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Sunday, 29 April 2012

100% consistency is rare.

Its been a funny few weeks. Last weekend we had our first trip to Newbury show ground this year. The lovely Wallingford show, which is always so friendly and a nice size show too.
Twiggy & Cove are both in that limbo stage between grades, so Fern was going to work all her contacts and really focus on handling, and I wanted to just keep giving Twiggy the boost of confidence she needs to keep on having fun. Unfortunately due to a slight injury, Claires Wren was having a week off, so we were without Lolly & Claire, but camped with Jill and the Cookes & Peacheys and looked forward to a good weekend. Wren was meant to be doing pairs with Cove so Twiggy stepped in as a reserve.
Saturday morning was the Pairs Knockout, and it was mental! Couldnt go anywhere else as we kept winning our rounds, so nearly missed Twiggys jumping, (but I ran her over there and did it, and she was clear) and suddenly we found ourselves in the final. 7 rounds, 7 clears and Twiggy was having a blast!! We came runners up by just 2 tenths of a second, and qualified for the final in August. Both dogs were so consistent and we were so chuffed! :-)
Turned out Twiggy was also 7th in the jumping, and we then ran our agility and got 5th. Cove was clear with very well held contacts in agility, and 6th in jumping. Lily and Olli also had clears in their classes with Lily getting 5th in G6/7 Agility. A Great day had by all.
Sunday Twiggy had yet another 100% day and was 8th in the jumping, because I forgot to give her a small clue as to the direction we were meant to be going!!!, and then a beautiful run in agility gained her a 2nd place trophy! Mrs honest, consistent girl and such a lovely dog to be with. Cove also 100% with 5th in agility and a 5th in jumping, so both youngsters going consistently clear. Olli had a brill clear with Fern and Lily had a jumping clear with me, and our season has certainly started well. Couldn't be more proud of my gang.

I also took Georgie out while we were at Wallingford, and pushed him to see how focused he could be around the rings whilst I asked for different behaviours. There are plenty of taps on posts, lamp post, cones etc around the showground, so off lead I did some wing wraps around anything I could find. Figures of eight, front crosses, shoulder turns and then we did some waits and circle work right next to the ring and he was gorgeous. Really focused on me and the job, so we are definitely getting ready for show time with Georgie pants!!
252 miles down.

This weekend we were ready to go back to Newbury for the WBSDS show but as the week went on so the forecast looked ominous. Thursday morning I was all set to go and risk the bit of wind & rain they spoke of, but by Thurs eve I was wobbling and finally decided to call it off. Fern & I were disappointed, and especially as Olli had an ABC qualifier to go to, but it seemed silly to risk the journey, let alone running dogs in rough conditions. It turns out to be the right decision as Saturday was an awful day and a lot of people gave up and went home, and today the show was cancelled. Too dangerous for dogs on contacts, and boggy ground so they called the show off. A brave decision but the right one I think. Another local show did go on, and although a lot of people stayed away, some did brave the elements. Apparently not quite so bad there. 
Such a shame when the season seems so short, that we have missed a weekend but the dogs don't know any different. They have had lovely walks, even if we all got soaked, and been munching bones and chilling out with us. 5 weeks now though until our next camping and that seems forever!!! 
Oh well, next week we have a 1 day show (weather permitting) and it will be the terrible twins first show at their new grades. I wonder what Twiggy will do?? ;-)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Highs & lows of spending your life with dogs.

Bit of a short blog this week. Had a fantastic weekend at Kernow Easter show. Spent it with such good friends, made some new ones and caught up with old ones. It was a sociable, happy weekend, and the dogs were amazing. Lily & Olli managed some nice clears, Olli actually 8th in 6/7 combined jumping, which was a real result. Cove managed to come home with 2 trophies, and won into Grade 5, and Twiggy had 6 places over the weekend, including just being pushed into 4th in the Olympia qualifier, and then ended the weekend with a 1st in Agility, so moving up to grade 4. :-)) 
212 miles added.

A very successful weekend, our first one with the new caravan "Walter" and it would have been perfect apart from 1 small thing. 
Becki my old sweet spaniel. 
She trotted out to the van when we left Thursday, very happy to be coming away with us, but by Saturday she changed and I knew it would be her last holiday. Sunday was bitter sweet, as although our young dogs were on amazing form, Becki was closing down. We drove home in mixed moods.
Monday morning at 8.30 I gave her some very nice pills with some sausage, and she settled down in front of the Rayburn and started to drift into fairy land. At 9.30 our wonderful kind young Vet, carried out his final act of kindness and Becki was chasing pheasants at Rainbow Bridge, no longer in pain, no more aching joints or lumps to get in her way. She was in my arms as she peacefully left.
It never gets any easier, but it is the least we can do to give our old dogs some dignity and help them slip peacefully and gently across the bridge. 4 of our girls up there now and every time a little piece of my heart goes with them. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The first show done & dusted!

Our first show was Carn Brea on Sunday. It would have been my Nans 94th Birthday, and I just had a feeling it was going to be a good day. Twiggy was in my thoughts as being the one to watch, and she even had running orders that were my favourite numbers, or numbers of meaning. All that superstitious rubbish out the way, I actually had a different attitude. Thanks to some brilliant and thought provoking training over the last few months, I was more positive for the first time in a long time, and I was going to attack the courses and not worry who was watching, or bitching and just put all my training into practice. 
It was also going to be a special day as Sharon & Chris, Twiggys original fosterers, were going to be there, all the way from Yorkshire. I just knew Twigs would be pleased to see them, and we were too as they have become true friends and take such an interest in how she is coming on.

We left at stupid O'colock, collected Claire, Wren Kai & JC from Exeter, and off we went. Very excited.
My first run was the G3 Jumping and time to see if Twiggy would be scanning the ground, looking for an escape route and fearful of the people, dogs, children surrounding the ring. Not a sign of it. The only slight sign of her being back out of her comfort zone was that she didn't quite reach 5th gear, but she sailed round almost on remote control and went clear. Really thrilled and although just out of the placings, she looked happy.
Next was the Steeplechase, and a good chance to just run around, build her confidence without worrying about any weaves or contacts. Well over 100 dogs in the class, and this time Twiggy was a bit quicker, and once again clear! Ended up with a 10th place. 2 out of 2 and I was buzzing. Finally the agility, and it was a nice course, a few handly bits, obstacle discrimination, and A frame to weaves into nowhere, so time to see what she could really do. She listened, she turned tight, she didn't falter until just before the dog walk she saw Fern and just for a split second she hesitated and I saw the worried Twiggy, but instantly she was back in the zone, finished the course clear, and would you believe ended up 6th!!!! 3 clear runs out of 3, and 2 top 10 places at her first show.
It couldn't have been a better start to the season, and thanks mainly to Lauren, Jo Tristram & Mark Laker my handling and most of all my confidence and psychological state is probably better than ever. :-)
Lily and me were also right back in sync and she ran a stunning agility round, finishing 5th in 6/7 combined, and the best bit was she only had one wide turn, and I knew why instantly. It was my fault but I knew that and as she was half a second only behind the winner, I know she is capable of those wins and Grade 7, and for the first time I feel I am ready for grade 7 too. Olli was hilarious, but although we had to "E"s he was flying, and if I can just control his mad spaniel brain he could still do very well. He looked amazing in his jump style, and his drive was incredible, but curbing or channelling his enthusiasm is going to be a challenge!
So finally to Fern & Cove. Coves first run of the day was 4-7 steeplechase, and he did a beautiful controlled and clean run. fern handled it well, Cove did everything right and they ended up 3rd. First show of the year and he has a trophy. Yay more dusting! The 2 dogs that beat him were both grade 6 dogs, and Fern was very chuffed. However in his jumping and Agility, Fern just wasn't quite right and Cove is so tuned into her they made silly mistakes and didn't manage a clear. I don't know if Fern was a bit stressed because Dave was entered and she had it on her mind, or if she had gone in with the wrong attitude, but it wasn't the normal slick partnership we are used to. 
All in all, a good day, the sun shone, the company was great and it was so nice to just have fun with good friends, and our wonderful dogs. 
254 miles The journey begins.