Saturday, 25 June 2011

Happy Birthday Naughty Niamh

Happy birthday to my beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful and Naughty Niamh ... seven years old today. I can't believe where the years have gone since I picked up this naughty bundle of fur. I love her so much and am so very lucky to have her as my companion and agility partner.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Zeki's Champ Final win from a different angle

I am going to indulge myself and put up a second video of Zeki's winning run in the champ final at Axstane. Thanks to Amanda for filming it for me (and for the verbal encouragement at the end!)

It's nice to have this as I can actually see her A-Frame and the jump sequence behind which we couldn't see from our own video. Brilliant!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

What's occurrin'?

What's occurrin' ...... we're off to Crufts, that's what's occurrin'. Lush, tidy, fair play to us.

Zeki with her first Championship Certificate, a ticket to Crufts 2012!

We just got home from Axstane and I am still on Cloud 9. I really can't believe that Zeki has won a championship class. I can't begin to say how proud and elated I'm feeling.

We didn't go to the show yesterday as I wanted to help Jan (my step-mother) to go and pick up my Dad from Brighton hospital after having a super duper state of the art defibrillator pacemaker fitted. I am pleased to report that the operation went well and hopefully he will start to feel the benefit of this amazing piece of kit.

The weather forecast wasn't great so I wasn't too sorry not to be camping; after a wet time at Thames last week it was a bit of a relief to be honest. It's not much fun for the dogs especially a little puppy in the wet.

Instead we did some gardening and then I went off to Brighton with Jan and Andy cut all the front hedges, pruned the rose arch and a few other garden jobs between very heavy showers. Good job, now just all the back hedges to do. Hopefully next weekend!

We decided to go to Axstane today and I made up my mind to work really hard to get into the final. Helen Saunders was the judge so I knew we would be tested which is great! We started off well with a clear jumping run which placed us 2nd behind Amy and Taz. Then in our agility after a promising start for some reason Zeki clipped the long jump but I just kept going and stayed focused on finishing the round with no further error. Yippee we were in the final and running second to last.

I was quite nervous about the final but in my heart I knew if Demon, the kelpie, ran clear we couldn't beat him as he so very quick. Demon and Helen ran and right at the end they had a refusal at a jump. Now I knew I was in with a chance. Amy and I looked at each other and said nothing but we both knew we had a really good chance. I have to admit at this point my nerves almost overcame me and I had to dig really deep to keep positive and channel those nerves into aggression. I thought my legs were going to fail me but once I released Zeki onto the course I forgot about the nerves and just gave it my best shot, as did my little dog. She is such a star and I am so lucky to have her. We kept our focus and determination and finished clear. Amy ran last with Taz and unfortunately had a refusal (bad luck Amy) which meant that Zeki and I had won. I just sat in a heap on the floor and blubbed. I am so hopeless!

I was a bit disappointed last week that we didn't do well in the Crufts singles and only have a couple more chances of getting points. Now we are going to Crufts in style. I am soooooo happy!

Thank you Zeki and all my lovely friends who kicked my behind and made me believe I could do it! Thank you Helen for setting great, challenging courses.

Well done also to Bernadette and Zaz on gaining their second CC at the same show. An OBay sweep! Made the occasion even more special.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tidey at nine weeks

Tidey continues to be a joy. She is a delightful little person. I am really enjoying her and don't want her to grow up for a long time.

We are into a good routine now which starts off with her waking up around 7.00 am each morning when we go outside for her morning toilet. Then she goes into Andy on her fleece lead with a bunch of toys and has a good romp on the bed. Meantime I let the other dogs out and then bring Tidey back into the utility room where they all have their breakfast. She goes back outside and then we go back to bed for ten minutes with a cup of tea for Andy and more play time on the bed.

Lots more little visits outside to make sure she understands her house training and then we have our first training session of the day. Just ten minutes or so in the garage working on sits, downs, lefts, rights, get in the box, elephant trick, reverse, sitting on a wobble cushion and now going round a cone. Things are progressing nicely and I really enjoy training her. Some of the behaviours are quite well formed now and I'm starting to reward those with a game of tuggy.

Then it's human breakfast time and Tidey has a short play session in the kitchen with various toys and the shelties. Back to bed for about 2.5 hours when I race around trying to get office work and house work done and big dogs walked. At lunch time we go for a walk in the garden, then another training session followed by lunch and a play session. Then back to sleep for the afternoon.

Same sort of thing at tea time but if we're in for the evening then she comes into the sitting room in her play pen where she either plays with her toys or chews or sleeps. This is our time and she is learning to be with us but to be settled. She cries if she wants to go out which is brilliant.

Then we have our last training session followed by a puppy play time before bed. Then it all starts over!

She is due for her second jab next Monday and then will be able to go out and about a week after. She is getting plenty of socialising at dog shows in the interim but once her jabs are finished I plan to take her to the local school, the high street and to the recreation ground.

Here are some pictures of her at nine weeks of age. She is so cute.

Thames Agility Show

The weather forecast for Thames was not good. Luckily Saturday was better than expected and we had a nice day. We had good camping not too far from the rings which is always a bonus.

We set up our little camp and puppy pen and then took it in turns to take our big dogs off for a nice walk whilst the other one watched over Tidey. Naughty Poppy, yes Poppy and for once not Niamh, ate about a third of a festering dead rabbit and then rolled in the remains of it. She definitely could hear me calling her as she kept looking up but then just ignored me and kept on munching. As I ran back to her I could hear her munching the bones and as I got to her she flung herself down and rolled in what was left of her prize. Honestly, she has become so naughty in her old age. At home she goes to all the waste paper bins and picks out tissues which she shreds everywhere. But I don't really care because I love her to bits and she can do what she likes, in fact it makes me laugh more than anything. In future though, I think we will be going to the exercise areas on an extender lead!

We really love our new caravan and everyone is really cosy as you can see:

Agility-wise I was not very good on Saturday at all. The previous evening we had an EO training session and I lost my confidence big time as the ground was so slippery and some people were falling over as well as dogs falling out of the pipe tunnel. More on that in another posting!!

Nic Jones had set us a couple of testing courses and I really didn't handle them very well at all. Nic was very accommodating and helped me break the courses down into manageable sections which made me feel a bit more confident. The one good thing we managed was the tricky weave entries and exits, those were fine so I guess we did take something positive from the session.

My lack of confidence continued into Saturday and I really didn't run either of my girls very well at all, apart from one run with Zeki. We had only two obstacles to go and Zeki ran past the collapsible. I couldn't get her into it as she kept flicking to the weaves and so we thought that was probably what she had caught sight of when she ran past the first time. Looking at the video though, I'm not sure that was the case. She was just being a very bad little sheltie! Judge for yourselves! I have labelled this course Crufts singles but it wasn't, this was just a 6/7 agility. I don't have the Crufts on video but thinking back that was a reasonable run where I didn't read an angle to the weaves and took her past the entry. Totally my fault. I was really disappointed with that as we needed some Crufts points. Oh well. Try harder.

Niamh ran well on Saturday and put in a couple of good runs in the champ but I made an error in the jumping, well actually it was worse than that, I had a moment where I forgot the course and took her to the wrong obstacle. She put in an excellent run in the agility but unfortunately had a brick out of the wall which was the first obstacle. Oh well.

Here is the course I mentioned where Zeki ran past the tunnel - bad, wicked little pointed person.

So all in all Saturday was pretty poor agility-wise although pretty good weather-wise. We had a hail storm at tea time but luckily all the agility had finished by then. We knew the weather forecast for Sunday was bad so we took down all the wind breaks and packed up the puppy pen.

We didn't go to the entertainment on Saturday night as I didn't want to leave Tidey alone for that length of time. Instead we all snuggled in the caravan and watched the final of the BBC dance competition. We have a new t.v. to go with our new caravan and it's fantastic. It's digital and the picture is amazing. It doesn't drain the battery too much either.

Sunday morning we awoke to rain and it steadily got worse and the wind got stronger. It was very cold for June and I wished I had packed more warm clothes and some gloves. We got thoroughly soaked. I ran Niamh in her KCQ but wished I hadn't because she got caught up in the weaves, partly due to her fur sticking to the poles and partly due to the exit required and I knew something had happened but like a fool I kept going for a couple more obstacles. I wasn't running her properly as I knew I should stop and we got eliminated so I pulled her out. I spoke with judge to ask if he had seen what happened and he said she had got stuck but seemed ok. It was on the way back to the car that we realised her foot was bleeding. I felt so bad. I went back to the ring to check the weaves but we couldn't find anything obvious. I think she caught her foot on one of the pegs as she got stuck. Interesting the judge had checked her in the ring and when I went back we saw blood on his hand. He agreed this must have come from Niamh. For a different reason the class was re-started but I didn't re-run it with Niamh. I don't normally run her in such awful conditions and in future I will stick to my principles and not be tempted by qualifiers etc. Her foot is now fine but I am still upset by the incident.

I had the champ with Zeki and decided to have a go despite the weather. I don't feel so worried about running Zeki in the rain as she is much lighter than Niamh. Maybe I'm wrong to have that view but it does feel different. Anyway, we broke our duck and managed to run clear in the jumping. We also ran clear in the agility which meant we achieved our first run in a champ final. I was very proud of little Zeki. I didn't run her in her other two classes as we have already qualified for the KC Olympia semis and I couldn't see the point in running classes I really didn't need to.

By the time the final started it was really pouring down and very unpleasant. Our wet gear started to fail and we were getting soaked to the skin. We must be mad. Zeki put in a really good run and we ended up in 4th place which I was more than happy with. I made one stupid error which you can't see on our video but Amanda Brophy also filmed the round from a different angle and it is clear to see that I rear-crossed one obstacle too soon on a sequence which caused Zeki to almost pull off the long jump. It was really good to see this as I couldn't work out what I had done wrong. That said it wouldn't have made any difference to my placing in the final although it would have brought me nearer the time of the 3rd placed dog.

Kizzy ran some good classes and then was a bit naughty in others, going back to her running round jumps and barking at Andy. Naughty little thing.

Here are the videos of a nearly run for Kizzy and Zeki's first ever champ final.

.... and here is a link to Amanda Brophy's video where you can see my big mistake! Thank you Amanda for filming in such awful conditions!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I was determined to have a positive training session with my girls, especially Niamh, after the weekend. We set up a course we have used before (think it was a course from last year's U.S. try outs for the World Championships.) Rather than run the course exactly as we had before we chose to mirror-image it which would provide different challenges.

It is an excellent course and once again one which is trappy and quite difficult but flows beautifully for the dogs if the handler gets it right. Most of us put in a 'funny' turn between #13 and #14 which is certainly something we wouldn't have done when we first used this course last year. For the black numbered course we also found that a blind cross worked well between jump #15 and the dogwalk in order to get the handler to the other side ready for the 'go round' at #17.

I can absolutely understand the issues that some people have with blind crosses, less so the ketschker (sp!) turn as this really is something that when done properly is communicated to the dog. That said I am working hard to cue my blind turns with a should drop and a verbal cue to come into 'side' or 'close'. If I don't drop my shoulder or give the verbal cue then I expect the dog to stay on the original side. Needless to say that doesn't always happen but it's work in progress.

This course is a real challenge and a great training course. It was good practise for our build up to the EO at the end of July. Both my girls ran it really well and I was thrilled with both of them.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


The garden is looking lovely at the moment. Even better after the 24 hours of steady rain we had overnight Sunday and all day yesterday. I noticed how much nicer my walk was today just with that bit of rain, the ground had a little bit of give in it rather than feeling quite so rock hard.

Tidey at eight weeks


Tidey has come back from her first weekend away in the caravan with new-found confidence. She didn't really lack confidence in the first place but we can see a huge difference in her since we returned home. I think the experience of going out and about is so good for puppies in so many ways.

She was eight weeks old yesterday and had her second trip to the vets for her first jab. Andy took her for me and said that she didn't flinch, mainly because she was too busy eating biscuits that the vet had given her.

She has put on a whole pound in her first week with us, I am not surprised as she has a very very healthy appetite. Her food disappears almost as quickly as the shelties and that is saying something in our household!

I have started working with the clicker more this week, I did little bits last week but mainly it was all about settling in and finding her feet. Now I am starting to shape one or two behaviours and so far things look really promising. She is very keen to learn and luckily for me she loves to play with any kind of toy.

She really is a sweetie and I totally adore her. Both Zeki and Niamh are showing some signs of jealousy but not in a horrible way. I am taking the time to make sure they aren't left out and doing play/training sessions with them once Tidey goes back to sleep. I am also making sure to give extra time to Poppy as she still wants to be kept in the loop when she isn't asleep (luckily for me, that's quite a lot of the time these days. Bless her little heart.)

I have decided to drop the hyphen from Tidey's name but keep the spelling so that it links to the Tide (as in the ocean, moon tide etc.) My dear friends made this decision for me at the weekend when they kept referring to her as Tide Y, i.e. saying the word Tide and 'Y' separately. Grrrgghhhhh!

I hope to get some pictures of her in the garden later. In once sense I can't believe she's been here for a week already and in another it seems as if she's always been here as she has settled in so easily and happily.

I love puppies!

Dartford & Keston Prizes

Kizzy and Zeki displaying their prizes from the weekend at Dartford & Keston shows. Spot the difference in their poses ;o)

Naughty Niamh at Keston

I love these pictures that Alex took of Niamh this weekend. They show her different faces so well. In the first shot she is watching the agility.

In the series of photos that follow she has seen people who she loves and is trying to get to them. In this instance it was Emily, Marian, Jean, Alex and Grace. She is such a funny girl. She really isn't keen on strangers but once she has befriended someone then they are a friend for life and she will spot people she knows amongst a crowd; these are the faces she displays as she tries to engage with them. In the last picture she is reversing ready to launch at her specified target!

Agility watching - above

People watching - below

Monday, 6 June 2011

Dartford & Keston Shows

It was hard work getting ready for this show due to puppy paraphernalia and loading our stuff into the new caravan.

The venue is not far away at all but our journey took twice as long as it should due to the wretched tolls at the Darford Crossing which are always busy from lunch time onwards on Fridays. Why they can't lift the barriers when the queue backs up so far I don't understand. Originally the tolls were going to be dropped once the bridge was paid for but obviously that didn't happen!

We got set up and Tidey began a new adventure which she took in her stride. I can't begin to say how good this little puppy is. She just accepts whatever comes her way and gets on with enjoying herself. She woke up a little earlier than at home but that's quite understandable bearing in mind that she is sharing a small space with two humans and six dogs. She woke up at about 6.10 am each morning. She continues to be really good about toileting and gets on with her business just outside the wind breaks on the extender lead. She is so easy. We set up her play pen inside the wind breaks and she was very content in that space as we had our deck chairs beside her and the other dogs were close by on their pins. It got a bit chilly at times so we covered her little bed with a blanket so she was very cosy.

At night time she slept in a soft crate on the bunk above my bed. Niamh slept beneath my bed, Poppy in a bed in the door well and Zeki slept in bed with me! Kizzy slept on the end of Andy's bed and Becky and Murphy on quilts on the floor beside him. We were all very cosy and slept well.

Above and below - Tidey in the new caravan

There is a puppy in there somewhere!

Naughty Niamh in her new caravan bed

Tidey had a wonderful weekend meeting lots of new people and receiving some nice new toys! She loves toys and gets very excited each time she comes across a new one.

Agility-wise it was a very mixed bag for me. On Saturday I was disappointed that I pulled off a jump too quickly and caused Niamh to drop a pole in the KCQ but delighted that Zeki won her agility class and came 3rd in her jumping. Kizzy ran well especially considering her first run was at 5.40 pm and both she and Andy had switched off somewhat! It was a shame that she cut behind Andy in her agility run and shot up a tunnel as the rest of the round was lovely. Bad little Kizzle. She redeemed herself on Sunday by getting 2nd in her agility class.

Sunday for me was hopeless with Niamh, completely lost our mo-jo. The only round I was happy with was her jumping class which she ran brilliantly but unfortunately we were E'd as she picked up the second weave pole. I ignored that and carried on as I wanted a positive run to end our rather disappointing weekend. Zeki was brilliant but I let her down in all three of her classes. She was running so well in all of them but a single stupid mistake in each of them meant we had no results to show for Sunday. Below are some videos of our good and bad runs from the weekend:

Overall we really enjoyed the weekend but I must work to get back in tune with Niamh. I can't bear it when we aren't running well together. I think Niamh is suffering a bit from puppy-itis and I am very tuned to Zeki at the moment. This is good for the forthcoming EO's but I am determined not to waste my beautiful Niamh so I need to get my act together quick!

On a serious note, an agility person suffered a heart attack at the show yesterday. It was very upsetting. Several agility people came to his aid and a small team formed to perform CPR until the emergency crew arrived. He was very poorly and at times it seemed he wouldn't survive but thanks to the efforts of those people he was taken to hospital by the ambulance and I understand he is making progress in the right direction. Brings my poor agility performance into perspective for sure.