Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Christmas is over for another year!

Well, Christmas has been and gone. All that build up and then it's over in a flash. We had a lovely time spent with family and friends. On Christmas Day we went to lunch with Dan & Mac after we'd taken the dogs for a nice walk and paid a visit to Mum. Here are some pictures of that wicked little Kizzle in the aftermath of opening presents (not necessarily hers) on Christmas morning.

Here she is visiting Mum on Christmas morning. She is an excellent PAT dog!

I was very lucky and got lots of nice presents including some waterproof gloves and socks and a lovely Roberts clock radio which I've been wanting for ages. I also got books and lots of other nice things.

By the end of the day Kizzle was exhausted from all the visits and present opening so she went to bed early!

On Boxing Day Bernadette and Dennis came over and we went for a nice long walk on Ashdown Forest with ten dogs. They were all very well behaved including Bernadette's foster dog Shimmer. We found a good pub in Hartfield on the way home and had a late lunch and then home for more presents!

The following day we went to Dad and Jan's for lunch followed by more presents! Poor Jan has been ill over Christmas but is gradually getting better. When we got home Andy said he felt very sick and shivery. We were due to see Karen and other friends on the Monday but we couldn't go as he was too ill. He seems to have a gastric flu type bug. Great, I hope I don't get it with various shows coming up. Mind you with the northern shows we need to keep an eye on the weather. I have booked Wilmslow and Ribble - must be mad! I'm also booked into one of the Active Pawz shows next Sunday and am really looking forward to that. I hope it isn't too cold!

Yesterday Dawn and I did a training day for Thames DTC which was hard work but good fun as they are a great crowd. Their venue is absolutely huge, the size of Olympia so we had plenty of space to set up our various sequences. On the way home I called into Karen and had some dinner with her and yet more presents. I like this stretched out Christmas, you get presents nearly every day. I was very tired by the time I got home and fell asleep on the sofa.

Woke up this morning to pouring rain so am now preparing for a wet and very muddy dog walk. It has rained very hard here for over 24 hours so the river is up and some of the fields are under water. Lovely, can't wait to get out there!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas to all our family and blogger friends

Happy Christmas everyone
Nancy, Andy & the Hudsondoglets

Happy Birthday Murphy

Happy Birthday to our lovely curly black wig, aka Murphy, Murphis, Mr Murf, Smurf - eight years old today. Where have the years gone since he walked into our house at fourteen months of age and looking for a new home. We were supposed to be facilitating that little venture but he never left us!

Mr Murf on his eighth birthday

Having his birthday cuddle in bed with Andy

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Snow and now ice

The snow is still hanging around and has been made worse by the freezing temperatures. Now we have black ice on the roads and sheet ice outside the house. It's not a good combination and quite scary just walking outside to the car.

Niamh cut her leg on the ice yesterday so I am now quite anxious about taking the dogs out today as it's actually worse than yesterday. Trouble with Niamh is that she's like a bull in a china shop and can't go anywhere slowly. She would probably do more damage if I had her on a lead as she pulls so much. I think we might be having a few games in the garden today and perhaps just a quick jaunt round the recreation ground later. It is supposed to get milder so hopefully it might start to melt.

We went to visit my Mum last night and the roads were awful. Mum was in very good spirits and extremely bright and chatty. We took Kizzy with us and she sat on Mum's bed and had a good cuddle. She is a very good PAT dog. Mum wanted to keep her which makes me feel really sad as it shows how much she misses her doglets. On the way home we popped into Leah and Jay's for a cup of tea and a cuddle with the puppies. They are gorgeous. I am very very glad they are not red and white!

We came home really slowly and rarely out of 3rd gear as there was so much black ice on the road. My car slid a few times so I was glad I was driving really slowly. Most people were doing the same, just the odd nutter who probably ended up in a ditch. I'm not sure which was the best choice, the main roads which were covered in black ice or the back lanes which were still covered in snow but less traffic.

By the time we let the dogs out before bed time, it was absolutely freezing and we had horrible freezing fog to go with it. Ghastly.

Poppy and Kizzy sleep in our bedroom at night, well and most of the day as well if I'm honest! The other four are very hard done by and sleep in the cosy warm kitchen with a choice of just seven beds. We normally have the older dogs in our room and so I'm not quite sure how Kizzy qualifies for this privilege. When I ask Andy this he just stares at me and says it's because she is a Princess.

Anyway, when it's cold I like to make sure Poppy is tucked up in her little bed. Luckily she loves being under cover and so this is how she goes to sleep and how she wakes up. Princess doesn't like to be covered but she does sleep with her two bed time toys: Wilson and Wainright. There is hardly any room for her in her bed but that's the way she likes it. She normally hops up on our bed at about 6.00 am but prefers to sleep in her own bed during the night.

Here they are from last night.

Why are you taking more photos of me?

I can't be bothered, I'm going to sleep!

Poppy all tucked up, cosy and warm

The back garden this morning, still a bit of snow and now frozen solid

Not much snow left in the front but it is completely frozen and not very nice to walk on!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Snowy Walk

Although a lot of the snow has melted after yesterday's freezing rain, there is still quite a bit over the fields and in our garden. It very icy as the snow melts a bit during the day and then freezes overnight. Niamh has cut her leg on the ice today. Luckily it's not too bad but it looks quite sore, poor little girl.

Some of the footpaths are pretty icy on the walk so we chose to walk off the path and through the less icy snow. Here are some pictures of the doglets on their walk this morning.

Zeki posing

Zeki doing a recall in the snow!

The Hudsondoglets and Andy (Poppy has a double layer of coats!)

That Naughty Poppy rolling, for once in something clean - snow!

Zeki on ice!

Keeping up with the Joneses or in this case the folk from Cornwall!

This is currently sitting in the garage waiting to be installed as the new front door. Angela - you beat us to it! Your front door is really gorgeous! This was a bargain on eBay and came complete with furniture so it isn't as posh as yours!

What shall we do next!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow Scene

The view out back
(Click image to enlarge.)

This is a picture that Michael took from his upstairs window. We don't get this lovely view out across the fields as the windows in our upstairs room are too high to see out of properly. This is something we intend to rectify when we re-do the loft conversion ....... one day! Michael has stitched together this scene, very clever. He did this for me because when I was doing some stuff in his office the other day I kept moaning that their view is better than ours. Thank you!

Snow Dogs

The Snow Princess

The Snow Monster

Little Poppy in another new coat, thank you Aunty Karen!

Naughty Niamh with Pops and Kizzy in the background

Mr Murf


Poppy, Niamh and Kizzy

Poppy waiting to play

Princess with Poppy in the background

Snowy garden

December update

Oops, I've not updated the blog for a couple of weeks. December seems to slip by really quickly and now it's only five days to Christmas!

Al and Andy had a second weekend working on the studio and have made huge progress. The floor joists are all in and they have put up timbers to support the end wall. They worked really hard to get this far and were very lucky with the weather. No more will happen now until after New Year but we are further on than I imagined.

Al always wants to achieve to a certain point and will not stop working until he has reached that goal. Hence last Sunday they were still working under flood lights. Here are some pictures of men at work in the dark!

So, you can imagine with work running on to this time of night we got through a lot of biscuits, tea, cake etc.

On the Saturday of last weekend I went along to Leah's pre-Christmas simulated show. It was pretty cold but we had a great time with warm mince pies and wonderful mulled wine. Mind you I only had a tiny sip as I was driving. I was worn out by the end of it as we had four runs with each dog. I must admit I chickened out of the last two runs and Bernadette ran Zeki and Karen ran Niamh. Mind you I didn't gain much as the timing didn't work for Bern's run with Zeki so she had to re-run and I opted to do the re-run.

It was lovely to see my girls running and they both worked really well. Zeki was a little unsure as she's never run with anyone else but she got on with the job; Niamh was brilliant and ran flat out for Karen and put in a very similar time to my run with her. I elected to train my agility rounds with both dogs and ran for competition in the jumping classes. Both my girls were brilliant and ran clear both times (in fact Zeki ran the course clear three times!) and we won the large and medium juumping. Here is a link to Zeki's jumping round kindly taken by Gran'Ma. The course was absolutely huge and one of those which I had real difficulty getting into my brain. I eventually got it but it was an effort! It was a long way round and the surface isn't the easiest to run on as it's very deep in places. Still, my theory is that if I can run a half decent round on that surface I should be able to do better on a good surface! Zaz and Yazz ran at the competition and they were both fantastic. In fact they ran before Zeki and I was really nervous running my more experienced dog as I didn't think I would do half as well. As it happened my dog was brilliant and I learned not to doubt her!

On Sunday I took myself off to Golden Cross for the Just Minis show. I'm glad I went as it gave us a bit more indoor ring experience and I was back home by mid-day which was good as it was pretty cold and wet. I was pleased with Zeki even though we failed to get a clear round. I made a mistake in each round which cost us the clears. In both cases I failed to get a front cross in as she was further ahead of me than I expected (this is good, I think!) and so my rear crosses were subsequently too late and in the wrong place and pulled her off the next obstacle. Live and learn. Her weaves were fantastic, totally independent and fast, good A-Frame and better dog walk. Still need to practise the dog walk more. Had planned to do so this weekend but it's impossible for reasons which will be become clear in the next paragraph!

From around Monday we kept getting weather warnings about snow. We tend to take it with a pinch of salt as ever since the hurricane in 1987 the weather forecasters have been a bit over the top with their warnings. They completely failed to forecast that big storm and so now they have to warn you just in case. Anyway, the snow arrived on Wednesday exactly as forecast. When we went to bed we had a bit of a covering but it stopped just before we went to bed. You can see from the night time pictures that it was just a covering.

We went to bed expecting it to be melted in the morning but we awoke to much more snow. Obviously there had been quite a lot during the night and it was freezing so wasn't really melting. In fact it's still hanging around now (Sunday) as the air is so cold. We had another covering last night which topped up where it had begun to melt.

I felt really sorry for our friends preparing to travel up to Olympia as some of them were snowed in. Luckily they managed to get out and all got there safely. Well done to Elspeth & Jack for winning the pairs along with Tasha on the Saturday afternoon and to Al and Jack getting into the final. I felt even sorrier for Karen and Todd as I know how much they'd been looking forward to their first time at Olympia together. Such a shame that Todd went lame the night before, I hope he'll be back to normal soon and look out 2010 as this partnership will be back with a vengeance!

On Friday I took the dogs for their usual walk. Half way round I was regretting it as the snow was really deep across the fields especially where it had drifted in the strong wind. The shelties were up to their chests in snow and my legs ached from having to lift so high with each step. At one point Kizzy refused to walk and when I checked her out she had snow balls hanging off her fur the size of tennis balls. I couldn't believe it. I got off as much as I could but they were solid balls of ice and I was worried about tearing out her fur or worse still actually tearing her skin. When we got home Andy had to help me de-frost the poor little things. It tooks us ages and the floor was covered in snow balls varying from golf ball size to tennis balls!

Yesterday I managed to finish making and wrapping Christmas presents. I chose to make a few presents this year and hadn't realised how long it would take me. Much nicer though than traipsing round the shops!

I think we have one more project to complete in the office before we shut up shop for Christmas. Andy had his first exam on Thursday, this was all to do with health & safety in the workplace. He was very happy that he passed and also relieved as the exam was quite a lot harder than the mock exam.

That's it for now. Hopefully I will get some nice snow pictures of the dogs on their walk later!

Monday, 7 December 2009

What's Occurin'

I am so happy that Gavin and Stacey is back. I so love this show, it's going to be the last series and I think it's just as funny as the previous two. It's a good thing they're going to quit at the top. Much better than it becoming tired and unfunny.

It just makes me laugh and feel happy. Not quite as feel good as the Vicar of Dibley (my all time favourite) but pretty close!

I love all the characters and their different relationships. Marvellous methinks (don't you agree Tel Boy!)

Here is a funny clip from last year's comic relief. So funny, well I think so!

Tired, cold but happy

What a busy weekend again. Saturday we (that's the royal we) started the foundations for the new studio. The weather was actually ok for a change and Andy and Al managed to get the concreting complete. Then on Sunday they made further progress removing the wisteria and getting other bits ready to start carpentry work next weekend. My contribution was to supply tea, biscuits and lunch and anyone who knows Al will understand this is a mammoth task! Only joking (not!)

It is sad to see the well-established wisteria taken down but there was no choice and in lots of ways I'm glad because it was a year round chore clearing up after it. It was positioned right over my dog cleaning area (which with the new build will be completely covered in, hurrah!) and all year round required some kind of clearing. If it wasn't leaves it was seed pods, if not pods then petals or twigs and so on. Never ending. I'm kind of glad I won't have that to do any more!

I took the dogs for a nice long walk on Saturday afternoon but had to turn back sooner than I wanted as there was a really big shoot going on across the river and poor little Poppy was beside herself. For the first time ever she actually bolted and I was quite scared but although she wouldn't come back to me she did lie down when I shouted to her so I was able to go and catch her and put her on lead. We headed back at that point and she gradually became calmer as she realised we were walking away from the shooting. At this time of year we have quite a lot of shooting around us but once a month there is a big shoot and it's very loud with the beaters shouting and dogs barking and now Poppy listens out for the shouting as she knows it will be followed up by the gun shots. Poor little thing, it broke my heart to see her so stressed.

When we got home I cleaned up the dogs (again) and lit the fire so that Pops could chill out and forget about the shooting. She was soon curled up in front of the fire asleep. I was going to write some Christmas cards but wasn't in the mood so they are still sitting on the dining table awaiting my attention! At least I have bought them, last year I hadn't even managed that until just before Olympia.

On that subject I really wish I was at Olympia this year. I had a couple of chances to qualify for semi finals but I didn't really focus as I was so geared to getting my win into G7. Now I wished I had tried harder. Still, we have lots of friends there this year so I will be keeping everything crossed for them instead!

On Sunday I had booked a training day with Leah. I've never trained a whole day before and was a bit anxious that my second dog wouldn't get the same level of attention. Fortunately for once I kept my brain in gear.

Niamh had three hours in the morning where we worked on a really good course which was both difficult but achievable. A nice combination especially for those who had qualified for Olympia as it left them feeling positive. I really enjoyed the course and Niamh was shattered after three hours stood on her mounting block watching the other dogs running. I took her pink fleece in for her to sit on and she wore her lovely Obtrack coat between turns. I was really pleased with Niamh's training session, she did lovely weave entries and good contacts with lots of reward and fun. Perfect.

We had a half hour break for lunch (thanks for the soup Jay) and then it was Zeki's turn. I put her little pod on the mounting block and she also had her Obtrack coat for between turns. It got much colder in the afternoon so I was glad she was kept warm. Zeki was brilliant, the course was easier than the morning's version but still very testing for our level. This training was set for G1-4 and Leah pushed everyone out of their comfort zone but in a postive way.

Zeki seems to have picked up in speed and drive. She is really wanting her toy at the end of every sequence and we did a whole session without any food. I was most pleased with her weaves which have speeded up and her entries were excellent. The weaves were set at a slight angle and the handler forced to peel away from the end. Not once did she pop out of her weaves so I made sure to throw in her toy beyond the finish of the weaves after I pulled away really hard.

Her dog walk is coming on nicely, not perfect by a long way but all the time making progress. She is gradually understanding the stop and release on the seesaw and only occasionaly self-releases now. It's quite hard for her as I trained her to a running seesaw but decided a few weeks back that I need to go to a stop and release as she was beginning to leave it before hitting the floor. At least the behaviour I'm asking for is now consistent with the dog walk which is a good thing.

We had a wall in the course and it was the first time she'd seen one; in typical Zeki fashion she just got on with it even when we were doing quite tricky angles. I love her attitude and enthusiasm. It's wonderful!

With her new found confidence we are having a bit of a glitch with our A-Frames so my plan there is to go back to some serious and basic drilling using her food pot and if necessary the clicker. I am also going to stop turning her off the A-Frame over the winter period. I know she understands this process but I want to get back to the 100% level I know we can achieve and I think this is best done by keeping it simple for a time.

Sorry no pictures for this post so here's a Christmas scene instead!