Monday, May 31, 2010


Had a nice day at Packington, it was a friendly laid back show and it was nice to catch up with people. Only Zazzy ran today, and she came away with three clears out of three runs, three top ten places between 1 and 2 seconds behind the winning times. She was 'with me' today (rather than in her own world), when she got distracted by something, she responded and came back to me. Woohooo! She played and was happy, and today she heard me telling her how fantastic she was. (Or maybe she always has but just hasn't let on!). Anyway it was lovely to be able to think about the test of the agility course, rather than just fighting for her eye-contact and attention! Finished fairly early and had a lovely walk across the Chilterns on the way home (shame I forgot the camera, there were Red Kites very close, and Common Spotted Orchids in flower).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bank Holiday

Well an exhausting week! To start with, the clutch went on the van on the way to work Monday morning, so I was left blocking the A316 (no hard shoulder or lay-bys to get out of the way, everyone hooting and shouting at me, the breakdown recovery claimed I had no cover and when they finally realised that I had and they should come and get me, it took them two hours... bit stressful!)

It was a week until Kaydee could walk after burning her feet by walking over the fishermens fire, lucky that I got her straight in the river and her pads were OK or it would have been much worse, it was between her toes that she was sore, I guess the water could not cool the damage as well there.

With one full time job and two evening jobs by the time Saturday morning came around I had trouble rising early! (The irony of trying to earn enough money to do agility is that I don't have the energy left to do it!) However I did make it to a UKA show near Reading.

Monty, Kaydee, Zazzy and Becky with their rosettes!

Anna and Monty came to their first ever show, and did fabulously. They came second in the beginners steeplechase. They also had a brilliant run in the nursery class (just knocked a pole). Tina and Fish also had two really good runs (but missed the photo call!). Kaydee enjoyed her runs in the two casual classes (one jump height lower than her competing height), I did not do the weaves or see saw in the agility, but she won the jumping. Here's the video of Kaydee in the casual jumping class.

Becky had one gamblers run and came second. Zazzy was a little better than in the last couple of shows (she didn't stop and sniff half way round the course!), but still got distracted on the start line and it was hard to get her attention, then it felt to me like she was running through heavy mud in that she was very slow, weaves were poor, and her turns wide and floaty. In training she is going quite well so it is frustrating. I took a toy into her agility and that training run was better. Despite the rain we had a good day, and had a picnic under brollies!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caravan progress

I've been working hard!
Before: After:

Bathroom before:


Monday, May 17, 2010

Wot no agility?

My plan: a peaceful weekend .... do some gardening..... watch the birds nesting outside my back door (this pic taken through my window- fantastic camera! Managed to get this picture in the few seconds the wren was there!)

The reality? It turns out that a weekend without agility is both dangerous and expensive!

1) Someone asked me if I would sell my caravan. Having a free weekend, I looked into the possibility of a slight upgrade (sadly couldn't afford to get my dream van - an ABI Adventurer!) I found a caravan like mine but with a fridge in it, and decided to go for it..... You would never believe the out proportion amount of effort and anxiety it cost to change this 1992 van:

for this 1995 one:
However, I now have a FRIDGE!!!! Horrah! And also an oven, fitted toilet, outside water pick up, a couple of extra lights, and a fold-up sink! It needs a bit of work (especially inside), I have started already! I have learnt a lot about Freedom caravans in the last few days! Quite excited about camping now, got a couple of weekends to get it ready.

2) Thought we would go for a peaceful walk along the river. The dogs ran ahead to a favourite paddling place. Unfortunately unbeknown to me some fishermen had spent the night there. Kaydee managed to run through the remains of their fire and get tangled up in the fishing line that they had discarded.... she has burnt two feet, one of which is very swollen and she can't put it down....

Poor Kaydee!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tunbridge Wells

Another bitterly cold weekend! Zazzy was again distracted, especially Saturday where in the middle of a fast jumping course I suddenly found myself running on my own as she had skidded to a halt to have a sniff at a patch of ground.... My voice alone could not get her going again so I ended up using the opposition reflex (holding her back while using an excited voice to rev her up) to get her past that spot. After a below par day I began wondering whether I could take up a different hobby, needlework maybe, when someone approached me who had seen Zazzy run and told me that their bitch had behaved in exactly the same way. Like me she had her checked for physical problems first (e.g. by an osteopath) and then had taken her to the vet. Her vet said that she had all the symptoms of hormone inbalance and prescribed 'Galastop' which improved the situation in a couple of days. Her dog was entire but I said that Zazzy had been speyed, what was it now, three months ago.... then the penny dropped. If I had not had her speyed she would be in season right now. So suddenly the extra grumpyness with boy dogs started to make sense, plus some of her other behavior. Well OK, a couple of weeks of distracted, grumpy behavior would be OK, I thought, a ray of hope there that things will improve! But the reason I had her speyed was because of her phantom pregnancies, which caused her 9 - 10 weeks of abject depression. What if she has a phantom phantom? That just doesn't bear thinking about.....
Anyway Sunday was a brighter day, and in Zazzys last run she actually did start squeaking with excitement as she ran, so even though she came out of the weaves I was really pleased with her. It is of course my feeling that I have failed to get her competing as well as I think that she can that is both upsetting and knocks big holes in my confidence, the things that I thought were true about dog training, and in my own drive and motivation. This is greatly more complicated than I (and many others judging by some comments that I have had) have experienced before. I love that little dawg, and hand on heart, I have put huge amounts of energy, positivity and thought into her training; I have not done it half heartedly. (Although admittedly there have been mistakes). It has crossed my mind that it would be horrible to make a dog do agility if she didn't want to do it, but if I thought that Zazzy didn't enjoy herself in training then I would stop. I really want to thank those great people who said really nice things to me, what a difference that makes, especially Hazel who pointed out that this will make me a better trainer, and Sharon (who bred Zazzy) for saying she thinks I have done a really good job with her.
Thanks to them the needlework will have to wait..... I have some running around to do!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Quick update to say huge congratulations to:
Karen and Todd, getting the reserve ticket in the medium champ
Laura and Boomer (Zazzy's puppy hood friend), 2nd in the grade 3 agility
Toni and Beep (another of Zazzy's puppy hood friends!), 2nd in grade 4 agility
Laura and Rodney, reserve ticket in large champ

Huge thanks too to those who made suggestions for Zazzy, and those who helped so that I could step out of the queues with Zazzy on Monday. It did indeed make a difference, and we had happy Zazzy back enjoying her agility, which is my first target to reach for Zazzy this year. Next target is to build her confidence until she goes as well at shows as she does in training!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kaydee meets sheep

Here is Kaydees first ever meeting with sheep captured by my sister's phone. Kaydee is 6 years old. The lady with the stick is our instructor as neither of us have done this before! However, you can see that K is trying to get the sheep off the fence and get behind them, trying to figure out what she should be doing. You can see her looking round for inspiration at the end! Bless! Within her first twelve minutes she was herding them towards me and we were able to turn them and move them in any given direction (well within the confines of that small pen anyway!!). Clever girl!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Agility ups and downs......

Well last weekend I was overjoyed with Zazzy, but yesterday I came away disappointed. I'm sure we are never supposed to be disappointed with our dogs, as it must be something that I have done. Or haven't done. I had plenty of time to reflect and philosophise this morning on a long walk in the rain (I can't be distracted from introspection in the rain, when you wear glasses in the rain you quickly loose your vision!) We had 3 runs, she was first in the ring (again!!) for her agility where she knocked two poles and missed a straight forward weave entry. I excused this because the grass was wet and slippery, as both of those are unusual for her. I looked forward to better runs, lots of people asked how she was and I had joyfully been saying how much happier she is now. Well the next class was jumping, the first half went OK but then she went off course and unfortunately I could not let her flow on (I could not think quickly enough of a course where she could keep going) so I called her back and continued.... only now she was half speed, she came out of the weaves, and then her nose went down and superglued itself to the floor..... I could not get the slightest bit of response from her not even with a tap on the shoulder, let alone get her to play at the end. It was little consolation that many other dogs also stopped to sniff there, wonder what on earth it was. Last run was senior gamblers, I found a nice flowing course for her and again we set off well, then half way round she started shaking her head, like she had a fly in her ear. I thought she might fall off the dog walk, but she slowed down enough to multi-task for that, but then unfortunately ran through one jump and under another before finally shaking off whatever the problem was and continuing. The whistle came a little earlier than my calculations because of this, however she still managed to make the gamble (the time for the course being 50 secs and she came in in 49.9!! LOL) and despite all that she won the class!! (Although that's not really the important point here is it?!) This morning after much thought I wondered whether her less good runs are a direct result of stress in queues. In the queue for the jumping class, which was the one that worried/frustrated me the most, the dog behind was off lead all the time and actually on the start line while the dog in front of me was running. At Wallingford I spent 20 minutes queueing behind a lurcher that was lunging and barking, and as it was a lurcher that attacked Zazzy so badly last year I was trying to keep a bit of space (it was hurting my ears as well!). Unfortunately the guy behind was really crowding us, and his dog kept getting up Zazzys tail and she started getting grumpy with it. I tried to move away but he kept moving in and was shoulder to shoulder with me at one point, making me claustrophobic and stressing us both as I was trying to concentrate on the very twisty course. Some people leave their dogs lying to one side while they queue, but so many people let their dogs go up to/go for/walk on other peoples dogs that I don't want to risk doing this. My friends (assuming we are at the same show!) obviously have their own runs to worry about, and don't have that sort of time to spare for queuing. So I need to think of something else. Anyway, back to the show, at UKA shows the classes change fast and you have to be on the ball all day as not all changes are announced over the tannoy. I happened to be on the way to the loo when I passed the ring that Kaydee was to have her one casual run in when I realised they were about to close her class! Just managed to get her in time although I had no idea where the course was supposed to go! Not ideal, as she is the dog that most needs a thorough warm up. However, she did enjoy it! I've saved the best 'til last, good ol' reliable Becky had three runs, and despite no formal training for a couple of years at championship level she managed to get fourth in the jumping, fourth in the agility, and second in the gamblers! She thoroughly enjoyed herself!!

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