About us.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Hard work and patience really do pay off.

I never thought I would be writing a blog in green! All my dogs have their own colours, and I try to write in the colour of the dog who deserves praise above others, so this is for Dave.
The little ginger b%$*^$d will be 3 years old next month, and he would not have made it past his first birthday if Fern hadn't persuaded me to let her take him on and train him. His unpredictable, very terrierist attitude has always been so hard to deal with. He is not a dog for the faint hearted, but Fern has worked wonders with him. 
Last year we ran him at an indoor show, where it was a ring on its own, and had 10 people placed strategically around the ring to "field" him if he made a dash to take a swipe at another dog. He didn't, he actually behaved fairly well, and although not a clear round, it was a huge achievement. Then we ran him at a match, asking the other ring to hold on while he ran, and he did again, but still not clear as he was a bit distracted. 6 months on and we ran him again, this time outside but again in a ring a bit out the way, and the ring next door was being walked, so no dogs running. Perfect timing, and Dave did a lovely run, just missing a few jumps as he flew round.
Still Fern continued to train him every week with our other dogs, and he totally loves his agility times. Obviously one night whilst filling in entries, I must've had a few wines because when Honiton running orders arrived last week, Dave was entered!! What was I thinking?? Fern laughed and said, "well that's a waste of a few quid" (or words to that affect) and I filed them with the other dogs entries. On Saturday, the medium jumping was in a middle ring, and there was agility going on right next door. It was also medium dogs in the agility ring, Grade 5-7, so a lot of barking, quick moving little fluff balls, that would be perfect prey for Dave, so we decided against that. However on Sunday, the medium jumping was in ring one. A ring set slightly apart from the others, and the Grade 3 class was last in the ring for the day, AND the judge was a very good friend of mine, who knows what its like to have these interesting dogs. Fern & I walked the course, which was a lovely Grade 3 course, and made the decision to run him. We spoke to Sally the Judge, and Selena the ring manager, and explained that we would run him right at the end so there was no queueing. Rog had made it back to the show, having been called away earlier on a breakdown, so he was thrilled at the prospect of Dave running a real course at a real show! Deep down even I was very excited, admittedly nervous, in fact shitting a brick would probably sum it up, but the time came and Fern set Dave up on the start line. I was at the finish, with a very exciting tuggy toy, filled with sausage in the hope that would be tastier than any passing poodle, and Rog was armed with the video camera.
As Fern walked away from Dave, and he sat beautifully in a perfect wait, I admit to having a lump in my throat. She released him and he was off like a pocket rocket. Over the first 2 jumps and into the tunnel, out the tunnel over 2 more jumps and back in the tunnel, then off down a line of jumps into another tunnel. As he came out of that tunnel, Fern was behind him so she had to do a rear cross around the pin wheel, (I held my breath!) around the pin wheel, across to the final 3 jumps, and across the finish line to attack my lovely sausage filled tuggy!!!! He was clear!!!!!! I cried like a baby, Rog ran over almost in tears too, Fern was screeching and shaking like a leaf, and we all had a tight hold on Dave!! The emotions were incredible, as for us as a family this was the greatest achievement of the whole season. Imagine the shock when Sally came over to tell us he had won! His first proper run, and at Grade 3 thanks to Cove pulling him up the grades, and he was foot perfect, handled beautifully by Fern and won.

All five yes FIVE of our agility dogs were placed on Sunday, and there is no better feeling in the world. I actually may start to like Dave now :-)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Where has the year gone?

I have no idea where this year has gone! It didn't seem that long ago I was getting excited planning my first competition of the season, now we have just a couple left. It also doesn't seem that long ago I was tempted and chosen by a white faced merlie fluff ball, and yet now he is 7 months old and about to start his first courses of agility training!
So, 2 weeks ago was Gillingham Champ show. Lovely site, and we were joined by my lovely friend Jill as a housemate as she was stuck between caravan sale & motorhome arriving. We had great fun, and along with Lolly & Claire, a right laugh and some interesting meal times!
Lily & I managed some good stuff, and I was enjoying running her, and Olli had his first clear round in Grade 6 too, which I was thrilled with after just 2 weeks in the grade. Twiggy was fun as always, and yet more confident, but still finding weaves a challenge on some courses, and Cove was in limbo, running Grade 3 classes for another 2 weeks before he goes grade 4. Fern and I decided as this was the case, that we would swap dogs for one run and she ran Lily in Grade 6 jumping while I ran Cove for the first time in G3 jumping. Lily had an unlucky pole but ran beautifully for Fern, and Cove was 2nd!!!! I was so nervous and excited about running him, and he was a dream. It also made me realise the difference in running a dog that has had all the foundation work put in from a puppy, and consistent training. 

Last Sunday we had a small 1 day show, and the only 2 clears were from my girls. Lily managing 6th in the agility, but most exciting of all, Twiggy 6th in G1-3 jumping! Over 200 dogs in her class, and she flew! I was over the moon :-) 

Twiggy obviously only started at about 9 months as she was a rescue, yet she is still doing well with her understanding. Cove, compared to Lily & Olli, has a better understanding of the handlers moves, and is so much more fluent. Lily didn't start training until she was 18 months old, and Olli about 6 months old but only as a fun dog to make it worthwhile going to shows, so neither dog really had anything like the start that Cove has had. Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to bits with both my original dogs, and lets face it, they havent done bad both getting to Olympia semis, (Lily to Olympia itself 2010) both grade 6, and Lily also having 2 wins in Grade 6, but I have to admit, if their training had been from scratch I do think Lily would be Grade 7 by now.
Which brings me to George.
My first ever puppy to train from scratch, and a real unknown quantity. So I have been doing all the little things from day 1. Nose touches, sits, recalls, toy focus, circle work, environment training and what an amazing dog he is becoming. I have let him be a puppy, not believing in over doing the training when they are young, but every day I do something with him alone, and the way he is developing is fascinating. At 7 months, I now have a very keen athletic responsive boy, who almost totally focuses on me at all times. Spending all his early months being walked just with me and not the rest of the pack, means that although he fits in beautifully and gets along with everyone, he would rather be  interacting with me than the others. Now walking sometimes with others in the group, he sticks near to me, his recalls (dare i say?) are 100% and he is constantly happily looking at me for instruction. Its incredibly rewarding, and I am enjoying every minute of his development. He starts young dog classes next week, and I cant wait!!

My thanks go to Lily & Olli for getting me so hooked on agility, and doing so well for me, and to Fern for all her support and help with my training, and for Rog for putting up with all our dogs, and religiously watching all our runs on video and not asking how much I spend of his hard earned cash :-)
I am pretty sure Twiggy will surprise us all and go far next year, she has already surpassed my expectations. I am certain that Fern & Cove will continue to progress steadily through the grades, and have no doubt he will become Grade 7 in time, but already I also feel the same about George. If I can continue to train him consistently, and he stays fit & healthy and happy, I feel confident that he too will make Grade 7 in a few years time, and that is a very nice feeling.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A day in the life of........

A day in the life of….

Morning Lil and Oliver
Lil you gave me a fright!
Olli that’s MY croc!
Lily that’s MY tea!
Bye Rog see you tonight. X

Olli give me my croc!
Lily get back from the door
Cant find my pants
Cant find my bra!
They’re somewhere here on the floor.

“Hi Becki, Stan” on the landing
“HI GEORGE & TWIGS” downstairs
Got my phone
Found the undies
Damn they are covered in hairs

Come on guys, out in the garden
Don’t chase the cats! DAVE stop grumbling!
Cove, Nannies boy J
That’s not a toy!
Stan, can hear your tummy rumbling!

Georgie get down! Twiggy you’re mad
Lily leave Becki alone!
Olli stop barking!
Cove wait a minute!
Oh for goodness sake where is my phone?

Yes Georgie I am getting my coat on
Twiggy sit still while I attach you!
DAVE stop squeaking!
Lily stop that!
Oliver where is my shoe?!!

Right everyone stop blooming pulling!
Stop yipping you’ll wake the whole farm!
I know you’re keen
COVE my ears!!!!
Its just a walk guys, try and stay calm!!

It’s a horse, yes they’re cows and sheep Twiggy
Lily they don’t need no herding!
DAVE! Get a grip!
COVE!! Shut your yip!!
Blimey George, I cant get a word in!!

Right, we’re back now wait for your breakfast
I am doing it as fast as I can.
Pilchards and rice
Which bowl is whos?
Stop trembling, I am getting there Stan!

Becki you are always in my way!
Cove you really are a berk!
George its coming
Olli stop barking!!
Right all happy now? I’m off to work!

Number crunching and phone won’t stop ringing
Emails to send and reply
“I can hear you Dave!”
And Lily be quiet
Its just a tractor driving by!

Lunchtime so you can all go out now
GEORGIE! Stop eating cats poo!
Stan you’re snoring
Becki get out the way!
DAVE! Stop grumbling! That’s all you ever do!

Just 2 hours more and I’ll be finished
Then we can all play or train.
Tea to be cooked
Twiggy you are so funny
Olli stop picking on Lily! You’re such a pain!

“Hi hun, Hi Fern yep we’re going to the field
We need to practice for the show
Grub in the oven
“GEORGIE! Hang on!
Just get in the van quietly! Its not far to go.

Contacts, contacts, weaves & grids
Now you will all sleep for a while
Chilled indoors
On sofa and floor
I look at all 8 of you and smile J

Snoring & twitching, having happy dreams
Tomorrow we’ll do it all again
8 dogs young & old
My life, my inspiration
Thank you all, for keeping me sane. J

Monday, 5 September 2011

What a wonderful partnership and what a big day for Olli Ob Knob!

This weekend was actually a very successful one for us and our crew. In fact at Prestbury Park, one of our favourite venues, all 4 dogs had clears!!!!
Saturday morning, I was lucky to have 2 runs with both Lily & Olli, in jumping and agility. I say lucky, because we had to leave the site at 11am and travel to Stoneleigh Park to the City of Birmingham Show for Olli to take part in the Olympia ABC semi finals. I was so thrilled that I had a chance to run him around a couple of grade 6 courses before the big event. It was also his first Grade 6 show so a big weekend for Olli. 
He managed a lovely agility round, just catching a pole as I got in his way, but I was more than happy with how he coped with the course. Lily and I went completely wrong and were eliminated. Becoming a bit of a habit for us! We also managed to run Cove & Twiggy in their first pairs class, and although both of them missed a weave pole, they ran really well and had a blast!
So at 1pm we arrived at Stoneleigh and my nerves started to filter through. My lovely spanner at such an important event and I was so proud. The warm up run was a bit of a mess but Olli had fun and at least that was not the main event. As I stood on the line for the semi my heart was pounding, and I could hardly speak, so telling Olli to "wait" was a struggle! We set off and he was so fast and focused, but we had to go clear in under 39 seconds to get in the top 10, and as he pushed his A frame I saw the judges hand go up for a 5 and knew that was it. However we carried on with olli barking and going like a true pro, and he did all the hard turns beautifully. Unfortunately we picked up another 5 as after 2 tunnels in a row, he started up the seesaw and had to shake his gorgeous long furry ears so he fell off the side! I put him back and we completed the course. I loved it and so did Olli, and although it was not to be this year, we will be back!

Sunday was mad as all 4 of our dogs were in 3 different teams! Lily & Olli with Thai & Magic in our original Rainbow Rebels team, Cove with Wren, Flynn and Cruze and Twiggy with Storm, Sprite & Theo! Unbelievably Twiggys team went clear, the first team to go clear after around 15 had been!!! It was a blast for 4 young dogs, and a real buzz. Bless Twiggy for being so confident to do the team event :-)

Cove went clear in his team but unfortunately the team didn't, and poor Flynn was so exuberant he did a complete somersault over one jump, nearly crashing into the tyre! Lily & Olli were mental and went clear, but Magic took a pole, and Thai did too but the judge didn't notice!!! Rainbow Rebels were the fastest team by 7 seconds!!!! What a team, and obviously if we can keep the poles up one of the best around. Great fun! Twiggys team finished 6th!!!! nearly 50 teams and we were 6th at our first outing. Really thrilled with them all.
Olli had a great G6 jumping round, just picking up one jump from the wrong side, but he was flying. Lily and I had a lovely run, almost foot perfect in G6/7 combined agility, and ended 10th, so we are not stuck in the E trap anymore.

Fern & Cove had a Dog Vegas qualifier, graded 3-5 combined agility to run. I walked it with Fern and it was a very challenging course! Lots of traps, and it needed handling. I said to Fern that it would probably be a good course for Cove as he is so clever at the trickier stuff, and Fern really went for it. It was a beautiful run, and my heart missed a beat as 2 obstacles from the end Fern turned the wrong way and I thought she'd blown it, but she let Cove sort himself out, find his own stride onto the seesaw and he flew the last jump clear!

They work together in perfect harmony, and the relationship they have is amazing. I knew they had probably won, but didn't say anything to Fern, waiting for the presentation. They had done it! In only his 4th show at Grade 3 he was moving up to grade 4. He was only 2 years old last week, and started competing at the end of March at Grade 1. In 5 months he has moved up 4 grades and Rog & I are so proud of Fern.
We had some great laughs with our friends, and also watched my lovely friend Jill run her 2 babies for the first time. They were both very fast and brilliantly focused, and will definitely be 2 to watch next year! Jill also qualified for the finals at Olympia with Whoosh her Grade 6 boy, along with a few other good friends, so we will definitely be watching Olympia in December!! So many good dogs through to the finals, it will be hard to pick a favourite!
So another great weekend over, 362 miles down, and 1 step nearer the end of the season. Also 1 year until Georgie makes his d├ębut, and that will be a very exciting time. He is becoming a stunning young man with oodles of potential which I hope I can develop.
I feel very lucky having such a wonderful family, some very special friends and the best dogs in the world.