Monday, March 30, 2009


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.


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.
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
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!

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