Sunday, 23 September 2007

PAWS in the Park

Had a lovely weekend at the Hop Farm, Beltring. The weather was gorgeous and the agility was great with lovely courses set by all the judges (certainly for my classes anyway!)

I didn't get a single clear round which sounds awful but as this was Niamh's first sortie into G6 I wasn't disappointed, quite the contrary in fact! All her classes apart from one were combined G6/7 and the hike in technical difficulty from G5 was very noticeable. She managed the courses really well and the errors were all due to me mis-timing or mis-reading her reactions to different sequences. The good thing is that I came away with three clearly defined areas that I need to set up and practise. I can't wait to get started. Poppy was a little lame when we got home last night but was perfectly sound this morning. I decided to rest her today (much to her disgust) and will lead walk her for the rest of this week to make sure she's completely sound before I bring her back to any sort of training.

I had a good wander round the stalls at the big dog show alongside the agility. I can't remember seeing so many doggie stands. It was wonderful. Big news: I didn't buy any new dog beds; in fact I didn't really spend much at all. I'm looking for some bling collars but have decided to order from Pet Needs theirs are so lovely and they weren't at the show. Nothing I saw seemed half as nice but they were twice the price! Take a look at their lovely collars and leads at the link below. Leah bought a new one for Link and it's very smart and suits him very well. I think Herbie has a new one too but I didn't get to see that - yet!

This afternoon Mand and I sat at the ringside talking (unusual for us!) and Niamh had a wonderful game with her cousin Twix. They laid side by side at the ring for quite some time and we could seem them eyeing each other up and twitching their tails. Suddenly they started and they played like puppies for ages. It was really lovely to watch as they didn't get rough or spiteful. They played like this a couple of years back at Scunthorpe when Niamh was about a year old and Twix a puppy but haven't really interacted since. I can't wait to see how they react when they next meet. I wish I had the play time on video but sadly I didn't take the camera with me this weekend.

Andy had the whole weekend at home. On Saturday he completely stained the new summerhouse ready for winter. It looks very smart. Today he had a huge bonfire and did a lot of work in the paddock making more space for my agility training! He removed three large fruit bushes and two small fruit trees. We need to get the area rotivated and turfed at some point. It's amazing how much space you can grab back. It will be fantastic when we finish clearing the area and get the gigantic compost heap removed once and for all. He had his three dogs out with him all day on both days and consequently all three of them are currently upside down on the sofa and hearth rug. Our visitors (Ellie, Tina and Tazzie) also had time in the garden but not as much as Andy's own three. They all tire quite quickly: Tina because she's very old; Ellie because she's only got three legs and her one front leg is heavily plated and we have to be careful with Tazz so that he doesn't over exercise as one of his front legs was broken when he was a puppy.

I love agility shows but getting up and going to day shows makes me so tired and my interminable yawning (as witnessed by some of my friends this weekend) is now overcoming me and I'm signing off and going to bed with my book! Good night!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Tazz, Training & Concert

We had good fun at training last night. We had a lot of people away from training on holiday so we set up a some courses (agility and jumping) designed by one of the judges at this year's FCI World Championships. We invited Berndatte, Lisa, Toni and Lee to come along and have a practise before going out to Norway.

We trained over a slightly simplified version of one of the agility courses and were really pleased with how we and our dogs coped. It was good fun. Then we had a long session for the World Champ people and allowed them time to walk the courses and then run them and train bits and pieces where needed. Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed for the British team and wish them all lots of luck.

Dennis came along in order to try out some action photography in an indoor arena, hopefully he got some good results.

On the way home they dropped off Tazz who is now happily installed with us until Bernadette and Dennis get back from Norway. He has settled in really well and is very comfortable with Tina and Ellie in the small sitting room ...... yes that is Tazz and not Kizzy on the sofa with Ellie!

The most exciting thing for me today is that I managed to get tickets to see my favourite pianist Leif Ove Andsnes who is doing just two concerts in the UK this year (he only tours here about once in every 3-5 years!). The concert is in December at the Birmingham Symphony Hall and is a celebration of Elgar and Greig.

To see him play has been a dream of mine for a very long time and to be able to hear him play Greig's piano concerto is something I never thought I would be lucky enough to experience. I can't describe how happy I am. It will be a lovely Christmas present. I tried to book at the weekend but there were only single tickets left so I was very disappointed, the concerts had sold out so quickly. I called again today and was lucky to get two returns which means that we can sit together!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Summer House

At last the summer house is in place. It's really great. Andy and Dennis took all day Saturday to get it done and were exhausted by the end of the day. But, it was worth it!

I had a rummage at the boot fair and got a couple of blinds and a set of whicker chairs and sofa all for £22.00. They are all installed and it's very cosy. At some point Al is going to run electricity down there so I'll be able to have a kettle and a heater for the cold winter!

The dogs had a wonderful day out in the garden while Andy and Dennis toiled. Here are some pictures from the day.

Men at work aided by the three old codgers: Abbey, Ellie & Tina (who are staying with us for their holiday)

I thought this was funny!

Andy asking Tina for some advice on carpentry!

Abbey posing!

The finished job.

Tina & Ellie enjoying the fresh air!

Naughty Niamh with her favourite football!

A very tired little sheltie at the end of the day!

Friday, 14 September 2007

Poppy visits Mum

Had to go into Tunbridge Wells to get my hair cut today so I took my three dogs with me and stopped off at Eridge forest for a lovely walk before going to visit Mum.

I decided to take Poppy in with me as she hadn't been in for a visit. She was absolutely brilliant. She cuddled up to Mum and was so gentle. The nurses and care workers loved her and brought her a saucer of tea and a biscuit!

Here are some pictures of Poppy and Mum (not very good as taken with my mobile, as usual!)

It's a bit hot in here!

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Kizzy's Training

Kizzy is really enjoying her training and we think she's progressing well. She had a great night at our training club on Tuesday doing some set ups, jumping exercises and lots of seesaws balanced on two tables with lots of cream cheese to eat on the end! She was full of herself and really showing off on the seesaw, at times I barely managed to squirt the next blob of cheese on before she'd wizzed back round!

Today we had a training session at home in the lunch break. We did quite a bit of stuff and got some of it on video.

This, that and the other .... oh and conkers

Walk in the evening sunshine and visit to the Pub

We took the dogs for a late walk yesterday so that they'd be tired when we went to meet Dan and Mac at the pub (belated birthday celebration for Mac).

It was really nice across the fields and the dogs had a lovely time. As usual we forgot to take the camera so I took a couple of photos with my mobile. We can never find Kizzy on a walk, this picture of her and Andy illustrates why ..... she's behind you! This is where she likes to walk, right behind Andy. She does have a good run as well but she often tucks in behind. She runs more if she finds a plastic bottle or something to carry. Then she likes to show off to the others.

I'm behind you!

I'm the king of the castle!

We popped her up on the hay bale to pose. As usual she was very happy to oblige! With my usual aplomb I took the first photo in my own shadow, I suppose it's something that I noticed I'd done it and actually moved for the second photo!

Aren't I gorgeous (Kizzy that is, not Andy!)

When we got home Poppy decided to relax outside while they cooled down ready for their dinner (it's a hard life for the dogs in our house!!).

Poppy: Where's my Pimms?
Naughty Niamh: Who cares, about the Pimms, let's get down the garden!

We went to the Royal Oak at Crockham Hill and had a lovely meal. They have a great selection for vegetarians which makes a nice change. It's run by two guys who are partners (both in the business and privately) and they're very hospitable and friendly. It's very much a village pub with the locals popping in and out during the evening. It's our favourite pub at the moment but we're going to make ourselves try others in the area so we don't become boring!

Building Work

The building is really taking shape. It's been quite a slow process but things are finally coming together. We're very pleased with the shape of the roof and how it looks. The final few tiles are going on and we hope to have the scaffolding down on Friday which means we'll be able to go next door and tidy up their garden. We are lucky to have really lovely neighbours who have been totally supportive of our building project. Our builders have had to work from their side of the boundary a lot of the time and the scaffold is sitting in their garden. We put up temporary fencing to keep their dogs in and the last job will be to put up three new fence panels between our properties. Liz and Geoff come in and check our place when we go to dog shows, they collect the mail, water the greenhouse and plants and usually leave a little tub of fresh veg for us in the kitchen for when we get home. During the building works they have let me park my car in their drive whenever needed. They really are so accommodating. When it's all finished we're going to take them out for a meal .... probably to the Royal Oak!

Dennis working on the new roof. As you can see we've managed to keep the lovely wisteria intact. We actually made the extension slightly smaller than orginally planned in order that we could have a go at saving it and it seems to have survived as it's flowering for the second time this year.

The new garage from the front of the property.

The scaffolding and temporary fence in our neighbour's garden.

The new utility room viewed from the new garage.

The new utility room from the outside.


Especially for Bernadette - these are conkers (the fruit of the horse chestnut tree, not the sweet chestnut tree where edible chestnuts come from.)

Apparently, if you put a conker in each corner of a room it stops spiders coming in (Mac heard this from someone but we're not sure if it works!) I am going to try this as our new house is very spidery! I think the building work has disturbed quite a few. I don't mind the thin harvest spiders that hang in the corners of the ceilings but I am not at all fond of the large black house spiders. Kizzy and Niamh like to eat them (yuk!) I will also put lots of conkers in my summer house once it's up as I think that will be a very popular place for spiders. Andy and Dennis (our builder) are spending Saturday morning putting the summer house up. I can't wait, it'll be so nice for somewhere to take a break during an agility lesson.


Tomorrow Tina and Ellie are arriving for a two week stay whilst Dan and Mac go on holiday to Cornwall. They're going to an agility show and then having two weeks holiday with Alan and Tracey. It'll be Dan's last outing in G2 so I hope he wins! Al needs one more win with Meggie for G7 so we're keeping our fingers crossed for him too!

Then next Tuesday Tazz arrives for his holiday whilst Bernadette and Dennis travel out to the Agility World championships. Oh boy, that means 9 dogs in the house!

The worst thing is that during that time the builders will probably want to break through the kitchen into the new utility room - where am I going to put all the dogs! Tina and Ellie normally have the small sitting room to themselves but they'll just have to get used to sharing that with some of the others, probably Kizzy, Tazz and Becky. Naughty Niamh will move into the office with Abbey and Poppy (oh dear, that means all my three are with me in the office, how did that happen I wonder!) That means Murphy will just have to move into the greenhouse! After his recent escapades at agility shows I think this could be a very real possibility! Only joking ...................

FCI Courses

We have lots of people away from training due to holidays so we decided to put up some FCI type courses for Bernadette to come along and practise prior to departing for Norway. Toni and Lee are also coming along and maybe Lisa.

We're doing this next Tuesday at our training school. It should be fun and hopefully helpful for our British team members. We're going to train over the courses ourselves and then when they others arrive they can show us how it's done properly! I have a pile of courses in front of me which I'm studying (they are courses designed by this year's two judges) and we hope they'll give a real flavour of what's to come. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed for the whole British team.

I think that's enough for now!

Monday, 10 September 2007

Chippenham & Gillingham

We had a lovely long weekend. We offered to help set up the rings so were allowed to camp from the Thursday. It was a really nice break and the weather was great. We had lots of nice walks with the dogs and had a really chilled time.

On Saturday Andy worked Pops in the champ class. She worked really well and but for one mistake in the jumping round and a knocked pole in the agility did the best she has for a long time in this class. I ran her in the Crufts Senior agility and she was fantastic. I should have made a cross at the dog walk but didn't and caused her to mis judge the run onto the dogwalk otherwise her round was brilliant on a very tricky Ian Fraser course - I do love his courses! Although they are tough they always run well and you really have to work hard. I worked Niamh really badly on the Saturday, it was nearly 4.00 pm before she had her first run and I had switched off a bit. Poor excuse I know! We got 13th in the G5 agility which we really shouldn't have achieved as we had at least two refusals that for some reason didn't get marked. I was amazed we had a clear round let alone a place!

On Sunday I was more focused and Naughty Niamh did a lovely round to win her last ever G5 agility. She also worked brilliantly in her last jumping round but due to pilot error was E'd. Sadly (for me anyway!) no video. Andy wanted a weekend off filming so he could actually watch Niamh work rather than film her. Boo!

Murphy was bad on Saturday but better on Sunday. He did a fantastic G6 jumping round just knocking one pole right near the end of the course. He was just 1/100th of a second of the winning time. Why couldn't he leave that pole up! Andy is very disillusioned at the moment and is seriously thinking of retiring Murphy and just concentrating on Kizzle.

As for Kizzy, well she had a wonderful weekend as always. She played round the rings and went out in the exercise area with Andy where they practised their targets and set up routine. She spent all the evenings just mooching around while we sat out with friends. She didn't wander off at all and is quite happy to just potter around.

We could have stayed over on Sunday evening but decided to come home as Andy is very busy work-wise. We kind of wished we had stayed though. The journey home was awful. The A303 was very slow as was the M3. It was 8pm before we got indoors which is a bit later than we'd hoped for!

Now we have a free weekend coming up. I decided not to enter WBSD show as the classes for Niamh were combined 6/7 and I thought we might be over faced. Instead we're waiting until the following weekend for Paws in the Park (nice and local for us) where she'll have grade 6 classes (scary!)

We have a new A-frame being delivered to our training school tomorrow. Our old one was damaged by a fork lift truck moving hay into the barn where it's stored. Our land lady was very cross with the farmer and is making him pay for a new one! A good result as ours was ex-hire and we've had it for nearly 14 years. That said, there was nothing wrong with it.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Kizzy Jump & Playtime

Andy has been teaching Kizzy to jump into his arms. It's going quite well, the first part of this little video shows her jumping and then moves onto a puppy play time with a new little friend.

Leah & Jay have a puppy from Leah's mum to hand rear. We think he's about four weeks old. He just arrived today from Wales. He's a really happy and bold little chap. They called in for lunch and he had a nice time in the garden and a game with the Kizzle. Kizzy is such a nice natured dog although she can get a little over the top and managed to roll the puppy over a couple of times!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Kizzy's Training

Kizzy's training is really coming along well. Andy has had lots of homework since the lesson with Berndatte a couple of weeks back.

Her weave training is progressing well and she seems to really enjoy the process. She is also starting seesaw training and is doing well with her dog walk target. She is now at the top of the down plank and pulling down the whole plank to her target. The next stage is for her to do that with a looser lead to see if she really understands the process, i.e. speed but stop at her target! I don't think it will be much longer before Andy tests that out. Andy still does lots of groundwork with the target as well as on the bottom of the dog walk. She's building up her duration on the target really well and loves this 'game'!

We have also done quite a bit of work getting her to jump up into our arms. That's really progressing well although she point blank refused to demonstrate this to Grandma and Lisa at Trent Park on Sunday (bad sheltie). I bought her some Burns fish treats which sit on the breakfast bar and now she is really keen to jump up! The other morning she arrived on Andy's lap when he was sitting on the high breakfast bar stool and almost landed in his cornflakes.

Every morning whoever gets up first and goes to the kitchen and opens the baby gate, Kizzy tears into the bedroom and leaps onto the bed for a cuddle with whoever is still there (ok, ok, normally it's me, I admit it!) This has developed into a real routine and it's lovely as she's such a cuddly little thing in the mornings.

I hope to do a little training video of Kizzy but it's quite difficult at the moment as some of the processes require me to hold her lead or place her treats out etc. Once Andy is more self-sufficient (is there such a thing with a man!!!) then I'll be able to take some video!

This and that ....

We had a nice leisurely Saturday with no dog show to attend! We caught up with some chores which included Andy cleaning his Shogun inside and out. It hadn't been touched since before we moved house so was pretty bad. Now it looks beautiful so I see no reason (Bernadette & Lisa) why he should need a new vehicle (purple or otherwise!) We did a little bit of dog training with Naughty Niamh and Kizzy and then took them all for a lovely walk across the fields.

We had Tina and Ellie to stay for the weekend as Dan & Mac were off gallivanting at Letchworth. I think it was a worthwhile trip for Dan as he came home with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th! Mac did well with Jess getting 17th in a G5/6 agility class.

On Sunday we went to Trent Park. It was lovely day out but agility wise it wasn't great. Murphy was awful, truly wild and wicked. Niamh was brilliant but I made two errors, one in each of her classes. She was working really well so I was very angry with myself and the frustration lasted all day. In the jumping class I pulled her off a jump and in the agility I made a very abrupt cross behind the weaves and caused her to double up. Bad and useless handler! I also handled Poppy badly. She is working like a little train at the moment but I made errors in both her rounds and wasted them. I am handing Poppy over to Andy for Chippenham and Gillingham so that she gets some proper attention, my mind is so focused on the Naughty Niamh that it's hopeless for me to contemplate running Poppy in a champ class. I love running Poppy and hate handing her over but she's just too good to be wasted especially in the twilight of her agility career. It's Niamh's last weekend in Grade 5 classes so I'd like to get round the courses with some degree of success - if possible!

When we got home from Trent Park we went to visit Mum. She's doing OK and my sister is trying to get her assessed for a wheel chair so that we can take her outside. The problem is that her legs are so badly bent due to the neuro-spacticity that it makes it very difficult to put her in any kind of chair: for safety as well as comfort reasons. We took Abbey with us as she's a wonderful dog for just lying quietly and been petted. Here are some pictures of Abbey with Mum and Dan from Friday's visit to Mum. You can see from these photos how her poor legs are bent. That's the position they're in all the time and they can't be straightened even with physio and calipers. They had one of her legs in a cast for weeks but it didn't help. It's such a shame.

Mum with Abbey and Dan

As mentioned we're off to Chippenham and Gillingham for the weekend. We're actually going down on Thursday and coming back Monday so making a nice long weekend. We have replaced our Fiamma with a bigger version so looking forward to trying that out!