a black tri with a little bit of white on her paws, currently being cared for by Many Tears rescue.
http://www.freewebs.com/manytearsrescue/dogslookingforhomes.htm
She is in South Wales, and with my weekend taken up by judging and a day at Crufts, I have not been able to go and see her, although if Leah says she would have her if she could, I have no doubt that if I did see her I would want her too! However, I have made a hard decision, I have waited such a long time for my long coated scruffy little dog, that I will wait a bit longer, and so the beautiful but smooth coated Snoopy is still available! Her description was taken off the website over the weekend, but will be back again soon. However, if you can offer Snoopy a wonderful, active home, it would be better to get in touch with Many Tears as soon as possible before someone else sees her!

Many Tears Animal Rescue can be found at:

Cwmlogin House
Cefniethin
Llanelli
Carmarthenshire
SA14 7HB
TEL - 01269 843084
We are open to the public every day from10:00am to 4:00pm
We DO NOT accept telephone calls before 10:00am or after 4:00pm

Sunday, March 8, 2009

C-Side and Crufts

After a quiet few months, it has been an intense weekend! On Saturday I judged at C-Side. What a shame this was the last C-Side show! I was very well looked after, and this show has a really nice atmosphere. In my opinion judging is not an easy thing to do well, however it is something that I think every serious competitor should experience, and the challenge of judging can certainly teach the judge a great deal! I really enjoyed watching all the different breeds and crosses working, small, medium and large. Later in the day I had the opportunity to run Becky and Zazzy round a jumping course. This must be the first full height, full course that Zazzy has done, and I was really pleased with her. Hopefully I will be able to get the video posted here soon. She has not done very many jumps at full height, and although she has no problem jumping full height, it has been obvious that she has been concentrating hard on getting her striding right. The spacings were quite close in parts of the course, but she jumped really nicely, bouncing where necessary, and responding to all my cues really nicely. Becky has done minimal training for many, many months, and only started full height again recently. I was just going to run her in veterans this year, but she was so good and such a lot of fun that maybe I will have to consider doing a little more than that after all!!
Sunday I had a fantastic day at Crufts. I got to see the two qualifying runs of the small, medium and large championships, unfortunately I didn't have a ticket to see the finals. A fantastic acheivement to qualify to be there, it was thrilling to watch. Huge congratulations to Toni Dawkins for winning both the medium and large championships (in fact Minx won the medium jumping and agility qualifiers as well as the final), and to Bernadette for getting Zen from maternity leave to reserve champion. Also well done to Nicola Garrett winning the small champ with her sheltie Indie, and Dawn Weaver for getting the reserve with the tiny little pocket rocket papillon, Puzzle. Well I've been up at 4:30am both days, and got home at 10pm tonight, so I better end this post now so I can get up for work tomorrow!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Workshop report

The co-ordination and balance workshop was really good fun. Due to the snow it did appear on Friday that four travelling from the worst affected western side of the country might not be able to get there, but happily everyone did make it there and back safely. I was happy to be in a nice warm dry hall, very civilised! All the dogs on the course were lovely, and flew through all the various exercises easily. Usually there will be a dog that finds it hard to accurately place its back feet to start with, or one that hates the rocker or wobble boards, but no one had any such problems last Saturday; everyone made particularly fast progress. It was really lovely to have very positive feedback from it too, I was lucky to have a really great bunch of people coming on the course. I have now written a booklet that covers everything on the course, and more, but I am not sure at the moment how to produce it.

British weather -boooooo!!!

There was no agility at all last week because of the snow. I love the snow, and I don't remember ever seeing so much snow in London, or it lasting so long. It's mostly been used to make rude snowmen. However, on the downside, the conditions outside have been too poor to try and train, and no one could get to the indoor venue at Bookham Lodge that I usually go to once a week. By yesterday I was getting a little frustrated, Zazzy has only had two weeks of agility, and I have a massive long list of things that she needs to know before the shows start! Two steps forward and one step back! I am feeling quite the fool for entering her in shows, she hasn't done an A-frame or full height jumps yet! Of course you can only work at a certain pace, so missed training at this stage is significant with the show season fast approaching. Such a waste that this talented dog is just not getting shown what to do. However, tonight is training night, so I rushed home and shrugged off all my work tensions, and set off in happy anticipation. Only to find at the end of my hours drive that the indoor menage had become an indoor lake. Curses, another week of no training. On the way back home, I stopped to walk the girls in the dark and pouring rain, but none of us was really enjoying it so we didn't stay out long. It was so wet that I was glad my dogs have long legs, a smaller dog would have needed water wings. In fact the weather is so bad that there were only two cars out dogging in the car park.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Co-ordination and balance


The more I see puppies that have been thoughtfully introduced to games that build up their co-ordination and balance, the more I am convinced of the massive value in making that investment. Take for example Karens 9 week old sheltie puppy, Yazoo. She has been boldy jumping onto little wobble boards etc. I am amazed at how co-ordinated and bold she is for such a young puppy. That is a huge advantage to a prospective agility dog. When Karen and Bernadette asked when the next co-ordination and balance workshop was (when the puppies are older - not the one tomorrow!!), I stopped to think about what their puppies would gain from it, bearing in mind they will already be doing plenty with their puppies. I realised that the beauty of the workshop is that there are many different types of exercises, all of which are safe for puppies; everything is done in a slow controlled way and there is no impact, stress or twisting. The amount you can do is controlled by attention span - and often the handler gets bored of it quicker than the dog does! The puppies might already have started doing many of the things that will be done on the course, but the new environment will offer many new challenges; different smells, sounds, the equipment will look and feel different, and of course there will be other dogs around (safely concentrating on their handlers). Everything is done for reward, lots of fun! So it offers a very positive experience, building up the working relationship with the puppy despite lots of distraction. All while improving proprioreception ('position sense'), correct movement, and especially engagment of the hind legs, which are the main source of power for accelerating, braking and turning (even though some dogs do not learn to use them to their full potential without a little help in learning how)! Of course, the workshop is not just for puppies, any dog needing that kind of help can benefit, and I have seen some dogs on the course completely change the way they move during the workshop, which has been amazing and very fulfilling for me. So I'm really looking forward to the workshop tomorrow- I just hope everyone can travel safely throught the snow!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Update on the handling - wow I have been missing a trick here! Just a small change, but I think it will make the sharp turns towards me much smoother, and my handling much clearer. I think at best in the past I must have been half-halting my dogs to get tight turns, at worst my handling could have been ambiguous. Zazzy was fantastic today. My goodness she is a fantastic little dog. You show her something, she thinks about it for a while, then not only does she do it, but she makes it look easy! I have started her A-frame training again using half an AF lying flat on the ground. Yes I have gone the running AF route, even though there are many scary and as yet unknown future variables that have made me think about re-training her to a target now that I have the opportunity. Having weighed up the pros and cons, on balance I have decided to continue with trying to teach a running AF. It's the only way to make that progress of finding out if I can do it! The deciders for me are many-fold; firstly there's the problem of the strain on the dogs' shoulders when you ask them to stop at the bottom of the AF. Also, I have had to solve problems with the stopping method, so perhaps I will be able to sort out problems I get with the running method as well (???!!). With Becky I found that when she was taught the two on two off position, in competition she would target the ground with her front feet, and found that she could get into position perfectly well without hitting the contact first. So if she stopped dead, her back feet would land on the contact (some judges will eliminate for that), but if we carried on running the course, her back legs might get the contact or might miss it, either way some judges are only looking at the front feet. It was fixed by not releasing until she got to the bottom, or until she hit the contact if it was a class we need to run, of course this means taking longer to complete the obstacle. With Kaydee, she started her agility career flying over the top of the AF and landing in the contact zone with her second stride, but with repeated stopping at the bottom I found her putting more and more strides in, perhaps four or five on the down side, which is obviously much slower. I have seen dogs fly over the AF straight into a dead stop, but how much soft tissue damage does that do? Anyway, for better or for worse, the running AF is our chosen path.
I also had great fun running Becky and Karens poodle Tikka round some low jumps, they were so joyful and enthusiastic it was brilliant. Kaydee had to settle for some tricks and learning to run to a mark, but she enjoyed that. Then we had a lovely long walk over Chobham common where the views from the hilltops were gorgeous in the weak winter sunshine, although there was a bitterly cold wind there were some pretty mini flurries of snow.
I really want to mention Karens new sheltie puppy, Yazoo. She is astonishing! At eight weeks old she came trotting out today with real confidence, gumption and attitude, she is wonderful! She already has a brilliant attitude, shows great understanding (can a puppy be wise at 8 weeks old?) and aptitude for learning, and she is amazingly co-ordinated for her age, my goodness Bernadette has done a fantastic job with those puppies!

Sunday morning

I love the weekends! Very interesting day yesterday. I went to Pollys field to do a little training with Zazzy, mostly focussing on building up her weaving. But an interesting thing did arise, following from starting to teach her some turns last weekend. Here's a question for you. Imagine you are standing in front of a jump with your dog on your left. If you wanted to send your dog over the jump to the left away from you on body language alone, what hand signals would you use? Now imagine that you are back in front of the jump, and sending your dog to the right, round the wing and then over your feet (a front cross). What are your hand signals? How different do they look to each other? I work on the 'send with the hand nearest the dog, and turn it with the other hand' system, and using both hands to send the dog both left away from you and right to do a front cross, looked very similar to Zazzy. This is interesting, because I have worked both Becky and Kaydee with this system very effectively, but Zazzy is right, there is room for improvement from me. So I have had a good think about a better way and from now on will endeavor to employ a much clearer hand signalling system. Dawn Weaver happened to be there yesterday, and I took the opportunity to ask her about her handling system, which is a bit different to mine. She has already sussed this problem! So it was very useful and interesting to discuss it with her. I will let you know if the changes I have made work better!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The weekend at last!

How wonderful to get up in daylight!! No walking the girls in the dark today! I found myself reading scientific papers on the systematics of mimosoid legumes up to nearly midnight last night, but no work today! This weekend is for my dogs. I have been feeling very stressed at work so it was lovely to go and see Karens new puppy Yazoo last night http://just-todd-bykaren.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-would-like-to-introduce-yazoo.html
Zazzy's weaving progress: I'm happy to say that I did manage to bodge together two weave poles to work in my living room, although it was a bit disconcerting that Zazzy spat out the chicken breast I was using for reward (it was supposed to have been my dinner!!), but that's another story! Anyway, it seems after sleeping on it, Zazzy has remembered about what to do with weave poles, and in five minutes yesterday she worked up to four, she was picking up the entry and driving through really well, from all angles with about 80% success (she missed a couple of really tough angles first go). I was using her favourite toy and she really picked up speed as well for that! I am really pleased with her progress. Amazing what can happen in 5 minutes!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I have to admit that I did think that Zazzy would very quickly remember what we had started doing agility-wise, as it has only been a few months ...... well I'm here to tell you that she cannot remember how to weave! I guess that I have to remember that she only learnt to weave about six months ago, so in actual fact she hasn't weaved for nearly half of that time. Today I went right back to just two poles, and was frustrated to not have enough time to get even that very good today (unless I find a way to get the stick-in poles to work in my living room!!) My 'day job' is very frustrating at the moment, it's taking up too much time! I carry out pollen research, which is very interesting although very poorly paid. The credit crunch is affecting my job in a rather unexpected way. As our budgets are cut, and the liklihood of redundancies grow, the team spirit has dissolved, as some people seem to be going about trying to make themselves look more worthy of employment than anyone else. The outcome of this for me is that my manager has demanded that I drop my own research and take on her 'grunt work', to boost her research credentials instead I suppose. Great. So here I go with a delicate dance, trying to make my work life bearable and worthwhile, without loosing my job!
Oh well never mind that, I am off to find a way to make two weave poles stand up in the middle of my living room...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Zazzy's new start

Zazzy has started agility training, she is such a joy to work with! It is such good fun. We are spending a few weeks on low jumps, and have started targeting at the end of a plank on the ground, gradually raising it and working up to a full dog walk. I am really pleased with how things are going, although it seems like we have a long long way to go! Toni Dawkins was around last weekend with her pup Beep, our two girls get along and play really well together which is lovely. We had a lot of fun with our pups, and she also let me have a go at running her agility champions Kite and Minx, and I am also honoured that Karen let me run her poodle Tika (wooo hooo, what fun!!! And all three heights, small, medium and large!) We did a bit of training with some friends, driving up a line of (low) jumps to tunnels, sending our dogs ahead, running wide of the line etc., then did a bit on snake lines. Zazzy has hardly done any turns as yet (I wanted to make sure she was going on well before I started turns). Luckily for us, then, that we went to Toni's training day on Sunday. Unfortunately we didn't get to run the course she had set up because it poured with rain and the conditions got too dangerous; instead we did some turn exercises over two jumps. I learnt a lot, just what we needed! I want to go over all the turns Zazzy is likely to meet before putting the jumps up. She picks things up really quickly, I am so impressed with her! I have huge respect for Toni, she keeps proving that she is a great dog trainer and is a natural teacher of humans, but her experience and enthusiasm allows her to excel in every situation, and she has the ability to give everyone at every point in their agility career something really useful and positive. It is no accident that she is so popular for training days! All too soon the summer show schedules are appearing, and the camping at some of those will be full within days and I don't want to miss the camping, but with only Zazzy to enter, and knowing that she is only doing small jumps and tunnels as yet, it feels wrong to be even thinking about entering!








Meanwhile...

I've been tagged too :-)



By Karen (http://just-todd-bykaren.blogspot.com/)

Open a document or file folder

Click on the fifth folder

and then the fifth photo

Post the photo and describe it

Unfortunately this gives a photo of a teleconverter I have not yet got round to putting on ebay. Boring huh? Sorry!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

An end and a beginning

I have just arrived home from taking Kaydee and Zazzy to a fantastic physiotherapist. There is good news for Zazzy. She has recovered well from the trauma to her back, and we can now start to rebuild her fitness with the aim of returning to normal agility training, which I guess will take about six to eight weeks. (So plenty of time to re-train her targeting, which she seems to have completely forgotten!) (I will be trying hard to ignore her brothers and sisters who have already made stunningly brilliant agility debuts!)
While Zazzy is about to start out, Kaydee has reached the end of her competitive agility career. After a very thorough examination and discussion, I think I have a much clearer picture of what is going on with her. A region of her spine is not mobile, possibly an arthritic response to an old trauma (she suffered a nasty accidental collision when she was younger). This lack of mobility causes a problem during the highly demanding athletic requirements of training and competing in agility, because the muscles in that area cannot function optimally where her back does not flex where it is supposed to. Although she compensates pretty well, the compensation causes soreness and problems in other areas that have to work harder and stretch further. This at first causes muscle soreness, then over-stretching of muscle, ligament or tendon, thus causing tears and injury. So my job now is to think of something she can do that will keep her physically fit and mobile, and mentally challenged, without causing any problems.

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