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Monday, 26 July 2010

Dragons, Dragons, Dragons!!

1 of my favourite shows of the season last weekend at Caerphilly. Beautiful grounds, lovely organisation and the chance of 1 of those elusive Dragon trophies! 
It was a beautiful weekend weather wise, almost too hot at times for the dogs, but Lilys new swamp coat helped keep her cool. I have to admit for probably the first time since I started running agility 18 months ago, I felt quietly confident in my dogs. I wouldn't say I was sure I could win a Dragon, but I am starting to realise that I am not a bad handler, and both dogs are so genuine and talented that they will do their best to go clear, and are starting to do so regularly.
The first run on Saturday was a fairly tricky jumping and I decided a clear would be good going. I'd have been happy with just that but Lily started in style and in our first run we had 2nd place and our first Dragon! She went on to get 6th in 1 agility and 4th in the other. 3 out of 3 for Lily and I couldn't be more proud. Then there's Olli, who after weeks of being carried out every agility round cos he misses his contacts, nailed his contacts in his agility runs, and surprised us all with a 2nd place!! Olli won his own Dragon!
Sunday and he did it again, but no Dragon just a 4th place, still amazed. Lily had a brilliant clear in Collie sprint and then a beautiful round in Agility to finish the weekend with a 3rd place and her 2nd Dragon.
Great company, great fun, great show, and most of all great dogs! Wouldn't swap them for the world.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Lows & highs all in 48 hrs

I am emotionally and physically exhausted, so this will be a short blog. My mum suddenly and very unexpectedly was rushed to hospital on Friday eve with stomach pains. At 3am Saturday morning she was operated on for a ruptured bowel, and was very lucky to be alive. My brother drove through the night down from Norfolk, and we spent Saturday, settling my 92 yr old Gran into a care home as my mum is her full time carer, then sitting with mum as she came round from anaesthetic. Obviously I missed Roseland show on Saturday so no more qualifiers in ABC for Olli.
My mum was awake enough to tell me to go to the show Sunday at South Devon, and as there was nothing else I could do I decided to drag myself out of bed and go. My close agility friends were all there and all very concerned about my mum and me, but I couldn't accept a hug as I would've cried in an instant.
I ran Olli & Lily in the jumping and was amazed to go clear with them both, but even more amazed when Olli was 6th and Lily won!!!! The flood waters opened and I cried like a pillock. Then hugged everybody! Only 1 more jumping win and Lily would be grade 6 and i was thinking about the shows that are coming up over the next month and whether she would manage it before the end of the season. I needn't have worried. With what I can only say was probably our best run ever, we sailed around the agility like clockwork and won it by 3.80 seconds!!!! Yep I cried again. Lily Fudge Cake is still the most genuine, wonderfully mental, talented dog and is now Grade 6!!!
Fern & I stopped off at the hospital on the way back and as we walked into the ward, carrying my trophy and rosette, mums face lit up. I did it for her, and boy didn't we bloody nail it!!!!!!!!!!
Mum has improved drastically over the last 24 hrs, so maybe I will sleep tonight. I look and feel about 90, until I look at Lily, grin like a Cheshire cat and that wave of pride takes over.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Diamond Dogs

We had a great weekend last weekend at a new venue. Diamond Dogs had their first agility show, and although there were a few snags, ie only 1 tap for all of us campers to fill up on, and running out of Rosettes and trophies, all in all it was a lovely show, and we will definitely be going back if they have another.
I have been to Toni Keating for a lesson recently as I decided a new approach and a new set of ideas may benefit me & my dogs. It was quite an eye opener. Obviously nearly all my fault not the dogs, but I had great fun and will be returning regularly to Toni for training.
1 of the main problems was me being far too late with my directional cues for Lily. She needs to know well ahead where we are going next and its a hard one to get right. However I decided to try it on Saturday in all 3 classes. The difference was amazing, with Lily turning much tighter than usual, and we had 3 clears out of 3, being placed 3rd and 5th in both Agility classes and 4th in the jumping!! The other issue was with Olli's waits. He is always pushy and I never get much of a lead out, but a simple change and he was vastly improved. I usually leave him in a wait, walk away and he almost always gets up and goes. By saying READY,...... STEADY as I walked away he waited, knowing that the next word was GO! Simple but effective, and although still a lot more to do he was loads better this weekend. He was 6th behind Lily in the jumping and I was thrilled with that. His contacts however are back to being almost non existent so I think that we can forget any qualifiers this season, but by next year he will be solid, and he is only 3 yrs old.
The weekend was great fun too as we camped in a group, more like a shanty town, with a lot of our now good friends, so a lot of laughs were had. Gorgeous sunshine and a lovely woodland walk on the edge of the site made it a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
Twiggy was not only walking confidently round the rings, and playing very hard with her tuggy, she also had cuddles and tummy rubs from her new Aunties! A huge improvement on the shy timid little girl from a few weeks ago. She also started watching 1 of the rings and actually squeaked with excitement as the dogs went through the tunnel. She is starting to realise just how fun her life is now.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Halfway through the season!

I have been very bad at blogging recently. Not that I have lost interest but I haven't had time to scratch my A*^$!! 2 businesses to do year ends, VAT quarter, training, competing , spending 1 to 1 time with Twiggy to build her confidence, and to add to that a heap of orders coming in for Agility equipment! Not complaining about that, but means painting, sanding and now "plastic welding" are also on my day to day chores. There just aren't enough hours in the day.
Twiggy is growing with confidence daily, and in fact her naughty spots are becoming quite prominent! She is a joy though and I am so pleased she found me. She has learnt a lot of basics now and some good agility foundations too. She is fast and funny so will be keeping everyone updated with her progress. Cove is doing amazingly well, starting on small sequences and is showing great potential. Dave is also becoming almost controlled around other dogs so we look forward to his first agility run in the not too distant future.
Lily & Olli have had a mixed few weeks. Olli is becoming a seriously good agility
spaniel, although still pushing his contacts we have had some lovely places over the last few weeks and we are getting there. Lily has also been top 10 placed in the last few Grade 5 agility runs but has been a bit wide and unbalanced and slightly crazy on some runs so have removed her from the ring.
Last night I went to a new trainer just to have a fresh look, new opinion on me and my dogs. Very interesting, and obviously all Olli and Lils problems are my fault! I really need to up my game as a handler as I am letting them down. Lots to work on but I am determined to improve and get both dogs in to the top 5 placings consistently, before the end of the season. Both dogs have just 1 more chance to qualify for Olympia but to be honest I am more concerned about running them well, having fun and getting us back as a team. Qualifiers can always wait til next year.
Last weekend we did have our first ever Team run with good friends Dan & Sarah and their dogs Magic & Thai. It was a bit of fun and we just thought we would do it for a few shows and have a blast. Imagine the excitement and adrenalin rush when we were 1 of only 5 teams to go clear, and won it by 8 seconds!! Haven't stopped grinning since. All 4 dogs so evenly matched, and it was almost faultless. Lily had 1 wide turn, so did Magic, Thai rattled a pole, only Olli seemed to be spot on, but we qualified for the big final in August so Dashing Dogs here we come!!!
I am so addicted to this sport, and so looking forward to the rest of the season!