Monday, 30 June 2008

Axstane Video

Here are some of our rounds from Axstane. Sadly I didn't get Niamh's 2nd place as Andy was scribing for Sara - how selfish of him!

Catching Up

I've neglected the blog over the past couple of weeks. Have been really busy and with some decent weather at last have been spending rather a lot of time outdoors doing some gardening and training my lovely puppy. There are just not enough hours in the day to do everything.

This evening after my beginner group I have resolved to bring the blog up to date, right now I'm supposed to be working on technical notes for a drawing and "the boss" is getting a little tetchy as I type this!

So by tomorrow the blog will be brought fully up to date ...... hopefully!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Happy Birthday Naughty Niamh

Happy birthday to my gorgeous, very special but Naughty Niamh - four years old today!

Here are some pictures of her in the garden today.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Zeki out and about

Today I took Zeki into Edenbridge. She has been into town before but only in my arms. Tomorrow she can officially go on the floor so I thought I'd be safe doing so today. I know she's been on the floor at dog shows and a couple of other places but I'm still a bit old fashioned and don't like to push my luck.

We parked in the tannery yard car park and walked out onto the high street and up Church Street and through the graveyard. I took the opportunity to tie her up outside the church to take a photo. It's a nice safe spot to tie her up without any traffic or distractions (not that I'd tie my dog up and leave it anyway, it's just something I like them to get used to!)

Then we walked through the market yard and up one side of the high street, stopping off for a visit to Bradfords Household store for a walk round the shop and a cuddle with Mary and one of her shop assistants. Mary lives next door but one to us so she already knows Zeki.

After this we walked back down the other side of the road. I had a nose in the estate agents and noticed that my old cottage was up for sale. The cottage is right in the high street next door to the agents so I'd spotted the board. It was nice to look at the pictures in the window and see the interior of the cottage. It's the same kitchen I put in but it's been painted. I can't believe the same oven is still in place. I left that cottage some 20 years ago! The garden looks lovely, much as I left it. Made me feel quite sad as I thought of my Mum helping me to create the garden out of a building site and also reminded me of Lizzie my first dog. That was where she lived.

Anyway, after reminising we carried on down the high street and stopped off at the middle pet shop to say hello and then called into the Council Offices which are in a beautiful old building called Doggets Barn. All the office workers came out to meet Zeki and I've promised to take Kizzy back to see them as they want to see how Zeki will look when she's grown up. One of the ladies is very keen to get a sheltie. We're going back on Thursday with both shelties, it's a good day to go down the town as it's market day and very busy.

Next we wandered further down and popped into the other Bradfords shop which has all sorts of stuff including a pet department. This was Zeki's favourite shop as they have tubs of bones and chewies everywhere!

Finally we walked across the old stone bridge and had a wander into the field before returning back to the car park past the old mill. This is Zeki posing on one of the huge weights which used to form part of the mechanics of the water mill.

She was totally unfazed at being on the floor with the cars rumbling past (it must be quite different feeling the vibration of the vehicles in the ground compared with when she was in my arms). She barked at a dog sitting in one of the antique shops and at her own reflection in a few shop windows. She also barked when she'd had enough of stopping one place as she wanted to move on and find new things to explore. She got fussed by lots of people and was very happy to be cuddled and stroked. All in all, a very pleasant hour. She is now fast asleep in her bed, upside down as usual!

More garden pictures

Here are some more pictures of the garden as Andy cuts his way through the jungle. The other week I took out some brambles, about 6 feet long and thought I was being really productive. See the photos below, we reckon that big bramble is about 35 feet long. It was growing up through the canopy and really taking hold. Not any more!

Bramble aka " The Triffid"

At last we can see the lovely wall. The Russian Vine will soon start to shoot again so we'll still get a lovely autumn display from it.

The newly strimmed vegetable area which will be sprayed, rotivated and seeded in the next few weeks.

Lovely Walk

I took the dogs for a really long walk yesterday. I like to do this on Mondays after a weekend's competition both to give the competing dogs a chance to relax and unwind and to make it up to the non-competing dogs for the lack of attention they sometimes receive at dog shows. Andy and I always try to give time to the non-competing dogs by taking them on little walks and on outings round the rings but it's inevitable that they don't get the attention they normally receive which makes me feel guilty.

We had a lovely time. The weather was really glorious, not too hot and lots of sun shine. We were out for a couple of hours and everyone was very satisfied.

Happy Hudsondoglets!

The Garden

I've been "suggesting" to Andy for a while that we get some help with the garden. He wants to do everything himself but we just don't have the time or the knowledge to do it all. Yesterday morning we had a call from next door's gardener saying that he'd had quite a bit of work cancelled this week and Michael suggested he ring us to see if we wanted anything done. Yippee, we now have a gardner.

He's a really nice guy called ... Andy. We have so much we want to do so I took him on a tour and we came up with a plan. I want to rotivate the large vegetable patch right at the end of my agility area and reclaim this for agility training. So, yesterday Andy strimmed all the weeds and then when the new growth starts to come up he's going to come back and spray it. Then he'll rotivate and seed the area. He's also going to fill in some of the uneven areas at the top end of the garden to try to make a flatter surface. Many years ago the top end of our gardens were allotments so you have lots of uneven areas where vegetable beds used to be. We've also moved the bonfire further up so we can reclaim another area for agility.

Our back garden is walled and on one side the wall is very old and lovely to look at. Trouble is you can't see it because we've allowed the Ivy and Russian Vine to take over to a ridiculous extent. We were going to tackle it earlier in the year but we found black birds nesting in their so we abandoned the exercise. We also have a lovely magnolia tree at the rear of the garden and that also was starting to encroach to far across. See below!

So after strimming the vegetable patch, Andy set to tackling the above. He is a brave man. We don't want to lose all the Ivy and definitely not all the Russian Vine as the colour is glorious in the autumn but as you can see it was becoming triffid like in its proportions!

Here is work in progress and later on I'll post some pictures of the finished job. Andy is still busy out there today working on this walled area. He is a tree surgeon as well as gardener so he is also going to have a good sort out of our willow tree which has lots of dead in it. Once he's had a good go at the things we want him to sort then he'll come back periodically to help us keep it under control and give us some advice on planting. We have an area which used to be a pond and still has the line in place and this we want to make into a bog garden. Andy says it'll be ideal and is going to help us create this properly. There is so much to do in this garden and it's lovely to see improvement as we tackle various areas.
The wall starting to re-appear

I will post some more pictures at the end of today's work. The difference is amazing. The garden feels much bigger as a result.

Sunny Axstane

Axstane is always one of our favourite shows. We go early on the Friday to help set up the rings. This year we got set up, helped with the rings, did some Zeki training and then chilled from about 4.00 pm! Actually that's not true, we went to a caravan dealer just down the road from the venue ...... more of that later!

The weather was great on both days, we had some rain late Saturday evening and overnight but other than that it was perfect dog show weather. Lots of sunny intervals but not too hot for the dogs.

We had some good results over the weekend and were delighted with the performance of our dogs.

Kizzy and Niamh competed in the mini/mixi pairs for the first time and came 2nd. They led the class right until the end when our friend Tracey and her partner beat us. I should say, former friend Tracey - only joking! We were thrilled with our placing.

Kizzy then had a mixed bag, she won her Combined 1-3 Agility by 4 seconds but didn't do very well in her Eukanuba qualifier where she ran round about three jumps. In her grade 3 jumping she was up on the clock but swooped round the final jump in a snake combination towards the end of the course.

Niamh was a little star. She ran beautifully all day. We had four classes and got placed in each of them: 2nd in G6 agility; 11th in G6-7 Jumping; 5th in G5-7 Jumping and 2nd in the Mini/Mixi Pairs. Her agility round was one of the best we've done and sadly I didn't get it on film as Andy was scribing for Sara at the time. It was Sara's course and quite a tricky one but we got it just about right. I really wish I'd got this round on video. Here's a copy of the course instead! Niamh led the class right to the end and was pipped by 2/100th's of a second. I was thrilled but at the same time a bit disappointed not to have held on to the lead. I was encouraged also by the fact that overall Niamh would have been placed 4th if you combined the G6 and G7 dogs. This is real progress for us.

On Sunday Kizzy had another win, this time her combined G1-3 jumping. In her G3 agility she was doing a fantastic round but ran past the A-Frame. It's very frustrating, trying to figure out why/when this is going to happen. We've watched the videos over and over and it's hard to say. We can only assume it's because she hasn't fully committed to an obstacle and follows Andy's movement as he takes off. Andy needs to work on this aspect of her training and also her finished position on contacts as this just isn't as it should be. Once the European Opens are over I think he'll be travelling to West Sussex for a lesson with Gran'Ma!

In her other two classes on Sunday (both fun classes) she came 10th in the G1-7 Helpers Jumping (all sizes mixed in together) and 8th in the G1-7 Tunnel and Jump. This was a great class and a really nice way to boost confidence for young dogs. I wish there was more of this sort of class. Much more fun than helter skelters (IMO!) In the helpers jumping Kizzy had a run off with a large dog. Kizzy won the run off she ran clear and Elaine and Skeet had a pole down. Skeet was quicker by 2/100th of a second. Poor Elaine didn't get a rosette as the run off was for 10th place and it was the last rosette. Had they both put in those times first time round Skeet would have won the class and Kizzy been second. I told both Andy and Elaine they should have tried harder first time - haha!

The other thing that Andy is having to adapt at the moment is Kizzle's startline routine. She isn't focusing when setting up so taking Gran'Ma's advice Andy is carrying her into the ring and getting her to focus on him by playing little games and winding her up, then he just pops her into a sit and leaves her rather than asking her to perform her set up. This seems to be working and she is leaving the startline with more drive. He made this change on Sunday and I think you can see the difference, that is when I post the videos!

Sunday for Naughty Niamh wasn't bad but we didn't get any clear rounds. I messed up her jumping round by trying to scoop her over a sequence rather than pivoting, Jan suggested to me not to do this but I was stubborn. The weave entry in this class was really tough and Niamh just picked it up all by herself. The funny thing about this class was that from the weaves you had to double back all the way past the weaves to a jump, similar to what Andy and Kizzy had at Thames last week. The main difference was that I made a complete mess of it! You'll see this later when I post the video!

In her agility class the "N" in naughty surfaced in the ring for the first time ever! Niamh left the dog walk (missing it) and was over a jump and in the tunnel before I said "OK"! Bad Naughty Niamh! But, it is lovely to see her driving away from me! After that it went wrong because I was somewhat in shock! Mind you, she picked up another good weave entry so I can't really complain!

I'll post a video of the rounds we filmed at the weekend at bit later (i.e. when I've got time!) Meanwhile, here are some photos of Kizzy and Niamh with their rosettes and trophies from the weekend. I must also add that little Pops got 7th in the Anysize Jumping - the most important class of the weekend!

Kizzy with her spoils from Axstane 2008

Naughty Niamh with hers!

The Mini/Mixi Pair

Thursday, 12 June 2008

My gorgeous puppy

Here are some pictures I took of Zeki today. Her ears are perfect right now but this could change as she starts to teeth. Whatever, she is perfect!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Zeki's Training

We've had a very busy time lately (hardly surprising as it's full into the agility season and we have seven dogs to care for!)

I have done lots of little training sessions with Zeki and am really enjoying her. We have overcome the grooming and paw wiping issues and she is now perfectly behaved for both. She even tolerates her ears and head being combed. I took my grooming stuff with me to Thames show and on the Friday afternoon I gave her a full groom, toe nail trim and foot trim - all by myself with nobody assisting! That is definitely progress.

Her elephant trick is at last starting to move forward. I have had to do lots of clicking for just two paws on her box because she always wants to sit on everything you put out for her. We have just today progressed to her rotating once with me giving a hand signal rather than having to move right round the box myself. I am pleased with this as I think she'll quickly move forward from this point.

Yesterday afternoon we had our first session with the cones. I want to teach her to go round the cone anti-clockwise off my right arm signal and clockwise off my left arm. As you can see from the video it's coming but we need lots more practise and she has a preference for one side (the one I showed her first of course!) I'm very pleased with this bearing in mind it was only her second session with this new behaviour. Once she's more confident I'll start to build up the distance to the cones and hopefully stand up. At the moment she is more confident with me kneeling on the floor. I have also started teaching her to weave around two cones placed a couple of feet apart but this isn't yet ready for the blog!

The other thing I'm teaching her is to run by my side and not cut in behind me. We're starting to develop our little "front crosses" in this exercise and she is really good at turning and staying on the side I want her. She loves to chase me!

We always finish with a game of tug and she'll even do this if her sausage tub is visible. I am still struggling with the roll over trick and have decided to leave it for a week or so before trying again.

Zeki had a wonderful time at Thames with loads of activities, cuddles, training etc. She had a lovely play time with Pauline Barr's little boy on the Friday afternoon and I actually managed to get some lovely photos of them together. She also had a play with Pauline's puppy but they moved too quickly for me to photograph! he had a good game in Gran'ma's camp with her two brothers Zev and Ziga. I'm not sure if Dennis managed to get any photos of them all together, maybe they'll appear on the Obay blog if so. She looks very much the girl up against the two boys which is nice for me. I got so fed up with everyone calling Niamh a "he" all the time. I know she's a big girl but to me she's cute and not at all like a boy dog. I get very upset when people are rude about my lovely Naughty Niamh and call her a boy - she's a gorgeous girl in my eyes!

Zeki has settled in with us so well, all the temper tantrums have disappeared and she is a really lovely little dog. Andy is very jealous but he isn't getting her - she's mine!

Here are some photos and a little training video of Zeki.

Zeki in her new play pen in our 'garden' at Thames show.

Playing tuggy with her new friend.

More tugging.

I love this photo of the two of them!

Practising sit stays at Thames

At home in the garden with a sleepy Abbey

OK, I'm hot and bored now!

Kizzy at Thames 2008

We had a lovely long weekend at Thames agility show. We were allowed to camp from Thursday as we helped to set up the rings on Friday. It was great to have the extra time away and the club provided us all with a lovely lunch on Friday for helping to set up. Very nice indeed.

Well, Kizzy had a good weekend. She had some 'nearly' rounds in her two qualifiers (Eukanuba and KC Olympia). In the Eukanuba round we're not really sure why she didn't take the see-saw and think it's just a baby thing where she's not always committing to obstacles if Andy takes off. In the KC Olympia qualifier Andy didn't handle the box before the seesaw as he walked the course and put in a very late rear cross at the seesaw which is definitely what pulled her off. He wishes he'd stayed top side of the seesaw and front crossed after but never mind!

In her Graded 3-7 jumping on Saturday she got first place (winning by 5 seconds and ahead of the G4 and 5 winners.) Andy was really happy with this result because it was quite a tricky course. Then on Sunday in her Graded 3-5 jumping she came 2nd, it was an unusual course with a long run back from the weaves to the tunnel which we didn't think she would cope with but she did it pretty well only losing a little time and also on a wide turn. Still, no complaining a first and second is very acceptable!

She's a little star! Here are some pictures and her video of the weekend.

Photo of our little star with her proud dad, photo courtesy of Grandad Dennis!

Kizzy weaving - thanks to Lynn for this picture!

Kizzle about to turn (photo by Dennis)

Lovely shot of Kizzy in full flight, another one from Lynn - thank you!