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Friday, 28 January 2011

Where do I start?!!



Been a bit slack on the old Blog front recently, but then so much has happened!
Last Friday Fern & I drove to North Devon to collect a small collie bitch who was no longer wanted on the farm as she didn't really get the whole sheep herding thing, so I said we would find her a nice home. She came home and within an hour was happy with all our dogs, and looked like she had always been here. We all instantly fell in love with her but being sensible we knew we had to find her a home somewhere else. On Sunday we had a small competition in Bugle, the first for Twiggy & Cove, so Poppy collie came with us too so we could show her to people and see if anyone fell in love with her. Lots of people did, as she is so adorable, but nobody really in a position to offer her the home we wanted. At 2 years old, with no house training she will need someone with patience, and who will love her regardless of whether she does ever learn agility. 1 lady came forward later in the day, and showed an interest in her so we took her number, but decided to bring Poppy back with us anyway so we could further assess her before passing her over. She is our first (and last!!) foster dog, and we feel very responsible about finding the right home, the right person and the right attitude to her needs, so having her here for a few more days would give us a better picture. Of course, now she is so settled with us, so easy to please and amazing with the other dogs, cats and people, we really don't want to part with her. However after a few phone calls, her prospective new owner is coming to collect her tomorrow. It will be almost impossible for me to go through with this, but I know its the right decision............at least I think it is..........but I have told Poppy to nip her dog, who she is bringing with her, and maybe poo on her shoe or something so she may decide not to take her at all :-)

Anyway, back to the comp last week, and Cove & Twiggy did extremely well for their first attempt. We trained them in the ring, just seeing how the atmosphere affected them, but apart from a few distractions they were great. Really pleased with them both, but a bit extra specially pleased with Twiggy for coming on so far in confidence. Lovely girl, and great fun.
Cove being a good boy.

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Twiggy being so brave and fun!
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Lily was full on hyper and we had a few silly errors, but we had so much fun, and she is my special girl so at such a small show I really wasn't bothered. She managed 5th in the Steeplechase in the afternoon. Olli was fun too, getting 3rd in the jumping, but I did think he wasn't his normal fluent self in the air. Discovered why when we got home. Poor boy had 2 rock hard lumps of mud, obviously been building over the past few weeks of mucky weather, in between his middle toes on his front feet!! Big fluffy spaniel feet were sore when I delved inside, so he has now been clipped and tidied up and is sound and a lot happier. Poor boy and bad mum for not noticing before!!
As we now have no competitions until the end of March :-( I decided finally that I would book Lily in to be speyed. It is 1 of the hardest decisions I have had to make, for a number of reasons.
 Firstly she is a brilliant Agility dog, now Grade 6, and is a very tough easy to keep collie, and I would love nothing more than to have a Lily pup to carry on her line. However as she is not a pedigree or ISDS registered, I would not be able to use good Pedigree dogs, and even if I did (which I did have a few lovely offers of) the puppies would not really be of much interest to the right people. Also Lily is very wary of other dogs invading her space, and can be pretty sharp, and I did wonder if she would cope with puppies, or find it to much of a worry trying to be a good mum and coping with the other 6 dogs anywhere in the vicinity. 
Secondly she has had 2 bad experiences in the vets. At 9 months old she suffered Toxic Shock Syndrome, due to withholding her own urine and feaces for 27 hrs. Totally my fault as this was before my agility days and I just never thought about teaching her to go whilst on a lead. (We had travelled to Southern Ireland by Ferry, and there was nowhere safe to let her off lead until we arrived home, 4am in the morning.) 3 days on a drip and I thought we would lose her. Then last year she had a butchers job done on a simple operation for her dew claws to be removed, the wounds re opened and had to be re done. 2 anaesthetics in 10 days and she didn't cope well. Its so hard to decide to have your dog opened up and operated on, when she is fit and healthy, as you can not explain it to them. However the possible later life problems of mammary tumours or pyometra (womb infection) gave me no option. Yesterday she was speyed, and I had told nobody apart from my good mate Lolly because she is so un opinionated I knew she wouldn't question my decision, and Lauren because she was going through the same thing with Poppi and Fern wanted today, Friday off so she could help me with the dogs and leave me to devote my time to nursing Lily. Lily was shaking from head to toe when I left her at the vets yesterday, and I was in bits. Tears rolling down my face as I got back in the van. However when I collected her and she nuzzled into my neck in the nurses treatment room, I knew she wouldn't hold it against me, and I just hugged her close as she sleepily wagged her tail.
Lily Fudge in her temporary bedroom.
So Lily Fudge Cake, no stopping us now!! No excuses of Hormones for bad runs, no seasons for you to cope with, Grade 7 here we come!!!!
Of course that's just you, I may have hormones, hot flushes, blonde moments, and basic crap handler syndrome, but I will try to do my best for Lily, Olli & Twiggy this season, and make sure above all I enjoy every minute of every day with my dogs. 
And as famous quotes seem to be the theme at the moment, I will end with one from one of my favourite comedian/writers/directors Mel Brookes. This certainly applies to me :-)


"As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna be dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes."

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Youngsters progress.

Such a lot happened in a week. Cove & Twiggy are well into training now and last Friday we had a workshop with Dave Munnings. Last time I tried to take Twiggy in it was a bit much. I ended up just playing with her next to the group as she really wasn't comfortable trying to work in a new environment with a lot of strange dogs. This time I was slightly more confident, as she has been changing her attitude a lot recently and her confidence is growing hugely! I was thrilled as she coped well this time, in fact not just coped but did the whole 2 hours and although still showing inexperience in some of the exercises, she also showed cheekiness, and enthusiasm for every task set. She was by no means the worse of the group. I was on a high. Cove was hilarious and although I felt sorry for Fern who is so proud of him and was so sure he would be impressing people, it was funny how naughty and dopey he was. He just wanted to play with Dave a lot of the time and forgot how to jump :-) However it was also his first time in the training ring at Newhall for months, so it was only a blip.
We also had Lily & Olli in the later group and as they have had a month off agility, they were very hyped up. Both of them proved how wonderful they are, such a talented and lovely pair of dogs, and both worked brilliantly, even Olli getting his hard left hand weave entries perfectly. Thoroughly enjoyed the day with all the dogs.
This week Cove has remembered what to do again, and is now jumping a sequence at full height. He has such a natural shape and style over the jumps he looks beautiful and Fern and him have a perfect partnership. Twiggy has just realised that agility is so much fun, and in the last few days has started on channel weaves, is jumping various sequences with ease and speed. Completely different style to Cove, she is more mad and maybe less controllable but my god can she move. Her funny action, pointy toes and scurrying stride certainly dont impede her and today we have been bouncing grids of 3 jumps, and learning deceleration on a pin wheel, all at full height and she floats over them. Very surprised how easily she bounces. My only problem is going to be keeping up!!! Still can't believe she is mine and what a gorgeous girl she is. 

This Sunday we are off to Cornwall for a competition and Cove & Twiggy will be making their first public appearances. Twiggy I will be training in the ring but Cove may have a proper run, depending how Fern feels and Cove reacts to the day. Its an exciting year ahead. :-)

Monday, 10 January 2011

WAO try outs, and a weekend away.

This weekend Fern & I along with Twiggy & Cove, decided to go and support a few friends at the WAO try outs in Bristol. We booked a Travelodge for Saturday night and I was looking forward to it. One of the main reasons for going was to meet up with the Mitchell gang and have a few laughs and hugs to cheer us all up, and I knew they would be pleased to see Twiggy too :-)
It was a lovely venue, and so many top handlers and all round nice people there competing. Sarah had some great runs with Cruze, and some near misses with Thai. Natalie had some near misses with Kai but a fab round on Sunday to finish the weekend. Dave had a tunnel issue with Dobbie, which was really odd, but otherwise some good stuff, and Lauren had some good runs too with Reef, and its quite interesting to realise how much Cove is starting to jump and act like his dad :-) 
We like the bed mum, where are you sleeping?
Saturday night we met up with Sharon, Nat, Sam, Sam, Paul & Kate and had a meal .............  eventually, (it was packed) at the Harvester pub next to the Travelodge. The food was rubbish, service pretty crap, but the company was great. Nat throwing ice cream over her shoulder really made the night!! We all went back and took Twiggy & Cove to the Mitchells room for a chat before settling and they were so sweet. Twiggy will never forget them, her reaction is always the same. Cove was just Cove. Loving everyone, flirting with Kai and it was a lovely end to the day.
Apart from seeing Sharon and family, and spending time with Fern, the thing I loved most was how easy the 2 young collies were. They settled fine in the room, slept well, were sociable and easy going with Nats dog Kai, and just slotted in to whatever we were doing. Not all of our dogs are that easy!
Rog was a star and looked after the other 5 at home, and I was surprised when talking to him Saturday afternoon when he said Dave, Olli & Lily had been out in the garden for half an hour, just chilling and mooching about! Made us realise how well Dave has come on, thanks to hard work and patience on Ferns part. He hardly ever shows aggression of any sort these days, just happy in his pack, knowing his place and having his agility to focus on.

Wonder where our mums are? ...... if we wait here they should be back soon......?
Its going to be a good year :-)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New beginnings.

Happy New Year!!!
My first blog of 2011 and I am a very happy bunny. Fern & I are almost over the flu, just a lingering cough and not up to speed yet, but feeling well enough to start training in earnest with Cove & Twiggy.
Lily & Olli are having a month off from agility. I think it does them good to have a break. Having spent 30 years of my life working and competing with horses, there are so many similarities and an over worked horse would become stale and lose its spark if it didn't have a month or 2 out to grass, chilling out and I believe the same of our dogs. My 2 star dogs are having fun chasing rabbits, getting muddy, eating sheep poo (sorry but they do) and just running freely around the fields. No training just being dogs. This does mean that Fern & I are now spending the next month training the youngsters ready for their first competition. 
Cove and Fern have an amazing relationship, and Fern has been training Cove, developing his behaviours and personality since he was 6 weeks old. He is bred to be an agility dog, and as he cost us a small fortune he is expected to be good! Twiggy had her first 6 months of life damaged and scarred, to what extent we don't know, but for the last 7 months I have been building a relationship, working on that special bond and trying to help her forget the past so she can be confident in her future. My little girl wouldn't "Wait" because if I moved 2 steps from her she panicked. She wouldn't "Recall" because although she wanted to be with me she was so petrified of the lead, or being grabbed that she would run around about 6 feet away in panic, and she wouldn't really work on agility exercises because she was always looking around, jumpy and lacking in any self confidence that she just didn't have any concentration span.
2 days into the new year, 2 days into training, and I am so thrilled with my little girl. To people who don't know her, this may not be impressive, but to my friends and people who really know me and my Twiggy, this video is incredible. This is just the beginning.
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