Off we trundled for our last caravanning show of the season. We'd never been to SFR before and it seemed very strange to be at the show ground which we relate only to Dogs in Need. We were very lucky and had a nice camping spot saved for us by Lisa and Caroline (thanks girls!)
It was also the first tow with our new vehicle. Yes, I did say new vehicle. At last I have aqueised to Andy's desire for a van. Well it's not really a van, it's a VW Transporter with a row of seats and windows, so it's really a large car. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it ..... translated: I am a sad car snob and I can't help it. The good thing is that it's the 4-motion version so it does have a degree of four-wheel drive which will hopefully get us off wet ground should the need arise - one of the reasons we have stuck with the four wheel drive vehicles over the years. I realise it won't tow other vehicles off as Andy has done many times in the past but hopefully it will get us out of a sticky spot better than the average two wheel drive.
I was unhappy with the lack of space for the dogs in the jeep and it was really getting to me. Although our dogs don't spend much time in the vehicle once we arrive at shows I was still not a happy person. So we decided we would look for a VW or a Mercedes over the winter. Then this one came up on Piston Heads and was just too good to miss so off we went to Dorset to view it and of course we bought it.
We haven't got it caged yet but we managed to use if for the show by setting up various soft crates and indoor kennels. The dogs travelled in comfort and I was in awe of the amount of space we had. Our few belongings looked lost inside the cavernous space. Normally we are stuffing things in anywhere we can find a gap so this was luxury.
The vehicle towed like a dream and you really were unaware that there was a rather large caravan on the back of it. It's the best tow vehicle I think we've had since our old red Shogun and Andy thinks it's possibly better than that! I might even have a go myself, maybe ....
Anyway here is a picture of our new dogmobile:
I enjoyed the show as it was well organised but the exercise area was not good. It was difficult to find much space to give the dogs a run. It is ok for Andy and his three as they mill around him but my three are another matter. I have the two ballistic missiles: Zeki and Niamh and then Poppy who now has to investigate the perimeter of every place I take her. The trouble with the Suffolk showground is that it has roads running all through it and the people who work at the showground don't adhere to their own speed limit. In addition that this was the worst ever show I have been to for speeding agility vehicles. It was bad. The show don't hire as much of the ground as DIN so it is pretty limited as to where you can take the dogs.
Agility-wise, pretty good with Zeki. The dog walk was a bit better but we had a few glitches: popping out of the last weave; pulling off a tunnel (both my fault) and then we had a bit of a distraction in one agility round. It was unfortunate that the rings shared a common boundary albeit orange netting. As Zeki was descending her dog walk a large dog in the ring beside ours was approaching the seesaw right in Zeki's eye line. She did lose concentration and for a moment I thought she was going to chase, however she stayed with me so I think that is a good thing! In the same round we were marked on our A-Frame. I was very disappointed that this should happen so soon but when I look back on the video, although it wasn't one of her better attempts, I think it is quite clear that she didn't miss the contact. This is not meant in any way as a dig at the judge because I know it's a difficult thing to get right 100% of the time and as a competitor you have to take the rough with the smooth. It's just comforting for me to be able to see the video afterwards.
I was very pleased with her jumping win on the Saturday as it was quite a tricky little course and she ran it really well even though I forgot to put in my front cross at the finish. That could have saved me another second or so ..... although we did win the class by a rather embarrassing margin which I am not going to mention in exact terms but it was in double figures!
We also achieved 1st in a helter skelter jumping which was really more a jumping class (suits me as I hate helter skelters) and got 4th with Andy and Kizzy in the pairs.
I am a bit frustrated with myself that I have yet to get a clear round in an agility class. It isn't the agility equipment that's stopping the clear round but other little handling errors on my part. The best round we have done was the one in David Isbister's class where we popped out of the last pole before the collapsible tunnel. It was nice of David to find me after to say that despite the error it was one of the best rounds. He also mentioned that he'd had quite a few dogs make the same error in the weaves so I guess the tunnel must have been on view early for the dogs as they got towards the end of the weaves.
The Naughty Niamh ran well and we got some top five places. On Saturday I loved Niamh's courses but wasn't so keen on Sunday and it showed in my lack of results with her.
Andy and Kizzy have work to do on their contacts over the winter. Kizzy was full of herself this weekend and running really well, just the small matter of the contacts to sort out.
We finished soon after lunch on Sunday and were home indoors by 4.00 p.m. Now I just need to clean out the caravan ready to put it to bed for the winter!
Meantime, here's a little film of Zeki at Suffolk Five Rivers.