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Monday, 22 July 2013

And back to form we go!!!

Leaving at 6am last Friday to avoid the heat was a good choice. By the time we reached Catton Hall Derbyshire, at 10am it was already 27 degrees and no breeze! The pitches were huge, the venue was lovely  and we were lucky to be near the rings but on the edge of camping so had a lovely open space behind us to exercise the dogs. Paddling pool was filled, both Fiammas erected, and every window and skylight open and by noon we were chillaxing. Fern & I set up a ring, built a course and it was almost unbearable heat! What a contrast to this time last year!!
Saturday was Champ day, and as we walked the jumping course first thing we were a bit taken aback by it! It was choppy, naggy, and had no flow at all and from the chatter heard from other competitors it was a bit of a conversation piece! Cove was 6th to run and he did really well but was eliminated for a wrong jump, but so were probably 60% of the dogs that ran, if not more. The agility course was in contrast a lovely clever but flowing course, and Fern & Cove got their first clear round at Champ level! A really nice round.
Lily had a good clear in jumping and was very happy and full of beans :-) Olli had a clear and was 5th in Anysize jumping, and is flying around the lower courses, proving I made the right decision for once! George was in naughty Merle mood so was eliminated in both his runs. I was disappointed, more frustrated really, as he has such a natural talent yet he does such childish things sometimes................and then I remember he is not yet 2 and a half, is already well on his way to grade 6 and hasnt been competing for a whole season yet. With so many good youngsters coming out the same time as George, I have sometimes felt pressured (which is stupid) but its hard not to want him to win. Thankfully I am a bit of a muppet, and just love my dogs and their quirky ways, so I soon "had a word with myself" and appreciated him for what he is. A total dream boy :-)
Who couldnt love this face??!!!

Then it was Twiggys turn, and she had a good clear in the same jumping class as Lily, a bit tighter but probably not quite as fast, although they are so different to run its hard to tell, and I forgot to look at their times :-( Talking of times, in the agility Twiggy had a stunning run, just one slight wide turn out of the tunnel but a cracking clear........and the judge came over to me as we left the ring to say the timing had failed :-( Its one of those things, and nobodys fault so I left it for a couple of dogs to run to get my breath back, and we set up on the start line again. Bless Twiggy, another great run, full of fun and this time not so wide on the turn and another clear!! She was pushy on her contacts second time round, and we thought the judge may have marked her dogwalk, but an hour later at the presentations (while Rog and I were off buying supplies in Burton on Trent), Fern collected her trophy for me. First place! She had won it by just over a second, and when we watched the video she was quick, and so tight! My little girl won at a big show, and is now beating George on the race to grade 6 :-) 

Sunday was another scorcher, and I was glad to have an early run with George in the Camddwr Cup Qualifier agility. 320 dogs entered and a really nice course with a few challenges but nothing nasty. George was back in the room, and he did a stunning run, and went into the lead. He held the lead for 2 hours!! I kept checking as I couldnt believe some of the dogs he had beaten, but in the end he was knocked off the top by a brilliant Belgian Shepherd dog, by a fraction of a second. I was still so chuffed with the run, and in such a huge class at a big show, George really did me proud. Olli had another place in jumping but with the ground being so hard, and the heat almost unbearable I decided not to run Lily on Sunday. Twiggy was naughty on her contacts so we ran out laughing, and cursing and Cove was eliminated in his agility for a silly lack of communication between him and Fern. By then it was nearly lunchtime, and we packed up and headed home. Missed the Grade 6/7 jumping and the pairs. Unlike me to miss some runs, but the dogs were not happy, and it was a 4 hour drive back in 30 degrees of heat with broken Air Con :-( 
Still loving this agility lark and never bored of learning new things with the dogs, young and old. Watching Olli having so much fun now in his special jumping classes, is just the best. Watching Cove mature and start to look like such a superstar is awesome, George & Twiggy both so different but so happy and fun to run, the future is still at their feet, and then young William. Handsome, clever boy with gallons of potential which is starting to really show now. By this time next year he will be competing! Cant quite believe how time flies, and I still have a few goals left to achieve this season. Best get my arse in gear then!!!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Great levellers these dogs of ours :-)

Lansdown was a bit of a change from last year. No bogs and torrential rain, with tractors bombing around towing everyone to safety, but a warm pleasant dry weekend. The Olympia qualifiers were both very different courses. A lovely flowing one from Barrie and a very weird, horrible one from the other judge. Twiggy was in Barries and George in the other. We didnt qualify, in fact both dogs were eliminated, but the 2 things I was more thrilled with were that Twiggy did a start line wait!!! and George was so fast and powerful I just couldnt get in position for one important move. Always take the positives :-)
Lily didnt seem to be firing on all cylinders on the Saturday so with a few bad runs I decided to leave her and not run her Sunday. Olli was meant to be running in the ABC qualifier but after a disastrous demolition derby in the grade 6 jumping, the final decision was made and he officially retired from competing at Grade 6. I was sad about them both, but the dogs and their welfare are my priority.
Cove was on hit & miss form, but pulled one out the bag to win the Grade 7 agility! 4 clears, 3 of which were wins in 2 weeks. Cracking rounds too, and then George managed a 7th in jumping, followed by a 3rd and Twiggy had 2 clears. I was a bit down on the Sunday worrying about Lily & Olli, and the youngsters picked up on that, and worked steady. No setting the world on fire that weekend.

Last weekend and probably the nicest, and one of the biggest shows of the summer. Tuffley, which this year was amalgamated with Prestbury Park. It was a scorcher!! 28 degrees when we arrived Friday lunchtime, and it stayed that way for the whole weekend. Its the first weekend for a long time that we havent won a trophy between us, with Georges 5th place being the closest to it all weekend. However after my sadness and worry about Lily & Olli the previous weekend, Tuffley totally changed my mood. Olli spanner was entered in his first anysize jumping classes, and he had a blast!! Charging around a course of low jumps, with no weaves or contacts to worry about, and he was so happy!!! The other bonus was that Tuffley has a river right next to the rings, and Olli looooooves water, so he went swimming and playing in the river with numerous other dogs of all shapes and sizes, and was in his element. Happy happy spaniel :-) Lily also went into the ring on Saturday with a sparkle in her eyes, and before we knew it she had 2 clear rounds! the second resulting in an 18th place out of over 200 combined grade 6/7 dogs and I was very happy with that. Not ready to retire yet! Sunday was so much hotter and she isnt keen on the heat so I didnt run her. She doesnt need to be competing on hard ground against top young dogs when she is hot and bothered. We can be choosy, but at least I know she is happy and fit for now.

1 clear round unplaced for Cove, and no clears at all for Twiggy. Brought down to earth with a bump after our recent winning streak, but then these dogs are only "human". I still saw people, including some top handlers, treat their dogs very unfairly over the last few weekends, and have heard about some really harsh handling, which if its true will upset me not just because of the dogs but because I have always had a lot of respect for the person allegedly involved. There is no excuse for it. I am not saying I havent been firm sometimes with a couple of my strong willed dogs, but there is a difference between firm controlled correction, a reminder maybe to focus back with the handler, and the yanking, bullying, shouting that I see. Good grief its the handler and the training that are to blame 99.9% of the time for the dogs so called bad behaviour, or mistakes in the ring. A shame more people dont remember that.
Off to Rugby Champ show this weekend, and its a first for us. Too blooming far for a weekend but its Ferns first season in Champ so we are off early Friday. Looks like the weather set to stay hot so need to get the Air Con fixed on Roxy, and buy a new paddling pool( as we broke ours last weekend) and plenty of cider in the fridge. It will be a great weekend as Rog coming too and we are camped with the best crowd :-) people who have fun and remember what life is about and how lucky we are to have such wonderful dogs :-)