Thursday, 30 August 2012

Blood is thicker than Water

 It is a strange and lovely thing that often happens when people have dogs from the same litter that they are then like family.

Although all my dogs family are lovely people anyway I probably would not feel such a bond of friendship if they didn't own my dogs litter mates.

It is lovely sharing all their joys & successes as they grow, seeing their photos etc.

What is not so lovely is when they get older & we are faced with those Rainbow Bridge moments that slap you in the face with reminders of your own dogs age and the shortening of your time left with them. Memories of the early days together make you appreciate the lose of your dogs sibling more than usual even if you don't see them regularly.

My heart goes out to Janet on losing Lucy-fur'  as we called her. Such a great dog, sister to my Flint. She will be missed xxx

We do know our dogs are old from 12 onwards and have time to start preparing for that horrible day.

Luckily none of our dogs brothers & sisters have died young before so it is hard to put into words the emotions felt on hearing the shocking news of the loss for Matt Rouse of Devo's brother Riot due to a road accident at the age of 4.

Matt had pick of litter. The pups were born in his home and he had plenty of time to enjoy & play with them. Riot was a stunning looking black & white and although we wanted a tri colour we would have been happy to have Riot. It didn't come down to looks though, Matt chose on personality - Riot was his doggy soul mate. 

We have not seen much of them lately and can only assume from their results that their relationship has only deepened over the years.

Heartbreak does not even begin to describe what he must be feeling.

Matt & Lauren have a lot of support around them & we've sent our love too. Hopefully it will help in some way. I'm not sure how I'll hide my tears when I next see them though. 

Giving all our dogs special attention today especially Devo.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Auf Weidersen Pet

Just back from Germany where we had a holiday and competed in The Border Collie Classic an Annual International Competition just for Border Collies.

The current FCI champion & last years FCI champion were there as well as other top world handlers.

There were also quite a few people like us who were there as a holiday & to try their luck against the best.

I love the style of the European courses we saw there & in Denmark last year. 

They are not all big gaps (maximum distance apart 7m) or go round the back as some judges here seem to try do. Yes there were a couple of go rounds but in flowing interesting ways not off a straight line that only Bolt could hope to get to. There are lots of choices of what a dog can do & good handling, training  & partnership shows through. A late command or poor understanding & you're out. Placement of obstacles also mean you might have to think hard & be sharp to make the direction clear to your dog.

Late commands got me every time with Torro - there were quite a few people watching us as I ran one in front of Lisa Frick & Hoss, the general comment was Torro was "frigging fast'. I really wanted to have another go on every course to sharpen up. Another few weeks & I think we would have got some clears :)
We got round the team final with only a jump down in a cracking time. Mark got clear with Devo & if we'd had a couple of other good dogs in our multi national team we would have done ok.

One of the other dogs was Rhyme - did his best but tunnel wrapped around an Aframe  choice has not been in his training yet, although he did a brilliant weave entry from a tunnel at an angle that many more experienced dogs missed :) So we were disqualified.

The other team member was from Croatia & I think he'd gone back there as he didn't show :(

Last year at Dania everything was announced in English first & then in Danish so it was easier to keep track of things.

With many nationalities there and most people can understand English it possibly would have been a good idea this weekend but no everything was in German & there were a few complaints. We were lucky as Ian Watts was judging there and a few other people we have met on our travels and they kept us up with the programme :)

Our dogs did GB proud as although Mark & Devo were the only one of us to get 2 clears 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Everyone's a Winner

Everyone's a winner - but are they and should they be?

Mark and I had an interesting conversation about the word winner - to me in a competition context a winner is the person who wins the class. To Mark a winner is somebody who has won - could be the class or it could be because they had achieved a goal or target.

There is a great difference as in a class of 240 dogs there are 239 people that aren't going to win. Winning creates a good feeling that motivates us to work hard to achieve that emotion again. So to create hard working motivated handlers we need to have more winners. I don't know of any other sport that has such a high number of losers.

We are going to Germany soon for the Border Collie Classic and I would be very surprised to have any more that 3 rings. Our friends on the Continent are amazed by our class sizes. They have more opportunity to be winners more regularly. 

But if everyone could win more easily then the standard at the top would get worse wouldn't it? Well in Europe they have to be successful in the higher grade or they move back down the following year. This maintains the standard.

Meanwhile what can we do to help agility people in the UK from feeling demotivated or turning into people that constantly moan - course times are too tight, courses are too hard, classes are too big etc because they are lacking in the winners euphoria? We need to make ourselves feel like winners due to achievements we have instead of actually coming 1st. 

Goal setting is an excellent way to see how well you are doing. It can take a while to perfect the skill as often it is easy to set targets that are too easy and then to choose one's that are too hard. The more process driven they are the better. Outcome (winning the class) related can be powerful either to the addition to your winning experiences or detrimental towards gradual improvements.

Goal setting was amazing for the Flint days and the early days with Torro. Now I have hard work to do to realign my aims for Torro to be realistic to our show performances. In training he is utterly brilliant (and I'm pretty decent too). In the ring I have somehow lost that winning feeling and struggle to achieve even a non-elimination especially in Champ classes where all I want is anything but that. He has qualified for the Power & Speed final which was not on my list of goals and also one ticket final which is. So work to be do there I think.

Meanwhile Rhyme has surpassed each and every goal I have set him so far this year. Mine you he is such hard work in the queue I feel like a winner just by being able to get him to the start line, have a solid wait and stay with me all the way round.

It's great that shows are back to normal and I am so looking forward to the KC Festival and The Border Collie Classic.

I am also very happy to realise that all the people that have 1 to 1's with me have either won. moved up a grade or qualified for a final this year so far. That certainly makes me feel good and very proud of them.