Monday, 30 November 2009

So cute

Had to post these pictures of Kizzy and Zeki that Bernadette took at the puppy party last week. So cute! For once the great big pink croc in the photos isn't mine :o)

Zeki in the Croc

Kizzy in the Croc

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Catching up

Haven't had a chance to post on the blog for a couple of weeks. I don't know where the time goes but the scary thing is that it's December next week.

We've been busy doing lots of stuff including trying to keep control of the leaves and debris from the trees at this time of year. We weren't doing too bad a job until this recent stormy weather and now we're on the losing side. Off down again today to try to have a bit of clear up. I cleaned the dog walk and A-Frame a couple of weeks back and could barely move after I'd finished. They look nice though!

Work in progress

The finished job!

My task wasn't made any easier by dear little Kizzle who insisted on dropping her ball into my bucket and then barking at me to throw it for her, I was up and down the ladder with a scrubbing brush in my hand throwing the damn ball for her. On at least one occasion the scrubbing brush got thrown whilst I tried to clean the A-Frame with a planet ball. All the other dogs are content to race around carrying their various toys but not Kizzle, she wants to interact all the time. A good thing really I know, BUT not when you're trying to do something. She is just as bad when you're raking (that is trying to rake) leaves. The ball continually lands in the middle of the neat pile of leaves and whoosh they all spread out again. Bless!

As mentioned in a previous post we are getting ready to build a small external studio for Andy's massage venture.

The first job was to clear the site and we did this at the weekend. Our neighbours Liz and Geoff wanted the greenhouse and so we got together on Saturday to dismantle it and move it next door. In fact there were two greenhouses bonded together so it was a bit more manageable than we thought. We started by removing the glass panes (between 40 and 50) and then taking down some of the pieces of support timber. We labelled everything so that they have a reasonable chance of putting it back together at some point.

We got to a point and decided we could probably lift the smaller of the two greenhouses over the wall and did achieve this quite easily. Then we decided to do the same with the larger one as it seemed such a shame to take it all apart just for them to have to fiddle for hours putting it back together. God, that was so hard. We managed it just about but Liz and I really struggled with our corners. Luckily we got it over in one piece. Then just the small task of handling all the glass panes over the wall rather than walking them round the long way. I was very scared about this as it was quite a risky thing to do. We took our time and every sheet was passed safely across. I think two panes got broken when Geoff was re-stacking them up at his loose box. Not bad considering the number of panes moved. Boy, was I glad when it was all over. Once again I could barely move.

I did manage to take the poor dogs for a nice long walk whilst Andy cleared up. They had been so good sitting indoors for the whole time we worked on the greenhouse, it was just too dangerous to have them out with us on this occasion.


The small greenhouse gone!

Some of the glass (just from the small greenhouse)

Moving the small greenhouse ready to lift over the wall

Andy and Geoff getting ready to hoist it over

Shifting the large greenhouse - we must have been mad!

There it goes!

Poor Liz trying desperately to hang on, it was lot heavier than it looks even without its glass

Safely over the wall and all in one piece!

All gone, now just tidying to do and then lay a new concrete foundation

On Sunday we were invited to join the Girlpower Pups first birthday party. This was in the format of a training session followed by lunch and pressies and a wonderful cake for the dogs. Personally I thought Bernadette (and Dennis) quite mad but I was proved wrong as all the dogs were very well behaved and believe it or not, it wasn't that noisy!

We were supposed to train in Bernadette's garden but instead she had very kindly hired a local indoor school with equipment as it was too wet to train outside. Johanna was over from Denmark and did the training for us. It was a very good session focusing on one of the current FCI trends of 'collection' followed rapidly by a big gap where the dog needs to 'power' away from the handler.

I wasn't in the mood to train at the start as we all got soaked getting from our cars to the school and then helping to get the equipment in (not that I did much of that, I decided it was better to let Andy and Dennis get wet doing that!) I really hate getting soaked and seeing mud everywhere especially when my dog has got to walk through it all. I had just bathed Zeki and she looked gorgeous and the thought of getting her filthy was too awful for me. However, the training was so good that I managed to cheer up. Training my dogs nearly always has a positive effect on me. My mood was helped by cheerful prods from Bernadette and Karen to buck up - thanks girls and sorry for my demeanour first thing but you do know how much I HATE MUD!

The training was so good that we 'borrowed' the pattern for our Tuesday evening training and had another good session. Thank you Johanna for your great training and ideas.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


We have done quite a lot of training just recently. I am desperate to get Zeki into different places to continue work on her dog walk. So far I am happy with progress but I know I can't afford to be complacent.

A few weeks back we had a lovely day out at Liz's training field. It was a bit noisy as there was Zeki and her brother Ziga (neither of whom are known for being very quiet) and then we had Zaz and Itzy with Bernadette, not so noisy for sure but adding to the volume nonetheless!

Bernadette set Liz and I lots of little sequences including, of course, the dog walk and also some tricky weave entries. Bernadette then gave me some hard sequences to work on with Niamh (it was nice and quiet at that point!) particularly one which involved quite a hard, flat weave entry but with an angled jump that was not to be taken. We got it right after a couple of attempts! Then we did some simple exercises with the puppies. Before we knew it 3 hours had flown by. On the way home I stopped and did a long walk on the Ashdown Forest, one that I hadn't done for ages and when I got to the end of it I remembered why - there is a very long, steep hill to get back to the car park. I had taken Poppy along for the day out and so all three of my girls were tired and happy when we got home. I really did enjoy that day. Good company, good training and three tired little dogs at the end of it. My perfect day!

Last week I had a lesson for Zeki and Niamh with Lesley. I travelled down with Bernadette and we were really lucky with the weather. It was quite cold but dry and so we were able to train outdoors. As usual Lesley found some holes in my training and gave me the appropriate exercises to work on to fix the problems. One of these was with Zeki in that we were not very good at jumping diagonally across a hurdle and wing wrapping the hurdle with me pivoting rather than collecting. I hate pivot turns and so avoid them as much as possible but I should still train them. So I have done some with Zeki and now I must do the same with Niamh. More of pivot turns in another post!

I also worked on Zeki's A-frame and think I made some progress on proofing my turns as we got Zeki turning away from her food pot which I hadn't done before.

Her tight turns off the A-Frame are pretty good and I can turn her neatly into a tunnel under the A-Frame (180°) both towards me and away from me. For these turns I use her 'left' and 'right' turns (i.e. same principle as a wing wrap). For turns of a shallower degree such as 90° then I use her name and 'come' if I want her to come towards me and just 'back' or 'out' to turn her away from me. These turns are much weaker and are, at the moment, more likely to make her over stride on her A-Frame partly because I am peeling away to the side within her vision whereas with the tight turns I am holding back. So, more work on those turns off the A-Frame, particularly when they are towards me, is required. I am drilling this type of turn at the moment using a long jump pole at the bottom of the A-Frame to encourage her all the way through and round before she executes the turn.

Here is a tiny film clip of the type of turn I refer to. Thanks to Gran'ma for the videoing and enthusiastic cheerleading!

We also did some work on her dog walk, again trying to get me to move on from where I'm at. I am quite good at getting others to do this but not so good with myself as I enjoy small successes and so I don't always move forward as fast as I should.

Here is a tiny clip of her dog walk which I think you can see has improved as we've lost the horrible stutter. I would say it has come on again in the week since we visited Lesley.

One thing I am very pleased with is that all my 'mental' work on getting myself to learn left and right has paid off. I'm not saying I'm perfect but if I compare my ability to remember left and right now with the beginning of the year then I would say I am 90% better. I have formed a habit of keeping this going and have little drills in my head that I work on. Sad but true! I have found this method really helpful so am putting a link back to it here in case anyone is interested in trying it if they have the same problems that I HAD! The bit about learning left and right is about two thirds of the way through the rather long post (not like me to put up a long post ....)

Zeki trains regularly twice a week, Tuesdays at our own training school and the other time on a Monday evening at Leah's where we have a split class, half with Leah and half with Wendy. It is very good training with the added bonus that Zeki has to concentrate when other dogs are working. She occasionally forgets herself and goes off to chase but it's pretty rare now and the best part is that she comes straight back when I call her.

Niamh also has two regular classes each week, Tuesdays at our school and Thursdays with Leah. I really enjoy this class as the wicked Leah makes us do very difficult stuff. Niamh adores her training and I love training her. She and I have hit a really nice groove and understand each other really well. I hope we can carry this on into next year when we start competing in championship classes. I am so looking forward to that, I can't wait!

Onto Kizzy. Andy has been doing lots to improve their contact performance and I think things have improved a great deal. Again, we need to keep moving them forward but I think they have a good foundation to work from. Kizzy enjoys workshop classes at training club as it means she gets masses of rewards (food and toys) so this is how we plan to work with her over the winter. Next project is to improve their turns as this is still nowhere near what we're after. One thing at a time though ....

Here is a lovely picture of my dogs especially for people who like posts with pictures :o)

Aches, pains and massage

It's time to do one of my rather incoherent updates as I haven't written anything on the blog for a couple of weeks with the exception of one notable item, i.e. Princess Kizzy's birthday.

Aches & Pains

So, what have we been doing. Well, rather a lot to be honest and I am very tired so I have decided that I am going to get younger and not older. Getting older isn't fun. I have numerous aches and pains and have managed to acquire lateral epicondylitis better known as 'tennis elbow' through my own stupidity. To explain, Zeki likes to jump into my arms and I encourage her to do this so that I can be sure to get her out of danger on a walk or if a large dog were to run into the ring at agility etc. She is a very cuddly dog and will stay in my arms until I put her down and I got into the habit of balancing her on my left forearm. Because she is small and light I didn't think much of it but unfortunately my arm did! Andy has been doing some work on my arm and things are improving but we have had a busy week and I haven't had a treatment for over a week so it's a bit sore again. I also have lots of pain in my neck which is really debilitating at times and I keep meaning to get him to do a treatment but I never seem to find the time. This leads me onto the next update in this voluminous rambling.

Massage training

Some of you may know, others may not so here we go. Andy has decided to resurrect his skills as a masseur. He trained a long time ago and worked in the treatment room at a gym. However, he didn't take any exams but just studied under a trained therapist. The main reason for this change of direction is that he would like a break from the drawing board and enjoys physical work as well as mental. In an ideal work I think he would really like to split his time between architecture and massage. So, Andy has gone back to college for two nights a week. On one night he studies anatomy and physiology and the other Swedish massage. His exams are next year and once he has qualified A&P and the Swedish massage he is going straight on to a sports remedial course. In the meantime he has to clock up over 100 hours of therapy and so already has a few people coming regularly for him to practise on! He is lucky that one of his fellow students lives just half a mile away and so they are able to practise on each other and help learn the various routines together. I am also an occasional guinea pig but apparently I'm the worst patient in the world. That I find very hard to believe!

At the moment he is using our small sitting room as a therapy room. Great, just as we had the fireplace installed ready for the winter so I could sit and read in there at the weekends (that's a joke by the way!) now the room has been taken over by Mr Masseur. But hopefully not for long. Andy being Andy always likes a project and so we are going to build an annexed studio as a treatment room. We are going to demolish the existing greenhouse which is really used as a wood store/shed and build the studio in its place. It will be slightly larger than the existing greenhouse and will have a treatment area plus a tiny kitchen and toilet/shower area. It will double as a place where friends can stay with their dogs which will be nice. We have had to apply for planning permission but hopefully this will soon be through and then Dennis, our builder, is geared up to come in and start work hopefully by the end of the month. No time like the present then! Liz and Geoff from next door are going to help us dismantle the greenhouse and then it will be moving next door as Liz's polytunnel is on its last legs and they will get good use from the greenhouse. It's nice that it's being recycled and not just dumped. It's a good old fashioned greenhouse and very large.

Andy had his first test last night in A&P and passed so he is a happy bunny. There is a long way to go but hopefully it will be worth it!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Happy Birthday to Kizzy

Happy Birthday to our gorgeous, beautiful and perfect Kizzy, three years old today. She requested a nice sleepful day as her birthday present! Here she is below enjoying her present!