So I haven’t done a blog post in a looong time. I can imagine most that used to follow my blog don’t really care anymore ;). But hey, I thought id do a catch up anyway just in case. Its also quite nice for my personal benefit to look at how much things have changed. The reason I stopped blogging and tweeting is mainly because I just didn’t need to anymore. I used to use it as a way of expressing my thoughts on training and making myself feel better about it all. But now, i’ve come to realise that you’ve just got to go out there and get on with it :). Everyone trains differently and we should celebrate that. Some things work for some dogs, other things work for others and the way different trainers respond to this should be celebrated, rather than argued. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to train our dogs the best we can. I started off being shown methods that I didn’t agree with, and now I train using many different methods that I have adapted to my own needs over the years and that I think, work best for me. Those methods that I originally didn’t agree with have helped shape my methods today, so I am actually grateful for being shown them. I’m not going to argue that my methods are better than anyone else’s, or that they definitely work on every dog and for every person. They are mine, and they work for me. That’s all that needs to be said. For each and every one of us, our task as the trainer of our dog is to go out there and find what works. If you find something that doesn’t work, then you ignore it and look for a new alternative. If that means going to lots of different trainers then so be it. The best way to train dogs, in my opinion, is researching every dog training method possible and then taking bits and pieces that work for you and using it. That’s what I have done. I am still expanding my toolbox of methods and hope to continue to do so for as long as I own and train dogs.
So, over the past year so much has changed. I am now at university studying for a degree in animal science. My dogs are still first and foremost in my life and we still compete on a regular basis. I no longer do training classes for a number of reasons. One of the main ones is that I just don’t have time any more. I also think that my dogs are doing much better without them as the intense environment with so many dogs in one little hall could get a bit too much for them. I’m not saying I’ll never return, just for now :). I still do the occasional private agility lesson, as its a bit harder to train agility with no equipment ;). They sure are great fun and Kez loves being the only dog there. Indi also comes along too. I normally give him a go in the last 20 minutes just letting him have a play and gain confidence after his tunnel phobia. I am pleased to announce, he is no longer scared of tunnels :D. Nope, now he’s scared of contact equipment ;). Funny how that was never the problem! He’s getting there though. He can now run round an agility course (minus the contact equipment) without freaking out. Whether we’ll ever get back in the agility ring is still to be seen, but hey I still never give up!
Obedience-wise, Kez is still amazing. She still never ceases to amaze me and is still teaching me so much. She has certainly been the biggest teacher in teaching me to just use only the methods that work for us and ignoring all others. I’ve met many wonderful trainers in obedience and all have given me there unique insight. Kez is an incredibly specific dog in that the methods I use have to be suited perfectly to her. If I use a method that she doesn’t like or that she can use to get food… then it wont work. No matter what. Yes, ive made many mistakes in the past by not understanding this and maybe blaming the trainer who showed me the original method or blaming Kez, but I’ve now come to accept her the way she is and work with it. As a result, she is now a fabulous dog to work and walk in daily life. Her circling behaviour (the one where she would refuse to come near me if she thought I was annoyed at her) is completely gone now. She trusts me completely, and as a result I haven’t walked her on a long line in almost a year. She is hugely better around other dogs too. She still reacts when it gets too overwhelming like at the end of a long day at Crufts, but compared to before she is so much more trusting. Her chasing behaviour is still there too, but again, its controllable. When I walk all 3 dogs together she doesn’t chase Indi anymore. She still chases Ernie… but he thinks its a great game :P. All in all, I feel we’ve come such a long way and its quite incredible really.
She is now working class A obedience. She won out of beginners and novice last year, and got a 3rd in A in one of the last shows of the season. Not bad at all for my little girlie. Class A obedience is where it gets harder and we are now having to do out of sight stays and scent discrimination along with all the other exercises. Out of sight stays has certainly been an interesting one as Kez has to trust me 100% because of her fear issues. Scent also, due to the fact its so different and new. So far we’ve got that 3rd and a 4th… so we’ll see where we end up by the end of the season :). She also got a couple of placings at a winter agility show in February. We haven’t done any open agility shows in a long while as everything got a bit mad at the end of last year so I stopped going to shows for a while. So, again, we’ll see what this season holds :). Oh, and she also won Crufts in the YKC graduate obedience class… again. Yep, 3rd year in a row for winning at Crufts. She’s certainly very special :).
All in all, everything’s pretty good at the moment. Its quite amazing thinking how far I’ve come and changed. I look back at the things I used to write and feel incredibly bad and sometimes a little embarrassed. But hey, we all have to learn lessons and grow. My life has changed so much now. My personal life is completely changed and since my last post, I also have a new car. Its much newer than my old KA and also much bigger! It does have a high mileage but as long as it gets us to the shows and back, that’s all that matters :).
I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way, and I apologise to anyone who I may have upset without meaning to. I realise I had a lot of growing up to do back then. I am grateful for being introduced to obedience and agility, and am grateful for now being able to compete and enjoy my dogs :). I am so grateful for my job and the independence that my car gives me. I am grateful to every dog trainer that has advised me, I have taken advice from each and every one and adapted it to my own methods. And lastly I am grateful to my dogs for never giving up on me and sticking with me every step of the way.
I don’t know how often I’ll post, but if anyone is interested then I will try :). But even if no one reads this, maybe in a few months I’ll be able to look back and see how much further we have come.
There is one thing that hasn’t changed though. Winning is not why I compete, I compete to test myself and to enjoy my dogs. That’s it. I love my dogs, I love training my dogs and I love being able to show them off. Winning is just a bonus :).