Where we are now…

26 05 2014

ImageSo 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. 

ImageSo, 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 Imagebiggest 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 ImageImagethe 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 loImageng 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 :)


A round-up of dog shows :).

9 07 2013

IMG_2801So we’ve had a few shows now where I havent done a blog post about them… therefore I’m going to combine them :). We’ve had some good and bad results… but we’ve certainly had fun :). Its great being able to take all 3 dogs with me, and Ernie sure loves exploring the shows and meeting everyone! Indi loves exploring the new places, and its very good for his training. And Kez is just getting more and more confident with each show, she loves working and she’s rarely reacting at any dogs now. It’s just wonderful to see :).

So we had another agility show up in Dartford on 16th June. It was in the same place as the last one and where we did our first ever KC agility show 2 years ago. This was a much busier show, which meant poor Indi struggled a bit as I didn’t manage him very well at all. He had a few dogs come running over and get in his face, and after that was very on edge. :(. Lesson learnt there. But, it was a good day. Kez had 3 runs to do… she popped out of the weaves in the first run and then went on to get 2 clear rounds :). She got her first ever clear round in agility, which just so happened to be the Crufts qualifier ABC agility stakes combined 1-7 class… which meant it was a course that was set up for championship dogs as well as all the grades in between. It certainly tested Kez and me… so I was over the moon when she did everything perfect and went clear :). Her jumping run was 1-4 combined… and she also went clear in that :). My handling was rubbish as I was more focused on going clear than anything else! We didn’t place as a result, she wasn’t fast enough. But hey ho, I was over the moon to get our first clear rounds in KC agility and our first agility rosettes of the season :). We were up against over 100 dogs in both classes too!

We then had another obedience show on 22nd June. This one was up in Surrey again, where we won our first beginners IMG_2797last year :). The weather was not kind to us at all, it was very rainy when we arrived. It did dry up throughout the day, but the sun failed to make any appearance :(. Kez was entered in beginners and novice, this was to be her last show ever in beginners now she’s won out. Due to this, we decided to train beginner and just have a play in the ring :). It was very successful and she was lovely and focused throughout. Then we had novice to work. Kez did a superb round, not putting a foot wrong :). The judge unfortunately marked us quite harshly because Kez puts her feet through my legs on presents and some judges don’t like that. If not for that, she would have had a place. She also held a perfect set of stays, and actually ended up just out of the placings! But, she worked her little socks off and did everything I asked of her. I could not have asked for anymore :).

IMG_2809And then today, on 7th July, we had another obedience show. This one was quite special as its the first one ive driven to myself where I’ve never been there before. It was a 2 hour drive away, and the first time any of my dogs had been to Berkshire :). I remember reading about this show last year, and desperately wishing id been able to go as it has the YKC Crufts qualifiers (and not a lot of shows have them) so I was super excited about going. Its also always great fun going to a new show and seeing some new sights. I was especially proud of myself for doing a huge chunk of the evil M25 and even going on the M4 for the first time. The venue itself was lovely and big with some beautiful views. Heathrow was only down the road too, so we had constant entertainment of the big aeroplanes going over. In fact, while sitting in the car park there were some absolutely stunning Kites flying overhead. We get very few of them down where I live, so that was a real treat. They were swooping really low and just looked incredible. :)

We were entered in the YKC (Young Kennel Club) Crufts qualifiers as well as novice. I’d entered her in both YKC Graduate (equivalent of novice) and YKC intermediate (equivalent of A/B). The A/B exercises are much harder as on IMG_2814top of all the basics you also have a scent test, out of sight stays and your not allowed any extra commands throughout the round. Oh and you have change of pace in heelwork. I wanted to just give it a go and get a feel with what she finds hardest so I can prepare her for competing in A and above properly :).

First up was our novice. We were in the running order, which actually was better as it was a very hot day and Kez tired quickly. Even at 9am, Kez was panting like a crazy thing. She certainly wasn’t at her best, being a black dog she struggles hugely in the heat. Some of it was brilliant, and she performed all the exercises as I asked :). She was lagging in heelwork a bit on a few bits, and when I sent her to retrieve the dumbell she just walked after it in an ‘oh must I?’ attitude. Need to do a bit of work on that ;). She lost 2 3/4 altogether, and afterwards we had a few people coming up to us telling me how great Kez had looked :). So I was very pleased :).

Afterwards we did our YKC graduate. Her heelwork was a bit worse on this, and the judge said how she’d been ‘hanging IMG_2805by her head’ on a few bits. This basically means her head is touching my leg but everything else is drifting ;). That’s certainly not like her, another product of the heat I think. But, she did do a few good bits and she was able to keep focused and motivated throughout. :). On the recall I had one of my twitter friends taking photos of her… and Kez was watching her rather than me ;). I’m so grateful she did actually listen and come when I called! Her retrieve was rubbish though. I seriously need to work on her doing the retrieve in heat. When I first sent her, she actually just carried on sitting there so I ended up having to ask twice. Not good! All in all, we lost 5.

We then had stays for YKC graduate, and then shortly after novice stays. She held perfectly for both sets despite the heat :). I did wonder if she’d lay down in the sit or start rolling in the down because it was too hot… but she didn’t :). Good girlie! After stays we ended up being in the lead for novice and also for YKC Graduate :).

I got really confused with the YKC graduate as I saw the scores and thought ‘oh im joint in the lead’, so I was completely expecting to have a run-off for 1st place. Nope, I’d read the wrong score ;). We’d won! Which means… my super girlie has qualified for Crufts inYKC obedience for the 3rd year running :). I’m so pleased with her! The heat certainly made things harder for her, but she still tried her hardest and ended up qualifying. What a super little girl!

Unfortunately, in novice we were pipped at the post and someone beat us at the last minute by 3/4 of a mark! So KezzyIMG_2800 came 2nd in novice :). That’s still brilliant for her, considering the conditions. This is only her 4th time in novice, and she could have easily won it :). The dog that beat us was a beautiful young collie :). I was pleased though, because when we do win novice it will be when Kez is working her best :). Today she wasn’t, so I was more than happy to come in 2nd :).

Lastly we decided to have a go at YKC intermediate. In this you are only allowed one command at the start of heelwork like ‘heel’ and then no more. There is also fast and slow pace, which Kez has never done in competition before. You also have a normal dumbell retrieve, but again your only allowed one command when sending your dog, and the recall is an A-recall which means the dog is called to join you in heelwork while your still walking. I actually really enjoyed working it, it was something very different and Kez actually did brilliantly! She lost it a bit on the fast pace and sort of dropped off my leg a bit but other than that her heelwork with me not talking at all was really good! Her slow pace was perfect :). She did one slow halt as thats all done by her reading my footwork rather than me saying sit, but for her first ever time I was very happy! Her retrieve was considerably better in that she did respond first time… but she was still very slow to get it. Unfortunately, her A-recall wasn’t too good and she actually completely didn’t respond to me calling her first time so I had to call her again. She was then quite slow to join me in heelwork. But hey, its all experience :). She could have actually still qualified… if not for scent.

Kez’s scent is actually pretty good… when indoors. Unfortunately I’m having trouble teaching her not to mouth all the IMG_2826cloths when she goes to find the one with my scent on. It was very windy today, so all the scent cloths were not flat which meant she could easily mouth them. I was very pleased that she went to ‘go find’ on the first command… but then she went to the first cloth (which had no scent on)… and brought it back! Nope… not quite right ;). The judge said to me ‘okay, I’d just take that and forget it ever happened!’ Another thing I will have to get working on ;). I decided not to even attempt the out of sight stays… it wasn’t worth it and what with the heat I didn’t want to risk losing her out of sight stays before she’s even started doing them ;).

So, all in all, I’m super pleased! My superb little girl has qualified for Crufts in YKC Graduate obedience and for the 3rd year running. This was also her first qualifier of the season… so that puts a bit of stress off me for the rest :). She’s also very close to winning some novices… we just need to tweak a few things and keep on having fun! I have a lot of work to do before I even think about competing in the higher classes, so were in no rush to win out of novice yet :).

I can’t even begin to say how wonderful it is to be able to get to any show I want! After years of having to ask people for lifts and then having to not go because I can’t get there… its just brilliant. I know I say it on every blog post, but I spent so long relying on others and just not competing as much as I wanted that I really am so grateful to have a little car and a driving licence :). No way would I have been able to get to this show as its a 2 hour drive away, and no one would drive me that far when there not competing themselves.

So just got to see what the rest of the season holds :). The photos were taken by @kathyf (twitter) so thankyou! They are brilliant :). You can clearly see from some of the heelwork photos on the move that she is lagging a bit and not in her usual perfect position, but she’s still happy and focused and thats what counts :).

Just some photos…

18 06 2013

Now I can drive, me and the dogs are having great fun exploring new places and visiting our favourites more often. I will have been driving for 6 months at the end of June, and I honestly cannot imagine my life without my car now! It really has just made my whole life so much easier. I can get to work more easily, I can get to dog shows without worry of finding someone who will take me and I can go for dog walks anywhere I like! It’s just brilliant.

So, I thought id share some photos from the past few months. I’ve had a backlog on my camera for a while due to the fact my computer has been a bit full of photos… which meant I couldn’t upload anymore. Finally I brought some discs and got rid of a whole bunch of old photos to make way for the new :).

So enjoy!

ImageKez and Ernie enjoying a lovely sunny walk along the famous white cliffs of Dover.


Kez and Ernie on top of the hills in one of the surrounding villages nearby.


Kez and Ernie in the nearby abbey, its absolutely beautiful there with a huge lake and streams.


A mummy swan with her babies at the abbey, aren’t they just adorable? Considering the bad lighting as this was taken in the evening, I’m super pleased with this shot :).


Kezzy was fascinated by them :).


There were these lovely baby Coots with there mum as well :).


During the time I was dog-sitting lovely Fudge (see previous post) I spent lots of time sitting in my nans garden photographing birds. Her garden backs onto fields, and she gets a huge variety of birds :). Love this shot of a lovely female blackbird.


A very sweet little Sparrow :).


A Dunnock :).


The Blue Tits were the most fun to photograph, they are so fast and have so much character! I had to be quick to capture them before they were off again. This is my favourite shot as its as if he’s trying to tell me something ;).


A very handsome male chaffinch :).

Sorry about the lack of Indi photos, I obviously have to be careful where I take him because of his reactivity. What with the lack of sun we’ve had, I havent really had a chance to get any good photos of him on his walks ;). Hopefully once we have some proper summer weather I’ll be able to make up for it!

Anyway, I hope you like them and please do leave feedback :).

Remembering Fudge

15 06 2013

Yesterday on the 14th June my nan lost her very special English Springer Spaniel to cancer at the age of 11 years. Although not my dog, I grew up going to dog shows with him and spent a lot of time walking him. One of my favourite memories was when we were at a flyball competition in Wales. Fudge never did flyball, and I was desperate to go to the beach. I didn’t have my own dogs at this point (Ernie was still a small puppy so he stayed at home) and so I took Fudge to the beach with some friends. Unfortunately he wasn’t very well behaved… he had to be on the long line and refused to come in the sea with me ;). But it was just me and him, and it sure is a very very special memory.

Fudge was born 3 doors down from my nans house. The mum had a huge litter of puppies, too many for her to handle, so my nan was the other mum and took care of half the puppies while the mum took care of the other half, and then they swapped over. My nan used to breed Boxers which is why she was given the job. The breeder let her keep one of the puppies as a thankyou, and so Fudge joined her family. He was never much into flyball, but loved agility. I ran him in agility a few times and have the rosettes to prove it :). He sure was fun to run, he never really competed in proper shows as we were always at flyball but he did the flyball fun agility runs and loved it. He even competed in a fun obedience competition at a fun dog show… and held his stays! :)

He loved the beach, he loved the sea and he loved chasing birds. He loved camping, he loved going to dog shows and he just loved life. He was very confident for a Springer, was friendly with absolutely everyone. He would bark when worried by things, but hey he was a Springer ;). He was just so laid back, never barked when waiting to get out the car/van… he was a very special boy. One of his favourite tricks was that he loved to steal things, I remember when staying at my nans I’d reguarly lose shoes, socks etc. and Fudge would always have them ;). Even the remote control would go missing on a regular basis. Then afterwards his favourite game was for you to chase him.

Last year he developed a lump on his side. My mums Basset has a lump, this is definitely a fatty lump and when me and my mum were looking at Fudge’s we could just tell it was different. This was at Christmas. In April/May the lump suddenly moved and Fudge was clearly uncomfortable so my nan took him to the vets. The vets weren’t sure what it was exactily so drained it and took a biopsy before sending him home. Unfortunately that evening he started bleeding and it just wouldn’t stop, so he was rushed back to the vets where he spent the night. About a week later the lump was removed after the biopsy came back non-conclusive. If it was cancerous, my nan had said not to wake him from the op. Unfortunately there was a bit of confusion regarding the op, and afterwards they were still no wiser as to what it was. Finally after more tests it was cancerous, and due to the bleeding it had spread to the blood. After that the kindest thing to do was to just let him live each day until he can’t.

During this time I looked after him often while my nan was at work. He was such a happy boy, loved seeing me, and my dogs certainly loved him too. I’m so glad I was around to help out, and I’m so glad I got to spend some final time with him. He was constantly jumping on my lap for cuddles, and got very over-excited on one of my visits and was bouncing around :). Unfortunately, there were drops of blood everywhere and my jacket came home with a large splodge of blood :(. But he was happy. The painkillers kept the pain away. He was a smiley spaniel.

He had a few weeks of just being a normal dog. He went for walks along the beach, and everything was normal. Yesterday completely out of the blue I recieved a text while working that he had been put to sleep. Unfortunately early yesterday the bleeding had started again. So my nan took him for one final walk along the beach before taking him to the vets. The cause of the bleeding was that the cancer was attacking the muscle and basically there was nothing to stop it. My nan had 2 options, either to have the lump removed again and bandage him up or put him to sleep. She couldn’t face putting him through more operations when in fact it wasn’t going to help him.

He was such a special boy. I will miss him, even though he wasn’t my dog he certainly touched my heart and left a mark. My nan is absolutely devastated as he was particuarly special to her. He had a wonderful life going for long walks and travelling around the dog shows. Now he can steal all the slippers, socks, shoes and remote controls he likes :).

RIP Fudge until we meet again.

DIGITAL CAMERA DSCF9338 Digital StillCamera Digital StillCamera Digital StillCamera Dog walks Sandwich Bay 5th June '10 071 Digital StillCamera DSCF4917 Digital StillCamera Dogs walks Sandwich Bay 24th April '10 007 Dogs walks Sandwich Bay 24th April '10 105

First agility show of the season!

11 06 2013

So on 1st June we were in Essex for our first agility show of the season :). It was actually our first agility show in a year,DSCF9619 and our first KC agility show in just under 2 years! In fact, this was only our 2nd ever KC agility show. It was Kez and Ernie’s 2nd time at the venue, but the first time for Indi :). It was actually Indi’s first time ever in Essex, and I think he enjoyed himself ;). Unfortunately, no rosettes this week but it sure was a lovely day out.

So we arrived at 7.30am, and none of our classes were first in so had plenty of time to get our bearings and get set up. The first thing I had to do was get Kez and Ernie measured. Every dog needs to get KC measured to be able to compete in KC agility, or they cant compete. Unless your dog is obviously large (like most Border Collies) you have to have 2 measures. I got both Ernie and Kez done on 19th June 2011 at this exact venue. Once they are measured once, the 2nd measure has to be done between 1 year and 2 years. Any later and you can’t compete. So, we were getting very close to the 2 year mark having done no KC shows last year. Today, they were finally measured again which has put a huge weight off my mind. Now, they can compete in KC shows and I never have to worry about it again! Kez is most definitely medium, and Ernie is obviously small :). I felt very happy once that was all done :).

Now onto our agility runs ;). First up was a special speed jumping run. It was actually a really fun course, circular and flowing. Kez was fast, focused and having great fun! However, part of the course was that they had 2 tunnels parallel to each other and you had to do them one after the other. Therefore you have to come out of one, do a tight left turn and go down the other. I have never trained this with Kez, so she naturally assumed that I wanted her to go on and jump. We were eliminated :(. Ah well! That’s what its all about, testing my training and that is a weakness I will now try and fix ;).

Next up was Ernie on the same course. We were queing for quite a while for this one, and when actually waiting to go we were standing there for longer than I would like. That, plus the fact the ground had lots of loose freshly cut grass on… Ernie was not in top form. He plodded around the course in a ‘do I have to?’ manner and just had very little motivation. It was a little disappointing as its only since last year he’s really started running in agility shows. Never mind, I know now what I need to try next time to keep him focused and motivated.

DSCF9609We had a huge gap after this where we were doing absolutely nothing for ages! This meant we could properly explore the venue :). I think its one of my favourites (so far) as behind it there are lots of open fields for the dogs to have a good wander. I was even able to let Indi off-lead to have a run around, which is something I only do if I’m 100% certain there is no chance of another dog anywhere nearby. This made me very happy as he had great fun exploring these new fields :). I took Kez and Ernie afterwards, and they also had a lovely time. There were some very pretty views of the Essex countryside as well, it was just brilliant :).

Finally we had Kez’s jumping run. This was very similar to the speed run, however it had 12 weaves in there and some slight differences. The 2 parallel tunnels were still there though, just the opposite way round. Once again she was fast and focused… and then for some reason took the wrong jump after coming out the tunnel! Probably an error in my handling as well as her inexperience in agility as we’ve done so little. She did manage the parallel tunnels though, if only by me shouting her name and getting her stop midway to the jump ;). She got her weaves too, they were perfect :). Considering the last time we competed here her weaves had been non-existent and in the last run she’d ended up leaving the ring altogether… she’s certainly improved a lot!

Last up was our agility run. This was the last class still running at the end of the day, and we were waiting absolutely ages. Another benefit of me driving, I had no stress of keeping anyone waiting :). I know if my nan or parents had been there they would have been having a good old moan fest! This was a really fun course too, it had lots of little bits to test my handling including a little snake :). For non-agility folk this is where jumps are next to each other in a line and the dog has to go over one, then run the next one the opposite way… as if like a snake. Its a bit like weaving with jumps. I was particuarly worried about this part, but she got it perfect :). In fact, there were a couple of little bits that meant I had to reverse turn and it all ran smoothly :). Her contacts weren’t as strong as I’d have liked, but she got them. Just got to make sure at the next show to make sure she gets them and holds them. Our pitfall was the weaves :(. She came out the collapsable tunnel… and went in the weaves the wrong way. The collapsable is a hard obstacle to have before them as it can confuse the dog, so I did suspect this would happen. Once she went in the right way, she knew her job and was perfect. DSCF9618

It ended up being a lovely day out :). It was very cold, the weather was not kind to us at all, but hey. We had some lovely walks and the dogs all had a great time. Kez did very well with the other dogs, the only time she couldn’t cope was while we were queing and 2 Spaniels started playing. She wasn’t the only dog who got stressed by it either. With so many dogs in close proximity, I think it was actually very rude to let the 2 dogs play. If they can’t stand together without playing, then don’t que together! If there was a dog that I knew Kez played with I wouldn’t let them que together. In fact, Kez does play with some dogs but I make sure to let her dog it away from the crowds so other dogs dont get wound up. But, other than that, she did really well :).


Indi was super, so much better than the 1st 2 shows! He wasn’t whining so much on the car journey there, which makes for a much happier me :). He did feel the need to bark at the person on the Dartford crossing though ;). At the show he was brilliant, only time he got a bit stressed and pulled towards some dogs was when we got a bit surrounded. He didn’t freak out though, just was showing me he was over threshold and needed to get away. I learnt a lesson there, next time ill make sure I have treats on me so if we do get a bit surrounded I can just treat him until the dogs have gone. :)

So what have I learnt? Well, we’ve got a few things to work on. Her weave entries need some proofing, and we definitely need to work on weaves after tunnels. We also need to work on turning tighter left and right, and doing the parallel tunnels. In all fairness, in all the training we’ve ever done we’ve never seen parallel tunnels before ;). So its no suprise she got completely confused! I was too actually, I had no idea how to handle it. But, thats what agility is all about :). After a year of no shows I’m just so pleased we were able to just go out there and have some fun in the ring again!

All the photos were taken there, didn’t they have fun! Particuarly Indi :). He sure loved the long grass! And I say it again, what a brilliant venue it is :).

Another show, another week, another win!

21 05 2013

Today we were all at another obedience show :). This one is only an hours drive away and one of the closest shows weDSCF8637 have to us. This is actually the 3rd time we’ve competed at this venue, this is where Kez did her very first ever obedience show. However, this is also the only venue she has ever broken stays at! In fact, both times she’s competed her she hasn’t held her stays. So it was to be an interesting day to see if she would finally break that streak. The other 2 came along as well, and it was Ernie’s 2nd time at the venue and Indi’s first time :). The weather was kind to us too, considering at the beginning of the week we had been forecast heavy rain. Thankfully it stayed away, and it ended up being a lovely sunny day :).

The drive over was actually more stressful than last weeks. I’d given Indi a quick run beforehand to try and stop the whining… that had turned out to be a nightmare as he’d ended up almost dragging me after a cat and then bombing it in the direction of the road when in the field. And, it didnt stop the whining ;). Poor Ernie was not happy about being stuck in the back with him, so decided that after trying to get out the doors (obviously impossible) to jump on the seat in the front with Kez! I’d forgotten to strap Ernie in without realising, or he’d never have been able to do that. No idea how I forgot, as Im usually paranoid about it so I do wonder if he’d somehow unclipped himself. Anyway, so I ended up getting all stressy and decided to take a pit stop at services. Got both Indi and Ernie out for a pitstop… and they both toiletted again despite toiletting before leaving. Oh dear! We were only about 20 minutes from the showground at this point anyway, so got back onto the motorway (which turned out to be super busy, everyone had suddenly decided to drive up it while I was in services) and made it to the venue safe and sound. However, my car did start making funny noises causing more stress… more on that later!

So we arrived, parked up and took a deep breath. We were in the running order again, this time drawn to work 4th in novice. It wasn’t long before we were back in the ring. First up we had the retrieve. She performed this perfectly, couldn’t have asked for anymore from her :). Then a bit of heelwork. I thought she did really well, she was focused and trotting along so I, again, couldnt have asked for anymore. However, the judge said that I had been walking too slow for her and that we hadn’t set off together (as in I’d started and she hadn’t straight away). He also said that she had been doing some surging forward… thats certainly a first for Kez! Looking back, I think I know what went wrong. I actually hadn’t memorised the sequence which meant I had no idea where I was going. This meant I walked slower, and so she was maybe going forwards a bit as shes used to me going faster. Lesson learnt ;). I do know that her set offs need some work, she doesn’t set off in a set pattern with her feet which makes it look messy… we’ve got a bit of homework there ;).

In the recall, Kez once again was not watching me at all when I went to call her. She was focused entirely on the dog heeling in the ring next to her. She wasn’t watching me at all, so when I went to call her I had to really shout to make sure she heard. She was slow off the mark, and I did wonder if she’d respond at all! So I need to do some work on her focus when in waits, more homework ;). Her other bit of heelwork was just a diagonal line, about turn and back again. Super easy, and she actually lost very few marks on this bit. The judge commented on how I’d been walking faster and so her heelwork was much much better. So, all in all, I was pleased. We lost 7 1/4 which earnt us a 10th place :).

Next up, I had Ernie’s round to do. Yep, I’d entered him in beginners. First up for him was some heelwork. I tried to get him doing tricks and a touch while walking up to the starting point, but he was just not interested. However, once we got going he was hugely better than when we competed in August last year. He had moments of being focused and in the game. He also had moments where he just lost the plot and was staring straight ahead though, lol! But, considering he rarely competes I was happy to just get some attention from him :D. We then had recall to do. He performed this perfectly :). He did a perfect wait, was entirely focused on me and then came into a perfect present. His finishes need some work, but I was happy. His retrieve wasn’t too bad either. In August he’d been quite nervous about going out and picking up the dumbell, but today he was totally confident and knew his job. Good boy :). His 2nd bit of heelwork was actually a lot better. He was much more focused and happy for longer, and although he was very wide from position and did lose focus a few times, I was pleased that I didn’t have to turn it into a training round :D. All in all, we lost 10 and a bit (cant remember what exactly). Not bad at all! There were dogs that did a lot worse than him, so I was very pleased :). The fact he was doing obedience and actually having confidence, its more than we’ve ever got before :). He’s not quite ready for novice yet, but maybe in the future… who knows?

So I was umming and ahhing whether it was worth it or not to do stays with him. He’s never done group stays in a stay ring at a show before, so I had no idea what would happen. In the end, I thought we might as well go for it as the placings were up to 10th so we could get a spot… if he held ;). He held his sit stay perfectly actually, not bad at all for his first ever try in a stay ring :). He did break the down stay though, he started scratching and ended up sitting up. That’s not actually too bad, my biggest fear was of him wandering off, rolling or disturbing other dogs. So the fact he did stay there, I was pleased.

After that, I had Kez’s beginner stays to do. Even though were now out of the class, we can still compete in the classes we’ve got left to do. I was umming and ahhing as to whether to train beginners or to compete, because if we win we’re taking away the win of someone else. In the end, I decided we might as well compete. We’re not going to be in beginners ever again, so might as well go for it. She held a perfect sit stay, despite dogs all over the place breaking to lay down because of the heat. Good girlie :). Then we had down stay… where my worse nightmare was fulfilled. A Belgian Shepherd broke the down stay… and then started wandering round the ring. She ended up going right behind Kez, and being very very close. Kez was clearly nervous, but she held firm. Not bad at all for my reactive dog. This Belgian Shepherd then ended up going through the bushes… where a busy road lay on the other side. Suddenly everyone in the ring was talking at once, but luckily the dog came back and all was fine. This is why if I even thought my dog would start wandering off in stays I wouldn’t do them. It’s just not fair on other dogs and can be dangerous. I’m so proud of Kez for holding her stays though, that is a huge distraction and she was just perfect. She even had the German Shepherd next to her break and go to her owner during this, so with all these big shepherds moving around her she still held. I think she should have won just on that ;).

We did our beginner round straight after stays. It was quite hot by this point, so Kez was puffing quite a bit. First up we had heelwork. She did well, but was lagging a bit and clearly not as bouncy as she could be. That was just the heat though. She still kept position and I couldnt have asked for anymore :). Next up was recall. She was perfect in this too, focused entirely on me. It’s quieter round the rings at this point, so less distractions. Just need to make sure she’s focused at all times. I did notice her finishes were a little slow though, so need to do a bit of work on them. Her retrieve was also perfect, she did bring it in a bit crooked but nothing major :). We finished on more heelwork, this was a little laggy but still good. All in all, we got a good score of 2 and a bit (forgotten again). We ended up winning the class :). I do feel a bit guilty about taking the win despite winning out of beginners last week, but then I think, we’ll be out of beginners after our next show and will never compete in it again! Plus, I think this show needs remembering for her holding stays with such a huge distraction :). Good girlie!

So last up we had our novice stays. I wasn’t actually going to do these as they were quite late and I was almost certain we didn’t have a place. Then we had a huge gap of doing nothing before finding out the results for beginner, so I decided to do them as they were timed in this. She held a 2nd set of perfect stays :). I was especially happy about this after the nightmare that was beginner stays, which means it hasnt effected her confidence at all :). Yay! I’m glad we did stays too, as we ended up in 10th place. Not bad at all, especially as it was a very large class.

All in all, another great day out :). Indi was much better at this show, I got him out on the long line and let him have a good wander (couldnt do this last weekend as they had been playing football on the venue). He was much better with the other dogs too, only reacting when they walked directly past the car and when we had a Rottweiler almost come bombing straight into us! The owner had accidently thrown the toy right at me and Indi… and this huge Rottweiler followed it. Poor Indi was not impressed! Other than that, he did well and was turning away well from all the other dogs. Good Spaniel :).

Kez did well too, the only dogs she had a bit of a bark at was when a very young (but big) German Shepherd lunged at her in play and when about 3 collies all came rushing over to greet Kez at once. I actually tensed up and it was only when I tensed up that Kez barked, which I thought very interesting. Would she have barked if I’d remained calm? Earlier in the day she’d been off-lead when 2 collies appeared while she was sniffing. She started screeching, but then her ears went back and she went into zoomies… it was a very odd response! She was obviously suprised by the dogs, but twigged straight away they werent a threat and so had no idea how to respond. Bless her! She made friends with another collie as well, one she hasnt met before :). Thats always good!

So, we had another beginner win and it was time for the drive home. It was actually a fairly easy drive home, the motorway was very quiet which made me happy. However, as we were nearing the end of the motorway (which basically goes straight into dual carriageway which leads basically straight home) my car suddenly went very strange indeed. It made a very loud strange noise, and I could feel the steering jerking slightly… it was very scary! It felt like something had got stuck somewhere. I was getting ready to pull onto the hard shoulder, when it suddenly stopped and normality had resumed. Very weird! Scary though, a heart stopping moment! Particuarly when your on a motorway. Anyway, so I ended up going all the way along the dual carriageway with no problems… it was when we had to slow down to the roundabouts that I realised something wasn’t quite right. There was definitely something loose on the left hand side of my car, and it was making a very loud noise as I drove. So I quickly turned off and parked up to investigate… we were only 15 minutes from home at this point ;). Turned out the plastic bit above the wheel (mudflaps?) had come loose and been dangling in front of the wheel. Going at speed along the motorway and rubbing against wheel, this had obviously caused half of it to break off… there was still a very large bit hanging down and I couldn’t tuck it anywhere or pull it off. In the end, I drove the rest of the way home and my dad cut it off as soon as I pulled up at my house. Still, a very scary experience! I generally thought my car was going to die on me when we were only half hour away from home. I’m so glad I was in left hand lane and not overtaking at time, that would have been worse. But, we all got home safe and sound :).

It was a lovely day out, it certainly was fantastic to be at 2 obedience shows 2 weeks running! I only did 3 through the whole of last year… done 2 already this year ;). I do love my new freedom! I’ve certainly been given lots to think about and work on with Kez, and we’ve got a few weeks before our next show to practice :). This is something I’ve never been able to do before as the shows have been so far apart and so few that I haven’t been able to properly learn things and then put them to test at the next show. Eeeek, its so exciting :D.

First obedience show of the season

14 05 2013

So today we were back in Surrey for our first obedience show of the season. It was in the same place as the one where we DSCF9218won our first beginners in June last year. Its a lovely venue, tonnes of space which is important for my dogs. This is the first show I’ve ever driven myself to as well! I was so nervous, its a 1.5 hour journey and was my first time on motorways on my own and driving so far. The roads were lovely and quiet on the way there, until you got to the M25. That had loads of roadworks, so everyone was driving about 50-60mph which helped me a lot in dealing with the busier traffic. The weather was nice too, which helped ;). I finally got there, and was so pleased when I did! I was a little early so parked up just outside the showground and phoned everyone. Then, when people started to arrive, I drove in, parked up and we had arrived at the show! I had all 3 dogs with me too, it was Indi and Ernie’s first time at this venue and Indi’s first time ever coming to an obedience show. It was a day of many firsts!

I entered beginner and novice. We need only one more win in beginner to be out of it, and novice is the next class up from that. It was Kez’s first time competing in novice, which is where all the experienced handlers start out after they’ve won out of beginners. We were drawn to work 3rd in the running order for novice, which meant we had to be ready to get going as soon as judging started. Before we knew it, we were competing in open obedience at an open obedience show for the first time since August! Ah it was nice to be back :). Kez did brilliantly considering that running order time is the busiest time around the rings. She was clearly not as good as she could have been, her heelwork was a bit nervous in places and she definitely can work better. In fact, the photographer took a photo of her heelwork and she was very clearly not as confident as usual. In the recall she was looking about a lot, not looking at me at all when I went to call her. I did wonder if she would even respond! She did, but she then looked over at the judge and was clearly worried by her so sort of diverged on her way to me. That’s very unusual for Kez, but then it is her first time since August competing outside. She did the retrieve well though :). In fact, she only lost 2.25 marks which is great for her first time in novice! She also hasn’t worked in a running order since her very first shows in 2011, which meant it was a lot busier than she’s used to. All in all, I was so pleased! A great start :).

We then had 2 sets of stays to do. Both 1 minute sit and 2 minute down… just with different dogs in the ring with her. The first stays were novice stays. She was in between a German Shepherd and a Border Collie. German Shepherds are big dogs, so I was a little worried about her being next to it in case it broke and spooked her, or she felt worried by it and broke to defend herself. Neither happened :). The German Shepherd did break the sit stay to lie down, but she held firmly and was a super dog! In fact, there was a German Shepherd elsewhere in the ring barking, just to make it more difficult. I was very stressed by this and I thought I caught Kez looking, but she still held :). Thats a huge distraction, and one shes never faced before. Then we had stays number 2 shortly after. This time she was in between 2 collies, and as she’d already held her novice stays I felt pretty confident. There were loads of dogs in the ring for this one due to the fact there  were around 55 dogs competing in this class! Thats a huge number. But she held perfectly, she knew exactily what she was doing :D. One of the dogs next to her in this set lay down in the sit stay too. What a super dog! Thats the hardest part of obedience for her, holding stays in a ring with all those dogs when she used to run away on sight of another dog.

After that we only had our beginner round to work. Due to the number of dogs, we were waiting absolutely ages! It was getting colder and colder, and everyone was getting more and more fed up. I’m so glad I had the freedom to drive myself, that way I wasnt making anyone wait for me. :D. Just one of the many benefits of driving myself ;). Before we even got to work our beginner round, the novice class finished and it turned out we were in the run offs. This is another 1st, never been in a run off before! We were competing for 4th, 5th and 6th place. We did the heelwork sequence again and Kez was so much better. She was barking beforehand with enthusiasm, and super confident the whole time. Much better than her first round. Good girlie!

Then, finally, we did our beginner round. This had a very strange heelwork pattern with 2 half circles drawn on the ground and we had to do little bits of following them as well as the normal twists and turns. It was certainly different, and Kez nailed it :). I couldnt have asked for anymore from her. She still needs to gain a bit of confidence in the ring as she still loses it a bit the longer amount of heelwork we do. But, I was pleased :). She was much more confident in the recall, didn’t look over to the judge at all this time and was much faster coming to me. Everything was just great! She lost very few marks (can’t remember how many exactily) but the judge said she was gobsmacked by Kez. Definitely worth the wait :).

So… we ended up winning our 2nd beginner and coming 4th in novice! What a fabulous girlie :). This means we are out of beginners now and into novice. Every next dog I compete with will now also start in novice. This means we are up against very good dogs now, and handlers. This class is where handlers with dogs at championship level are competing with there younger dogs. So I’m over the moon we came 4th in our first try at it, particuarly as some of the rounds I saw were absolutely spectacular! I’m in no rush to win out of novice to be honest, the next class up is A which means out of sight stays. In sight stays have been stressful enough! Your also not allowed any extra commands while doing heelwork, and the recall is an A recall which means you call the dog to heelwork rather than just sitting in front. Oh and you have scent, which will be a completely new exercise in competition for her! So, yeah we’ll enjoy novice ;). No rush! She can do all that stuff, but doing it in competition is another matter entirely and she’s certainly not ready for scent or out of sight stays yet.

Behaviour-wise, she was very good actually. She had a bark a few times when dogs got a bit close. One dog ran out of the ring in her direction, she was quite freaked by that. Then a German Shepherd ran right at her as we walked past, she hated that! But, generally she did very well. She was greeting lots of collies and made friends with a gorgeous blue and white Border Collie competing in our class. She’d never met it before and they were friends instantly :). She definitely is improving, she can handle dogs closer and closer to her. The only time she freaks out is when they go a bit out of control and can sense me tense up or if they try and greet her. She can sniff absolutely any dogs back end as long as they dont turn round ;). She certainly has come a long way.

I also had the other 2 there, of course. Ernie had a great day exploring the new place and meeting lots of dogs. No obedience for him today ;). I’ve entered him in a couple of shows though, so he will get his chance! He’s in beginner, so it actually doesnt matter what we do as we can’t win out, we’ve already done it! Indi was another matter. Its the first show he’s been to in over a year, so it was all very new for him. He’s also never been to a show in any other vehicle than my nans van… so my little car was very different. He whined a huge chunk of the way there, obviously very confused as to where we were going. He reacted at a few dogs when we got there, they were just a bit close and it was hard to work out his threshold as he hasnt been in the show environment for so long. He also showed some very good responses too, turning away on his own. However, when trying to play with him and get him jumping about he suddenly shut down and acted like he’d hurt himself. He only had a poop once the whole day… very rare for him so I wonder if out of stress and confusion he was holding it in. I couldn’t let him off-lead either as where I would have there was a football tournament going on! He’s never done that at a show before so I put it down to confusion about what on earth was going on, he hasnt been to a show in over a year after all. I’ll take him to all the shows I go to, obviously if he shows this again I’ll have to stop, but he has been going to shows since he was a puppy and never done this before. He’s such a sensitive boy, reacts to  even the slightest bit of change strongly :(. He was happy for the most part, it was just when jumping about he acted the way he did when he had blocked anal glands. Thats why I think he was holding it in (which he does do, had a huge problem with him a few years back because he was holding his pee and poop in, still no clue exactly what caused it). Ah well, just have to see how he does at the next few. He did do a bit of obedience work, and actually could have passed for an obedience dog! I even got asked if I compete with him. Maybe one day, I’ll never rule it out! I managed it with one reactive dog after all ;).

It was a late ending to the day due to waiting for beginners to finish. Usually we finish around 3pm… didn’t leave until 4.30pm! It was raining when we left too :(. So had the long drive home in the rain, just to add to it all! I felt much more relaxed though, I’d got here after all ;). The dogs were all fast asleep, we had 2 lovely rosettes and one trophy coming home with us… I can do this! Well, it started off okay (other than going quite slow and annoying drivers behind me due to not knowing the area)… until my satnav took me a completely different way home! Yep, I got lost. My satnav was telling me first exit at a roundabout… well there were 2 roundabouts in succession, a mini one and then a big one. I took the first exit at the mini one… and ended up in a train station lol! Quick turn around and ended up on the right roundabout eventually… my satnav had taken me an entirely different route to the way we’d come though! I had managed to avoid the evil hill I’d come up on… and almost didnt get up as it was like a mountain lol! Glad I didnt have to go back down that. So, finally ended up on the slip road to join the M25… was accelerating away and then realised I was joining a car park! I had to slow right down and quickly slip in front of a lorry that slowed down to let me out. Well, at least I was back on the motorway! No more roundabouts til back home ;). Didn’t get above 60mph on the M25, it was super busy! Good experience for me though, it wasnt scary just very boring. As soon as we were on M26/M20 it was much more flowing. There were a lot more cars than when I drove there, so I did a lot more overtaking, but I made no mistakes and handled everything perfectly (I thought so anyway). I even had a lorry pull out as I went to overtake, and handled that well too :). When I got back down to familiar roads I was whooping! I was so happy I’d done it!! Honestly, I still can’t believe I did it! I’m so proud of myself. I found it quite enjoyable to. :)

So, all in all, a pretty amazing day! I did my first ever journey driving on motorways all by myself. I even tackled the M25 all on my own! It was also the longest journey I’ve done to date. It was so nice to have my freedom, I can’t even say. I would not have been able to get there if I hadn’t been driving. But we got there and Kez made all the nerves worth it by winning out of beginners and coming 4th in novice :D. I had all my dogs with me so no rushing home to walk them all either. What a fabulous day, with so many 1sts! I had been umming and ahhing whether or not to enter it, so glad I did. Sometimes you just have to go for it! I’ve waited too long for freedom :).

Now, onto the next ones! I’m so excited to see what this season and year holds for us :). I have waited way too long for freedom to go to any show I like. After doing so few shows last year and barely getting anywhere, I cannot wait to go to as many as possible this year :). And have the freedom to do everything my way!

(Photo taken at the beach, enjoying some of the Spring sunshine… were getting some just not a lot!)


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