Wednesday, 4 December 2013

In a Nutshell

At last a few moments to catch up with the blog J

So much has happened. To be fair it has been a while but I think even if I had blogged every day there would have been enough to fill a full page each time.

The précised version and not necessary in chronological order is

  • ·      Sold house and moved out
  • ·      Passed UpAndOver on to a dedicated committee (& boy are they dedicated to UpAndOver)
  • ·      Publication date decided and ready to go on Wag and Tone eBook
  • ·      Dogs kept fit and happy and enjoying break from agility
  • ·      First article published in a Pug Bulletin
  • ·      Found a lovely house to buy and just waiting to exchange contracts
  • ·      Preparing for Seminar in Houston, Texas
  • ·      Weekends for 2014 filling up with seminars, family and friend visits and GB Squad events
  • ·      Mark sent out invites to candidates for GB Squad
  • ·      My son Michael settled in Australia with a promising job in a Restaurant
  • ·      Accounts done
  • ·      Further inroad made into ICAT canine remedial massage theory plus 3 dogs massaged
  • ·      People I trained qualifying for various finals and moving up grades
  • ·      Some enquiries relating to me continuing to train when we move.

All in all there are so many things moving in the right direction and promising a great year in 2014.

The only 2 things causing worry is Flint and Tim. They are two of my best friends. They are both doing a brilliant job of fighting cancer and both continuing to enjoy life in spite of it.  So many bittersweet moments of spending time with them savoring every moment whilst trying not to think about when they go.

Flint does not know so he is just being his usual happy self and enjoying doing dog things.

Tim and Sharon are an inspiration in positivity in the face of it all. Helping all their family and friends to deal with it along the way. 

Moving away from them will be very hard. Using their positivity I will look at it as a new way to explore the different communication forms out there, writing emails, skyping etc and of course looking for opportunities for those memory days (or weekends) that they having cleverly come up with to make the most of the precious time Tim has.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

It's Not All About Pugs

Well  2013 continued to throw it's unlucky 13ness at us for a while to the extent that even I managed to lose some of the positives. Well most of them to be fair.

I also got some kind of virus that left me feeling exhausted and achy all the time. Luckily after heaps of tests it is nothing serious and I'm well on the road to recovery except along the way Mark ran Torro a few times for me and the decision was made that he would have him again next year to run in champ while I concentrate on Rhyme. Torro is such fun to run and I'm sure he'll do very well with Mark but I feel a bit of a traitor. 

We share caring for our dogs and exercise but tend to just agility train the ones we run so Mark is training Devo and Torro. Torro doesn't mind one bit and loves going that bit quicker that Mark runs compared to me. He is still my dog in every other way.

So whilst I was feeling life wasn't as great as it had been I didn't keep up the blog. Writing can be cathargic I know but for blogs I prefer upbeat and postivity. Any way I'm now back with that upbeat and positive frame of mind :)

Our initial house move failed and we had to start again. Our buyer lost their buyer and crazily although the house we originally had been going to get had been on the market for over a year it sold immediately our sale fell through. so the great news that we found a new buyer just over a week later was of no help.

So the house hunt was on. we have now found a lovely house in a different part of the country so closer to our families but still more central to cut down on overall travelling. 

As we now know nothing is set in stone until all the paperwork is signed and it is still 2013 after all so we're not saying too much. Here's a sneak look at our possible view if it goes ahead.

Our son Michael is well on the second part of his travels now in Australia working. He spent his hard earned savings on a trip of a lifetime a trek of South America. I am looking forward to seeing his photo's. Although the video of him cycling down Death Road in Bolivia were a little scary to tell the truth.

Our other "child" UpAndOver Agility Dogs has also flown the nest. Well it has now become a committee run club. Not nearly so scary as Death Road cycling :) We are very proud of how quickly they have taken up the reins and it has all run so smoothly. We are still a large part of it with Mark as Chair and we are both still instructing there. The new club can be found at

We are not about at shows much at the moment giving ourselves and our dogs a little agility break. So much so that our thoughts turned to a non agility dog and you can follow the results under the Wagsnort Skyfall blog.

We had hoped to have moved and settled by now and ready to advertise any winter or autumn seminars. As this hasn't happened we will just go ahead and take bookings and fit them in around moving so please contact us if you want to book us for agility seminars, Mark's Coaching or my core stability classes (Wag and Tone).

Friday, 31 May 2013

Twenty13 - Oh Yeah

I recently tweeted that had I been superstitious this year may have given me a clue of what to expect but really I don't think anything could prepare me for the year so far.

Is it that for every positive there is a negative? - if that's true I have had some really lovely years so things may not get better for a while.

Luckily I don't believe it has to be that way. Some things aren't totally avoidable and life does have so many challenges, it's the way you are able to deal with them that can make a difference. Mental strength and good nature go a long way.

I am lucky to be surrounded by people with those characteristics which makes things a lot easier to cope with and so many supportive friends.

On the good news front we have sold our house, Tim and Sharon got married and my sister has just called with the loveliest of news in that my niece Donna is expecting.

Mark drove her to their wedding last December - not sure if that will mean they'll need him on standby to get to the hospital :) 

Here's one of my favourite photo's of Sharon and Tim

Monday, 11 March 2013

You don't know what you've lost til it's gone

What a lot of goings on from chasing ambulances round Liverpool to being on the Career Zone at Crufts - an amazing few weeks and once again no time to capture it all on a blog.

A real mixture of not very nice to great things. Generally I like to blog about postives but on this occasion I'll share one of the bad times.

A couple of Thursdays ago Flint my 14 year old got up and collapsed - his back end clearly not communicating with the brain and a lop sided head. Back in September he had been diagnosed with suspected secondary cancer of his lung and due to his age and extent of it they decided to pursue it no futher and he came home to be spoilt for his remaining few months. So the first thought was a brain tumour :(

He couldn't settle and got himself into a real panic and eventually we thought we might have to do what was best for him. We travelled to the emergency vets not wanting him to suffer a moment longer than needed. 

Once there the vet reaffirmed our thoughts but mentioned that it could be a vestibular in which case a few days on the drip may help and he would have a bit longer. Meanwhile she had given him an injection to stop him feeling dizzy and he settled down.

She said he was not in pain just feeling sick and dizzy and as it was not our vets we decided to take him home to reassess him later with our own vet.

For a few days he fell about the place and didn't want to eat. The not eating was a big concern as he is so skinny from the cancer anyway that we worried how long we had. 

He got bright enough for us to take the risk to leave him with friends and neighbours letting him out and my son staying while we were at Crufts. My son cooked him fish and rice.

This was him today

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Got this yearning learning feeling

I had a privileged childhood. 
We weren't rich & I didn't get everything I thought I wanted. I was the youngest of everyone & was indulged with attention & love. We lived on a traditional council estate in a quiet village (except at Carnival time & my Mum & Dad's Hogmanay party LOL). So what was the privilege? Having great parents who supported us no matter what did and created an atmosphere of never being afraid to ask questions and the value of learning. We didn't have much money yet Dad bought the whole of The Encyclopaedia of Britannica and anything anyone didn't know was duly researched. There was a lot we didn't know & most was forgotten the next day but it was always fun to look :)

To me one of the key skills we can give our children, our dogs and the people we instruct is this yearning to learn. It keeps life as a challenge. The biggest fear a lot of people have is of the unknown so if the unknown is an exciting chance to learn something new, well then you've got nothing to be afraid of :)

Dad was 80 last year and for his present from the family he had a flight in a Biplane :) I haven't got a picture of that yet but here he is just before a helicotor flight we did last year. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

And don't forget to breathe

I find it quite frustrating that when I'm doing interesting things I don't have time to blog about them.

I love being busy and being married to Mark Laker ensures there is never a dull moment in our house so why oh why did I also embark on a 'little' project of my own.

So what's been keeping me busy?
  • Listening, questioning, playing devils advocate and proof reading Mark's 2013 Performance weekend, how it'll run plus the exciting training day he's got lined up 
  • and then his proposal for selecting the GB Team 2014.
  • Working with Mark and UpAndOver instructors plus a couple of others on an other exciting development.
  • Discovering just how talented they all are in the process
  • Some great regular clients doing 1to1 agility lessons with me
  • Planning and advertising some great courses for UpAndOver along side our usual weekly classes with the aforementioned instructors

So to the 'little' project of Wag and Tone. I know we have a brilliant product with it just don't have enough resources (time, money, marketing skills etc). I am wondering if we're brave enough to approach Dragons Den for help but it seems the thing they criticise the most is what we are missing :) It would be an incredible
experience though.

Notice no person in the last photo - watch this space new exercise coming up :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

One Height Below

I attended our local Kennel Club meeting which had an unusually high turnout. The main topic people had come to discuss was whether or not to introduce a 4th height

I do agree that there is a large gap between medium & large and it must be tough for those dogs only just measuring out of medium. In the main the people at our meeting had dogs who were heavy set which made it uncomfortable to jump the full height. The conclusion was that it is actually conformation not height that affects a dogs ability to jump.

Agility Champion Bekkis Carbon Copy
The height cut off chosen at 510mm would include many dogs that are currently competing at the top level. Our own dog Kodi is only 490mm. He is an Agility Champion and won the Agility Championship at Crufts in 2010. 
In fact the last three dogs that won the Crufts Championship class and this years winners of both Novice and Senior Olympia would all be Standard at UKA which is lower than the proposed cut off for the new height at KC.
I for one would miss the opportunity to compete with these dogs and am concerned that the new height would in fact contain at least half of the most competitive dogs in this country.

At the meeting one person said they just wanted to feel included and I wondered if there is  another option that would be beneficial and to more than just those lucky enough to fit in the new proposed height category.
A whole new clasification called One Height Below. Simply this would mean any dog could jump a height one height below its measure. This would then include dogs like GSD's, Retreivers etc in fact any dog who's handler would be more "comfortable" with their dog jumping a lower height.

A lovely Retreiver
looking more than comfortable 
This category would be competitive and people could gain points and move up grades only within this category.
People could elect to run OHB at the time of being measured and the measurers mark their KC book accordingly.
Championship status would not be available to these dogs so
competitive people would not choose to do them. 

Once reaching Grade 5 there would be a one time option to revert to same size classes at square one to allow dogs that have become competitive to compete at their same height.

Stunning GSD
These classes would just slot into the existing structure of shows
with scribe sheets being split out as they are now for graded classes.

Sponsors could be approached to have qualifiers for this classification too.

It is easy to say "oh this won't work because how do we know that dog has elected to run one height below". Well the answer is we don't but how do we know anybody has won up a grade etc. Many years ago a lady
accidentally ran in the Champ class at one show. It was her first show and she didn't know how to complete the entry form. It wasn't until she ran that the mistake was obvious.

To make this work the show organisers would need to run OHB classes in parallel with the same height classes so some input from show organisers would be useful as to if this would be achievable.

Stroller & Marion Mould the only pony to compete at the Olympics in Show Jumping.
Another option I heard about today.

Fiona Boyne told me that in the show jumping world they start horses on lower jumps and it is only as you move up the levels that the heights go up. 

If we applied this to agility Grades 1 - 3 could compete at medium height, 4 -5 at a new 4th height then 6 - 7 at full height. This would mean the competitive and able dogs would move up through the grades and the dogs that can't compete at a higher height would therefore stay at a height they could. It would be self regulating as dog will only progress as high as it can comfortably jump.

Mediums - G1-4 start at small height and G5 - 7 jump medium.
Smalls -  G1-4 start a toy height and then move up to small.

This could work although I am not sure I would find it easy to run Rhyme at medium. It wouldn't hurt him though and it is not all about me and my dog. 

Again thoughts from show managers or others on if this idea would be workable.

You can't say I'm not trying to look for a solution that could work for all dogs and handlers.

Healthy debate is good to help find solutions to problems. IMO sadly some of the 4th height brigade were not there to listen or debate at our meeting, only to bully and intimidate with their only concern themselves.


Some 4th heighters said that they were concerned about the welfare of their dogs yet blatantly talked about their dogs struggling to jump. If you really did care and your dog was really struggling wouldn’t you find something your dog did like to do?


Thursday, 3 January 2013

Bring on 2013

That's it 2012 over and 2013 just starting.

I like the process of looking back on the last year and making plans for the new.

When Michael was younger on New Year's Day we all used to write 10 things we wanted to achieve that year on a piece of paper and seal them in an envelope then open that envelope the following New Year's Day.

It was amazing how many things had either come true or had totally gone from our thoughts and wishes so not really a failure just not interested any more.

These were not tidy, well thought out, smart goals, just one sentence and simple.

So if I was to write a list of 10 things for myself for 2013 what would they be?

Let's start with agility related ones. Going in big not with the small sensible one step at at time goals just dreams. Followed by a few work related goals too.

  1. Rhyme qualify for Novice Cup
  2. Rhyme qualify for Olympia
  3. Rhyme win up to Grade 5
  4. Torro qualify for 3 Ticket finals
  5. Torro qualify for BCC Final 
  6. Help the people I train set and obtain their goals
  7. Increase my clients by 1 a week
  8. Grow Thursday classes at UpAndOver
  9. Get Wag and Tone off the ground 
  10. Pass ICAT Canine Massage Diploma Exam

Right lets look back next year and see how it's gone :)

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year and are looking forward to this year. Each year brings it own sets of challenges and helps you learn about life. As Naomi likes to say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". 

Whatever the year brings I hope you make the most of it and get the best out of it.