Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

We are lucky to have a beautiful picture by given to us by our lovely club members last Christmas and he makes them into Christmas cards too. What better way to wish everyone Merry Christmas.

The Christmas party was brilliant this year. I worked out a rota so everyone got a chance to join in and also then got a chance to take control of the games :)

We really need to try that memory game out again - brilliant and challenging if you got it but not so easy to enjoy if you got knocked out. It was good shouting at the others where to go if they got it wrong though.
The Santa game was great fun even though Billy decided to play tuggy with Santa's scarf.
Boxed trios, well what can I say, a must for next year especially if Sandra's coming.

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas it is such a special time. Cherish your time together with your loved ones and spare a thought for those that may have lost loved ones this year.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Polishing Coconuts

Hi long time no blog :( sorry folks.

I have been very busy doing loads of interesting things that would have been interesting to blog about too – ironic.

Here’s the list
• Course work and preparing for my thesis for my ICAT Canine Remedial massage therapy Diploma
• Choosing dogs for above thesis and arranging Vet Permission Forms
• Booking time to do thesis and arranging swimming for the swimming dogs
• Getting to grips with new routine and back to office employment for 1 day a week.
• Revising what I know about Credit Control and researching national averages for debtors re above job
• Training Rhyme
• Preparing for Christmas Match V Wallingford
• Preparing for Christmas
• Sorting Diary out for all the things to do and lovely people to visit over Christmas
• Writing cards & designing email card
• Preparing for UpAndOver Christmas party
• Checking supplies of CSJ & Orijen to ensure customers don’t run out of dog food over the Christmas break.
• Buying presents for family and friends
• Buying prizes for match & Christmas party
• Updating diary with shows I know we will definitely be interested in next year from the Agility Show Diary

I will come back to some of these at some point, as they are all interesting. I feel very lucky to have a life when I am busy doing loads of different things that I love.

Well why polishing coconuts? Well a good book to read if you want to take a bit more control of your destiny is a book called “Write it Down Make it Happen” by Henriette Anne Klauser. I will be re- reading it this winter and again I’m sure it will feature in another blog. The polishing coconuts is a reference to a study of some monkeys on an island that were cleaning sand off coconuts and more and more monkeys then joined in. When the number of monkeys on that island reached a certain number then monkeys on another island started to do the same thing. This shows how activity in one area can generate activity in another.

As you know I have a few key areas that I want better performance from Rhyme in – recalls, focus and play drive. I have been working on these using different methods (including tearing my hair out LOL) so you can imagine how thrilled I was with these comments
Great Recall – Lesley Olden - training afternoon
Good focus – Lauren Langman - training day
Lovely play drive – Gemma Hanekom - jump grid session.

Each of these comments were not relating to what we were working on in those training sessions so I could have easily not registered them but as consciously these are key areas for me my mind sat up and took notice and I thought RESULT.

In fact Rhyme’s work at the things we were supposed to be doing was not amazing so had I wanted him to excel at those things I would have come away feeling disappointed. The strength of knowing what I want and setting my own goals meant I came away from each of those sessions knowing that me and Rhyme are most definitely going in the direction I want to go in ☺ ☺

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Dreams do come true :)

Wow what a great weekend of agility at the FCI World Championships.

We've been to this event 3 times now and this was the most exciting and emotional so far. The British Team were excellent. Medals were won and lost by a split second happening : eliminations, rolled poles, missed contacts and even a run past the last jump. I'm exhausted. I'll let the usual sources tell the full story, main highlights being: Bernadette and Zaz getting Bronze medal in the overall smalls, large team getting 2nd in Team jumping and so nearly getting at least silver overall and the mediums getting bronze in overall team - something for every height there :)

Seeing Ashley Deacon winning the smalls - such a tall man hiding his face in his little dog's head to hide his tears when most of the crowd was crying anyway was a particular emotional moment.

It was brilliant to see Zaz's agility run. Then edge of the seat stuff watching the remaining dogs going, hoping and hoping that she would remain where she belonged in a medal position :)

Previously I have also indulged myself in how I would be feeling with Flint or Torro on the start line. I really do believe that Flint and I would have been brilliant for the Team event and although maybe not quick enough for a Gold individual, he was superb on carpet and we worked very closely together so could get round most courses.

However Torro and I are different. Comparing him to the dogs there I'm sure he could have passed every contact, start line or weave challenge given. He's never worked on carpet so I'm not sure what he would be like for turns. Speed wise he's can be very quick. The falling point is that this year our partnership has not been one of mutual understanding and staying on course could have been a major problem.

Still I do know dreams can come true so with the right training and attitude we could be there this time next year. The thing is I'm not so sure it is still a dream of mine.

When I was younger I seriously dreamt of wing walking - just how amazing it would be to be up there strapped to a bi plane.

Mark treated me to a flight in a Biplane for my 40th and it was great - we did loop the loop, stall turns etc and I even got to do some flying :)

I would still love to do all that again but the appeal of doing it strapped to the wing has completely gone.

Is it sad that your dreams change or is it's just natures way of stopping you making a fool of yourself?

Monday, 3 October 2011

When It's Your Turn to Go.....

I do believe in fate in that if something if going to happen then it will. I do also believe that we can do what we can to help fate and by being positive good things will happen. For example selling the house is NOT happening so we're doing all the stuff we can to help it look better - even downsizing our bed from super king to improve space in the bedroom. In my eyes it isn't selling for a reason to do with what fate has in store for us. Maybe that dream house we like is not as good as another one that will become available once we've sold :)

Fate plays a part in our agility with weather, running orders, judges choice of challenges, other peoples form etc all acting together to create or detract from that winning run. Again we can do all we can (Mark's courses are good for helping decide what) to help these things either not matter or even better work in our favour but fate (or maybe luck) still has it's part to play.

Mark and Devo really should not still be in Grade 6 - or is there some good reason to keep them there? Maybe in a perverse way it will help him with his own Psychology :) Or maybe it's not a good thing to be working all over the country, not train your dog enough and feel too relaxed to concentrate on winning.

This morning fate really showed it has ultimate control in the most fundamental element of life - LIFE itself.
When I opened the blind I saw an upside down fly. As I went to pick it up to throw it away it righted itself. I'm not a fly lover but thought this dying fly would maybe enjoy it's last hours outside in the beautiful sunshine. I opened the window and scooped it out. As it gratefully flew away it went straight into the path of the spider busy finishing off it's web. Well I suppose the spider was happy.................

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Good Times

Very, very proud of the people we train at the moment. The number of wins and move ups are great.

Success in the ring is one thing but when somebody from another club comes up and says they were parked near some lovely people at a show. These people were UpAndOver members :) The person said "I should have known they were your members as they were so nice".

Thanks guys - I know you can't help being lovely but as it was at the same show were there was a fight in the Championship Ring it really addresses the balance.

Agility is a great sport where so many friendships are made and it's good to be part of it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

When the going gets tough

Torro Laker is just an amazing dog with natural rapid acceleration and some very good learned skills. So it is quite tough at the moment to be at the end of a year without a string of successes to look back on. Mark says I need to check what I'm using to measure success. It's hard to get depressed about how badly you're doing when married to a Sports Psychologist sometimes :)
A resent article in a paper (of course everything you read in papers is true) was about the benefits of being sad. Yes, apparently we should allow ourselves the full range of emotions as they all serve a purpose. Some of the best runs I've done have been when I've been disappointed in myself. The article stated that chemically your mind is more balanced and focussed when you're feeling a bit sad. When you are happy and relaxed then it's easier to lose focus.
Running Torro Laker makes feel smile and feel happy - so that's where it's all going wrong.
So next time you see me laughing in a queue you can guarantee it's all going to go wrong in the ring and you'll know why.
That's obviously a simplistic view and Mark's Psychology course on 30 October will have more detailed and practical ways to keep us focussed on our runs.
Being disappointed in my year will give me an incentive to put in extra training and set decent goals for 2012 so this time next year we may even be training for Olympia etc
PS Torro has actually achieved a lot of good things this year - winning up to Grade 7 and 2 excellent clears in the agility part of Championship classes to name a few.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ready for Autumn and Winter

I often joke that I was a bear in my last life as I get very tired this time of the year and would happily sleep for hours - even more than usual. I suppose that it's getting towards the end of the show season and it's only natural to start winding down but far from that this is the time of the year that gets really exciting as we are planning our winter training.

Opportunities for extra training at Catherston are limited so we need to ensure the Tuesday training gives as much as possible. There will be a few new members from other clubs joining us as well as all the changes for people progressing up grades.
It is a challenging process to balance heights, levels and personalities so everyone gets the best out of their training. We're very lucky to have such great trainers Fifo and Ruth so have no problem with people saying they want to be with a particular instructor.

It is a big responsibility that we take seriously as we believe the week to week atmosphere can really make a difference.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dogs are like their owners?

I've been thinking about Rhyme and some of his personality traits and wondered if dogs are really like their owners.

When Flint was in his prime he never got things wrong - at that time I was working in a bank. Contrary to now popular belief bankers were generally very professionally and had regular checks to ensure things were right or they wouldn't balance.

Torro is a constant loner and prefers his own company so he doesn't have to worry about things. Mark can vouch for times when I've spent sleepless nights over things not worth worrying about and I must admit sometimes I wonder if I would do better not mixing with some people or situations that confuse me.

Rhyme is the opposite - he just wants to have a laugh, sit on his friends and hang out. He can perform brilliantly but mostly it's a case of life is too wondrous to do these chores. A bit like that emotion when you heard the school bell ring and class was out - in his case for summer LOL

Take a moment to think how your dogs reflect different personality traits. As for me I'm off life's too short to worry about that. Anyone wanna hang out?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

An Update on Rhyme

Rhyme is over 10 months now and looking like a grown up dog. He is not going to be quite as big as I thought he might be. He is a bit too skinny for my liking and could do with more coat. even so he is still the most handsome dog in the world :)

Attitude wise he has now decided that he wants to be doing things with me. That also may be down to the fact that I am booking various training days/sessions for him with other instructors and so need him to be focussed so that I can get the most benefit from them. Training on my own means that I have taken my time and gone very softly softly on various bits of behaviour that would otherwise have been nipped in the bud a while ago.

One such behaviour is going off and doing what he likes. Influenced by outsiders I took this to mean that I wasn't interesting enough or was asking too much or that I should have taught him to play more etc. I was taking the theory of It's Your Choice too far and literally giving him a choice of training or doing his own thing without first ensuring that he understood what was required, that it would be rewarding and giving him too many other naturally interesting things to go and do instead.

In some ways it has worked as I have been able to spend time learning his body language and he has had a very stress free puppyhood. Now I need to help him understand some good basics so that we can enjoy group training and make the most of any opportunity we get.

As an instructor the things that appear to me to waste most training time are :-
Handlers that can't get their dog on start line without a fuss
Dogs that don't enjoy or understand waiting
Handlers not having rewards ready
Dogs that don't come back with the toy
Dogs that don't come to where owner wants them to
Dogs more interested in the other dogs in the group
Dogs that have to have all other dogs/distractions out of the way to work

So I know that in order to benefit from a training session I need to ensure Rhyme and I are not guilty of any of the above. I am confident of the first 4 or 5 but am conscious that the last two would be a challenge at the moment.

Previously I have been doing lots of recall work one on one with him but decided to work on calling him off my own dogs, especially Devo whom he is obsessed with.

I have started with them all in a controlled postion either sit, stand or down then call them individually. Rhyme enjoys waiting so although he has got up a few times to follow the others he more often than not waits very proudly for his turn.

Next stage was to throw a treat past Rhyme and release another dog past him to it. This took great self control and is most difficult if it's Devo. With this exercise if he broke to follow I called him to me and so far although he has broken his wait he has recalled off the other dog to me. Then happily waited the next time. So in focussing on a different thing I have strengthened his understanding of his name and recalling to me.

Because of the confidence gained in this I can now call him if he runs after the others down the garden and he is coming back each time.

Next stage is to take it to the field..........

This is Rhyme and his Dad Reef :)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

It's our game - not the dogs

I do agility because I love spending time with my dogs and with Mark and agility combines both. Our dogs love to do agility and spend time with us too. An added bonus is the lovely people that we train and know though competing with them. As an instructor I also get pleasure from helping people enjoy training their dog and the sport more.

At the KC International Festival an awful incident has made me question what it is all about. Do our dogs really get the most out of life by doing agility? Do we improve our relationship with them by training and competing with them? Or is it all really about our own desire to compete?

I do not know what upset me the most, the sight of a dog so out of it's mind that it attacked it's owner or the fact that somebody said she came back from hospital and competed with her other dog in the afternoon - sorry BWTF. Surely the dog that attacked her needed to be taken away from the show to somewhere peaceful - is competing at agility more important than your own dog's welfare?

Maybe the lady had her reasons (as the dog had it's for doing what it did) and as I don't know the whole story I'm not in a good postion to comment on her actions. I do know I do not want to see of that kind of frenzy again. Hopefully there will be an explanation of a long stream of events leading up to the incident and valuable lessons will be learnt.

For my part I will be more mindful of my own dog's stress levels and ensure they are enjoying the competition as much as I do without loosing control.

Talking of control Ruth has hatched a plan for improving Inka's focus from an training method used in Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed. It is early days but already shows huge leaps of success. I will let you know more about how it works as it progresses.

Talking of progress - Rhyme actually played tuggie with me around the rings at the KC Festival. We walked around quite a bit and I got focus and play in more than one place. Once even when his Dad Reef was running :)

Talking of running - I must get a move on with other things now :) :)

A short clip to help relax after all that stress

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Any wind is favorable if you don't know what port you are sailing to

I tend to be very lucky in life and have got to some very good places by just going with where life takes me. I'm also lucky in that Mark does do planning so generally it's his wind that is favourable LOL.

We are in the process of taking stock of what we have and what we want for our future (our ten year anniversary in February or somebody's milestone birthday can have that effect). The result could lead to some big changes and we are putting our bungalow on the market. I know, all that work we did to make it easy to maintain and energy efficient so we could just enjoy our weekends and now we maybe embarking on another project. Keep your fingers crossed for us and I'll fill you in once we get a buyer and our offer accepted on the house we've seen.

It's also a good time of year to take stock on how we're doing against the plan with our own dogs.

Those of you who follow Mark's blog know he's where he wants to be regarding Devo. Kodi is still not back to full strength and at nearly 9 we are not confident he will ever be. He still enjoys his agility though so we will keep him ticking over.

Torro is a brilliant dog and I am frustrated that I can't seem to harvest his speed in the right time and place. He is such fun to run though and I will keep trying.

Rhyme - now what can I say about that cheeky little monkey :) He is growing up nicely and did some lovely stuff at Anthony Clark's Puppy Camp. He also got over excited and decided to join in everyone else's game - sorry least they can be confident their dog is good with distractions.

Ant was great though and put Rhyme on a lead and got me to do some recalls so Ant could control him if he went off. Needless to say recalls are still our main priority. I have many games to offer him distractions. I get him to ignore food on the floor, toys on the floor and Flint to come to me. He is very good with those now I just need to add Kodi, Torro and lastly Devo to our dogs as a distraction then move on to other dogs playing etc.

His play is continuing to build with every time I go near him us playing tuggie. It is strange to me that some dogs are totally obsessive with tugging (e.g. Kodi & Devo) whilst others need to develop the joy of it. It may be something I do as Torro wasn't toy driven as a pup. Even now he is not one to take the toy away and play on his own preferring instead to bring it to me so we can play together. As an instructor that is a good thing as there is considerable time wasting in a lesson with people who can't get the toys back off their dogs or even worse reinforcement opportunities wasted because people aren't prepared to present the toy as the dog won't share.

I generally avoid the agilitynet forum but a recent post wanting to ban tuggies from shows was unbelievable. Some guy whose dogs were not in control and even attacked another dog blamed use of tuggies by others.

I will do all I can to help Rhyme want to tug with me rather than interfere with other people and their dogs (even though his version is to lick people and want to play with other dogs) and if I can't then I won't put him that situation and I certainly won't be using any form of punishment.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dania Cup

Back home and all dogs back together. Great that Michelle looked after Flint and Karen after Rhyme but hits home again that Christie is no longer with us :(

We had an amazing weeks holiday, combining a trip abroad with agility - perfect.
The trip started with a detour to De Warre in Belgium the venue for next years WAO. It is a spectacular venue and is a good motivation for trying to get in the Team. We then met up with some friends in the evening. It is always lovely to meet new people and even lovelier if you know you've found a new good friend too :)
The house in Denmark was absolutely beautiful with sea views and a short walk to the beach. With course walking at 7:50 and prize giving (everyone attended) not finishing until around 7:30 we probably did not get the full benefit of it.
The competition it's self was great. There were a few differences to get used to like remembering to take your collar off and strict running orders but once we got used to that it was good.
I really enjoyed the courses with judges from several different countries including this years FCI judges putting out courses of all kinds.
Torro was enjoying himself and travelling at the speeds we managed on the Autobahn but my reflexes and body were not. We did manage 3 top ten places, a fastest five faults and one podium place of 3rd along with quite a few eliminations. It was great to take the flag up and stand in front of the crowds if a bit embarrassing. When Detox got made up to a Danish Agility champion they played "Stand Up" and everyone stood up and clapped - even Greg looked embarrassed. He also got a bottle of Champagne. It did make me think what an anticlimax it is to win a ticket and even more so to win the last ticket to become an Agility Champion. Often the crowd is left wondering who won and reliant on Facebook to know when it makes that dog a Champion. As the ticket class is so much more expensive than any other it surely could have more show made of the end results.
Back to Denmark and the Dania cup. Another big difference is that people bring tents and put them up beside the rings to sit and and have their dogs in. Great for the rain and shady when sunny plus no long walks to the car park or camping area to get dogs. We did see several dogs go lame on the courses which makes me wonder if that distance to get our dogs is actually a good thing to ensure our dogs are warmed up for those people who do not understand the importance of it. Despite the running in order and therefore more accurate times of when you would run we did not see many people warming their dogs or themselves up.
Despite the different course styles to what we're used to the British appeared at prize giving a lot. Bernadette with Zaz winning 4 classes, Greg and Detox winning 4 and becoming a Danish Champion, Amy and Fudge appearing on the podium for 2nds or 3rds 5 times, Mark and Devo getting 2nd in SP3 jumping and Torro getting 3rd in another class. Jo and Bitz were regularly in top 10.
The prize giving involves podium for top 3 with winner being called up first and everyone shaking their hand as they go past. Then in the larger classes up to 7th place being called up to stand beside them. Then the remaining places (about 10%) get called to go"straight to the table". As you are called up the top 3 got medals plus a card with a number on. Before the lower places get called you're led to a table with an array of many different prizes to choose from. You have to choose in order so winning get want they want. Detox won Greg a few cases of lager :)
We got 2 shirts, a suitcase, a few sacks of dog food and a voucher for a massage.
Bernadette kindly chose some sting relief spray for me when I got stung by a wasp. Strangely the was the day before Torro got 3rd - slightly different version from a kick up the backside LOL

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Agility in another dimension - well country

This is were we will be staying in Denmark :) :)
It is a short walk to the beach and half an hour form the show.
It is very exciting to be going abroad to compete with the dogs - if a little daunting, but we figured that as we don't like leaving our dogs to go away that best option to see the world is to take them with us. Even better still to fit in an agility show.
Lee Gibson is judging on one of the days and he is a regular competitor over there so we won't be entirely in the dark.
Excitement is not the word - will let you know how it all goes :) :)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Rhyme needs a reason :)

Rhyme is now 8 months old and filling out nicely. He is the most gorgeous dog in the world and works hard with his responsibilities relating to this i.e. he has to go and see everybody and dog to give them an opportunity to see him.
Recalls at home at excellent and fully understood by us both but I clearly don't understand that coming back on a walk is not good. Treats and toys in no way measure up to FREEDOM and RUNNING. Devo too had a problem with this I've been told it's a Devongem thing :). Luckily I live near the polo fields at Tidworth. A massive area of flat grass and mostly enclosed with a good view of anything else around so I am gradually helping Rhyme understand that FREEDOM & RUNNING are allowed and coming back is just part of it all.
Today was a good experience. Firstly Rhyme is not allowed off with the others until they've let off steam and he's chosen to eat the treats offered for loose lead walking.This can take a while but he is not allowed off until we get that. He is then allowed off to run and be a dog with the others. Throughout the walk everyone is asked to lie down and given rewards - Rhyme likes this game and finds it easy especially as once everyone has had treats they are all released and race - RUNNING :) :)
When we get near the trees I call him back regularly to give him a stick. I never throw sticks for my dogs but both Devo and Rhyme love to carry them. Once he has his stick I say ok and then he can RUN with the stick. Today we also jumped onto a tree trunk and stopped to pose for a photo. It's his choice to be with us and he happily stayed for the picture above.
So far so good - then in the distance coming towards us I saw somebody with a dog. No problem loads of room so I walked across the field. Rhyme looked then chose us and came back for a reward. Rhyme looked again and once again chose us and the reward. Rhyme looked again and the lady threw something for her dog. Rhyme chose the dog. We chose to run in the opposite direction. As he reached the dog the lady whistled her dog and I called Rhyme - he came running and stayed with us :) :).
A stumbling block is approaching the van as he knows that FREEDOM will be over. I decided to forewarn him of the fact we were "going to the van" to see what would happen. He just ran off in the opposite direction as soon as I had spoken - no hesitation. Perfect understanding of speech -he is so clever. I did what everyone advises not to, laughed. I couldn't help it. He went back to the water trough and led down. I just continued walking towards the dreaded van. When I glanced over my shoulder he sat up and looked at me. I called the other dogs and asked them to lie down. Called him once and he ran and led down very dramatically too, took his reward and happily let me put his lead on and walked beside me back to the van.
So Rhyme needs a reason to come back - not a toy but something to do with no fuss. I've cracked the recall nut - just need to try it with distractions LOL

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The King is Dead. Long live the King.

Well May is nearly over and tomorrow is 1st June and summer will be here.
May disappeared into the World Agility Open - the final preparations, the event and then the packing away and clearing up. Back to normality or maybe not. I always puzzled at the expression The King is dead. Long live the King until it was explained that with the death of one King there becomes a new King. Well World Agility Open is over but heyho long live The World Agility Open. Mark, Greg and Monica are flat out planning ready for next years event.
We've had our friend Naomi and her dog Pan staying for a while - it's very quiet now :)
Our dogs are fine and t's great to be at competitions with them. Torro had his first Champ and I amused all the Champ handlers by being so totally excited. There was no cool in my enjoyment. It was brilliant. We got eliminated in both the jumping and agility but were not out of place and did some lovely, lovely bits including a great weave entry that caught many a more experienced and cool handler out.
Rhyme is such a lovely dog and his play and recall are improving.
Christie is still escaping out of the garden at shows determined to show she is not ready for that trip to the vets. It was very sad to hear of Harvey. He has had many medical concerns so Michelle and Stephen were brilliant to be able to keep him enjoying life as long as he did.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Sorry I guess blog writing or keeping up with blog writing is an art.

So much has happened, first the awful shocking and worrying episode of Kodi who is perfectly well and raring to go now, then the successes at shows:)

Mark has his goals with Devo and as usual is on track, winning into Grade 6.

I had my goals with Torro but due to last years ankle breakage they had gone off track and to be honest I was a bit bored of putting down the same as last year. The key to goal setting is to monitor and adapt to ensure they are the right for you at that time (apparently) so not being able to fulfil my goals for Torro last year should not have been a surprise. Luckily we got our last win at Grade 6 to go Grade 7 last weekend so are now back on to reset our sights on other things for this year :)

Mark got a new camera and has taken some stunning photos already so hopefully there will be plenty of good pictures to decorate the blog :)

I love this one of Flint recalling from me to Mark with the camera. Flint looks so happy and fit. He is such a special dog.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

All I want is a Photograph

The lovely generous people from UpAndOver Agility Dogs clubbed together to get us a very lovely Christmas present (as usual). Now I know it may seem like a while since Christmas but we have only just managed to arrange to collect it. Last year's present - the flight in a Helicopter didn't happen until August.
This year we have a voucher for a photo from Pet-o-graphy. He specialises in taking photo's on a white background and, although each dog is taken individually, can then group them.
It makes for a stunning photo so you can imagine how gorgeous our lot will look.
The individual photo's were taken this weekend at AJAX.
For one who once spent an hour getting the dogs to stand in a group to get a decent photo by a lake this sounded, in principle an easy task. All I had to do was take the dogs one at a time to his stand then get them to sit and look for head shots and then lie down sideways for the group set up.
First up Devo who has brilliant start line waits but absolutely no understanding of doing a sit wait on the photographers sheet. Result - harassed handler and photographer ( Chris) thinking how am I going to get through this.
Next the gorgeous Flint who is very photogenic and behaved beautifully. Result - absolutely brilliant photos and faith restored that I could actually control my dogs.
Next Chris thought it would be easier to bring 2 dogs over at once - entrance Kodi and Torro.
Kodi thought this was a very serious business and looked suitably intelligent and serious. Chris questioned if that was what he's really like as although the photo's were good something didn't seem right. Spot on Chris - Kodi is a real show off so serious intelligent look does not suit. We got him doing some tricks. Result - you'll have to wait and see but it is sooo worth it :)
Torro was a star and luckily decided the hair and ears slicked back Edwardian look (his normal photo expression) was not required today. Result - Torro at his handsomest showing off his beautiful eyes.
Next up was Rhyme. 2 things to remember about Rhyme - he doesn't come back when called and he loves the world more than coming back when called. Armed with this information it would seem fairly obvious to anyone NOT to take his lead off so why.............
Result - Rhyme in ring with lovely little terrier. Not just any ring, he has got style, it was the Tug E Nuff agility qualifier. Thank goodness the Masters had finished. Exit a very red faced Karen Laker. I was so embarrassed I rushed off without fully apologising - sorry sorry sorry.
So Rhyme and Christie who wasn't there that day will be getting their photo's done at Shuttleworth :)

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Culture Clash - or is it?

I may have mentioned that Sharon (Happy ? Birthday) lent me The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. As the title suggests it points out the total difference in culture of ours and our dogs and how understanding it will help us provide a better relationship with them.
You know me - it's all about relationship :)
One theme that is regularly brought up is that dogs live in the here and now. Here's an opportunity to eat (steal food), run (ignore recall), chew (damage furniture) etc etc. Humans on the other hand need to understand what, where, who and why? This preoccupation has us soul searching and looking into childhood events for reasons (excuses) for day to day happenings.

How sweet and amusing it would be to live for the here and now. Not to have to worry if :
spending time with the dogs meant the dinner was late ..... oh I possibly do that one,
chatting to people at shows made you miss your run on Sunday,
you felt like a bottle of wine the night before a Friday,

OOPS well maybe Jean has more concious than me as I've not been soul searching on any of those LOL.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Kodi and Crufts :)

Absolutely brilliant is all I can say about Mark & Kodi at Crufts this year.

On grass during last year with Mark not being fully fit Kodi was not matching the times of the top 10 dogs and we did wonder if his age was going to mean a reduction of the brilliant performances we'd seen when he was younger.

Since his in clandestine meeting with a certain Wren he seems to have got something off his chest (or other area) and has regained much of his speed and power.

Much credit must go to Mark's psychology learning - he's a good student and can definitely practice what he preaches. Knowing how many very good fast dogs were there and being 5 faults down in the first round (a dampener for many people) he pulled off an amazing agility run in the 2nd round and therefore gaining a place in the final.

Still with such an impressive line up it is credit to him and Kodi to step up to the line and so very nearly do the double. Dawn and Breezer did an brilliant run with running contacts so to be so close is awesome.

Well done Kodi and Mark - I'm very proud of you both :) :)

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Trouble, Sadness and Foundation Training

The last couple of weeks have been a haze of van and car trouble, ICAT massage course and birthday celebrations.

Amongst all this we also had the sad news of Ruth having to have Kimba PTS due to a brain tumour. Kimba was one of my massage models and was a brilliant one. She was so gentle and happy to be massaged. She will always have a place in my heart and I'm sure will leave a large gap in Ruth's life.

On Wednesday we had our Foundation training with Greg. It is very interesting seeing how dog's learn and what they teach themselves if we are not clear of our criteria.
(It was also so very cool to have such great friends that made a special evening as it was my birthday too)

I am reading The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson at the moment and really like her way of pointing out that dogs are animals and any time we credit them with human emotions we can open the door to choose aversions to correct behaviour. That is not to say that dog's are not amazing and work so hard to share our lives but attitudes that promote punishment or removing a reward in case the dog is "getting one over on you" is not helpful in any relationship building. Dogs are not capable of thought processes that go in that direction. Dogs will do what is rewarding and easiest in their lives and live in the here and now.

How does this all affect Rhyme's training? Well for Agility Foundation it is important to have a dog that is focussed on you and finds the rewards you give them well worth any effort in order to attain them. Ways to achieve this vary considerably to the extreme of no other interaction except with you including any food and play. This builds a total bond with you and a strong working ethos. It can also be very hard to achieve within day to day life. It is not something I have a history of achieving LOL.

Anybody that sees me with my adult dogs can not help but notice the strength of bond between me and them. They are focussed and ready and able to try to do anything I ask.

Look back at them as puppies and you see none of this. More of "Hello World I'm your man - bring it on" and "Who IS this woman hanging around cramping my style?" At this time I am always left wondering what it is I do or don't do to allow this to happen. Then suddenly they grow up and I'm their world so maybe I should just relax and be prepared for that moment they are ready :) As we don't do any equipment until they are fully grown then this is fine really - isn't it?

So why do any Foundation training? Although things have worked out ok, I do want to improve - it would be a boring day in agility (and a lie) if I really thought I could not get any better. Not everyone can be a World Champion but ANYBODY can dream :)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Spring Approaches

This time of the year seems really bleak and dark,
but we have snowdrops in bloom and daffodil buds waiting for the sunshine to open them, giving a promise of the spring to come.
The other pointers to the approaching season is having the last of our scheduled in house training days (lovely feedback thanks) and the fight to secure camping at shows LOL.
We still have our regular training at Devon Dogs and our new regular training with Joy Costello's group to do.
We are lucky to be able to do all kinds of instructing - one to one's, weekly groups, seasonal regulars and one off training days (not many of those as we usually get asked back again).
I enjoy all types for different reasons.
At this time of year at club we go back to basics with even more places to reward your dog than you'd ever have thought possible. There is a slight buzz of excitement with
people looking forward for the competitions to start to see how they've progressed over the winter :)
Personally I am looking forward to Mid Downs to get in the ring and enjoy running Torro - no pressure to do well this early, just a chance to see if what we practised in the winter has put us in a good place.
Kodi is looking superb - last season he didn't seem right but is totally on one now.
Devo will be fun to watch develop, starting this year in Grade 5 - an exciting place to be.
I have entered Flint in quite a few any size so he should still be able to have some fun :)
Christie (nearly 16) nearly had a one way trip to the vets in January but has rallied round and hopefully will still be able to walk to the exercise area and back.
Did somebody ask about Rhyme? - well I won't start talking about him again or I'll turn into Tolstoy.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Socialising Rhyme

Socialising is of course very important for an up and coming agility puppy. Most weekends in competition season we are at Agility shows so anything encountered there is easily ticked off the list. That may be all they need to cope with our day to day stuff as that is what we mostly do LOL.
I think it is also important that our dogs can cope with anything else too.
Armed with this in mind Rhyme and I have been on adventures to do things we wouldn't normally do so if something not normal happens he can deal with it.
I've been very lucky as any planned excursion to meet one thing usually ends up ticking a couple of other things off the list. The other great thing is that thanks to Lauren and especially Carol and Alan, Rhyme LOVES people and then thanks to Katie and Thomas, Rhyme LOVES children. Any other reward that I give him pales into insignificance compared to any opportunity to interact with people. And because of his gorgeous face & waggy tail people also love to interact with him.
On Friday I went to Waitrose in Salisbury. the car park opens onto a river walk and cycleway that goes under the dual carriageway. Opportunities - cars, cycles, ducks and traffic moving at various speed due to traffic lights at other end. Plenty to be going on with. Then we saw a lady in an electric mobility scooter.
Rhyme is terrified of the hoover and hairdryer so this caused him real alarm. Luckily for me the lady also had a primary school aged girl with her. On hearing the little girls voice Rhyme had a real dilemma - LOVE little girl V HATE electric noises. The little girl won and the lady was a collie lover so we spent some time letting Rhyme feel confident that there was only good things about electric scooters. Result :)
Today we went to post a letter. The letter box is not far away but we have no pavements so quite a big ask. Now cars are fine but Land Rovers must make an unique unpleasant to Rhyme noise, 2 went past and he was not happy. Then we went down steps to Railway Station Car park. 2 trains, slight fear but happy to then continue and take rewards. On our way home we met the water board testing for leaks, 2 men in big fluorescent coats carrying large metal rods, one in a woolly hat. One saw Rhyme was fearful and crouched down and spoke to him and suddenly these scary things were the best things because they were in fact people :) Just as we got home another Land Rover drove past as we stopped to talk to the neighbour. Rhyme looked but decided that the noise was ok as there were people to fuss him :)
Very lucky to have these extra experiences dropped in and some gooey dog people happy to help a cute puppy gain confidences in his world.