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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Becoming a bit of a habit!!!!

Well this is becoming a bit of a habit, and Fern seems to be taking my limelight but I guess I can cope with that........................COPE I AM VERY VERY PROUD!!!!!!!!!
This weekend was SWAT show, pretty local to us being just an hour away, so Fern & I got there Friday morning and had a bit of a challenge setting up in a force 8 gale, but eventually we were pegged down and sorted. JoJo my great friend, and ex agility compadre, arrived in the afternoon, loaded with crisps, and cider and we looked forward to a good giggly girly weekend. Jasper whippet and Cove became great mates, sharing a crate/bed most of the weekend, and then Jasper shared his bed with JoJo and Stan at night. Not much room for JoJo!!!! We also saved a camping space for Jill, who is becoming a great friend, and as she was on her own we thought we would gather her into the Feroda camp too. Big curry, a few beers and a lot of giggles Friday evening started the weekend on a good vibe.
Saturday morning, with slightly thick heads, Fern and I walked courses, some really interesting Grade 6 courses for me & Lily, and some nice courses for Olli too. Fern and Cove are still "officially" in Grade 1 until Thames show, so nice flowing simple courses for them. Lily had a stonking round in the jumping, and had a very unlucky pole halfway round. She was flawless otherwise, and I came out of the ring feeling a great sense of achievement. Pole or no pole, she listened, she was tight on her turns and I handled it right. So thrilled, and even when I found out her time was 2 secs faster than the winning Grade 6 dog I was not disappointed. Its not always the winning, and although it would've been nice I am just thrilled to know that when we get it right, which we seem to be doing a lot more often these days, she is capable of Grade 7 1 day. She did do another fab round in Grade 1-7 jumping and we were 10th out of about 200 dogs.

Olli had a lovely clear in his jumping but is never going to beat fast collies on a blast of a course like that was. Still he was great fun and very gorgeously handsome as he ran :-)

So to Cove. Two 5 fault rounds then a lovely clear in the jumping and he was 3rd. ANOTHER trophy!!! 
Saturday we had dinner with Jill in her caravan, which was lovely. Not just the meal but the caravan! Must try and save up so we can get a newer one next year. I was worn out Saturday, have no idea why really, but that and the fact I took a Piriton tablet to ease my hayfever, meant that by 9pm my eyes were closing, so I had an early night.
Sunday and some more lovely testing courses for Lily and unfortunately I was out with my timing in her agility, so turned back to quick and she took wrong end of tunnel. She then went all silly on me so I just burst out laughing and left the ring, leaving Lily held on her seesaw contact, much to the judges amusement! We had a lovely round in the jumping, almost clear til a trap at the end, but still Lily was on great form.
Olli had another lovely clear round, but again unplaced.
Cove then had a very good jumping round, and a debatable decision by the judge who gave him a 5 refusal on the last jump. He span round in front of the jump as Fern was a way behind, but he didn't refuse, nor did he go past the wing so for a Grade 1 it was a bit harsh. Never mind, he was going beautifully and we knew he was "clear" so Fern went into the agility with the bit between her teeth, and sure enough they won it!!! Another bloody trophy!! I wouldn't mind but does Fern ever do any dusting???????

Now to Twiggy & George, my 2 "works in progress"
Twiggy was a different dog. She suddenly stopped worrying about where Fern was, or who was outside the ring, and even started to do a wait at the start of each course! Confident & happy, she completed every one of her 5 runs with a smile and with style. If we didn't have those silly poles to worry about she would've had 5 clears!!! She makes me giggle, and a lot of other people come to that, as she gets a lovely weave entry, then does 4 or 6 or even 8 weaves before coming out with a flamboyant and happy leap as if to say "yay I did some of them whats next?!!" I am not worried at all. My main priority with Twiggy is for her to enjoy her experience in the ring, however she chooses to do it, and its working. She was so happy, no scary moments, no panicky looks and one day she will finish all those pesky poles and get her first KC clear, of that I have no doubt.

Georgie was a star. He settles without a worry in his crate, comes out and plays and learns new things whenever he is out. He is such a cheeky but loving puppy, who at the moment likes nothing better than being with me and focusing on learning new things. He met lots of new people and dogs and took it all in his stride. He even started watching a bit of the agility with great interest, but turned straight back to me to play as soon as I asked. Interesting prospect, but already without doubt a permanent member of our family, who makes me giggle many times a day. :-) He is starting to accumulate fans along the way too! Such a sweet boy. 96 miles added.
This Friday we are off to Hinckley for 1 of the scariest shows of the year for me. Lots of qualifiers, and tough opposition for Lily & me, but I am quietly confident that we wont look out of our depth now. Big show for Twiggy but I am sure she will have fun, especially as she will be meeting up with her original foster parents again, which I know will send her silly :-) One thing I do know for sure, I will not be upstaged by my wonderful daughter and her superstar dog..................there are no Grade 1 or 2 classes!!!! Ha!!!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

This is our year too, Carn Brae, Twiggy 1 year on & Georgie an exciting new beginning!!!

Its been an exciting start to the season. People thought last year was my year, with Lily doing so well, winning into Grade 6, competing at Olympia, but somehow I dont think 1 year is enough. I spend all our money (sorry Rog!) and all my spare time working with my dogs and striving to give them the very best life, the most fun, and hopefully the best home a dog could have. Whether its just walking in the fields around the farm, laughing at Olli barking on every stride as he tries to keep up with Lily & Cove as they are sprinting, or cuddling up with them watching TV in the evenings, or training them in our field on a summers evening. Maybe sat in the garden with a glass of wine and smiling as Twiggy & George run circuits, leaping in and out of the paddling pool as they go, laughing at Dave & Twiggy playing on the decking, there are so many moments in my life with my dogs that I smile and feel proud. Lily was a nervous screaming wreck when I started training her at 15 months old. Couldnt cope with being near another dog, yet look at her now? Olli was meant to be just a gundog, but at Grade 5 he is doing pretty well too. Twiggy has managed some clear rounds already, but apart from agility, she is a different girl. Almost confident! She is funny, cheeky and a huge part of our lives now. Cove is a joy to own, and a credit to Fern. He is such a lovely natured, funny boy who has so much ability he will go far. 


Some people are too competitive and unfortunately lose the simple pleasures along the way, of owning and having the company of a wonderful dog. I am competitive, I wont deny that, but I also know that no dog is a robot. I have not lost the ability to enjoy every run in competition, whether its a clear or an elimination! In my opinion, if you get stressed and start to moan because your dog "should've won that" or "never normally misses the weaves!" or "just needed to get that contact" then you need to take a step back and remember that everything that went wrong in the ring is your fault as a handler, and not the dogs fault. This is meant to be fun. I have so many rubbish runs, and its frustrating sometimes, but my dogs have had a blast around the ring, and have no idea they got E'd at the 3rd fence!
So, last weekend we were at Carn Brae and Lily had no clears. Olli managed a clear in jumping, Twiggy had 2 E's and a 5 faults round. Cove had 1 E and 1 5 faults, but a fab round in Agility got him his third 2nd place trophy in 3 weeks!!
A good friend of mine won the Grade 6 Agility, joining me & Lily in Grade 6 and  a quarter!!
I am planning on this being our year, and hopefully next year and the year after that too!!!! 226 miles added.

Twiggy has been with us 1 year today. I can't believe I was lucky enough to find her nor that she has been here a year already!! Such a pleasure to own. Loyal, loving, bright & cheeky. Totally love her to bits, and the way she cuddles you is priceless. She actually really loves her dad so much, and its so lovely to see her ears go up, and her head cock to one side as she hears his van drive up the lane every evening. :-) The way she dives on the bed every morning, from halfway across the room like a girl possessed cos its been a whole night since she saw me, and biscuits & tea in bed is the start to Twiggys day, is the best feeling in the world.

Now we have George. 4 weeks ago today he arrived. Not planned, not intentional, I was not looking for a puppy, but George had other ideas. He is incredible. Confident, intelligent, happy and just fitted in here like the final piece of a jigsaw. Twiggys new best friend, Cove & Olli love him and George shows so much respect to them, Stan & Becki just accepted him (just another addition to the pack to them) Dave has not shown anywhere near as much aggression as he normally does, and Lily seems to like him!! It was meant to be. He is so keen to learn, and a very exciting prospect for me. He is the first agility dog in the making, that I will actually be training from a pup. Its nerve wracking really, as he is so unspoilt, and such a blank canvass that if he turns out wrong its 100% my fault!! No pressure!! 

For the last 2 days Fern & I have been doing displays at Devon County Show, with Lauren & crew from Devon Dogs. I thought it would be a chance to chill out with the dogs having fun, instead of competing, and also a brilliant chance to do some more socialising with George. We walked the miles from the van on the 1st day, loaded with bags and 2 dogs each, and walked through the gates right next to the fair. Huge machines, hundreds of people and the loud music and sirens from the fairground machines, and George?... well he was leading the way!!!! Striding through the crowds, wagging his tail and enjoying all the sights around him. I cant believe how level headed and confident he is. He chilled in his crate by the trade stand while we were running the others, and then sat with me on the grass, playing tuggy, learning new tricks, and saying hi to everyone who asked. A shotgun went off during the gundog display, right where we sat ringside, and George looked round and in a second was back grabbing his toy. Didn't flinch. He is an incredibly exciting puppy, who has a wise head on his shoulders. Lets hope it continues!!
The displays were a great experience for Cove. The buzz of all those dogs in a ring together, and the relaxed fun way Fern ran him made a huge difference. He was flying!! He actually won the fun knockout on Saturday, beating me & Lily in the semi and Grade 7 Coco in the final!!! Lovely to see him having such fun.
So thats it, now every weekend is competition time, and we are looking forward to SWAT this weekend with all the gang. Lovely lovely dogs will have fun and even if I do swear it wont be at them :-)

Monday, 9 May 2011

The wedding weekend and Blackdown day show. What an amazing 10 days!!!

Once again I have left it too long since my last blog, and now have to remember everything that's happened in the last 10 days!!
We spent 4 days at Newbury, when the Royal Wedding was taking place. 3 days of UKA to train the youngsters and train Lily & Olli in agility, just to ensure we have contacts still, followed by Vyne Champ show on the Monday.
It was a mixed weekend. The weather stayed dry, warm but windy and the dogs were all pretty consistent too. Cove managed a couple of nice clear rounds at UKA, although some runs were still very tentative. Twiggy managed 2 clears in Steeplechase classes, and gained her first numbered rosette!! 7th :-) She is ok if you can keep running and she doesn't have time to stop and think or worry about what she is doing, so steeplechase suits her for now. Olli had some nice jumping runs, and then Lily & I had The Masters to contend with.
The courses were amazingly tricky! I am really starting to enjoy the complexity of some of these high graded courses, and working out how to handle them. Lily sailed around the jumping, and had almost gone clear when I had a split second "spatial awareness" incident and sent her over the wrong jump. In the Agility section we managed just 5 faults and it was our best effort yet. So many people eliminated that we actually ended up 12th overall so I was pleased. Both Champ agility classes I trained contacts, but I ran the jumping and on both days we were placed 4th. Pretty consistent.

The joy of the 3 days at UKA was the ability to walk Georgie around the rings and really start on his socialisation. It is the one thing I feel UKA really have the right attitude about. Puppies should be out there as soon as they can, whilst they are still soaking up all the new experiences of life. Georgie was brilliant. Nothing seems to phase him. He is very good with other dogs, has lovely social skills and respect for older dogs, and loves people completely. It was encouraging that he actually seemed to find the agility pretty interesting too!! 

Monday at Vyne I had a Large Olympia Qualifier with lily, and ABC qualifier with Olli. As I walked the ABC course, my heart sank. It was the most ridiculously easy course, set like a grade 1 agility course. Up, down, up down, with just 1 wing wrap. Considering the ABC qualifier is grade 1 - 7 I felt it should have been a bit more handly. Poor Olli can not compete on flat speed, with the Kelpies so with 267 dogs in the class I wasn't hopeful. He did a perfectly lovely clear round and I was so pleased with him, but he ended up 36th. Not quite in the top 5 for Olympia then!!
Lilys course was nice. Not too mad but testing. 2 thirds of the way round she was flying and then I mis-judged my distance from the tunnel as I wrapped her around the back of a jump and got completely in her way, so she took the wrong end of the tunnel. I was gutted because we were so close to the end. All the hard stuff done. Never mind, as always it was my fault. No clears for Lily at Vyne, but we ended on a pretty good note with the boys.
 Cove was 6th in Grade 1 jumping, and Olli 5th in Grade 5 jumping! Interestingly, the Grade 5 jumping course was very twisty and tight, so Olli came into his own. Fast wide dogs were falling by the wayside, and Olli was less than half a second off winning. If I hadn't almost sent him the wrong way before the weaves he may have won. A great long weekend and lots of positives. (262 miles on.)
Yesterday we were at Blackdown show. A nice local 1 day for us for a change, and most of the gang were there. The first run of the day was for Fern & Cove in the agility. I was hoping it would be a good start and it certainly was. Cove sailed round, foot perfect and was clear in 24.00 seconds dead!!! Over 120 dogs in the class so we waited and waited, but they had done it. Beating the next dog by 2 and half seconds, Fern & Cove are Grade 2!!! Brilliant start to the day, and at only his 5th KC show, and having a jumping win and 2 seconds at Kernow, he really is starting to prove his ability. Credit to Fern too for not being a quitter. :-) After that he had a few silly mistakes so no more clears but that win was more than enough.
I was hoping to win my Olli spaniel into Grade 6. The class was quite small and it was a lovely course. Having done the tricky start, the spread jump (which Olli normally crashes) we were on the homeward run and I found myself admiring my handsome athletic spaniel as he sailed over the full long jump. What style!!.............and what a pillock I am for being so engrossed in watching Olli I forgot to turn right, so he went straight back over the start jump!!!!! I was gobsmacked. Such a lovely run and I totally blew it. Poor Spanner :-(
Twiggy had a few fun moments, making things up as we ran round trying to keep her happy and not have time to worry. She also managed to run just out the edge of the ring on 1 run, to have a poo halfway round!!!!! So embarrassing bless her. The judge was lovely and said to jump a few more jumps before we left the ring, so she had a positive experience. Lovely lovely judge :-)
Then it was Lily & me in G5-7 Agility. Same course I had blown with Olli, so I was determined not to make the same mistake. It was a beautiful round. That dog is just too genuine and honest for words. Not just clear but a lovely 2nd place trophy! I was thrilled to bits. Then we had a blast around a tunnel fun course, and she worked so well away from me I managed to pretty much hang around the middle and she was 6th. Just the Grade 6 Agility to go. It was a lovely course, with a lot of traps. Spread jump first, followed by jump 2 heading straight for the weaves, but fence 3 was to the right. Tight wrap right to 4 then tight back for the weaves. U turn out the weaves to tunnel, U turn out of tunnel back past weaves around the top to Seesaw which then had a jump directly after which you needed to take the back of. I can not fault Lilys round at all. She watched me intently, went exactly where I asked her and it was a stunning clear. I hugged her so hard at the finish!! It felt so good, and I actually felt like I handled it well. 1 and half seconds faster then anyone else, our first Grade 6 win!!!!! So so proud of my girl :-)

Lily & I have been competing together for 3 years now, starting at Grade 1. We were both novices to start with, and helped each other move steadily up to grade 3. Then for the next year we had a lot of hiccups, mainly because Lily was improving at a quicker rate than me! She was faster and more knowledgeable and my handling often let her down. This meant quite a lot of moments where Lily would make her own course as she was fed up waiting for me to handle her!! If we got it right, and managed to gel, we went clear and placed so we made it to Grade 5, then Olympia qualifier and ended the season at Grade 6. The first few competitions at Grade 6 we just weren't together. I was finding the courses confusing, and poor Lily was trying her best but we were somehow out of synch. In the past few months we have suddenly become one again, and it is a truly wonderful relationship to have. She owes me nothing, I owe her everything, and I just know she is going to keep giving her all to me, and I will thoroughly enjoy every single second I am privileged enough to be her partner. You cant buy this feeling. (36 miles added.)
So Cove Grade 2, Lily Grade 6 and qtr!! A whole season ahead of us and its going to be an exciting ride!!