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.