About us.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Just dogs, aint they brilliant!!

Well Today I went picking up at the shoot with Olli, even though I have somehow torn the ligaments in my shoulder and felt like staying in bed. I took some pain killers, packed a hip flask of Apricot Brandy (purely medicinal obviously!) and off we went. 
Olli was so thrilled to be there, and he worked beautifully all day. He walks to heel, looking up at me every few yards to check in and make sure he is doing the right thing, he sits beautifully just in front of me through each drive, watching the skies and waiting to work, and when a bird falls he is on it in a flash and brings it back to my hand every time. He is a close worker and there are a couple of spaniels on our shoot, namely his Auntie and 1 of his sisters who are better at going a long distance in heavy cover to find birds. They are more independent and work alone, but then they also do their own thing a bit too much sometimes, and have some fun while their mum is frantically blowing her whistle! Olli never embarrasses me, and is so obedient when we work, my whistle normally stays tucked in my coat. So it got me thinking about all my dogs and what I get out of them.
 Olli is a keen steady gun dog, and a grade 5 agility dog. Lily is now Grade 6 agility, brilliant around stock and very loving. Twiggy is loving, brilliant with other dogs, keen to please and intelligent, and if she doesn't make it in agility it wont make her any less of a wonderful dog to own. There are so many competitive people out there, who expect only the best from their dogs all the time, and are not satisfied with 2nd place. A lot of parents are like that with their children too, always pushing them to win and berating them for anything less. Well I am not one of those people. I am not worried whether they are 1st or last, as long as we had fun doing it! Yes Lily does ridiculously wide turns sometimes, most of the time, but she loves what she does, and I love running her as she is so genuine. No Olli wont go miles away from me and hunt on his own, but he does work very hard and always retrieves every bird I send him for, and he loves his agility. All the other dogs have their faults, but its what makes them special, and I wouldn't swap any of them for the world. What I get out of my dogs is the best feeling, and whether they are superstars or the best cuddlers in the world, I couldn't wish for more. So a few photos of my lot, just doing what they do, and being happy. 
Cove saying "Hello"

Lily & Olli on their favourite place.

Twiggy helping with the gardening!

Cove relaxing whilst I cook tea.
Stanley in one of his odd positions in the sunny window.

Lily Cove & Olli having a laugh in our favourite tree.

Cove & Lily trying to look like farm dogs!

Olli retreiving a pheasant to hand.

Waiting quietly in the woods.

Dave running with the best toy!

Becki still running and happy at 13.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Olympia trial run!

Well just a quick blog to say we are off to Stretcholt tonight, a lovely huge indoor arena so we can start to prepare for Olympia. Its months since Lily has run indoors on sand, and hopefully it will start to set us both up for Decembers amazing day out!
Also we are taking Dave for his first ever run indoors, on sand, around a proper course, which will hopefully give Fern an idea how he will approach his first show in just 2 weeks!!
Exciting Evening. Olli will just be fine, fun and Olli, and starting to think about making it to grade 6!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Another succesful weekend.

Sometimes the simple things are enough.

Friday Fern and I both had the day off together, and spent the morning cleaning dogs beds, the van etc before lunch with my mum, and then an afternoon training with Dave Munnings. Just spending some time with Fern is nice, and my mum as I never see her enough really, and then training the dogs with Dave is always a pleasure. Lily & Olli were both great as always, but the pups were both fab in their own ways. Cove was fast and focused, starting to look like the pro, and coping really well in a big group, even though he couldn't help watching exciting dogs weave!! Twiggy didn't manage to join in many of the exercises as she is still a bit unsure, and not had all the foundation work that Cove has, but to play tuggy with me, do all her learnt behaviours, hand touches etc, in a new environment, floodlit outdoors, with a lot of new dogs was amazing for her.

Saturday Fern & I again, off in Sydney (Ferns truck), down to Beer with Olli to spend the day picking up pheasants. Olli had his best day ever, retrieving 17 pheasants and a pigeon, all before lunch! He worked so well, and looks so grown up now, I am always so proud of him.
This morning Fern went off to work early so Rog came to walk the dogs with me in 2 shifts, and took his camera. Such a beautiful Autumn morning, not a cloud in the sky and the dogs all having fun in the fields, sheep grazing, cows around the feeder with their calves and a few finches and sparrows munching on the berries on our Hawthorn tree. Simple things :-)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Busy weekends and dual talents!

What a lovely weekend! So many good points, so many rewarding moments so will try and summarise!
Saturday, 1st day of the shooting season and time to see if Olli could remember how to be a gundog, and be quiet! He started to talk quite a bit on the last half mile of the journey to the meet, obviously whoever says dogs don't have memories ................! We stood through all the speeches, and then it was time to start work. I was slightly apprehensive as I opened the back of the truck, praying that he didn't shout the place down as he does at agility. Out stepped Olli, sniffed the air, looked at me with those gorgeous deep brown eyes and slipped into place at my side without a murmur. The perfect gentleman, silent controlled poetry in motion, and 3 hours 7 beautifully retrieved pheasants later we set off home. I don't know of any better feeling than living and working with a dog, so intelligent, so loving and loyal, but Olli is pure perfection in my eyes.

Sunday and we all got up at 4.30am! Roger had to work, and Fern, Luke & I had our last outdoor show of the season in the Wye Valley, so at 7.30 we arrived in Monmouth, -2 degrees and thick fog. However within a few hours the sun burnt through and it was a beautiful, warm autumn day, a lovely venue, good friends and 7 of the best dogs. 
Olli of course, was as vocal as ever! Out the van barking his head off, pulling on his lead and Mr Grade 5 Agility Spaniel was back. Both him & Lily did some lovely rounds, all near misses but lots of positives to take from them both. Solid contacts,  tight turns and speed and enthusiasm to name a few. Lily did probably her best G6/7 agility run yet, and was unlucky, but what a hilarious photo from that run!! Thanks to Chel & her trusty photographers. A classic one for the album. LOL!! We ended with a 4th in the brace. A great fun class to end a wonderful day. 
Twiggy was much more focused on me, playing and enjoying my company, being a real clever girl. Cove was also showing how "into" Fern he is. Still mad as a hatter by the rings but wanting to be inter-acting with Fern more than anything, and Dave looked almost normal! Mixed with people, watched the rings with excitement but not aggression, and posed for photos!
The best bacon butties, lovely coffee, great company and glorious weather. Oh and the best dogs in the world of course!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Twiggy a new approach

Well the workshops on Sunday were interesting. Twiggy didn't look really out of place among the other "posh" collies, and she gave us food for thought.
The positives.
The workshop was held in the indoor school, and a few months ago Twiggy found that pretty daunting. She wasn't really happy to play, and didn't really focus on anything, always jumpy and looking around at the slightest noise, but this time she settled pretty quickly. Played tuggy very well, i had her doing hand touches, standing on plastic barrels, an upturned paddling pool, and doing most of her new learnt behaviours fairly well. She also jumped a pin wheel (the first time we have done this) a few grids and managed quite a lot of the sequences with enthusiasm. At one point during an exercise, another young collie bitch got loose and chased her around the obstacles, and i thought this would freak her out but she didn't react so I was pleased.
The negatives.
A few times she decided to run around, ignore my calls, and went into her own world. I am not convinced that she is being "ignorant", although its a possibility, but more that she still has a flight mode where her focus goes and she looks for an escape route. Whether its because she feels pressured and cant cope, or whether it is to P*** me off and stick 2 fingers in my general direction, i really don't know, but it was a bit embarrassing and frustrating. So at the end of the session I had a brief chat to Karen as to her opinion. She has suggested that I try the "learn to earn" approach. Lets face it, I have spoilt Twiggy rotten since she arrived here, wanting to make her feel loved, secure and happy, because she is my first rescue dog I want to get it right. In a strange way she is very similar to Dave our aggressive, feisty terrier. He was spoilt as a puppy and started to take over the house, and the pack and we had to re think the whole approach with him too. Although Twiggy is not at all aggressive, she is maybe not sure of her position in the family, and being treated like a princess hasn't helped. So, learning to earn her food will hopefully build a new strength of bond between us, and hopefully a partnership. 
Today was day 1, and although her face was a picture when I fed the others in their bowls, and she didn't get any, half an hour later she was working beautifully on our walk. Heel work, sits, downs etc, all for her breakfast. Lunch time I spent 20 mins doing target work, name games, and again she was totally focused the whole time on me, and went away again to sleep peacefully while I worked in the office. Again tonight she worked so well and had such fun earning her tea she is snoring again now.
Its a long road, but an interesting one, and I have never professed to be an expert with dogs, but I do love all my dogs so much I will do whatever it takes to make them happy and secure in our family. 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Twiggys tale so far, and a bit of training.

Well I did promise to keep updating Twiggys progress, as well as Cove so here it is.
Since arriving as a frightened, quiet young dog she has really started to blossom into a character, and a very loving girl she is too. Training is slower with Twiggy than Cove, as it took a while to gain her confidence. Teaching simple things like left & right was very hard as she worried every time I moved my hand behind her head, she was also scared stiff of the clicker! Other much louder noises don't worry her at all, so all we can think is maybe the catch on the shed door she was shut behind for the first 6 months of her life, was a similar click. WAIT has been the hardest to teach. If i took one step away from her she would get up to come with me, and looked very worried. Have tried different methods and now starting to make progress, not by saying WAIT but saying 3..2..1, so if that works that will be fine.
Her recall has been almost faultless, and in foundation classes she never attempted to go anywhere but back to me every time. However we have hit a naughty teenager phase now, and in the last week she has been very stubborn and defiant in coming back to me in the fields on a walk. Frustrating but I am sure we will get there eventually. For now I will put a long line back on her, for safety more than anything. When tractors are working up and down the lanes I cant cope with the worry of Twiggy running through a gateway. Its all psychology though, because she doesn't take her eyes off me, and if i run in the opposite direction  she follows like a shot, just wont get close enough to get caught. Little madam!!
Tomorrow is our first young dog workshop and I cant wait to see how she gets on there, being the only one who hasn't been lucky enough to be loved and trained from a pup.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Winter time for training.

Its quite funny suddenly realising that we don't have to pack up and take off with the caravan again now until next March! Where does the time go and where did the season go? It doesn't seem that long ago that we put the planner on the wall and started to look forward to a lot of competitions with Lily & Olli, and now the planner is all finished, so apart from a couple of training days, a one day local winter comp, and Olympia of course, what shall we do??!!
We will start some serious training with Cove & Twiggy. I am finding it really hard not to expect Twiggy to be near the level Cove is working at. Because they are the same age, and size it is difficult to remember that Twiggy hasn't had the foundation work as a pup that Cove has had with Fern. So I am going to do 2 separate Blogs. 1 for Cove & 1 for Twiggy, and try to keep you updated with their respective progress through the winter.
This is Coves. A real credit to the work and dedication of Fern, who almost drives us mad with her constant training! Every waking minute she is training either Cove or Dave something, but it is totally paying off. 
Cove is a joy to own. This sweetest natured, comical, loving, handsome boy is a very special member of our family, and at just over a year old, well on the way to becoming an agility champ.