So here is a megga update for that period.
Visit to Terry & Jackie
A week ago Friday we went to visit Terry and Jackie for the day at their new house in Suffolk. The journey was good and we arrived with them at 10.30 am. We had a good look around their lovely new house and garden and had some coffee. After that we walked into the village to their local pub for lunch.
After lunch we took all the dogs for a nice long walk directly from their house. This was their regular walk which takes you down a lane along the river and out to the fields. We had a lovely time until we got to the top fields when the "Naughty" in Naughty Niamh re-surfaced!
We had just been chatting about one of Jackie's dogs taking off after a hare when Terry spotted one of their dogs doing exactly that but then in front of their dog (Biddy I think) was a red and white collie disappearing into the distance. Of course it was the Naughty Niamh. We called and called and sent Andy running off across the field. The worst thing was that the top field ran alongside a busy A road and that's where she headed. I was in my usual panic mode and kept waiting to hear a car screeching or hooting. I honestly thought I would lose her. Then Terry spotted her coming back across the middle of another field (bear in mind these fields are huge) and so he and I resumed calling and whistling. She clocked us but continued to look for the hare. By a miracle she then looked across at us and I yelled and yelled and she grudgingly came back. All the "good" traits as a dog owner then came out in me as I hugged her and walloped her all in one second! She spent the rest of the walk on an extender lead. Bad Naughty Niamh!
We cleaned up all the dogs when we got back and settled our lot down and then Jackie cooked us a lovely supper and we headed home about 7.30 pm.
It was so nice to see Terry and Jackie. We really liked their new house and garden and envy their relaxed life style!
It was great to see everyone at the first show of the year. Not so great getting up early but you can't have everything.
In agility terms it wasn't very good. I got E'd in all three of my classes. The rounds weren't all over the place and in fact in each round there were some things I was happy with. The E's were the result of a silly handling mistakes on my part which caused Niamh to back jump in two of the classes and to go round the back of the weaves in another. In the weaving E I got right in her way so she had no choice other than to go round the back of the poles as I was blocking the entrance. That said, I didn't feel that we were in tune. I think this was due to coming back down to earth from our Crufts experience and also the day before (hare chasing episode). When Niamh and I have a fall out (which is pretty rare these days) it definitely seems to have a huge effect on our partnership. This carried on in to our Tuesday night training session which was awful. Quite the worst session we've ever had. We made mistakes at the simplest of sequences and then for some weird reason she started to skip a gap in the weaves. She did this continually throughout the evening always at the same place and in either direction. It was really strange I was distraught because I'd somehow broken her weaves.
I was unable to fix the problem on Wednesday due to the awful weather, it just poured down with rain all day long. However, on Thursday morning we went down to the paddock and had a play. I started by using the v-weaves with the second and third poles very slightly splayed. She was fine and so we progressed to the regular poles and she didn't miss a beat. Now I just had to hope our weaves would be OK for the Easter show!
Back to Mid Downs. Kizzy had a good airing at Mid Downs and met up with her friends. As usual she took everything in her stride although she was quite tired. We thought it could have been from her busy day in Suffolk but she is still a little quiet now and so we are thinking it could be post season blues.
Murphy and Leah did two good runs. They did get E'd but he did good start line waits and excellent contacts. Considering the noise and atmosphere inside the building we were impressed with their rounds. Andy trained Murphy on Tuesday as he wanted to run him at the Easter show, however that wasn't to be.
We had a very busy week in the office running up to Easter. I was busy writing up applications and doing book keeping (yuk) and Andy was trying to get several draft drawings out to clients before the holiday. We achieved about 75% of what we wanted so not too bad.
On Good Friday I did a session with my beginner group and then we had a reasonable tidy up in part of the garden. We were out there for about five hours with all the dogs, they love it when we garden! We need to focus on specific areas as it's all to easy to get carried away and start too much which you then can't finish. So, we focused on the yard where Andy keeps his building materials and mowers etc. and the small garden behind the willow tree. Andy mowed the long grass around the summer house and we cleared up lots of the dead wood that had fallen from the willow tree.
We are going to get someone in to give the willow a good prune and also do the apple tree, the climbing rose and the ivy which is going wild on the wall. Our next door neighbours Michael and Ellen came round and took away some of our compost. They are keen vegetable growers and I'm pleased that all our kitchen waste is being put to good use. We have a large composter where all the vegetable peelings etc. go but I don't have a use for the resulting compost as I just don't have the time to grow vegetables at the moment.
We were pleased with the result of our labour and finished up by tidying out the trailer and putting its cover back on. The cover sinks into the trailer when it rains (bit like an awning) so Andy decided to cover it with a half sheet of ply. He picked up the ply and turned to place it on the trailer and heard a noise in his back and couldn't move at all for about 10 minutes. It got a little bit better with the aid of ibuprofen but not much.
The magnolia in our back garden is almost out, just needs some warm sunshine to bring it out fully. We didn't get to see it last year and are really looking forward to it flowering.
The willow tree which needs a serious prune. This is part of the area we tidied on Good Friday.
The long border which we've chopped right back. It'll be interesting to see what comes up as there's loads of stuff shooting.
Easter Celebration Agility Show
The following day we were lucky to have show to go to. The Easter Celebration was going ahead despite the weather but had been moved indoors and onto the outdoor sand schools. I think all the other Easter shows in the country were cancelled so we were lucky. Although Andy was in quite a bit of pain he came along as we were ring partying on the Saturday. Again, we were very lucky as our ring was indoors. It was still very cold and we felt really sorry for the ring parties in the four outside rings. We had excellent parking inside one of the buildings which was only a short walk from our ring. All the dogs had coats on and Abbey had a bed with a heated pad and a fleecey blanket to cover her. She was like toast all day which was a relief as it was so cold.
Kizzy wasn't herself at all on Saturday. She had a bad tummy and also was in a major sulk as she had to wear her coat all day. She hates her coat but it was just too cold to be sat in the car all day without it on. We were quite worried about her as she was definitely out of sorts.
I ran Poppy in her first ever veteran class. It made me cry; of course she absolutely loved it and stormed round the course. I was so pleased when our names were called out in 3rd place, we got a nice glass trophy and an Easter egg! I wish there were more of these classes, it was so lovely to run her and be a part of her delight at participating in a competition again. I miss running Poppy so much it hurts. It even makes my eyes well up to type this.
Naughty Niamh was much better than at Mid Downs. I think we've recovered from our little set back thankfully. In her jumping class I was rather stupid and left out a jump so got E'd. On Saturday I was feeling really lacking in confidence and not looking forward to running Niamh in her other classes. I think it was a combination of feeling a bit over stretched in the G6/7 classes and also not having my lovely Poppy to run. I am lucky to have some good friends and had very positive conversations with Mand and Karen. This really helped me focus and overcome my nerves so that we actually attacked the senior Olympia class which was a G6/7 and a nice but tricky handling course. We didn't get placed but we had a good clear round which was only just off the qualifying times. In fact we could have done better had I rememered to put in the front cross after the seesaw instead of holding back and pulling Niamh into the final three jumps. Old habits die hard! I was still not that happy with our contacts but they were definitely better. Leah and Murphy did some brilliant rounds with just the odd jump falling. Contacts were great and each round had a start line wait!
When we got home we all collapsed in the warm. I think we managed to find space to sit somewhere!
On Sunday Andy stayed at home partly because of his back and partly because we decided it wasn't fair for the older dogs to have yet another day in the car in the freezing cold. It was a good decision as Sunday turned out to be even colder and we were parked in the main car park as we were just competing and not ring partying. The weather was crazy: sunshine; rain; snow; hail; sleet and some very strong winds. It was very cold and at times miserable.
Again Leah and Murphy had a nearly day with some fantastic runs. His G5/6 agility was absolutely stunning with perfect contacts a three jump recall start and just two poles down. Niamh and I didn't get clear as she took a pole out from turning too tightly and knocking the wing but her contacts were the best yet. I did a blind turn to the dog walk and that really gets her going so she ran all the way through and stopped in the sand, perfect! Her G6 jumping was a good run and we actually got placed 13th. The course was just right and really fun to run, plenty to do but not impossible. I like Mark Saunders' courses, he hits the standard spot on (IMO!)
I have much homework to do now on my start lines with Niamh. They are really bad. She hasn't actually broken one (yet) but it's coming. I had to re-set her four times in one class and three times in another. Even then she is leaning right forward with her chin almost on the ground. She is trembling on the start line and when I release her she is woofing at me. It's good because it shows that she's getting keener but I don't want to lose my start line waits. Happily we had no issues with the weaves all weekend so I'm hoping that it was just a strange glitch we experienced at training the week before. All in all I really enjoyed the Easter show and hats off to the organisers for carrying it off in really difficult conditions.
On Monday we just dossed around. The weather was awful so we lit the wood burner and chilled. I had started a sore throat at the show on Sunday and now it's turned into a horrible head cold. Today I have felt really yuk so Andy is doing dog club by himself. Leah is going to take my puppy class for me and train Mr Murf - thanks Leah!
Well, that's about it - what a long update I hope I haven't bored you all to death!