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, 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!).
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!

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