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Saturday, 31 January 2009

The end of the season and maybe an era......

A bit sad today. The shooting season is over, and it only seems like yesterday I was excitedly setting off with Olli for his 1st full season, and apprehensive as to how he would do. I needn't have been. Those of you who have read my blog from the start would know that he has been a top dog since he started back in October. Today was no exception. It was bitterly cold, and a very strong wind was coming in off the sea, so what birds did appear, flew with the wind. This meant that not only were they very fast, but they all went the same direction, leaving a lot of guns with no shots to take. Even so, Olli worked superbly all day, and picked up every bird in his vicinity. Fern and I did laugh in the morning, as the 1st bird to drop was collected at break neck speed!! Olli raced off around the corner, and was back at 90 mph no sooner than he'd left! Cock bird in his mouth, handed to me in a hurry and he spun around to stand by side watching the skies for the next one. So excited he didn't have time to hang around! Bless him.
Becki came today too. She stayed in the truck for the 1st couple of drives, but then came out with Olli for the drive before lunch. She still gets so excited, and darted back & forth across the hill, stopping to sit with us for a cuddle briefly, but then off to watch for any birds. She didn't get the chance to retrieve any today, which is a bit of a shame as its probably her last ever shoot. She is 11 years old, and has a few lumps brewing under her chest. She had 1 huge operation 2 years ago, but I wont put her through another. I think by October she will be retired to spend her days relaxing on the sofa and sleeping until her time comes. She is the reason I started shooting 7 years ago, and he reason I decided to buy & train Olli so I owe her so much. Thank you Becki, you are still my special spaniel and have taught me so much.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Dave has settled well.

Midweek nearly and not much happening apart from its raining again, and I have too much work to do!
Dave is truly a member of our pack now. I do keep him a bit separate from Olli when he is lively now, as he will insist on chewing Ollis lovely soft mouth and Olli is too daft to stop him. Otherwise they get on very well. Also my initial worry over him getting on with the cats is now a distant memory. Yes Dave does push them sometimes, but the cats soon remind him who is boss. Big Uncle Spit the cat, almost takes him under his wing!

As you can see from the 2 photos, Dave maybe a young puppy but he is a typical lazy spoilt terrier too, always finding the very best spots to chill out. This morning I found him snoring under my quilt!!!! Talk about taking liberties.

The photos are not brill quality as they were with my phone, but you get the picture.

Off to a psychology Goal building session tonight with Fern. Naming your goals and working out how to achieve them. My goal is to get Lily to grade 3 or 4 by the end of the summer. Achieving that will be great, if my nerves hold out!!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Penultimate days picking up.

We are nearly at the end of the shooting season and I set off today alone, with an Olli with a fat lip. Since his visit to the vet yesterday, and the tablets being administered he is starting to look more like his handsome self once more. Fern had taken Luke to college for enrolment today so it was just me and Olli who stood in the trees for the 1st drive. Ever keen, ever focused, Olli stood and watched the skies. Pretty soon I had 2 birds by my side, without any help or a word from me. I rarely use my whistle these days, and the lead is hanging in the back of my truck with cobwebs on it!!! He is amazing. By lunchtime he had picked up 6 good birds, and sat in the back of the truck looking very content. To my surprise Fern text me as we finished lunch, to see where we were as she was back from college and wanted to come down for the rest of the day. I was thrilled. She arrived for the afternoon drives and we had a giggle, and Olli continued to work hard. 8 birds at the finish which is pretty good for this time of year, as not many birds are left now.
1 more week and then Olli will become agility spaniel full time until October.
Tonight I am cooking Chinese, and we are having a family games night in. A nice fun but relaxing end to a good days shooting.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Quietish week.

Well not much to tell this week. Work has been busy so I have been a bit lazy in the evenings.
Rog & Fern took Dave puppy training on wednesday and he is really coming on well. Not sick in the car on the last 2 outings so thats good. I started decorating our bedroom while they were out. Been meaning to for 6 months and its starting to look so much better already.
Thursday night I couldn't take Olli training as he has a huge swollen lip. I think its a puncture wound just on the inside that has caused it, but its hanging very low and looks fit to burst, which I hope it will later. Lily went though, and didn't make a single mistake. She was flying and really concentrating. Really seeing a top dog now so looking forward to the season ahead.
Today I was meant to be training but had to postpone that so back to the decorating and housework. Just hope Olli will be ok for shooting tomorrow. Should be fine though as he is not bothered by his lip at all and I am covering it hourly with St James Balm so it should be loads better by then. Only 1 more week until the season ends.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Just how good is Olli?!!!

I know I keep on, but my boy is forever improving.
Fern & I set off with Olli today in glorious sunshine and looking forward to the day ahead. Only 2 more weeks before the season ends now, it never seems long enough.

The 1st drive was a short walk down the country lane before heading up a bank into the cover. Olli was off the lead and although bursting with excitement, he walked to heel between me and the bank beautifully. So handsome and so mature now I was brimming with pride. He had 2 lovely retrieves on this 1st drive and then we were asked by the gun Captain to go around the track and look for a wounded bird. Olli has only just started to really understand working away from me, if he doesn't see a bird fall so I was unsure that he would find it. I needn't have been. I sent him up over a bank in the woods, asking him to "find it" and constantly encouraging him as he worked side to side, nose to the ground. Suddenly he shot through a gap, skidded down the bank and picked up the wounded hen pheasant. I was thrilled.

The rest of the day he worked so well, so hard and I realised how much he was now a real 100% gun dog. Never breaking from me unless I asked him, not a bark or sound came from him as he watched the skies, looking at me briefly now & then for reassurance, he has come of age.
He finished the day with a really hard bird to find, up a steep hill through some brambles, which a Labrador had been unable to scent. He was tired but accomplished.

I could never describe that feeling that I seem to have every week with Olli. Total admiration for him, and actually a little bit of self pride as I trained him totally myself and as he is my 1st effort. I think I've done pretty well. He is not even 2 years old yet but there will never be a more loving, loyal talented spaniel for me. He is 1 in a million.
He has had huge cuddles now we are home, and is dreaming about his day, curled up on the sofa with the other 5 dogs. Where would we be without our dogs.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Oh my god, how excited was I on sunday!!!!
Lily got a clear round in both her classes, and was 2nd in the Steeplechase so got her 1st Trophy!!!!

I cried, naturally, and have not stopped smiling since. She is starting to gain speed with her confidence, so can push even more now, without worrying her. I think this may be the 1st of many! What a lovely day. Olli only got 1 jump wrong in steeplechase, and 5 faults in the jumping, so I was thrilled with him too. He'll soon be in the placings.
Jo also got a 2nd and a clear with Jess which was fab, and Fern was great support as always. Such a shame Rog wasn't there as he had to work, but he'll be there next time.
What a brilliant weekend. 13 hours from when we left home at 6am to when we arrived back at 7pm, for 1 minute 48 seconds in a ring over 4 runs!!!! Yes its worth every hour.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Shooting with both dogs.

Well its been a good day! Olli & Becki were very determined they were going shooting today. Becki has missed a few weeks, just because she is not the easiest of dogs, and last week we were in London so they both missed out. This morning they were whining and following me everywhere, making sure I couldn't leave without them!

Whether its coincidence, or rather clever dogs (which I like to think) I will never know, but they were both absolute angels today! Olli is normally my star, but even he was extra well behaved today, and Becki was actually off the lead most of the time and worked really well!! Do you think they had a chat this morning in their kennels, and agreed that they would be on best behaviour in case I chose football over them again?

It was not a huge day for birds, and I had to miss 2 drives so I could pick Fern up from her skid pan driving test, so Olli only had 4 and Becki just the 1, but they were all in thick undergrowth and all perfect retrieves to my hand.

At the end of the days shooting, when they counted up the birds I was thrilled to win the "Bag". Every week we all have a guess at the final count, and the guns put £2 each in the bag so someone gets a little extra bonus for their hard work. Last week it was a roll over, so there was £26 in the bag. 6 years I've been going and its the 1st time I've won it. Needless to say I came home and gave Fern & Luke £10 each to treat themselves, and have also just cooked a little treat for the dogs dinner. After all, if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have won.

Early start tomorrow as we have to leave at 6am to get to our 1st agility show of the season. The way my luck is going we should bring at least 1 rosette home!!!! Olli is certainly not overworked after today, and Lily is fresh as a daisy and raring to go. Better go and get video camera and kit ready. What a fab way to spend a weekend!!!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Daves training begins!

Not blogged for a week, but its been a manic week!
1st the office computer died, losing all our data and everything from the hard drive, then my bosses house burst a pipe in the loft and deposited gallons of water and a large chunk of ceiling on the hall floor, so not had time to think really.

Anyway, between the madness, Dave started puppy training on Wednesday. His 1st outing, and he started well...........terrier boldness, small dog syndrome, barking and growling as the larger puppies came in! Fern was a bit taken aback, but with some treats and gentle persuasion he was very soon focusing on the task at hand. In fact he didn't take any notice of the others after that, apart from being slightly excited by a large, rambunctious boxer puppy, but that's not bad for a 1st time. Really pleased with him, and looking forward to seeing him progress.

He is going to be a challenge, and is too bright for his own good but that is
what will make him a good agility dog.
He certainly wont be boring!!!!!

Last night it was the start back of agility training, and Olli is now back in class. I haven't trained him for 3 months, so he could concentrate on the shooting season, so I wasn't expecting him to be brill. However I was wrong. He was so excited when we arrived, pulling me into the gate and wiggling so much with enthusiasm! He was brilliant! Focused, fast and fab!!!! He even did 8 upright weaves which he has never done at class and only been practising 4 uprights for a week, and bounced 2 jumps about 12 ft apart!!!! Amazed.
Lily had moved up a group, with grade 4- 6 dogs, (she is grade 1) so I was anxious as how she would settle with 5 new dogs, and the harder exercises. She is a pro. Not bothered at all with the others and did every exercise brilliantly. She is my star and I don't think she'll be in grade 1 for very long!!!
1st show of the year this Sunday at Cornwall, so fingers crossed for them both. Dave will be coming for some more socialising and spectating. Lets hope he learns something!!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Cups, London & a dogs life!

What a great weekend! Fern & Luke were left in charge of the dogs while Rog & I took the train to Paddington. Plymouth Argyle, (our home team) facing Arsenal (my premiership team) in the FA cup at the Emirates Stadium. So excited, and we had tickets for the upper tier, right on the halfway line. We have never been to a premiership stadium, and The Emirates is pretty much 1 of the best, but I was gob smacked when we saw it for the 1st time.

It is very impressive, and the atmosphere as we walked in was amazing. 60,000 fans filled the stadium, and it was a good match. Rog & I walked around afterwards, just enjoying being there.

Eventually got a cab back to the hotel (tube was too packed!) showered, changed and after a drink in the bar we walked to Leicester Square, soaked up the whole London experience, the lights, the people and found a Spanish Tapas bar just off the square, where we enjoyed various dishes, a bottle of wine and talked by candle light.

Back at the Hotel, we had a few liqueurs in the bar, which was aptly called The Lazy Dog! Home from home then!

Meanwhile back home, Fern was texting us with events and photos of how everyone was behaving. Olli had howled when I left Saturday morning but she then took him & Becki for a walk and he was fine, Lily & Dave went for a run together and then played on the icy decking, video of which we watched when we got home. So sweet how Lily is with him, and he is 100% family now. He finally settled down on a chair, with Uncle Spit the cat putting him in his place. The most laid back cat in the world ever, who really is the top "dog" in this household. All our dogs & cats respect him and love him, and I have never known him get his claws out or be nasty to anyone. Bless him.