Thursday, 28 May 2009

No time to blog .....

Yet another week has flown by and once again I haven't achieved a tenth of what I intended. I had great training plans for Zeki this week but all that we have managed is our Tuesday night class. Crazy because I have all that equipment just outside but no time to use it for myself!

I have been trying hard to keep all my office work as up to date as possible so that there are no nasty surprises when we go away to shows at the weekend. I am also researching travel and other stuff related to our forthcoming trip to Denmark. Before I know it that will be upon us. I am looking forward to the trip and I think I'll stop worrying once I've got the travel sorted. We're going by ferry to either Calais or Dunkirque and then driving about 1000 km to Denmark. We could go to Hook of Holland which would mean a little less driving but it's quite a bit longer for the dogs on the boat and I'd rather be with them driving than them being on their own on the boat.

Last weekend we went to Nottingham. Mixed feelings really. We didn't much like the venue or the running conditions but the weather was good and we had a nice time socially. We had Itzy staying with us and because the weather was nice were able to get her out and about quite a lot. Agility-wise not bad but not brilliant with a spattering of results but not quite what we'd hoped. That said Niamh and I qualified for the Pedigree pairs final with Herbie and Leah which was a nice surprise. We won't travel all that way for one weekend again, not just the venue but it's such a long trip.

Itzy went home on Tuesday evening. I think Bernadette was very pleased to have her back safe and sound. She was very good and absolutely no trouble at all. She got on well with all of our dogs but her special friends were Zeki and Poppy. I can't wait to see if she recognises them (or us) next time we see her!

The garden is keeping us busy at the moment as everything is growing at 100 miles an hour. It's lovely but rather hard work. It's been made harder because we've had quite a lot of windy weather and that results in lots of debris off the trees, especially the weeping willow. Oh well, can't complain it's all beautiful to look at!

Here are some pictures from the weekend.

Zeki shouting at her sister. Poor Kizzy is almost deafened. Itzy looks on in disgust!

Three full sisters each from a different litter. Itzy, then Zeki and last but not least in the back row the original and best - Princess Kizzle. Note the excavation efforts of the youngest sister immediately to her left hand side!

Naughty Niamh after a tiring day's competition. Not sure where Andy is supposed to sleep!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Zeki Training

Thanks to Leah for the great photographs!

Well, our training is progressing nicely. I am thoroughly enjoying training Zeki as she is such a willing partner and is happy to try anything I ask of her. I think we have good communication between us. Most of our training is done on a positive note but she understands failure and how to try harder if something isn't quite right. She takes negative feedback in a positive way which is really useful when teaching new behaviours.

I am still teaching the running A-Frame and so far am happy with our progress. I have decided to do a sort of running seesaw in that Zeki's main cue to leave the seesaw is as it hits the ground. That said I am cheating a bit and trying to coincide a release word with the hit on the ground. Not sure if this is a good idea or not, will have to see if we can maintain our performance.

I had become a bit stuck with my dog walk but had some help today from a very good teacher which has set me back on course. We were not as behind with this obstacle as I had thought; in fact it seems like I've been holding Zeki back too much when she was actually ready to move on. I have just the dog walk and long jump to finish in terms of teaching the obstacles so we are pretty well there in this respect.

I have started to teach pull throughs/push throughs/snakes but we are only drilling these from a stationary position. Our lefts and rights are pretty good. I've been practising as hard as Zeki on these (anyone who knows me well will understand why!)

Now we have to start some sequence training which I'm looking forward to. She is such happy dog.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Catch up

Oops, haven't updated the blog in over a week. Have been really busy as the garden seems to be growing like some kind of monster right now!

We had a good time at Tunbridge Wells show. We took a bit of a break and went down on the Wednesday evening so that Andy could get the rings marked out first thing on Thursday morning. Jackie and Terry arrived late morning and got their camp set up just in time for the equipment to arrive. We did our usual task of putting on jump feet, making up tyres and A-Frames etc.

Bernadette came for a visit and we did some puppy training and then took the shelties for a nice walk on the cross-country course. My bad sheltie led everyone astray by running up and down the hedge to see off some horse riders. I had just been explaining to Gran'Ma how much her recalls had improved. Grrrhhhh ... bad little monster. The annoying thing was that she took both puppies with her and also her mother, Zen. Poppy and Kizzy stayed with us and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. She did come back after a short battle and her reward was to be told off. Not good dog training I know but made me feel better. So the rest of the weekend we did a lot of recalls all 100%. Truthfully she is much better but I need to be on my guard when different things appear, e.g. horses or children on bikes. If I call her in before they take her eye she is good, if I miss that moment then she will chase and then it's 50/50 whether I can get her back immediately. Depends on how "rewarding" the prey is versus her reward from me. More work required.

On the Friday we had some courses to set up and a few of us took our young dogs with us. I was so pleased with Zeki as she carried her toy nearly the whole time and just kept coming to me to throw it for her. She didn't once run away, she was happy to interact with me whilst we set up the courses. We had a little play on the tunnels, and when Terry did some little bits with his new puppy, Meadow, Zeki didn't once chase her. Progress on that front. She was out there with me for nearly two hours so was very tired when we got back to camp. She still managed to drag herself out for an hour round the cross country course though!

Agility-wise I had a pretty rubbish weekend really. I managed just one clear round and that was far from perfect. On the positive side though, Niamh's contacts were brilliant and her drive is still increasing. I was very tired during the whole weekend and just didn't put my best mental effort into each round. I get so frustrated with myself when I feel like this as my dog deserves much more from me.

Andy had competition only on the Sunday as there are no small classes at Tunbridge Wells on the Saturday. He had a nearly round in the Crufts singles (a fabulous course set by Lee Gibson) just flicking Kizzy over the wall after the dog walk instead of straight into the tunnel. Their Olympia round wasn't very good and they got E'd in their G6-7 jumping which was a very difficult and strange course. They saved their one clear round of the day for the Crufts team and it was worth it as the sheltie team won the class and qualified for Crufts.

We were really happy for my brother Dan and his collie Tig for winning G3 agility on the Sunday at Tunbridge Wells. A great result. Well done as well to Bernadette and the wonderful Zen for qualifying for the medium KC Olympia semi final. Karen and Todd nearly did it, next time guys! I think the most stunning run of the weekend though was Elspeth and Jack in the large Olympia qualifier. It was a really clever and unusual course set by Jo Frazer with two really tricky weave entries. Elspeth and Jack just glided round, it was just the most amazing round I've seen them do.

This last week has flown by and we decided not to go to BATS show. Kizzy was a little lame during the week. It was very strange as it was so intermittent. I think she must have had something in her foot as one minute she was limping and the next minute totally sound. We looked at her foot with a magnifying glass and could find nothing. She was sound by Friday but Andy decided not to risk running her just in case. I had only one serious class and really couldn't face travelling all that way to a venue I don't particularly like just for that class.

So instead we had a day at home. I cleaned out the caravan from Tunbridge Wells so that it's all ready for Nottingham next weekend. Andy cleaned both cars and also got his car organised now that Mac has finished the cages. The dogs have less space than I would ideally like but I don't mind too much as our dogs don't stay in Andy's car at shows, they are either in our little garden or in the caravan. That said their quarters are perfectly acceptable for travelling but I wouldn't want them shut in the car all day. Poppy has a new bed on the back seat and will be wearing a harness. I've ordered a special seat belt clip for her harness from e-Bay.

Next we moved onto the garden. We had spent one evening in the week clearing the agility equipment so that we could mow the grass and do the strimming. I had my first go with the mower whilst Andy did the strimming. The lines are not as straight as Andy does them but the grass is cut so there you go! Yesterday it was time to tackle the hedges. We managed to do 2/3rds of the back hedges, I cleared up whilst Andy did the cutting. If it stops raining today we have two more areas out back to trim and then the front hedges. I really hope we can get finished and set light to our massive bonfire this evening!

Right now it's time for a cup of coffee and fifteen minutes with my book!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Dordale, Vyne and the new caravan

Gosh we're only just into the season and already I'm exhausted!

We had a great time at Dordale and Vyne. The new caravan was brilliant. It was so nice just being able to fall into bed last thing without making up the benches. So much easier with all the dogs. They were very approving of their new quarters. Some of them sleep on our beds when we're sitting in the caravan and then when we go to bed we swap places.

At night Niamh, Murphy and Becky occupy the front benches. Poppy has her little furry bed down between our beds and we each have a sheltie sleeping on the end of our bed. Very satisfactory.

Who are you looking at?

Princess Perfect Paws

Poppy in her new sitting room

Murphy and Becky lounging on Andy's new bed

Naughty Niamh with Mr Prongo her suckle toy

This is bliss

Agility-wise, well it was another mixed weekend. First off Andy and Kizzy. They had some great runs and bagged their first win towards Grade 7. They won the G1-7 agility at Dordale and also got a 3rd and 4th. At Vyne they got 2nd in G5-6 agility and 3rd in G6-7 jumping. All in all pretty good. Andy was just behind Amy and Fudge's time in the G5-6 agility which is really encouraging as Amy really went for it in this round. It paid off as it was her fourth win and into G7.

Niamh was brilliant all weekend; sadly her partner was not. We achieved 3rd in G6 agility on Sunday at Dordale but that was it (not that I'm disappointed with that place!) We had several nearly runs with me making one stupid error in each run. This continued at Vyne so I am hoping my brain is working better for Tunbridge Wells!

Zeki had some good training sessions around the rings and we practised queueing for Andy and Kizzy. All in all pretty good. She is much better than she was as long as I pay attention and work with her. If I stop to chat then that's it, she entertains herself by barking and bouncing ringside. It must be me because Niamh is like this as well, Poppy is a handful and so was Bess. The only dog that behaved was Abbey, she just had no interest in watching other dogs at all. She was a bit like Kizzy really, fell asleep ringside and then woke up on the start line! I do miss Abbey so much, she was like my little shadow.

We were so tired after Vyne. I had decided to do very little training with Niamh but was looking forward to training Zeki. That wasn't to be as Zeki got stung (again) and I had to wizz her off to the vet for a jab. Her nose was very fat by the time we got there but she is fine now, thankfully. I didn't go training so Andy and Leah shared taking the classes. Hardly anyone came so it was a very early finish.

We're off to Ardingly early so that Andy can mark out the rings. I am looking forward to another weekend in the new caravan and also to seeing Jackie and Terry who are coming for their first trip out in the caravan.