We’ve seen two birthdays with Squirrel turning two at the start of the month and Ethan turning four a couple of days later; with that and Christmas on top the toy box is over flowing although, as always seems to be the case, several toys have already been demolished and consigned to the bin
(this is just one of our THREE toy baskets!)
So, what else has been happening? Well quite a lot when I look back actually!
The weather has been so bad (wet, wet, wet!) we’ve really done no training at all for a couple of months, the same with agility. Gemma had been up at the end of November and taken the training chute to do some work with Fynn and when she came back up at the beginning of December the work she’d been doing was evident. He is now much more focused on his ball and is doing some nice jumps on and off the chute, we decided to try him on the box to see what he would do and he took to it fine, the motion is initially quite slow as he’s having to think about what he’s doing but he’s not bothered by the movement and noise of the box and is looking promising. We also did a little bit of work with Jovi, she is keen as mustard but is definitely more hesitant than Fynn, I think her technique will improve as she grows in confidence.
Fynn’s first go on the box…
A week or so later and Gemma was back up, this time with Alicia and Lola so we set up a couple of jumps and the box in the garden and did some work with all 3, I was really pleased with them all. Lola has already been doing runbacks and has a lovely hurdling action; her main issue at the moment is focus (she is SO like her mother!). Fynn still needs to think about his co-ordination a little more but I was pleased with the way he was running up and down the hurdles and doing the box nicely too. JoJo is very keen still and was eagerly running up and down and taking the ball from the box but her box technique is still not great. I think time and practice will be the key to this because she’s keen on a ball and she also wants to get back to me asap so she has the key things that make up a good fast turn once we sort her technique out.
We’ve done no agility training (apart from the odd bit in the garden) for months and months. I did make a set of weave guides to finally press on and finish teaching both my girls to weave. I’ve been training them on channels but really struggled with the transition to normal competition uprights. I could kick myself for not having made these guides sooner! They have absolutely done the trick!
Faith first time with the guides...
Teal first time with the guides..
5th December saw our second agility show with Faith and Teal; I was very undecided about whether or not to run them both as I really hadn’t finished proofing the weaves for competition but I ran them through in the garden a couple of times and decided to go for it; it is only 5 mins down the road after all. When I arrived I had missed Teals’ first class (graded 1-2 agility) and when I looked at the 1-2 jumping I decided against running either girl on the course, it just wasn’t the nice flowing confidence building sort of course I was looking for. I had also missed walking the small combined 1-7 agility, I watched a few dogs round the course and decided it was something Teal and I could tackle, even if we weren’t going to stand a chance against the higher graded dogs it would be good experience. It was a nice flowing course with a couple of little ‘handly’ bits here and there but it was going to be a bit of a blast and I hoped Teal wouldn’t be too crazy and start missing contacts. She did a nice calm startline wait and then we were off…jump-dogwalk to start (again!) and she nailed the running contact (big smile) then off over a series of jumps which she ran fast and accurately then a straight tunnel and out over a jump into an empty space, there was another jump in line that she had to come back over while I had decided to also put a reverse turn in to get on the other side of her…it was only when I actually got there that I realized how big the gap between the jumps was leaving a serious risk of her coming through the gap and getting 5R and I dithered…the lack of any command at all saw Teal land the jump and then run straight to the scribe who was sitting on a chair directly in front of her! I moved across and put the turn in as I called her back and she thankfully ran back and over the jump and we continued the course, over the A frame another star of jumps and then straight down a line of tyre, seesaw and jump home…our first clear round!! I was so pleased with my little girl!! It was only looking at the results later that I realized how close we had been to a place and how dearly that hesitation had cost, there were 100 grade 1-7 small dogs in the class and places to 10th, despite it being a combined class Teal was only 0.5sec off being placed and ran a faster time than quite a number of grade 6/7 dogs that had run clear. I am certain that she would have placed top 5 without that ‘blip’ mid round…that’ll teach me to get there in time to walk the courses in future! Live and learn I guess!
I did walk the graded large 1&2 agility which was a really lovely course that I really wanted to have a go at with Faith, it was right up her street and I thought we stood a good chance of a decent clear. I decided to adopt a different technique in keeping her calm so Veronica queued for me and I brought her in right at the last minute and wouldn’t let her watch. This technique proved to be entirely the wrong one. I set her up on the start line just as a springer spaniel started running in the next ring and she just couldn’t take her eyes off it! As I released her it ran up the dogwalk that was alongside our ring and Fi crashed through the first jump (since she only had half an eye on it!), ran through the tunnel, over jump 3 and then kept going in the direction of the next ring!! I yelled her back and set her up to continue but her neck was craned back looking toward the other ring, there was no way she was going to concentrate so I picked her up and carried her out...arghhhhh…sooooo frustrating! I think maybe we need to leave indoor competitions well alone for now, get some more training in and come back to agility again when it’s outdoors with bigger rings and less noise. I also think it may well be better to let her watch as much as she likes before running her, let her get it out of her system; we’ll see I guess!
We managed to get a small amount of training in just before Christmas when we went down to Oxford to stay with Joy and Becca for the weekend while going to watch Becca and Teal (Bryning Time to Shine) competing at Olympia. It was a fab weekend, Olympia was great…a day out with friends…agility, showjumping and shopping…what more could you ask for?! Poor Becca had been in bed all week with tonsilitis so was not on her best form and struggled on the huge courses but the girls did really well, the clear round in the morning saw them place 16th and into the pairs final in the afternoon where they came 3rd, fastest time but 15 faults between them…a real shame.
There is full footage of both the semis and the pairs (and in fact the whole competition) on the Horse and Country channel website...brilliant!
Becca and Teal appear around 5 minutes into episode 3
Semis Episode One
Semis Episode Two
Semis Epiosde Three
Semis and Final Episode Four
(video of the pairs filmed by me still to come!!)
Like most of the rest of the country we’ve had quite a lot of snow and ice over the past week or so which has actually been really nice. A little hairy driving too and from work, the shops etc but bliss when taking the dogs out…the ground is hard underfoot and everyone stays clean!
This was our lane and house on Christmas Eve (a white Christmas!)
and the dogs racing around in the snow in the garden...
Well, the puppies have all grown up and many have left us already. Aston (Bryning Volante) is the black/white dog pup from Tally and Lexie’s litter and he is the one staying. I had wanted a black/white dog pup from this litter and since he was the only one I didn’t have a choice but I am more than happy with him, he’s beautifully constructed, well marked, very toy orientated and has a really nice happy outgoing character…perfick!
There is still an ongoing dilemma as to which of Dazzle’s girls will stay but I am pretty certain it is the little merle bitch, she looks like a little wind up toy but is an absolute menace! Not decided on a name yet, something cute and girlie..we’ll see
Here’s three of the girls (one has left for her new home already) playing tuggy in the lounge…
and here's them again playing in the dining room..
and here's the boys...
I am very pleased with these as Viggos’ first litter and he’s had two more born over the past few weeks so it will be very interesting to see how they turn out too.
Christmas day saw the arrival of a very special delivery…our first parson puppies!! Squirrel is proving to be a really natural and devoted mother, the puppies are all doing well apart from the little bitch that was the smallest at birth, she really is tiny and seems to be struggling to feed so I’ve started supplementing her, will keep everything crossed that she starts to gain weight and strength and starts to thrive but it is a bit of a worry.
I think that sees us just about up to date!