Wednesday, 26 August 2009

British Championships

I know I’m being a very bad blogger again! Quite a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, we’ve competed at the British Flyball Championships and then again at Rotherham, Travis has arrived and Dottie has been mated. Maizy’s pups are due in just 9 days time (eek…excited!!)…these will be our first cocker puppies for two years and the start of our autumn/winter ‘puppy season’ now the flyball fixtures are starting to slow down.

So…briefly…the Championships were bigger and better than ever, a testament to the hard work and organization from Steve and Bridget and the Dolphins team who were this years’ hosts down at Holt Farm in Southam, Warwickshire. This year saw 32 divisions run in 3 rings spread over 3 days running in reverse order. Since both our teams fell into the top 10 divisions we didn’t actually run until the final day on the Sunday but we spent all 3 days there just catching up with friends, helping other teams, soaking up the atmosphere and chilling out. I did try to photograph all the Brynings there competing but failed miserably and missed a fair few. I’ve uploaded a selection of photos into an ALBUM there’s too many to post here!

I did get to run Jack (Bryning Bold Jack Donohoe) on the Saturday in the Tyne Tailtwisters (Thanks Hazell!) and he ran really well, alongside his housemate River (Bryning Supercool) to go on to win Division 13 which was really nice :) I also got to judge division 12 which I really enjoyed, despite Jason from the Shooting Stars badly spraining his ankle and one of their dogs getting stung by a wasp! This division was won by the Wilmslow Jackals featuring the lovely Kite (Bryning Black Kite) which was also really nice! :)

The lovely Jack...

and the lovely Kite...

In terms of racing we actually did a lot better than we thought we might, both teams were seeded low in their divisions and both were in on seed times they hadn’t run for a while. Now…there is an awful lot of ‘cheating’ that goes on at the Champs, by that I mean…teams deliberately slowing their seed times down with lose changeovers leading up to the competition to get seeded in a lower division that they can just go out and stuff (grrrr) or teams submitting one team name and then running dogs from another (faster) team in it so they can do the same thing. I know, hard to believe anyone could be that sad but it is true!! Personally, I really don’t see the point in winning a division you’ve ‘fixed’, where’s the achievement in that? Moves are afoot to identify the culprits and but rules in place to stop it happening in future, I think they should all be ‘named and shamed’ to be honest!

Anyway, the Pawz were seeded 5th in Division 10 on their fastest ever time of 19.21 that they had run once! On paper there was just 0.05 between top and bottom seed…we expected a drubbing! However, the dogs all ran really well and with a fastest time of the day of 19.45 they actually ended up 2nd behind the Rotherham Runaways who ran 18.88! Our friends at Rotherham had a fantastic Champs winning 4 out of their 5 divisions! (they could have let us have one couldn’t they! lol). We were running under the Speed Demonz name for the first time this year, finally having all our dogs back running…or so we thought! (yes, we did the opposite of the ‘cheats’ and submitted a faster team! lol). Unfortunately after the first two races in the morning it became apparent that Bailey had injured his shoulder so we had to pull him, Gemma was understandably very disappointed, as we all were, we’d lost our fastest dog. We struggled on with Dylan, Lexie, Dottie and Mac and didn’t achieve much time wise but consistency paid off and we won two races ending up a very respectable 4th

Rachel and Phil arrived late Sunday afternoon with Travis and he had his first experience of flyball with a carry round the rings and lots of cuddles, he wasn’t fazed by anything, a real testament to what a well grown and well reared little chap he is.

All in all it was a very relaxed and enjoyable weekend…good weather, good company and good racing…and we came home with a new puppy…who could ask for more?!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Fi-Reeky Pupdates

Here’s a couple of pics received over the last week or so of pups from Rico and Faiths’ litter, just turned 5 months old.

Ossy (B. Would you Believe)…

Jeep (B. Believe it or Not)…

Rosco (B. Daydream Believer)…

and Monkee aka Cowboy (B. I’m a Believer)…

‘Monkee’ is settling really well into his new home, it’s just 5 weeks since he left us for Florida and he’s had a name change to ‘Cowboy’ since Mike and Renea already have a ‘Monkee’…no really, they do…a sable/white bitch by the name of Companions Daydream Believer, would you believe?! Lol Great minds think alike and all that ;) Cowboy is forever sitting watching the cattle on the ranch so he’s kinda chosen his own new name; he’s growing up into a really handsome young man.

Check out all those lovely ‘batfink’ ears!! Now…why has mine not got ears like that?!!

A weekend in Dundee

Friday evening we headed up to Dundee for a weekend of flyball,; two one day tournaments so lots of running! Paul, Alison and I and 12 dogs packed into the van with our tent and all our gear! We left Preston at around 6.10pm and arrived at Caird Park around 9.45pm so the journey wasn’t too bad but of course it was dark by the time we arrived so we had to put the tent up using the van headlights! Lol It didn’t take too long thankfully. Drew arrived just before 2am since he’d been working late so it was a late night but thankfully we weren’t on first thing and had the chance for a lie-in in the morning. Caird Park is a great venue, handy for everything with really nice toilet/shower facilities too, always a bonus in my book!

We were ring partying division 3 which unfortunately was spoiled by a very rude and unpleasant handler from one of the Scottish teams. Everybody knows flyball can get very competitive and heated at times and can bring out the ugly side in some people but this is something I’ve never experienced north of the border before so was a bit of a shock. Having been told to ‘get a life’ for upholding a handler fault, followed by a rant and petty point scoring…one has to wonder who it is exactly who’s in need of a life?? Sad isn’t it when people get so wound up about something that’s *supposed to be fun!* With more and more teams now competing, the Scottish shows do seem to have lost some of their laid back and relaxed charm which is the price of progress I guess but a shame nonetheless.

We were running completely thrown together teams and knew we were going to get stuffed in both divisions since we were missing two first team dogs in the form of Bailey and Dottie so we were just using the weekend as a training exercise. The Pawz consisted of Mac, Pip, Teal and Ethan and they all actually ran quite well. Mac has been a bit off colour lately so I thought he might benefit from the 8” jumps and he was running around the 4.6 mark so better than last weekend but still not what he should be running. Drew did a great job of getting to grips with running him and getting some really good starts since it’s a bit like wrestling an octopus keeping him still on the start! Lol Pip ran well, she likes running behind her daddy and kept trying to bite his bum in the line up! lol. Teal stayed motivated for most of the weekend with just momentary lapses in concentration which was quite a relief since she was running in a 4 dog team! Ethan had moments of brilliance and moments of his usual clown self. It is frustrating that he does the opposite turn in each lane since this does really affect his times in the blue lane (where he’s turning against his natural left turn and turning right instead).

The Racers was a rather odd line up of Dylan, Faith, Lexie and Drake so was a bit of a family affair (Lex with her son and daughter) with the cocker interloper. I started off running Drake but then swapped with Drew and took over Lexie since she really does need that high pitched scream to get her back faster, I was really pleased with how she ran actually and she was back running 4.6s. In fact that team ran really well and although we got stuffed in div one, they did manage a time of 18.30 which, considering we only ran 18.15 last weekend with Bailey, is pretty impressive! It makes me much more confident in the 17.80 we’ve submitted for the champs since Bailey is easily a good half second faster than Drake. Faith ran really well, especially since she was running 12” all day but again we have the same issue we have with Ethan where she’s swapping sides depending on the lane, only she’s the opposite to him so she runs better in the blue lane where she’s doing her natural right turn. What is doubly frustrating about this is that she didn’t do it last season, it’s only since she’s come back from having pups that she’s started this and we’re really struggling to stop it!

So, something to think about for the Champs next weekend, not sure what teams we’ll run yet but I’m keeping everything crossed that Dottie will be sound and we’ll have 10 dogs to run at least!

Anyhow…here’s some pics from the weekend taken at Camperdown Park on the Sunday…what a fantastic venue for flyball…check out all that open space for running dogs in!

'The Pawz'...

The handsome Spark...dozing in his crate...

The handsome Dylan...

Maisie and mouse...having a whale of a time!!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

mid week training and what to try next??

So, we decided to do some training last night since we’re having to have a fairly substantial re-shuffle for Dundee this weekend. Bailey isn’t coming, Mac is off form and Dottie is still lame, we will just have 8 dogs. We took the kit down to the playing fields where we had a bit more room so we could set up 6 hurdles to help teach Faith to hurdle fast and accurately over 13”. For some reason, she runs fine over 12” but struggles with 13”…she did get 3 measures at 12” but when I went for her final one at 30 months they would only give her 13”…I really wish I’d held out and got another measure but I needed to apply for her height card before we went to Belgium so she’s stuck with it now. She is obviously smaller than Dottie and Lexie though who both also measure 13”…hey ho, I digress...

We lined up Ethan, Lexie and lastly Faith and sent them for run backs quickly one after the other to get her to power through over all 6 hurdles, this seemed to help and she was running much better than she has over 13” before but still not quite there. We than practiced Faith in on Dylan, Lexie in on Faith and Ethan in on Lexie to see how that worked and it was ok.

We then got the slant board out and did some runs with Pip and Teal over 9” and both were doing some lovely box turns…Teal is SO fast with that board in, we’re going to work on reinforcing this over winter.

Then we got Drake out and I ran him behind Pip…well…he had spent the last hour in the van whining because he thought it should be his turn and buggar me…he absolutely flew! We popped the jumps up to 12” and he was still running around the 4.5sec mark so we’ve decided to try him in the Racers at the weekend instead of Ethan, if he runs like that (which he probably won’t!) he deserves to be in that team anyway but it will also give Fi her 12” jumps. I’d really like to know how to get the cockers performing they way they do in training, in competition?? I can only conclude it is a confidence issue, cockers do tend to be sensitive little souls but how to deal with it? Answers on a postcard please!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

flyball and fun down on the wirral...

Glad to be back competing after 2 weekends off and I dashed home from work to finish the last bit of packing and get the caravan hooked up and away for the weekend on the Wirral at Eastham Country Park in Bromborough, one of my favourite venues hosted by one of my favourite teams! The UK agility competitors amongst you will know this as the venue for Wirral agility show.

My excitement was tinged rather with sadness as I said goodbye to Dora just before we left. After several weeks of deliberating and changing my mind one way and then the other I finally decided to let her go. I will really miss her she’s such a little sweetheart but I just can’t justify keeping her. I already have a midget collie with her mother Kitten and I really don’t need another, sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t keep them all. She’s gone to a lovely home where she will be an only dog and get to go to obedience classes each week and go out running with her new owner and just be a much loved and spoiled family pet. This will suit Dora down to the ground!

I now just need to find the right home for her sister Lola who was returned to me last month, she’s a much feistier character all together!

So off we went down to the Wirral, the 10 dogs I had competing (7 open and 3 starters) plus Spark, Kitten, naughty Lola and the two pups…15 in total, just another normal flyball weekend! We didn’t get away ‘til quite late with having to sort Dora out first but at least everyone got a good blast round the garden before we left! I went and had tea with Paul and Alison after a quick set up and we had a few (ahem) cheeky drinks before Drew arrived straight from work at around 11pm bless him…it’s quite a drive from Scarborough! When we (and a number of our old Red Rose team mates) carried on drinking into the early hours, we had a good laugh and enjoyed catching up but were all rather tired the following morning! Conrad, Jackie and Amy didn’t arrive ‘til Saturday morning and quickly set about putting up their NEW TENT…hahaha…we have converted them at last!!

Saturday was quite a busy day with the ‘Cubz’ in starters followed by the ‘Pawz’ running in Division 4 and then me judging and the team ring partying in Div 3…not much time to relax! Katherine joined us in starters with her lovely (but incredibly soppy) rescue pointer Jasper, all the dogs ran really well and they came 4th. The Pawz were rather outclassed in Div 4 and the cockers decided to play silly beggars with Drake running out in the warm up for the first race resulting in me running Teal who ran her little socks off in the first two races and then refused to run in the 3rd??? Teal out, Drake in…he ran like a little star and I kept him in all day and didn’t run Teal again, I really enjoyed running him actually, he was really up for it. I think they came 5th out of 6 which is where they were seeded but they didn’t even break the 20 sec barrier all day. Amy ran Faith start dog which was her first experience of running a dog in open and she’d really got the hang of it by the afternoon but Faith was on another planet again and just kept looking over at the other lane as she was running in. I think we’ll swap her into a later position and see if that focuses her any better? That dog is infuriating! Ethan was the star of the team and ran consistent 4.8’s all day…we’re starting to see a bit more focus from him…finally!

Division Three was quite a tightly contested 7 team division that seemed to take forever to complete, lots of false starts and 5 leggers!! I don’t know what I’ve done wrong in a former life but I’ve had 7 team divs to judge at the last few shows we’ve been too and find myself losing the will to live by the end of it! lol We had some good banter though and the PODS earned a well deserved win and Amy did a great job line scribing for the first time, I have to mention my team and the Kiddy Monsters who made for a very competent and patient ring party!

Saturday evening and I took a few of the dogs out only to discover…arghhhh…Dottie was lame on her rear left (wah!!); after a quick ‘once over’ from Katherine it was decided she’d just tweaked a muscle in that leg so she got a rimadyl and was allowed to sleep in the caravan in the hope she’d be ok to run the following day. We finished the day with our usual Eastham treat…a lush Chinese banquet from the takeaway across the road!! (oops…diet can start again on Monday! lol)

Gemma and Bailey arrived on Sunday morning, all fit and raring to go after his staples came out this week. Sunday was a much quieter day with us only having the ‘Racers’ running in division 2 so we all had a lovely lie in (at flyball…that’s virtually unheard of!). Paul and I helped the Doghouse team who had just come over for the day and were a little short staffed but this meant I got to watch Echo run; Echo is a Quillan-Lexie daughter just making her open debut, she was fabby (typical Lexie baby!).

Dottie seemed much better in the morning so she went on the team sheet but was nearly 0.5sec of her normal times and completely lame after the morning’s racing so we pulled her. Mac was also way off his usual times and I’m not entirely sure why? Firstly he was running 3rd dog and he does usually run a bit slower when he’s not going start but the swelling on his dew claw still seems to be bothering him too. Once the season is over I’m going to have him castrated and ask the vet to remove his front dew claws too. I’m wondering if this swelling is caused by the papilloma virus that caused the wart on his pad, removed a few weeks ago? Annoyingly this meant that, once again, we couldn’t run our fastest combination of dogs and although we ran a new seed time of 18.17 it’s nowhere near what we should be running. I am going to rest Dottie at Dundee this weekend and fingers crossed she’ll be ‘match fit’ for the Champs in 2 weeks time where we’re entered in Div 3 on a submitted time of 17.80. Both Dylan and Bailey were both back on top form running consistent sub 4.2 times and Lexie was back running 4.6’s now I’m handling her again (mummy’s girl!!) so all we need to do is get Dottie back and sort our bloody passing out!! Lol We’re going to get stuffed at Dundee as we have no Bailey or Dottie so are going to try some different combinations…I’m even contemplating running Ethan in the Racers (gasp!) since he was running consistent 4.8’s at the weekend. I just wish he and Faith could focus fully on their flyball then we’d really see what they can both do! I’m also contemplating running Squirrel in the Pawz too (bigger gasp!) so this weekend is going to be very much an experiment!