Monday, 28 July 2008

Garden Update

We're still working on the garden in different little areas. We have (that's the royal we) started to create a bog garden. Andy our gardener is bringing us cuttings of plants from his bog garden plus we've moved some plants from other areas of the garden into this new project. It's very much work in progress but I think it will be lovely one day. Andy found loads of iron stone in the garden and has used it in the bog garden and also to create a water feature in our fish pond. We had a pathetic little pump that barely trickled into the pond. Now we have a lovely waterfall made from iron stone and the lovely sound of water to boot.

Here are some pictures and a little video of the water feature. Next project is the long border (see photo and what a mess it is!) plus the rose over the archway needs major attention. It's all good fun I just wish more time was available!

The new bog garden - work in progress

Part of the long border. Needs much work to re-structure the planting.

The archway which needs a good haircut and re-tying.

Finally, the water feature -turn up your sound to get the full effect. I love this as I can hear it through the stable door into the kitchen and from the small sitting room. Very relaxing.

Niamh at Agility Club & Kizzle at Rugby

Here is Naughty Niamh in her two classes on Sunday. I forgot to take the video for Kizzy's runs so no film of her two wins. Damn. Instead is the film Dennis took of her jumping win at Rugby which I forgot to publish.

Take a look at Niamh in the G6 agility after the second huge spread (#3 in the course) she takes a real tumble and recovers so quickly I didn't even notice on the day. It's scary as it looks a horrible tumble, I can't believe I didn't notice it. Just shows you what we don't notice our dogs doing when participating in this sport! I didn't much care for that big gap to the tunnel after two big spreads, one on the turn.

Flowers for Abbey

Today I received some lovely flowers from Lisa and Tony, here they are with the remainder of the flowers Karen gave me. It's so lovely that people are thinking of you when you're having a hard time. I thought I take a picture of these so I can remember them once they've finished.

Below is the lovely rose that Sara and Steve bought me. This will be planted by the gardener when he next comes as I want to make sure it's done properly and in the right spot. I'm not very good at this sort of thing!

What a lovely way to remember my special girl.

Agility Club Show - Sunday

Another hot day, in fact hotter than Saturday (boy was Andy glad he wasn't judging!). I had a couple of courses to walk early with early running orders but Andy had nothing to walk which was just as well as he awoke feeling very sick. This continued for most of the morning and I kept making him drink lots as it was obviously heat stroke from the day before.

Niamh and I were done and dusted by 9.30 am as we had only two runs yesterday. We got a clear in our KC Olympia class but not fast enough for a decent place (we came 26th). It was a very fast and relatively easy course. Lovely for the dogs to have a good stretch but not enough in it for us to do well. We need to make up time with turns and a bit more technical stuff. Not complaining as it was a lovely course and I thoroughly enjoyed the run.

Then we did our G6 agility and I mis-handled tunnel to weaves (which was very similar to Andy's tunnel to weaves in the champ jumping from yesterday!) Just as well I wasn't in that then! We didn't get faulted, just wasted a bit of time and then I went into my "training" mode which irritates Andy so much. Having decided I'd made too much of an error to do well I tried to layer a sequence. It was over ambitious and we got eliminated! It was quite a tricky course and had I pushed on I probably would have got a half decent place. I must stop this behaviour but it's very hard! I would love to win a G6 class now so I think I'm getting a bit up tight about them. I'm very relaxed when we go into G6/7 classes as I don't think we have much of a chance to do that well (and in fact we do reasonably well, most probably as a result of me being relaxed!) The joys of competititve agility!

Onto Kizzy: she had a great day with two wins. First off was her G3-5 agility where she put in a really smashing round. Neil and Bex came second behind Kizzy and Andy also with a lovely round, they are going so well at the moment and we might have to start hexing them! Only joking of course, it's meant as a compliment!

Then she did a lovely round in her G1-3 jumping and won that by quite a big margin, can't remember exactly what that margin was. Gran'Ma was there to see the jumping round and I have to say the language was a little strong at times ; she finds watching Andy and Kizzy rather stressful as Andy has a habit of putting front crosses in places that she (Gran'Ma) just can't fathom. Andy is finding it quite hard to get some of these front crosses in now as Kizzy has speeded up and it's amusing to see her bark at him if she feels he's getting in her way.

Kizzy almost did a great run in her G1-7 KC Olympia class. However, her pilot got a little too close to the A-Frame and had to veer out around a jump wing. This brought Kizzy cutting into him and in pushing her away over the next jump created a bad angle to the weaves and she just missed the entry. It was a real shame as I think she would have got a very respectable place in this class.

Kizzy was also drafted into the team and did a lovely clear. In this round Andy put a front cross in at a straight pipe tunnel and Gran'Ma became very agitated and once again the air turned blue. I had to calm her down and take her back to the caravan for an iced drink.

All in all, Kizzy's best day yet! Go Super Kizzle!

I've previously mentioned that Kizzy was running by the A-Frame rather a lot and this was causing us concern.

So whilst Andy was out in Germany at the EO I took Kizzy to an excellent physiotherapist. After going over Kizzy with a fine tooth comb, she identified an injury in Kizzy's thoracic spine (T12) which she believed Kizzy has been carrying for a little while. She came to this conclusion as Kizzy's muscles were better developed on one side which indicated she had been compensating for the injury for some time. The injury was treated and it was amazing to see the relief that Kizzy got from the treatment. To begin with she was showing all the usual signs of pain when the injury site was touched but after treatment she was totally chilled and it was so clear to see that the pain had disappeared. On advice we kept her quiet for a week after the treatment and then she had one training session on the A-frame at home.

The difference is amazing as can be seen by her results at the weekend. Thank goodness we got her checked out and discovered that the reason she was avoiding the A-frame was because of pain or discomfort. Thanks to Gran'Ma for suggesting we go down that route and to Karen for recommending such an excellent physio. The physiotherapist we normally use was on holiday so it was great to be able to see someone else so quickly.

Now we're back home and have loads to do this week work-wise and in getting organised for our next trip out in the caravan. We're off for a couple of weeks from Friday. We're going to Aylesbury show for the weekend with Jackie and Terry (looking forward to seeing them) and then off to Peterborough on Sunday evening to help mark out all the camping for the KC Festival and then straight off to Dogs in Needs. Yikes, I don't know where I'm going to put all the stuff in the caravan now we no longer have under-bed storage!

Agility Club Show - Saturday

I didn't much fancy going away for this weekend but Andy persuaded me it was a good idea so off we went on Friday afternoon.

I am glad I went as doing something certainly takes your mind of things. I had a few upsets over the weekend when anyone said anything nice about Abbey but it'll get easier and to be honest I need to hear these nice things even if it does make me blub.

Saturday was a very long day. Andy was judging the large championship class followed by the Agility Club juniors and starters finals. It was very hot so I took an umbrella to the ringside so that I could scribe in the shade. We were really lucky as lots of friends helped on our ring. It's amazing how many people put their names down to help (and in the case of the agility club get cheaper entries) but then don't turn up! Leah and Jay worked all day, Bernadette did a big chunk of scribing and Mac Card also helped with setting up courses and pole picking. Lynn and Mark Sheridan were brilliant also, they were on the ring all day long and in Mark's case right up to the end of the finals. It was Lynn's birthday and she didn't get to open her cards 'til 5.00 pm! Thanks to all our friends for their help on the day and of course to the rest of the ring party, especially Raine who I forgot in the first mention. She, Jay and I had a good laugh throughout the day!

The champ class ran well although I found the timing rather slow. We used the big display timer which is fantastic for the spectators but it is very slow to reset to "zero" and this means you have to keep the competitor waiting before you can set them off. I hate this because they are stressed enough in a champ class without extra hassle. I think they got used to the system but it isn't ideal. What we really need is a digital timing display linked to the usual timing boxes. Hopefully someone will produce one in the near future.

The courses were pretty technical with a few "European" features, hmmm wonder why!! When someone ran them well it was spectacular but they were the kind of courses that if a mistake happened then it was very difficult to pick up and finish the rest of the round smoothly. There were lots of subtle "alternative options" for the dogs to choose (I use this term as I hate the word "traps" in the context of course design.) I would love to have tried running them with Niamh as I really like lots of handling rather than courses that are too straight forward. I particularly like the jumping course as it was interesting. I always prefer to run agility over jumping classes but every now and then a jumping course catches my eye and this was one of them. Here are the courses in case anyone would like to try them!

The final was exciting to watch and I think everyone thought Nic Jones and Caleb had done enough to win until Lee ran with Bold. Their round was foot perfect and won the ticket; a very worthy winner over three challenging courses.

Now, in the words of Bernadette - rant coming so please don't go any further unless you want to! Actually is isn't a rant really, just my viewpoint (nothing to do with Andy):

The only downside of the class was that Andy had to eliminate a competitor who turned up late for their run. Some champ judges don't give a minute's waiting time and eliminate competitors immediately moving on to the next handler in the running order. Andy always gives a full minute waiting time for each competitor. Unfortunately the next competitor was also missing and so the second minute of waiting time was started half way through which the first competitor arrived on the line. Their ticket had already gone back to the tent with an elimination marked on it. Andy felt really bad saying that the individual couldn't run and made a point of finding them to say so later in the day. I agree with his decision; if you make exceptions for one individual then you are left in a position of having to do this for everyone who might turn up late. For the judge it's a no-win situation. The lesson learned from this, should Andy judge champ again, is that he will probably not give the minute's waiting time. That way, if someone doesn't turn up then the next competitor will run straight away and there can be no argument about missing the run as it will be obviously too late.

The saddest thing (and the reason for my rant) was that someone was overhead to say that it was just a case of Andy flexing his muscles, that's so unfair because it wasn't the case at all. He was simply abiding by the briefing he had given and in doing so attempting to be fair to everyone and not just one individual. You try to do the decent thing by competitors by giving this time and still you are deemed to be mean when you carry out the decision. That kind of comment makes you wonder if it's worth the effort of judging. You give up your time to try to design interesting courses, you give up your day's competition, your dogs have a lousy day without you and in this case you stand out in the baking sun all day long and end up with heat stroke. There you go - my mini rant is over! This is in no way directed at the individual who missed their run (thought I'd make that clear!)

Moving on, after the champ class was finished then the course had to be set up for the Juniors and Starters finals. These ran until nearly 7.30 pm so it was a very long and tiring day. I felt so guilty about my poor dogs. They didn't have much time from me at all. It was very hot so they were probably best off resting in the shade but even so they didn't have much company.

Agility wise: I ran Naughty Niamh and she got clear in the Crufts singles but out of the places because I made a couple of handling errors which cost us time. We missed the weave entry in our G6 jumping (my fault as I got right in her space) otherwise she worked beautifully and in our pairs we had one pole down. Poppy got clear in her allsorts although it wasn't very smooth as she was wild!

Phew, what a long day and not one to be repeated in a hurry!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Abbey: forever in my heart and soul

I haven't really felt like posting on the blog over this last week. Andy has just got back from the EO in Germany and is really tired. I think he had quite a good time. It was very hard being by myself having just lost Abbey but I am very lucky as I have good friends and family. Karen, Dan and Mac kept me company and other friends phoned and sent me texts which was really kind. Karen is a true friend and has been really supportive to me.

I went off to Newlands on Sunday and had a nice day but lots of tears each time I bumped into someone who said they were sorry for my news. Sara & Steve bought me a lovely rose which I'm going to plant hopefully alongside my miniature rhododendrons (one each for Lizzie and Bess) that Mum bought me.

I am really struggling coming to terms with losing Abbey; I know it will get better with time but at the moment I just can't seem to get her out of my head. She was my soul mate and partner. Abbey always followed me around, not just as she got older but throughout her life. She only ever had eyes for me and only wanted to play or do agility because I wanted to do it. She wasn't that bothered by agility per se but because she loved to do stuff with me and I wanted to do agility then that's what she wanted also. She was totally motivated by our special relationship and I know in my heart I'll never experience that again. She was truly my once in a lifetime dog.

I have made this little tribute to her so I can look back over our years together, hopefully one day with a sense of joy. Right now it just makes me cry but I wanted to do it for her (and for me) so that she isn't forgotten, that I just couldn't bear. She will surely never be forgotten in my heart but I need to think she won't be forgotten by others who knew her over the years. For some reason it feels very important to me.

My sweet little Abbey I will always love you and I hope you're chasing rainbows with Molly.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Sleep tight my sweet Abbey

Just a very short post to let my friends know that we lost my beloved little Abbey today. She was given sleep under the oak tree in our garden which she loved.

I will always be grateful to Michaela (and Rachel the vet) and Andy for helping me to make it happen this way.

Abbey was and will always be my special once in a lifetime companion and partner and I miss her so very much. I will give her a fitting tribute in time but can't do that right now.

Sleep peacefully my precious little friend, you have given me so much joy over the last fourteen years. I will always miss you and am so glad and so very lucky to have had you in my life.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


I am very worried about Abbey at the moment. Her back legs have been getting very weak and last week I decided no more big walks for her. They were becoming a real chore for her. It's a fine line with Abbey in not over doing things but giving her enough exercise to maintain a healthy appetite.

Anway, at Rugby she was very wobbly and started to go right off her food. I took her to the vets on Monday morning and he said the wobbly back end is mechanical rather than neurological. It's obviously worse as she's feeling weak due to lack of nourishment.

Ian took some bloods from her and unfortunately the results were not what I wanted to hear. Her kidneys are functioning way below the norm but worse than that her liver is going into the failure zone. This accounts for her lack of appetite because the bacteria which the liver should cleanse is building up in her blood and gut. Ian has put her on a course of special antibiotics to try to kill off some of this bacteria and she has a special recovery food which is easy to eat and full of calories. She liked it a lot to start with but tonight she won't eat it. I'm hoping she'll eat some before she goes to bed.

Sometimes she looks OK and at other moments I think the end could be approaching soon. When I take her for her walk in the garden she mostly lays down on the grass and goes to sleep. In my dreams she would really do this and not wake up but it's rarely if ever that easy. I don't want her to go, she is my most precious dog ever and I can't imagine being without her. It's so hard. Maybe the antibiotics will do the trick and give her some more quality time.

At the moment I'm just praying nothing happens whilst Andy is in Germany. He goes out with the EO team on Thursday morning.

Rugby Agility Show

We had a nice weekend at Rugby in the new caravan. Everything seemed to work so that's good!

I'm not keen on the venue, it's not so bad when all the competitors start to arrive but it isn't very nice before that. We went up early to help set up the show and so we were one of only three caravans on the Thursday night. You get a few unsavoury characters around and I don't think I'll go early again.

We both had some good and some not so good runs during the weekend.

First off Kizzy: she won her G1/4 jumping on Saturday with a really good round. It was great because Karen and Todd won the medium class over the same course so they sort of had their first Obay Sweep! Kizzy is continuing with her strange behaviour in respect of the A-Frame. She appears to be deliberately avoiding the obstacle in the ring. She did it three times at the weekend and Andy felt quite despondent about it. He took her in the practise ring on Saturday and did all sorts of A-Frame combinations and she didn't miss a beat. It is most peculiar why it seems to happen in the competition environment. After consultation with Gran'Ma Obay the plan is that we'll get Kizzy checked out by a physio to establish if there could be a mechanical reason for her doing this. If she's given the all clear then we can put a training plan into place to overcome this glitch.

Naughty Niamh was a very un-Naughty girl at the weekend! She ran clear in four out of six of her runs. The two that weren't clear were pure bad piloting errors on my part. Although clear we didn't get placed in the KC Olympia because I made a bad handling error at one point which cost us a huge amount of time so I decided to train the last two contacts. She was brilliant as usual; just me!

In the afternoon on Saturday I helped to facilitate a training session for some of the people who are off to the European Open Finals this coming weekend and in doing so I missed a run with Niamh so Andy ran her for me. He got 12th place in G6/7 jumping which is excellent considering the company she was in. It was quite a tricky course and Andy said he over steadied her in a couple of places, he hadn't realised how responsive she is to her "steady" command!

The training session was good fun and I really hope it helped create some team spirit. Andy is going out as part of the support team for these finals and I really hope they do well and above all have a fabulous time. Good luck to them all but especially my friends: Leah & Herbie; Bernadette & Hex; Lisa & Chi and Helen & Henners. Go girls!

On the Sunday we were clear in the team and also in the Crufts qualifier which was an unusual and tricky little course. It ran nicely though and I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if we ended up in a place, as we were 15th after we ran. Again, I'm pleased with that as the competition at Rugby is very good and it is a G6/7 class. I could have saved some time at the end had I remember to used her "go round" command but I forgot. I'm glad Leah was watching as she was able to point that out to me, I wouldn't have realised! Doh!

In the team on Sunday, Mand ran Murphy for us as Leah was concentrating on the Champ class. I think she did a brilliant job with him. He is not an easy dog to run and Mand has never run him before. They looked good. He was bad and wicked on a couple of his contacts but she stopped him on the ground, the pattern was easy peasy for them! Thanks for that Mand.

Zeki had a boring day on the Saturday as my time for her was limited. I wasn't too upset though because she'd had a massive walk on Thursday evening and again on Friday. Come Sunday though it was very different. She had lots of time round the rings and I really enjoyed showing her off. We did little bits of training with food and tuggy and I was badgering every other person to put their hands out and take her collar and then reward her with a tit bit when she didn't back away. She is getting much better at this. I adore this little dog, she is such a character and so up for everything.

Must not forget, Andy also ran little Poppy for me in the Any Size (when I was doing the EO training). This is very important to me so I hated missing it. Anyway, they came 10th. Good old Pops. I hate to say I got over excited on the Sunday and got her eliminated (yes, in an Any Size).

I had lots of time round the rings making sure each of my dogs got time out with me. We watched the champ classes. Zeki was pretty good except when a couple of noisy dogs ran and then she went mad! I had to hang on to her. All three finals were brilliant with three very worthy winners in Toni, Bernadette and Nicky. Up the girls!

We left Rugby around 5.30 pm and got home about 8.00 pm, a bit late for a Sunday evening and we were really tired. Still, we had a good weekend and really enjoyed ourselves.

Dennis took some good photos over the weekend so hopefully we might get to post some of them in due course and also he videod Kizzy's winning round which was nice. We'd decided to take a weekend off from videoing which makes a nice change!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Busy few days

Well, what a busy week it turned out to be.

After posting my photo of Zeki's flying ears, I took her down to West Sussex to visit her Gran'Ma and get them fixed. She now has perfect ears but how long they'll remain that way we'll have to see. I am massaging the ears every day and keeping my fingers crossed. Quite perverse really as I love my collies to to have pricked ears (what went wrong with Naughty Niamh!) but I want my sheltie to have tipped ears. No pleasing some people!

Whilst I was there I had a little training session with Bernadette which I found very helpful. I have been doing lots of stuff with Zeki but after my lesson I have much more to do! Bernadette focused on getting Zeki to have her head stroked and collar held without backing away. Those who have shelties will know this is very typical of the breed. She also suggested that I now get Zeki doing her little positions and tricks by my left and right sides as well as in front. I have been working on all of this since my visit and I think things are progressing. I would like to get another video of her training this coming week but trying to get any time from Andy at the moment is hopeless. He is overcome with workload and trying desperately to get things tied up before he goes out to support the EO team in Germany in a couple of weeks or so.

Kizzy is moulting like mad. I have to comb her every single day otherwise she has horrible little clumps of undercoat showing. I can't bear to see this. I hate it when you stroked someone's dog and can feel all the lumpy undercoat. It looks and feels awful. Poor Kizzy, it seems as if she's only just regained her full coat after her last season and now it's all falling out again. At the moment she's still quite glossy as it's only a shed of undercoat, she looks far worse when the top coat sheds but I'm hoping that shouldn't happen this time round. She looks so much smaller when her coat is depleted. Here she is on top of her haystack whilst out on our walk yesterday.

Naughty Niamh's new harness arrived in the week, together with her new double clip lead. I just can't use a head collar on her any longer, not on a regular basis anyway. She pulls so hard and rubs her face on the ground so hard that she ends up with a bleeding, raw mouth and I just can't bear it. I have tried every head collar on the market including a really soft webbing one which I had especially made for her. Anyway, I'm hoping the harness with double clip lead will work. I need to have some control of her head/neck area when we're in crowded areas and particularly if young children are flying around. She is worried about children and so I need to have absolute control at these times. Here she is modelling her new harness:

She has two sets of labels for her harness: Girl Power and Monster. I think I know which is the more appropriate ...... she's modelling it in the photo above!

We had an outside chance of being called up for a reserve at the Royal semi finals but I didn't get a call on Thursday afternoon so assumed that I wasn't needed. Then on Friday morning at 7.50 am I got a call from Pauline Barr saying that someone had pulled out due to their dog being ill and would I like to run. Obviously I wouldn't get there for the invitation run but the semi final was at 12.30 pm so I would be OK for that. I said yes I would come and then flew into a blind panic. We had planned the day out to get as much work done in the office and of course that had to go out the window!

Andy packed us off just before 9.00 am and we arrived up at Stoneleigh at about 11.30 am. I was very lucky and found a friendly car park attendant who showed me where all the other competitors were parked and so I ended up in a spare space right next to Leah and Elspeth. They were very sweet and waited for me to get organised so I could walk up to the ring with them. Much nicer than being by myself.

Unfortunately for us we had two poles down. Very unusual for Niamh but I was pushing hard. We were drawn number four and the course was a very quick one so we had to go for it. As it happens we wouldn't have been quick enough, there were lots of clears in the end and we would have dropped out of the top five even if we'd managed a clear. The course was very straight forward so it was going to be fast and furious. I personally prefer a more technical course but at the end of the day everyone has the same chance. I heard that the following day there were only four clear rounds, I'm not sure if it was a similar course pattern but that's the way these semis always seem to go. Some days there are lots of disappointed people with clear rounds outside of the top five and other days not enough clears to fill the top five. I have never been someone who enjoys these events, they are to be endured in order to achieve a coveted run at Olympia. That said, I did enjoy Friday. The weather was lovely, the company was good and Niamh proved to me that she can focus in any environment. I was slightly concerned to begin with as there were lots of ferrets caged nearby and I couldn't get her nose off the ground but once we stepped into the ring she was ready to go. I did not enjoy the drive home, we had to come off the M40 due to traffic and divert down the A34 and home via Newbury.

I had a reserve position for today but didn't get called. To be honest I wasn't disappointed because I would have to have taken all the dogs by myself and it would have been a bit of a nightmare. Luckily I have another chance at the KC Festival semi final and also a couple more heats to run yet.

Andy and Al went off Saturday morning to Cornwall to judge at the Mid Cornwall agility show. They travelled down in torrential rain and set up their courses in similar conditions. They had bed and breakfast with one of the club members and when they called me last night there were all huddled round the wood burning stove as it was like a winter's night! At the time I was sitting outside in Dan & Mac's garden playing with Abbey, Poppy and Zeki. They invited me up for supper as I was all by myself - how kind. Zeki had a lovely time and spent quite a bit of it standing on her hind legs looking into Chops's run. Chops is their rescue rabbit (via Leah of course!) and she is a very cool rabbit. She isn't at all afraid of dogs and just sits up by the wire teasing them!

Earlier in the week Abbey really struggled on the walk. I got quite upset as she fell down several times and we had to keep stopping and resting her. I decided then that if the weather is at all warm I would no longer take her on the big dog walk but instead walk her with Zeki.

So yesterday off we went for a lovely shorter walk with Abbey, Pops and Zeki. They had a lovely time and we were walking for about 40 minutes. This was perfect for Abbey and she was much happier. Here is a little picture of Zeki on the walk. The little tri sheltie pups have "hot cross bottoms", I tried to get a photo of Zeki's but it wasn't easy, I think you can just about see what I mean if you click on the image to enlarge it! I will try to get a better photo before her coat grows properly!

"wait for me!"

As soon as I got home from the walk I loaded up the other four and we went on a big dog walk with Niamh, Murf, Becky and Kizzles. They had a wonderful time and went swimming in the river. The earlier photo of Kizzle was taken on this walk. They have cut the hay fields so it's all much more open at the moment. It's nice for the dogs as they can have a really good run across the fields rather than just through the path ways.

Here they are enjoying themselves:

Well that's us about up to date. Next week will also be busy as we have loads to do before going off to the Rugby show on Thursday. We always go early to help set up the show. We are going to put up an EO course for practise on Tuesday evening and then on Wednesday we're looking after a friend's sheltie pup for the day. OMG eight dogs, I'm not sure how I'm going to cope!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Zeki's Ears

Oh dear, the ears are flying. I've tried to weight them down with blue tack but it doesn't last long and she shakes it out and tries to eat it. Gran'Ma we need your help!

Dartford & St Edwards

Well nothing much to report from Dartford. I was judging all day and Kizzy had just two runs in G1-7 classes with one mistake in each. A shame because she was running well. In one of her runs Andy said he had a real job to get her focused as handler who had just finished her round came out of the ring and started throwing sausages on the floor for her dog. Andy has stopped feeding Kizzy at the rings and this has worked really well, however the sight of sausage was too much for Kizzy and he had a job to get her back with him with just one dog in front to run. He had a word with the person later in the day as apparently they do this all the time and cheese off a lot of people in the process!

I had a good ring party for my judging appointment and the day went by smoothly. I was happy with the way my courses ran. I had all jumping classes for large dogs: G4/5, G1/2 and ABC G1-4. I tried to set flowing courses with interesting shapes rather than the usual up and down lines that the lower grades so often get.

Andy was all finished by 10.00 am so he took all the dogs off home and had the rest of the day in the garden, oh and a trip to Tunbridge Wells to buy a new flat screen t.v. for the new caravan (which I still haven't blogged about yet!)

The following day was St. Edwards and there were no classes for small dogs; just large and medium. So, I went off by myself and left Andy to do another day's work in the garden. I took Pops, Niamh, Murphy and Zeki with me.

Alan was judging the KC Olympia class. His course was absolutely great, just the sort I really love to run. You had to work the whole way round with no let up but if you handled it right it flowed for the dogs. We managed to get round and ended up with a run off with Lesley and Dot for 8/9th place. I was so happy to be inside the top ten and get a qualifying result that I really didn't work the run off at all well. I decided to try something different and it went wrong so I got E'd. Lesley and Dot did a faultess round to win the run off, but do you know what - I didn't care! For sure, I would have worked much harder had the run off been for 10th and 11th place!

Niamh did two really good jumping rounds, one we knocked a pole and the other I mishandled the end sequence and pulled her off a tunnel. Then we had our G6 agility. This was another course judged by Al and again I loved the design. In a couple of places it was actually more tricky than the earlier G6/7 KC Olympia course but I don't mind that at all! Niamh was brilliant and did everything I asked of her. With only five jumps to go I failed to put in a front cross and handled a sequence by scooping her across my feet - this meant she took a jump in completely the opposite direction than I'd planned and I had to call hard to get her to turn (had I put in the front cross I would have been on the right side and the turn would have been natural). Not only did this cost us time but caused the pole to drop. She was just 2/100ths of a second off the winning time so I think had I handled it correctly she might just have had her first win in G6. Boy, did I dream about that falling pole that night! There were a couple of places on the course where I doubted the way I was going to handle it. I decided to change my handling and was thinking too hard about that to focus on what I'd walked. With two dogs to go I reverted to my original plan (which worked just fine) but in the process I forgot about the damn front cross later in the course. That will teach me to stick to my guns!

I am very proud of Niamh, she is turning into a really good agility dog who is a joy to work. My goal for this year was to get some reasonable placings in G6 but I feel now she is doing more than that. I certainly didn't expect to qualify for an Olympia semi-final as I hadn't managed that last year when we were novice! In fact she has two reserve spots for the coming semis at the Royal Show this week - they are only outside chances and I don't expect to get called but the fact that she gained good enough places to be reserves in two of the early semis is far more than I'd hoped for and then to actually qualify within the top ten and get a guaranteed place is just fab.

I can't finish this post without mentioning Karen and Todd - they had a great first outing at Watford and Bretons and then at St Edwards won 2 classes and came 2nd in another. Way to go!

Sadly no video as Andy was too selfish to come along to video me, just because he didn't have any runs, I don't understand it! Mind you, I was very happy with the productivity rate in the garden when I got home!

Watford & Bretons

I didn't go to Watford as the weather forecast wasn't good and I didn't think it would be too fair to little Zeki being stuck in the car all day. Andy went off by himself and had a very good day with Kizzy getting 1st in G1-4 Agility and 2nd in G1-4 Jumping. Unfortunately Kizzy had a pole down in the mini mixi pairs (ran with Karen and Todd) otherwise they would have got a nice place as Todd was clear. Kizzy really took a tumble but was fine afterwards.

On Sunday we all went to Bretons and had a lovely day as the weather was much nicer. It was quite blustery but compared with the weather further north we were very lucky.

Andy and Kizzy had a nearly run in the 3-5 agility class - Andy pulled Kizzy off a tunnel right at the end of the course which was a real shame. In her G1-3 jumping she did a lovely run and won the class. Andy and Karen had a special pairs class that day: Karen and Todd just had a couple of little glitches in what was otherwise a lovely run and Kizzy did one of her best rounds yet (IMO!)

Naughty Niamh was a good girl and ran clear in her pairs, got 9th in the G6/7 agility and would have had a nice place in the G6/7 jumping but for a pole down. This was my fault as I didn't handle the sequence as I'd planned (what's new?) I ran pairs with Dan and Tig and they were going really well until Tig decided a jump was a more attractive option than the tunnel he should have taken. I think Dan didn't call his name but used a turn command instead and it was probably not enough with hindsight. I love to watch Tig weave, he is one of the most self-motivated dogs in the weave poles that I've seen!

After we'd finished all our runs we sat around at the back of the cars taking it in turns to get different dogs out for a play. Zeki was out the whole time and Poppy had a lovely afternoon training everyone to play with her! It was a really nice day out, an old fashioned agility show with no pressure just good courses, good company and a lot of fun!

Here is a video from Bretons - turn up the volume for Jay's special commentary as Andy and Karen are setting up for their pairs round. Bad Jay - I did ask Karen's permission to include this in the video!!