Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Lots of stuff

Once again the weekend has whizzed past. Have been really busy and not had time to update the blog over the last few days.

Friday

Bernadette and Karen came over to play! Bernadette brought a course plan which we set up and then played with. It was quite a testing jumping sequence with lots of ways of handling the various components. We all had some good runs and some bloopers (Bernadette's phrase!) We took quite a bit of video and I'm going to put some of this on the blog (especially for Jan!) ..... hopefully in the next couple of days. In addition to the jumping pattern I did some dog walks with lots of helpful feed back from the girls. This included rather a lot of yelling at me to run, Nancy, run (should that be run, Forest run!) I tried to tell them that I was running, it just doesn't look as if I am .......

Then we went off for lunch, well I went for lunch. Karen and Bernadette went out for TWO lunches. I promised I wouldn't say anything but I can't resist. I had a jacket potato and they chose soup and a ham salad but they also couldn't resist the deep fried brie also. Well, the food arrived and both were full meals. The look on Karen's face when her second plate arrived was priceless. It was so funny.

After lunch we went for a nice walk with all of mine and Karen's dogs plus Hex and Hob-b. It was a lovely walk and Hob-b decided to join Kizzy and Becky in the cabbage patch and munched her way through that field!

Karen went home from the walk but Bernadette came back to give Kizzy's ears a good trim. Kizzy's coat is slowly coming back and now she has beautiful ears and is starting to look much better after her massive moult. Bernadette tried everything to get her floppy ear to stand up but it ain't having it!

Saturday

We got up early to walk the dogs so that I could be back in time for my beginner group at 10.00 am. The dogs had a good walk and came home clean - wonderful!

The beginner group was glad to be back having had last week off in order to allow the ground to recover from the previous week's flood. The dogs are really coming on well and all seem to really enjoy their agility training. I enjoy training them as they are lovely people and dogs and we have a good laugh as well as doing our training.

Straight after the lesson I had to gather all my bits and pieces together and leave for Polly's where I was booked with Naughty Niamh on a training day with Natasha Wise. The was the second training day I've done with Tasha and it was brilliant. I really enjoyed it and felt that Niamh did some really good stuff including lots of dog walks! Tasha is an excellent trainer she is sympathetic to your partnership with your dog; motivational and full of good humour. The session flew by and I was disappointed that it had finished!

Sunday

I got a text from Bernadette to say that Dennis was home with my new camera, a Panasonic DMC-FX30. So, I "forced" Andy to get the bike out and go and get it. I use the term "force" very loosely as it doesn't take much for Andy to find a reason to get the bike out especially with the weather that we had over the weekend. The camera is lovely but has a lot more options than I realised. It can be used as a simple point and shoot but I'd like to learn more about the features. The manual is quite thick and I thought that it was in lots of languages but it's a full English version so now I have more bed time reading! I need to get a case for it now as I'm scared I'll get it dirty over the fields, can't have mud on my new camera!!!

I'm going to take it on my walk this afternoon and see if I can get some nice pictures of the dogs which I'll post on the blog.

On Sunday afternoon Andy and I did some training. Andy did some of Friday's sequences with Kizzy and overall they were pretty good. He still has some work to do on her wing wrapping. She's really good at it if you break it down and practise over one jump but when she gets up speed she forgets and her turns are a little like the QE2 until you remind her politely that she's supposed to wrap the wing! Andy also did some weave entries and weave proofing. Niamh and I did some more, yep you got it -dogwalks and also a couple of jumping sequences. Again we did a bit of video and I'll be posting that on the blog in the next day or so.

Straight after training we took the dogs for a late walk. It was lovely over the fields almost spring like until the sun went down and then it was pretty chilly. It was just about dark by the time we got back to the car.

Lastly, we heard some very sad news from our friends Jackie and Terry; they had to have Jackie's Saffy put to sleep in the early hours of Sunday morning. She was fourteen and a very special happy girl. All day I kept cuddling Abbey as she is about the same age and they trained together as puppies with Val Venables. I spoke to Jackie on Sunday evening and neither of us could believe where that time has gone. Bye bye Saffy we'll miss your silly antics. Abbey is now the lone member of the AA club!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Dog watching

I love watching the interaction between my dogs when I'm out walking. Now that we have a little termite amongst the pack things have changed quite a bit. Becky and Murphy don't play together so much as Kizzy has claimed Murphy as her own personal "sheltie exercising machine".
Note: Murphy is available for hire to sheltie owners on this basis. Scale of fees: We pay you!

For example, this morning Kizzy found a ball in the fields. She loves to have a toy and encourages Niamh, Poppy or Murphy to chase her. They try to take the toy from her but she's too nifty on the turns for them to catch her. If she gets fed up with the toy and one of the others gets a turn it's interesting to watch the different way that Kizzy deals with this.

If Becky gets the toy then Kizzy just loses interest in it and goes off for a sniff or munch on a few cabbages (more of that later!). If Poppy gets the toy then Kizzy runs circles round her barking at the top of her voice. If Murphy gets the toy then a huge chase ensues. Murphy holds back a tiny bit on speed but not much and Kizzy matches him on huge outruns across large fields. Then he lays down and she jumps back and forth over him barking for him to let her have the toy. If Niamh gets the toy then a strange little following game starts. Niamh trots and Kizzy trots after her but she never barks at Niamh to get the toy back, she just keeps following Niamh until they decide to swap and Kizzy gets the toy then the trotting game starts in reverse.

Meanwhile Abbey just plods along with her little bells jingling interacting with nobody, it's heart breaking! She has been really good lately; eating well and being really full of energy on her walks but today she wasn't well at all and had a couple of staggers and stumbles and was just worn out. I couldn't get back to the car quick enough as I could tell she was quite distressed. She had a bad tummy and I had to give her a good wash when we got home. But, after a small breakfast and a good sleep she was feeling much better. I think there is a change in her condition (chronic kidney failure) in that she is looking quite a bit weaker and for the past week has been getting up every night at 2.00 am for a wee. Again, the jingles are useful because I hear her get up and can let her out in time. It's strange how it's almost spot on the same time every night. I'm hoping it's just a bit of a bad phase and that she'll improve again. I think I'll give her a rest tomorrow though, it's very hard getting the balance between too much and not enough exercise. Without enough she has no appetite and won't eat but too much seems to be taking it's toll. I think I might start to walk her separately soon.

Back to the cabbages. One of the fields we walk through has the remainder of last year's crop of greens which the farmer hasn't yet ploughed back in. Kizzy and Becky are obsessed with the cabbages. They started off by playing with them, carrying the leaves and/or stalks but now they eat them. I try to stop them as I don't want them to get ill eating too many greens but they race off and won't come back and I find them in the middle of the field munching. Real Cabbage Patch Dogs!

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Back to training school at last!

At last we started training at our indoor school after the Christmas/new year holiday. We delayed starting by two weeks firstly for Pat's funeral and then last week because of the floods.

It was good to get back and get focused. I work so much better when I'm with my usual training mates.

I was really pleased with Niamh's dog walk. Her 'behaviour' on the down plank was as good as it's been in the garden so that's a good test passed. It's up to me to keep up the practise and not let it slip. In preparation for Crufts I'm planning a couple of sessions up at Pete and Val's to try her out on their carpet surface. Pete's going to set me up some jumps and weaves and I think Mac and Spud are coming along with us.

We had a good course layout tonight which comprised workshop sections which could be linked together for longer sequences as well. We're going to mirror image it and use it again next week as we didn't get through all the sequences. Naturally it contained the two jump minuet!

Here it is in case anyone else wants to set it up as it was quite a useful pattern.



Kizzy also had a good lesson despite Andy's lack of mobility. He's currently strapped up so that his neck stays straight, the Physio did this today and he has to wear this strapping until his next appointment on Thursday. Kizzy did all her weaves correctly with lots of variations on entries and Andy's positioning/movement. This is the first time she's done the weaves at the training school so he was very happy with this. She also did lots of wing wrapping both handler same side and cross behinds. Both are getting stronger with each practise session. We also did the tyre/collapsible tunnel combination and some contact training. All in all it was a good night and great to be back!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Agility Training

Andy did a session with Kizzy yesterday. More weave entries and proofing her independence in the weaves. Next stage will be to place a jump after the weaves and move her pot some distance from this jump. The only concern is that she is going to be a weave-a-holic sheltie! Oh well, never mind.

Overall the garden has dried up really well considering it was under almost a foot of water a few days ago. I'm not sure whether it'll be able to take many lessons this week it really depends on the weather over the next few days.

Certainly at the very top end (which isn't the best running ground, unfortunately) you can do little sequences and weaves.

I have had a bit of a lazy weekend playing with my new PC and pottering about doing some housework etc. While I was checking out everyone else's blogs I had a good look at Bernadette's latest training clip. She's getting highly proficient with this film making malarkey - Dennis you'd better get home quick before you're made redundant (plus of course I want my new camera!) Anyway, I digress (as usual). I decided to try some of the two jump sequences with Niamh this afternoon and we got on quite well considering I was on my own with no prompts for the exercises!

We started with the pivot turns (I nearly fell over and was almost sick at the end of this); the dog crossing in front of your feet and the cross behinds. I also did a version of ignoring the two jumps and going to another obstacle which was a tricky weave entry. Then we tried the front crosses, I could manage a couple but then Niamh was too quick for me so we tripped over each other. One to work on. I decided after the front crosses that the blind crosses could be disaster so we'll leave them for tomorrow. I will have to learn to 'spot' like a dancer before I try the pivot turns again! Very useful exercises though.

Before we did the jumping exercises I did some dog walks. I hadn't done any since a couple of intensive sessions last week where I had the plank resting on a stool so I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

Note: As Niamh hates water I decided it wasn't a good idea to copy Johanna and do water agility as I think that would have slowed up her down plank more than ever! Ha!

I decided to go back to the big dog walk today and before doing my 'find it' exercise tried something that Karen had suggested. I put a large piece of sausage on Niamh's clear target and let her see it. Then I took her quite a distance back from the other end of the dog walk and revved her up and raced her along the dog walk letting her get the sausage. The target was placed out to encourage her to have two thirds of her body on the floor with the back third still on the contact (exactly as I was teaching her in the static exercise last week.) I placed another large pieces of sausage and took her back to the other end. This time I set her way back and gave myself a really big head start. I released her and raced her along the dog walk and just got there in time to grab the sausage before she could. Then we set the exercise up again and she thundered past me to make sure she got there first. It was brilliant. The good thing was she still put herself into position and didn't just grab the sausage and run!

After that we did about six or seven more dog walks some with the sausage on the target and some without. I also went back to my clicker. I was so pleased with the result. She really learned from last week's intensive static training and that added with the exciting game of "grab the sausage" (technical term) seems to have helped so thank you Karen and Chris. I also have to thank Mand, Helen and Johanna for their input, loads of which I've taken on board. She isn't creeping down the dogwalk and is targeting well out with just the last third of her body on the contact. This is exactly what I want. Now we have to see if I can maintain this without getting too picky with her! I will keep you posted and try to get Andy to take some video of this and maybe, if you're lucky, some video of the two jump exercise with me falling in a heap after the pivot turns!

Helping in the garden (not)

Al was here again this weekend and has put up some lights along the side alleyway with a sensor. This was the last dark spot and now we have light!

Whilst Al was outside Andy decided to clear the long border of dead plants and flowers from last season. As usual his little helper came along. As you'll see from this little video she isn't really much help, in fact rather more of a hindrance!

Some other little folk wanted to get out and help but they were banned by the head gardener! Becky is much more polite than Niamh and just a little nose peeps out, typical Niamh ... well see for yourself!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Floods

Thanks to all our friends who've been emailing and texting to make sure we're ok. We are fine thank you, and more to the point almost dry!

After I put the pictures on the blog yesterday afternoon things gradually got worse. We decided to cancel training as we really didn't fancy leaving the house unattended and I'm so glad we made that decision.

It kept raining all afternoon and the water was gradually rising. One of our neighbours mentioned that the drain which runs from the big field and under the road had been blocked a few years back so Andy and Michael (our other neighbour) went down to the little bridge and sure enough the water was backing up on our side of the road and absolutely nothing was coming out the other side. The water normally travels from our ditch under the road into the ditch in the fields opposite and then disperses into the river. As the water couldn't get through it was discharging from the field into our gardens.

I called every authority I could think of and trying to get someone to take responsibility it nigh on impossible. Our local authority delivered sandbags to us and our neighbours. Andy spent most of the afternoon and evening helping Michael as his situation was worse than ours. They have wooden suspended floors and the water was gushing through the air bricks right through the house. Geoff (our other neighbour) and Dan came down to help me with sandbags at our place. The poor dogs couldn't go out as the back was under a foot of water. By the evening the water was surging down the side alleyway and into the front so we had to get sandbags at the front door as well. Luckily there was a reasonable sized patch of gravel still free of water on the front drive so I took them out there to have a wee.

Andy finally got some sense out of Southern Water who said they'd send out a unit but right now they still haven't been. What a surprise. However, at about 9.15 pm the water started to recede dramatically and Andy went off down the road to see what was happening. It was Michael's father and not the water company doing the work. He had taken himself down into the drain right underneath the road and managed to get his rods far enough through to allow a small amount of water to get away. It's not much of a flow but enough for the water to start to get away. By this time it had stopped raining which was a relief. We hadn't realised he had been down there for over two hours as he was determined to do something. What a hero.

This morning our lawn is completely clear of water, the agility area is still flooded in places and Michael and Grant's gardens are still partially flooded as the water is draining out across to the field rather than to the rear. Now Andy is phoning round all the various agencies trying to find out who is responsible for keeping this drain clear. We are also going to get in touch with the land owner to see if we can get him to help. We need to get this sorted as after today the weather is looking grim again.

I took a little film of the flood late in the afternoon, at this point I was still "enjoying" the little adventure, very soon after I took this film the fun had disappeared and we were seriously worried that we were going to get flooded. It was awful and we were so lucky, all thanks to Michael's father really.


video

In this film the water isn't even covering the gravel by the door sill, within about half an hour the water level had risen to the level of that sill. As said though, by that stage I wasn't in the mood to take more photos or film - I was too scared!

Seems like we might have had a bit of a result. Kent Highways have now said that this drain is their responsibility and that the will send out a team to clear the drain. They can't say when but it's high on their priority list due to the fact that properties have had water ingress due to the problem.

Strangely enough when I spoke to them yesterday they told me very firmly that it wasn't their responsibility and that I should speak to other authorities and/or the land owner, even though the drain runs under their highway. I guess when I made that call at around 5.00 pm I was unlucky enough to speak to someone who was more interested in going home than doing their job!

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Under water

It has rained so much overnight and all day to day that our garden and agility area is under water. We've taken up the rugs in the summer house as it looks as if it's going to get in any time now.

We've emailed pictures to our next door neighbour and he's coming home from work and hopefully getting some bags so we can make up sand bags as we have tons of the stuff down the yard.

Andy is just off now to check our next door neighbour but one, they have chickens and are out at work and we suspect they could be swimming chickens. He's just got back and the water has got into their conservatory so now we frantically trying to get in touch with them to get them home but Grant works abroad a lot. Panic!

The dog's pee patch is under water like the rest of the garden but luckily we have gravel out on the front drive so that dogs have been out their for a wee.

The water is only about five or six inches from our french doors at the back of the house so I'm really worried we're going to get flooded. The water has poured off the fields into our left hand neighbour's garden and because we sit a little lower it's all ending up in ours, Mike and Ellen's and Grant and Sue's gardens

Here are some pictures of our garden and our next door neighbour's.












Monday, 14 January 2008

Getting fit for Crufts

I am trying very hard to get a bit fitter for Crufts. I've cut out all cake, biscuits and the hardest thing of all .... bread! I have cereal for breakfast and just a bowl of soup for lunch. I always feel so much better when I don't eat bread but I love it, so it's hard! I'm also trying to cut back on alcohol consumption (not easy either!). I'm going to start playing Badminton again and hopefully that will make me feel a bit fitter.

The other thing I'm trying to sort out for Crufts is Niamh's dog walk. She has started creeping on the down plank and stopping before the contact or only just on it. I'm not sure how this has happened but it's obviously something I've done. She is a very obedient girl and always wants to get things right so I know it's my fault. Bernadette gave me a good tip about not eye balling her when she's doing the down plank and I think that's very good advice because I think that worries her. So, I'm trying hard not to look at her in training which I always want to do for some reason. This weekend I started to re-train her position on the down dog walk. I rested a down plank on a low stool and moved her target out further than her original point of contact. I'm using a new phrase "find it" to send her onto the plank and then keeping quiet as she takes me to the new position and lays her chin on her target.

This position is much further off the dog walk, at least half of her body is lying on the ground in order to encourage her to go further down the plank before stopping. At the moment she's on the lead and the next stage will be to do the plank without the lead until she's doing the whole exercise by herself with me staying back at the start point. I am using my clicker and sometimes I put a piece of sausage on the target and other times not. I am not holding her in the position for too long either and releasing her onto a toy which I throw. Any further ideas/suggestions welcome!

The other thing I'm going to do before Crufts is take her up to Pete and Val's a couple of times to do a little bit of jumping on their artificial grass surface. She's never been on anything like that so it'll be interesting to see how she copes. Niamh is the sort of dog who likes to find her feet with anything new so it will be well worth the effort doing this.

Tomorrow night we're back to training which is good as we all need to get back into routine.

Time to stop being a couch potato and get back to training!



Monday morning

I hate Monday mornings. Andy had another migraine last night (that's two in a week, not good) and so this morning I got up and sorted the dogs, fed them, put the weekly rubbish out and then made a cup of tea. This was the sight I was greeted with when I took him his cup of tea! They obviously don't want to get going on Monday mornings either!

Lazy hounds! Poppy, Abbey and Kizzle!




Sunday, 13 January 2008

Another weekend flies by

The weekends just seem to fly past. We've been busy again with Al here working both days. When Al goes home we always see such a huge difference as he gets so much stuff done.

This weekend he built a little house for my dog shower and blaster. It's fantastic and makes life so much easier. He lagged the pipes so that it won't get frozen in the cold weather and the roof is felted. It's brilliant!





At last the tumble drier has moved from the green house into the new extension. That will be a luxury! Al also fitted the new door between the garage and utility room, it looks really nice much better than the temporary plaster board door we had. He also connected an outdoor tap next to my dog washing unit (for watering cans to be filled etc.) and another out the front so that Andy can wash the cars more easily (hint!) I've said it before but I just don't know what we'd do without Al, he can do anything and we certainly wouldn't have progressed this far without him.

The ground is holding up really well despite all the rain we've had recently. Yesterday I did my usual beginner lesson and then Andy and Paula did some training in the afternoon. Today I had two new people come for a lesson and even though it had poured most of the night, the strong winds this morning helped to dry out the ground and it was fine. When it's actually pouring with rain it gets quite stodgy but once the rain has stopped it seems to dry out really quickly.

We went for a very muddy walk with the dogs this afternoon and Kizzy wore her new Equafleece coat which arrived yesterday. It's a perfect fit but when I put it on her indoors she decided she couldn't possibly walk wearing this coat. In fact it was so traumatic her legs wouldn't move at all. Strangely enough when we arrived on our walk she forgot all about this trauma and tore around in her usual fashion. In fact she made her new coat dirty! It was very cold over the fields in the strong winds and we decided to get her a coat because she is almost bald at the moment. Fingers crossed her new coat will start to grow one day!

Here are some pictures of our walk today. Now we are going to collapse on the sofa and veg out watching some dross on the box!


Kizzle the purple sheltie modelling her new coat



Naughty Niamh on today's walk

Kizzy & Thomas Training

On Saturday Paula and Thomas came over for a visit. Andy and Paula took themselves off and did some training. I went down at 'half time' and made them some tea and Kizzy and Thomas had a mad session chasing each other up and down and every now and then popping into the summer house to make sure we were all still there!

In the second half I took a little bit of video for the blog!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Some lovely walks

Over the holiday we've had some lovely long walks with the dogs. Some of the pictures aren't great as they were taken with my phone but some are better when we remembered to take a proper camera. I can't wait for the end of January when I get my new camera! It's a small compact camera, nothing too fancy but it will be easy for me to carry on walks and take much better pictures than my phone!

The walks just before Christmas were the best as it was frosty and so all the dogs stayed clean. Over the holiday it wasn't too bad but this week the mud has been awful. It's taken me ages to get all the dogs cleaned up after their walk. During the week I walk them by myself so that Andy can get on in the office and it takes up most of the morning by the time I've walked, cleaned and then fed them. It's a hard life ...... but I'm not complaining as I love dog walking!

In one or two of the photos you can see Niamh modelling her new Equafleece in one of them (much to her utter disgust!) I have ordered one for Kizzy which should arrive soon. She is so bald that she needs a coat on cold days. The one she is modelling is a little too large for her. She is very honoured to be wearing it as it belonged to my very first dog, my precious little crossbreed Lizzie and nobody has worn than coat for 14 years. I can't believe that's how long she has been gone from my life - 14 years on 23rd December gone. She was a huge character and one that is still so vivid in my memories. I loved her very much and still miss her.

Anyway, enough of that: here are the pictures ...........


We're here - come and find us in the grass!


Line up!

This stick is nearly as big as me!


Heavy frost - wonderful for keeping the dogs clean!

Lovely frosty walk

Morning sunrise

Kizzy with a favourite toy: a plastic bottle

If you look past Becky in this photo you can just about spot Abbey rolling around on the floor, one of her favourite pass times!

Pops posing in her little coat

Kizzy and Poppy

Kizzle modelling her borrowed coat

The Hudsondoglets posing


Abbey in her coat looking up at me for biscuits!

Naughty Niamh modelling her new coat!

Back indoors, clean, fed and tired - leave us in peace please!

Training

Have been a bad blogger lately so here's a little update on Kizzy's training.

Things have progressed well over the Christmas holidays. Andy has been out doing different bits and pieces every other day and it really shows. I am not allowed to film yet but next week I'm going to stamp my feet and insist as I want to put a video on the blog!

Her weaves are coming on in leaps and bounds and she is picking up entries from all angles. She has transitioned from the v-weaves to the upright poles and this has gone really smoothly. On Saturday Kizzy came along to a training day at Sue's that I was taking and we were amazed at how well she kept up with the rest of the class. Kizzy had been doing brilliant weaves at home but in this new environment she kept popping out and missing her entries. After some assistance from Gran'ma, the pot was put back at the end of the poles and hey presto the problem was fixed. She did some great entries and stopped popping out. The training session lasted for 3.25 hours and I really didn't think Kizzy would stay the course but she did and was just as lively at the end. She's a little pointed dynamo. Karen also did stuff with Todd and he was amazing as well, they both did some complex set pieces and I was very impressed!

The training day was great fun and we had a lovely lunch thanks to Bernadette's friend who had made two lasagnes; a meat version and a veggie version. We all crowded into Sue's dining room and stuffed our faces. Very nice it was too!

Kizzy has had a bit of a glitch on the seesaw. She keeps turning round and coming back down as soon as she reaches the pivot point and then targeting at the wrong end. Crafty sheltie, even though she was a bit scared and didn't want to go all the way to the end she would still try to get her food by targeting somewhere! We think she might have done a seesaw by herself when Andy was fixing the weaves or something and in the process given herself a bit of a scare. Anyway with assistance from Gran'ma things are almost back to normal. Bernadette gave Andy some help and he has been following her advice and Kizzy is responding well to this 'fix'. Her confidence is returning which is a relief!

Here are some photos of Kizzy at the training day thanks to Dennis for taking these brilliant shots. These are our first photos of the Kizzle in action!







Friday, 4 January 2008

Beyond the Barricade

Tonight we are going to the Fairfield Halls in Croydon to see a musical theatre concert "Beyond the Barricade". We have been three or four times over the years and never tire as the concert is so good and they keep up to date with new musicals.

Yesterday Andy popped into Tunbridge Wells and bumped into his old friend David Fawcett and they had a bit of a natter and Dave asked if we fancied coming along to a show. Andy and Dave have known each other since they played football together in their teens (so a very long time!) and they used to share an office together. Dave produces and performs in the show.

When he was starring in Les Miserables as Valjean in Manchester we went up to see the show for my 30th birthday (just a couple of years back then!) and it was fantastic to see him in the lead role. After the show we went out for supper with the whole cast which was great fun. We also went with friends to London to see the show when he was playing the lead there. Our friends really enjoyed the experience and were almost more excited to be travelling home on the train with Dave than actually being in the theatre. They had so many questions for him.

So, I'm really looking forward to this evening as we haven't seen the show for a few years now. We used to go along when it was in its infancy and they were just doing it for charity at very local venues so it's nice that we've seen it develop over the years. After the show we'll go for a drink with David and as usual I can bombard him with questions about theatre gossip and who's getting all the best roles etc. I also love chatting about the technicalities of singing etc.



Here's a link to their website for anyone interested. I really do recommend a trip to this show if you get the chance. In the videos tab there's a Youtube clip to give you a taste.

http://www.beyondthebarricade.com/mainframe.html

The dogs are nice and tired so hopefully they won't mind us leaving them for an evening. They had a good long walk this morning and Kizzle has been training this afternoon. I was actually allowed to go and watch her training session and I'm really impressed with what they've been up to over the Christmas holiday. Her weaves are looking brilliant, she is picking up entries from all over the place and is about 98% proofed on completing the weaves properly as well. She is looking really good and I want her - NOW.

Abbey is feeling very tired, she has had some extra long walks over the holiday which is good because it helps with her appetite. However, she was a bit ploddy this morning so I think she'll be glad to get back to the slightly shorter walks next week (i.e. 1 hour instead of 2!)

We took some extra time off over Christmas/New Year and won't be opening the office until Monday. Apart from Dogs in Need we didn't have a holiday last year due to house moving and building works so we decided to have two weeks off now. Can't believe where those two weeks have gone. Andy is not looking forward to opening the office on Monday.

I have had an extra present - a new PC. It has a huge monitor which is lovely. At the moment I'm in the process of transferring all the data etc. and then I will have to do the same with Andy's old PC onto my old one so he is getting an update as well. My old PC is only about 2 years old so he'll be getting a much better machine than he's got now. It's amazing how you keep thinking of extra things to do. I thought I'd done a pretty exhaustive audit on the old machine but things keep cropping up that I've forgotten about. Also lots of my drivers are out of date for various applications as they were for Windows 2000 or XP and now I've got VISTA so you have to visit the various web sites and download the correct drivers. It's good fun but at the moment I can't see an end to it and I haven't even started on the business data!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year to everyone

We had a quiet Christmas with visits to friends and neighbours, the usual stuff really. I was very lucky and got a new coffee machine which I've been wanting for ages. Now I can have all sorts of different coffees at the push of a button. Andy also bought me a lovely bracelet which was a total surprise! I have lots of new books to read as well!

I bought Andy various stocking fillers including an LED head torch. He looks so funny going out at night to give the dogs their late night toilet but even he has to confess it does make life easier in finding what they leave behind whilst keeping hands free to fight with a poo bag, something we can all relate to! I also bought him some DVDs, a pen set and lots of other bits so it wasn't just a poo patrol torch!

We went to Dan & Mac's on Christmas day after we'd all been for a visit to Mum. She was on very good form and really seemed to enjoy having us all there together. We took Kizzy along and she was amazing. We couldn't believe how well behaved she was. Dan and Mac brought Ellie along and so Mum had two dogs on the bed for the afternoon! On Boxing day we went to Dad's for supper. Dan and Mac came as well and our step brother Graham. It was a really nice evening but none of us were aware at that point what the following day would bring.

Christmas was made very sad in our family. Mac's mum has been battling against cancer and was just starting another round of chemo. She and Roger (Mac's dad) had lunch with Dan and Mac on Christmas day and she was on pretty good form. Then on Boxing day evening she took a serious turn for the worse and she died the following morning. She was at home with all her family round her. Although she was very ill, nobody expected that she would pass away so soon especially as she was just at the start of another round of treatment. Our thoughts are with Mac and her family at this really sad time. Pat was the heart of her family and will be missed so much by all of them.

Bernadette and Dennis came for a walk and lunch on the day that Pat passed away. It was good to have company and get on and do something. We did quite a big walk and the weather was fine. We took all of ours and in addition had the company of Hex and Hob-b. The dogs were really good together and had a good run out.

Ed our stepfather has a bad chest infection and he was taken into hospital a couple of days ago. We're hoping that he'll be out today and that they've managed to get it under control. He isn't well at all and still has to have dialysis thrice weekly. It's a real struggle for him. He was quite well on Christmas day when he was visiting Mum with us but then he became very ill. It was Mac who found him slumped at the kitchen table when she took his paper round. Poor Mac really didn't need that after just losing her Mum.

We wish all our friends and family a happy new year and look forward to seeing you all soon.