5 years ago next month, a litter of 8 gorgeous puppies were born on the farm where we live. Springer Spaniels with a good background of working gun dog breeding, and I had pick of the litter. I watched them grow and develop over the weeks, and started to have my favourites. Some beautifully marked pups, black flecked, black & white, liver & white, liver flecked, but it was soon to be that I had no choice at all, because the cheeky chubby black & white boy chose me. (I was looking for a bitch!)
The rest is history as they say. Olli came into our lives and was a joy from day one. Funny, happy loving dog, who soon started to show a natural ability for retrieving, and started his training with me to become a gun dog. At around 7 months old he started working on our local shoot, and soon became a very able retriever of pheasants, pigeons and anything else that needed picking up. I had also started agility with Lily so thought I would see if Olli could learn to do that too, just so we had 2 dogs competing and make the weekends away at shows more worthwhile. He took to it so well, he is currently 1 of just a few Springers in the large category that have made it to Grade 6. He also got to the ABC semi finals last year at his first attempt, and was just an A frame contact away from getting to Olympia. I decided a year ago to retire him from shooting and concentrate on his agility career.
He is always my "fun" dog. I cant help it, I just never take him really seriously because he is such a character! Barks like no other dog, on every breath he is noisy, his tail never stops wagging, and he makes me laugh on every course we ever run. He has achieved so much just having a blast, and without real training as I always concentrated on Lily, never thinking that Olli would ever go this far. So over this winter we have been training a bit more seriously.
His contacts are vastly improved, and pretty much 100% although he still likes to look round to see if I am coming, and wait for me to catch up so still not totally independent. His weaves are amazing, noisy and fast but he will never be brilliant on a left hand entry. We also now have a wait! ....... well we have an Olli style wait, but its improved on last year. :-) So we have a lot of ABC qualifiers to go for this summer, and he will of course compete with Lily in the Large Agility qualifiers too, and who knows we may get to Olympia, and with the right course on the right day, we may even get a win towards grade 7, but whatever happens, I will be smiling and Olli will be barking.
So this is dedicated to Polly. Ollis Mum, who was 1 of my favourite spaniels and 1 of the best workers, and nicest dogs I have had the pleasure to share my office with. So loyal to her owners, (my close friends and landlords) a brilliant steady worker in the field, a strong willed bitch who didn't take any nonsense from the other dogs around our farm, or on the shoot, but didn't have a nasty bone in her body. She also gave me one of the best spaniels in the world, and my soul mate. She passed away last Saturday, with her oldest friend Megan, Ollis Auntie by her side. Just a few months ago she was working and playing like a pup, but a sudden onset of a heart condition meant she spent her last few weeks sleeping in front of our office fire, munching on bones and giving me the odd cuddle, with the little affectionate nibble of my nose just as she always had, and just like her pups continue to do.
Keep watching over your boy Polly, he may just make you very proud.