So 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 last 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 :).
And 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 top 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 by 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 Kezzy 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 cloths 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 :).