Monday, 7 December 2009

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!


  1. ...fair play to you...I don't think I'd managed 6 hours training!

  2. Angela - you're a fan too then :o)