Monday, 29 November 2010

November...in a nutshell...

Crikey moses, another month without a blog update and such a lot has happened in that time too!

Where do we start? Well the two pups (Flint the ‘lurcher’ and Aero ) are growing fast and have become best of friends already. Aero is very much like his father Mac in a lot of ways but his ear carriage isn’t one of them! Think we’re definitely going to have pricked ears on this young fella but at the moment they’re a little out of control! Although as you can see, he is in good company with this! lol



Beginning of November saw us heading up North to the Scottish Border Collie Club show; we usually go for the weekend each year doing the Working and Pastoral Breeds of Scotland show the day before and staying overnight somewhere but this year we could only do one day as I had no-one to look after the dogs at home. I had entered 8 dogs (!!) but since Paul had taken Jack (Bryning the Jean Genie) after I’d entered the show he was taking him so Gemma and I just had the two pups, Viva and Vogue in Minor Puppy Bitch, Faith in Limit, Dottie in Open and the 3 boys, Aston in Puppy (his last puppy class), Fynn in Yearling and Spark in Limit. It was going to be a busy day with the dog and bitch rings running simultaneously. We were a bit rushed with the girls in first as the judging started with bitches contrary to what the schedule had stated, they hadn’t travelled very well and needed cleaning up on arrival and Gemma was still out in the carpark getting the other dogs sorted when the class started so I had to grab my friend Pat to take Viva and I took Vogue…the class was HUGE and the ring was TINY so the class ended up being split into 3 groups. Had I known this in advance I would have handled each of my girls separately! As it happened they were both very naughty on the move and neither got placed. Having two in the same class is never a good idea and I had never intended to keep both these girls, just really struggled choosing between them! As fate would have it a friend of Pat’s had been watching and was really rather taken with Vogue and looking for another pup to campaign having recently lost his old girl so…problem solved; Vogue went home with Terry and I kept Viva. Their brothers, Jack and Gene, faired rather better with Paul and Pat in the Minor Puppy Dog class with a 3rd and 4th respectively. Next in was Aston in Puppy Dog, in hindsight I wished I’d put him in Junior as he has grown into a really big lad already and towered over the other puppies! He took a bit of time to settle on the move and the small ring isnt’ best suited to his long stride but if I just move out and don’t look at him he moves out much better, if I make eye contact he tends to crab round to keep looking at me! On the whole he went well and he’s certainly starting to relax a lot more in the ring; he came 3rd again (as he had at NWBCC) so I was pleased with that. If I can get some more weight and coat on him he should do well in the older classes but for the time being I think he needs some time out of the ring to mature. Next in was Fynn, he is such a fidget bum! He wasn’t placed and definitely needs some more ring practice but he did move out nicely when he was concentrating. Faith was unplaced in Limit Bitch, she was a very giddy kipper moving out with the others…she finds showing far too exciting! Spark went really nicely in Limit Dog and won his class which I was super pleased about. He won his class (Junior) the last time he was out under this judge so it was nice to see that she still thought highly of him now he’s a bit more grown up and in with the ‘big boys’. Dottie went beautifully (as always) in Open Bitch and placed 4th in very good company which was really nice too :o). All class judging and the bitch challenge completed and it was time for the dog challenge so Spark and I headed back into the ring with all the other class winners, some really nice dogs in the challenge line up and all a very similar type so I had a feeling it was going to be a close call, after a few more circuits of the ring and a closer examination of each exhibit I was absolutely over the moon when the judge called Spark out for the Challenge Certificate! What a fab end to our showing year which started out with his Reserve CC at Crufts back in March. We’ve just got LKA left on 12th December, I only have Spark entered although Vogue will be there with her new owner too :o)

That same weekend saw Sally and Digger (Bryning the Golden Ticket) competing in the KC Starters Cup Final at Discover Dogs which was taking place at Earls Court; a real nerve racker with busy bustling halls and big crowds. The pair managed to hold their nerves and a double clear in the jumping and agility saw them coming away with a very creditable 3rd place :o)



11th November, Armistice Day, saw Teal delivering her 2nd litter of puppies and a first for our young liver roan cocker boy Travis. 6 beautiful healthy puppies…2 blue roan and tan boys, a blue roan boy, a lemon roan boy, a lemon roan bitch and a blue roan bitch. I say ‘roan’ at the moment but I believe a few of them may well stay open marked; although this is the less common, recessive pattern in cockers, the open marked gene is present in both Teal and Travis’s lines and at the moment there isn’t a lot of roaning going on! There are pics and details of this litter HERE with updated photos to follow soon.

babies at 18 days old...


Last Saturday (20th) I took Tammy and Dottie to be scanned and both were confirmed in whelp, due the week running up to Christmas…should be fun! We also had several of the young flyball team dogs rabies vaccinated in preparation for travelling to the European Championships in Germany next year, including Travis, Tarka, Maisie, Pixie, and Tiger. Fingers crossed they all get positive titre test results in a couple of weeks time. We went down to the playing fields and did some training in the afternoon, I was particularly impressed with Fynn and Jovi who both seemed to have moved up a gear, more training required me thinks! On the Sunday we travelled over to Gap Farm near Doncaster for our last flyball comp of the year. Fergus (Bryning Virage) and Pixie (Bryning Russian Doll) were due to make their starters debuts having turned one earlier this month but it became apparent that Pixie wasn’t quite ready so we put her away until she is. Hopefully she will be ready for the starters comp at the end of January. We borrowed Eabha (Bryning Prime Time) from Rotherham and ran Travis, Tarka, Fergus, Eabha and Spark…with the exception of Travis an all Bryning bred team of dogs :o) I was pleased with the progress they all made, Spark managed to run with a new boxloader (he is funny about who is boxloading!) and Fergus made a very promising start, especially considering how little training he has done so far. I was also very pleased with both Jovi and Maisie who ran on the top team for the first time. This was only Maisie’s second ever open tournament and she was paw perfect bless her. Jo ran much better than she has been and even remembered how to run in the red lane, much to my relief as she also picked up her flyball dog certificate so there’s no going back into starters now! Several of the dogs, including Jovi, need to do some serious box work over winter though, far too many ball fumbles costing us races :o( I also picked up Squirrel’s flyball dog certificate and Pip finally picked up her Ice Blue Moon award :o) We went to look at a new indoor training venue earlier in the week, fingers crossed that turns out ok.

I think that’s about it for now!

Monday, 25 October 2010

That doesn't look much like a collie?!

So, last weekend also saw us extend our ‘little’ canine family!
I have always fancied a scruffy little lurcher and set about looking for one early in 2009 but somehow ended up seeing and falling in love with Maisie, my scruffy little working beardie who is built rather like a lurcher under all that coat! I don’t regret having her for a moment because I love her to bits and she’s proving to be such a lovely little companion and flyball dog but 18 months later and not looking for another dog at all along came Flint! Just 13 weeks old and handed into rescue, he was needing a new home and was just so adorable I really couldn’t say no! The rescue were told he is a whippet – saluki cross but after chatting online to a very knowledgeable friend (who knows just about all there is to know about colour genetics in all the different breeds!) we concluded that he cannot be a first generation cross since he is blue which is a recessive colour not present in salukis (as far as anyone knows) so I am rather hoping he is more whippet and that we don’t have anything else bigger in there (such as greyhound or deerhound!) since I don’t have room in the van for anything huge but he does look like he's going to be quite a big dog! lol The best guess on his colouring his blue sable with brindle points, whatever it is, it is very unusual and attractive and I love his soft grey eyes so typical in blue coloured dogs.






So…for the time being little Flint is just enjoying being a puppy, he’s happy and outgoing, obedient and biddable and loves to play with all manner of toys so I’m kinda hoping he will take to flyball when he’s a little older. If he doesn’t I don’t mind…he can be a lazy lay around sofa dog…I already have a couple of those ;o)

There is some disagreement on whether he is technically a ‘lurcher’ since (we believe) he is all sighthound cross but I have found plenty of references to other such similar crosses and this is the term I’m going to use to refer to him as. All lurchers are crossbreeds of one kind or another so there is no definitive description or breed standard.

This weekend he came to Drax with us for his first flyball outing, I was really pleased with him, he took it all in his stride and wasn’t at all fazed by any of the noise or activity but enjoyed meeting lots of new dogs and people. We also picked up his fancy new whippet collar, made to measure for him by Helen Ford from 'Tessie Leads, Collars and Harnesses', it is perfect! Will get a photo of him wearing it at some point no doubt!

North West Border Collie

So, following the flyball last Saturday we were up early Sunday morning to get the boys bathed for the show, I was just taking Aston, Ethan and Spark. Aston is really out of coat at the moment and looking a real lanky teenager but there’s no denying he has a nice outline and moves well so I decided to take him along anyway, he needs the ring practice! I don’t bring Ethan out much as he really doesn’t enjoy the showring but as this judge had liked him as a puppy I thought I might as well take him along.

I was also picking up Rachel and Pixie on the way. Pixie has never been to a show before but she has shaped up quite nicely and since this one was local I thought we might as well take her along and see how she did, I didn’t enter any more girls because, to be perfectly honest, I’ve shown under this judge before and knew what to expect. I was glad I hadn’t bothered…Pixie went quite well considering but didn’t get placed but the places throughout the classes largely went to the usual ‘pretty’ classically marked, up and tipped ears, black/whites that I expected….irrespective of much else. I was actually quite pleased with Pixie considering I don’t have much to do with her and she’s had no training and she did draw a lot of nice comments from other folk too.

Aston…hmmm…well, we seem to have taken a bit of a backward step in the confidence stakes and he was a bit tense being stacked but recovered quickly enough when the food came out and I talked to him to get him using his ears; he didn’t move very well though…well…he covered the ground fine…he has a very long easy stride but he was so focused on me that he kept trying to make eye contact on the move and as a result was crabbing round me…silly sod! He moved out and back better in the shortlist when I consciously didn’t look at him and avoided eye contact and was rewarded with a 3rd place out of the 9 entered and I was quite pleased with that considering. At least he has his 2011 Crufts qualifier now.

Ethan actually went quite well in Limit dog but this was a big strong class and although he made the shortlist he wasn’t placed. Here’s a lovely head shot that one of my puppy owners (Andy Milner) took of him though…cutie pie!


Spark was only entered in the colour class and this was (yet again) and good sized strong class with 7 entries…6 blue/whites and Spark! I do wonder why the breed clubs often specifiy ‘any other colour except black/white and tri’ as it actually seems to me that tricolour is relatively scarce these days compared to blue! Anyway, 3 of the blues were Viggo sons and another was actually a Spark son! :o) Spark won the class and his son came 3rd but I don’t actually think he moved out very well…not compared to his usual easy fluent movement. I don’t know whether this was the sandy riding school surface or being indoors (although he never usually bothers about such things) or whether there’s something just not quite right with him since his bad collision with Monty a few weeks back. I’m going to see whether Kathryn (chiropracter) will have a look at him this weekend.

Anyway, we had a nice day catching up with folk, Yvonne came over to watch with Flurrie (Spark x Mercy daughter) here she is with her daddy…


And here’s Spark and Pixie together…half brother and sister…


Next breed show is Scottish Border Collie Club on the 7th November. I usually make a weekend of it and do Working and Pastoral Breeds of Scotland the day before and stay overnight but my mum is away the previous week and doesn’t get home ‘til the Sunday so no-one to look after the doggies staying home :o(

We’re off over to Drax this Sunday for Rotherham Rockets flyball tournament which is going to be a rather busy one! Racing starts at 8am…10 divisions split over two rings, we’re running in 3 and I’m judging another…should be fun! I just need to figure out which dogs we’re running where since both Maisie and Squirrel are in season so won’t be running :o(

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A very positive start!

So the day finally arrived and we headed off down to Newark for the starters tournament as part of the Robin Hood Country Game Fair. It was a pretty early start as I had to go and pick Hannah and Charlie up first and it was still dark when we hit the road. Little
aisie
had to stay home since she came in season straight after making her open debut at Doncaster…typical! I’m actually not complaining as this is her first season and at 18 months old I was starting to get a bit worried she was never going to have one! I took Jovi in her place, she is still technically a starter dog (not got her 200 points yet) and after last weeks performance at Doncaster she needed the practice! I also got a last minute request from Kristian from High Flyers to see whether we had any spares for their Intermediate team since Lola had also come in season and couldn’t run. Since Gemma was coming anyway and Fynn is also still technically eligible for starters (no points on yet); it seemed fitting that he should take his sisters place in ‘Highly Likely’ so that meant we had dogs in every division between us!

We were running two starter teams, one in each division and first up were ‘The Cock Ups’ which was a collaborative team between Demon Dogz, Cambridgeshire Canines and Ready2Fly that consisted entirely of cocker spaniels, 3 from my Rupert x Maizy litter – Charlie, Tarka and Tally, their half brother Travis and their Auntie Radley so something of a family affair! lol I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to pan out as all 5 dogs have shown a lot of promise but spaniels are notoriously unpredictable! For the 3 babies this was only their second outing but still the first time all 5 dogs had run together. We were very unlucky to lose the first race, entirely on ball fumbles (new box for most of the dogs)…the best out of 3 format didn’t allow for such mistakes, this cost the team first place but they did go on to win the other 5 races with relative ease and ran the fastest time of any starter team across both divisions of 19.93 and that was with wide changeovers too so I was pleased as punch with them all!

Too much to ask that they all look at the camera together! Lol


Here’s a video of all the ‘Brynings’ (so Travis is out)
Charlie (Bryning Brock) – Tally (Bryning Totally Trouble) – Radley (Bryning Truly Radley Deeply) and Tarka (Bryning Riverine)


And here’s all the siblings (so Radley out)
Travis (Raezhaven Bryce at Bryning) - Charlie (Bryning Brock) – Tally (Bryning Totally Trouble) and Tarka (Bryning Riverine)


The other team we ran, Demon K9s was also a collaboration of Demonz (Spark and Jovi) Cambs (Spencer) and Ready2Fly (Jessy) along with a Linnott dog too in the form of Beamer :o)
Gemma boxloaded for this team in the morning and Spark ran really well, running every leg in the morning, I was really pleased with all the distractions of a busy public show. This team ran really well together and remained unbeaten all day to romp home with 1st place although I had to pull Spark and run Jovi in the afternoon once Gemma had left (and he didn’t know the replacement boxloader…mummy’s boy!!)

I think Wendy (Beamers owner) got some video of this lot but I’m afraid I don’t have it yet.

Huge congratulations to the Alpha Dogz for organising the event, all in all a good day and well worth the early start and long drive but I got home just after 9pm and could hardly walk when I got out of the van…trapped sciatic nerve…agony!! I sorted the dogs and pretty much went straight to bed but had to be up at 6am to bath dogs for North West Border Collie Champ show the following day!

Yet again 8 weeks seems to have flown by...

So, now 8 weeks old I FINALLY decided which Dazzle puppy is staying and it’s not the one I thought it would be from the beginning but I just can’t get past this little man’s ‘look at me’ attitude and bizarrely, I think he’s the one that looks the most like daddy!

So here he is… Aero aka Bryning Aero D’namic…


The others have also all been chosen, Blue and Yiria are both going abroad and their new owners were as keen and excited about this combination as I am so leapt at the chance of having one. Ripple has already left, he is staying in the UK and is destined for flyball and Revel has headed over to the Isle of Man to join a growing little band of Brynings out on the island where he will hopefully do a bit of everything at Ramsey Dog Training Club.

Blue – Bryning Blue Smartie


Yiria – Bryning Wispa’Inn Yiria


Ripple – Bryning Chocolate Ripple


Revel – Bryning Revels in Chocolate


It is a little bemusing that a couple of interested parties in the UK have been funny about the fact they are from a merle to merle mating, despite the fact they are not double merles and are therefore genetically the same as any other puppy born from a non merle mating (as I explained in a detailed posting on here when they were born) but you can only tell people the facts I guess and to be honest, I feel that these pups are far too good to be going to people that don’t fully understand or appreciate what they’re getting so there’s no way I’m going to try and convince someone otherwise. People looking to import a puppy are usually very keen and intelligent breed enthusiasts that are already very knowledgeable and are prepared to do their research and ask questions about things they don’t fully understand which is one of the reasons I always enjoy dealing with prospective puppy owners from overseas. I am so happy with all the homes these pups are going to and I wish their owners every success with what have been, and I'm sure will continue to be, a very special litter indeed :o)

Flyball Update (a bit long and boring...sorry!)

Gawd…I really am sh*t at this blogging lark aren’t I?!! I just seem to be really struggling to find the time to sit down and update about things in a timely manner and by the time I do I’ve forgotten half of it (old age creeping in!)

So a (relatively) quick flyball update, I've read this back and it does sound like a fair old moan so sorry about that but sometimes you just gotta get these things off your chest ;o)

Norfolk Park
I don’t entirely remember what happened here apart from it being one of those ‘if only’ weekends. The Pawz ran on Saturday without me (but with Ethan and Dottie) and ran the fastest time of the division in the morning (20.45) but fell apart in the afternoon to end up 4th. We ran a slightly different line up as the Dyno Demonz replacing Lexie with Mac since she wasn’t 100% sound…not entirely sure that worked as that suddenly put the whole team over full height but they also ran the fastest time in a tight 7 team division (18.15) but managed to come 2nd (story of our lives lol). The Racers also struggled in a closely fought division 4 and came 3rd (19.55), all in all it wasn’t an overly successful weekend of racing but good company as usual made up for it.

Redcar
This weekend was going to be a challenge from the outset since there was only Gem, myself and Rach travelling up with ALL our team dogs, apart from the two we have on loan from Tyne (River and Nell) who were going to be there with Hazell of course but as the week wore on and my van still wasn’t back from the body shop (remember the ‘door falling off’ incident?) I started to get a little worried about how we were going to fit 3 people, 15 dogs and camping gear in my little courtesy Kangoo! As it happened the guys at Trident Body Shop saved the day and loaned us a Renault Trafic for the weekend…phew! It was a mad dash on Friday evening to get it all caged out with folding crates and get everything packed so we could get up to Redcar where, thankfully, Hazell had already put up a tent for us. We had a good weekend, it stayed mostly dry but OMG…it was bitterly cold! I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in a tent and that was sharing a double airbed with Gem (who had forgotten hers!) with a sleeping bag and double duvet, it was freezing! I must confess, we did really struggle being so short of people and seemed to spend the whole team running to and from the ring. We got lots of help from our Tyne friends (including cooked breakfast both days!) and lots of other lovely flyballers too.

The Racers were just outclassed in Div 3 and came 5th despite running a respectable 19.38…this team was possibly the hardest to run because Hazell was running Nell in this team and Meg in the other ring at the same time and, despite assurances from the Tournament Organiser that the racing would wait for her, the divisional judge and head judge ignored this and insisted we run without her, forcing us to hastily draft in an Ethan runner in the form of Nigel who actually did a great job under the circumstances. Given there was only 3 divisions running in any ring over the day so we weren't pushed for time at all, I have to say I was very disappointed by how rude and unhelpful the head judge was with us when we explained the situation (a nonchalant shoulder shrug accompanying a most insincere "well that’s unfortunate"), really not needed at all and very unprofessional…if I thought it would achieve anything I would put in a complaint but with the way things currently stand within the BFA I’d be wasting my time and money
and yes…I am posting this on a public website but, contrary to current BFA committee beliefs, BFA members ARE allowed to have and express their own opinions, in common with every other citizen of the UK and are not there to be ‘shut up’ every time they question something :o( (I think I can hear the daggers being sharpened! lol)

The Pawz faired much better in Division 8 which they won with relative ease running a fastest time of 21.51 despite Pip having a funny ‘moment’ in one race where she just wouldn’t run and we had to rely on Fynn instead. She couldn’t take her eyes of the dog in the other lane and once at the box she was running out and trying to get as far away from it as she could even though it was taking no notice of her. I can only think this dog reminded her of the one that attacked her a couple of months back at Eastham and put a hole through her lip as it was also a black/white spaniel x collie, and that she was scared it was going to happen again, bless her! It’s very, VERY unlike Pip to run out or be nervous of anything and she ran fine in the next race but it just goes to show that such incidents can have lasting affects on the most confident and reliable of dogs so I wish people would be a bit more considerate about running dogs they know can be 'likely' :o(

I really don’t know what was wrong with the Demonz on Sunday but they ran really badly in div 1, 18.53 and 5th place…just not on form at all…ho hum! We also had a starter team entered on Sunday which included Travis and Maisie along with Spark and Tarka making their debuts joined by Mouse and Fly from Tyne. I didn’t run Spark much because it was another ‘handlers in both rings chaos’ kind of a division and I need to be calm and focused on him but he did run a couple of legs and did great…SO pleased with him :o) Tarka also surprised me by being really rather good! She absolutely knew what she was doing and wasn’t at all distracted by all the other dogs and people…she was chased up the lane by Maisie a couple of times (BAD beardie!) but got her ball on the re-send…good girlie. We had a nice early finish and got home in time for tea :o)

Doncaster
We headed over to the Northern Racing College at Doncaster for the first of the indoor winter shows, this is run on grass turf laid over a peat/sand sort of surface in a large indoor riding arena. We haven’t done this show for a couple of years, it’s quite a long way for us in winter and the days often start very early and finish really late. This day was no exception with an 8.30am start time but fortunately we didn’t need to be there ‘til 10am and Hazell kindly put our paperwork in for us (and no doubt did a better job than me at our last couple of shows where I’ve totally screwed up the team sheets…totally brain dead at that time of a morning! lol) There was just the 5 of us (and Hazell) so we relied very much on help from our friends at Tyne, Brigg and Roseberry especially since we had two teams running in division 3! With the way the seed times had panned out I ended up having to mix the teams up to try and ensure we would be running teams that would run around the seed times we were in on. The Dyno Demonz consisted of Dylan, Faith, River and Squirrel; Racers were Mac, Lexie, Dottie and Nell and Pawz were Pip, Fly, Jovi, Ethan and Maisie (who was making her open debut…exactly 18 months old on the day!). I was quite pleased that, despite getting nowhere near their seed times and the fact we had to run in and out the ring swapping one team for another, both teams ran consistently and achieved a 1st and 3rd place :o) The Pawz really struggled…Jovi had a total meltdown and couldn’t run in the red lane meaning we HAD to run Maisie….at the same time as Ethan…both of which have to run last…buggar! lol I ended up hiding behind the judges table with Maisie and then sending her from the side once Ethan was out. Not ideal for the little dogs debut but I was seriously impressed that she managed to come in at such a tight angle, so close to the line and find her way up to the box and back without running out. This is the first time she’s ever run without netting against another lane and the first time she’s ever run her own height (12”) so I was very pleased with her. We didn’t leave ‘til gone 8pm so it had been a 12 hour day for most people, with all the running in the middle and 2 hours of driving at either end it is rather knackering! I was soooooo tired when I got home and headed straight for the shower, the colour of the water running off my hair was black! Amazing how filthy you can get without even realizing it, I guess my dogs coats must all have been the same too!

This weekend we just have a starters competition over at Newark showground, god help us but we thought it would be *nice* to run all the cockers together so we have one team (The Cock Ups) consisting of Travis and Tarka running with her littermates Tally (Cambridgeshire) and Charlie (Ready2Fly) and Auntie Radley too. Maisie and Spark are running in a mixed team with Beamer (Linnotts), Jessy (Ready2Fly), Spencer (Cambidgeshire) with Jovi coming along as a spare (although I think she could do with the practice after last weekend’s performance!)

Flyball Update (a bit long and boring...sorry!)

Gawd…I really am sh*t at this blogging lark aren’t I?!! I just seem to be really struggling to find the time to sit down and update about things in a timely manner and by the time I do I’ve forgotten half of it (old age creeping in!)

So a (relatively) quick flyball update

Norfolk ParkI don’t entirely remember what happened here apart from it being one of those ‘if only’ weekends. The Pawz ran on Saturday without me (but with Ethan and Dottie) and ran the fastest time of the division in the morning (20.45) but fell apart in the afternoon to end up 4th. We ran a slightly different line up as the Dyno Demonz replacing Lexie with Mac since she wasn’t 100% sound…not entirely sure that worked as that suddenly put the whole team over full height but they also ran the fastest time in a tight 7 team division (18.15) but managed to come 2nd (story of our lives lol). The Racers also struggled in a closely fought division 4 and came 3rd (19.55), all in all it wasn’t an overly successful weekend of racing but good company as usual made up for it.

RedcarThis weekend was going to be a challenge from the outset since there was only Gem, myself and Rach travelling up with ALL our team dogs, apart from the two we have on loan from Tyne (River and Nell) who were going to be there with Hazell of course but as the week wore on and my van still wasn’t back from the body shop (remember the ‘door falling off’ incident?) I started to get a little worried about how we were going to fit 3 people, 15 dogs and camping gear in my little courtesy Kangoo! As it happened the guys at Trident Body Shop saved the day and loaned us a Renault Trafic for the weekend…phew! It was a mad dash on Friday evening to get it all caged out with folding crates and get everything packed so we could get up to Redcar where, thankfully, Hazell had already put up a tent for us. We had a good weekend, it stayed mostly dry but OMG…it was bitterly cold! I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in a tent and that was sharing a double airbed with Gem (who had forgotten hers!) with a sleeping bag and double duvet, it was freezing! I must confess, we did really struggle being so short of people and seemed to spend the whole team running to and from the ring. We got lots of help from our Tyne friends (including cooked breakfast both days!) and lots of other lovely flyballers too.

The Racers were just outclassed in Div 3 and came 5th despite running a respectable 19.38…this team was possibly the hardest to run because Hazell was running Nell in this team and Meg in the other ring at the same time and, despite assurances from the Tournament Organiser that the racing would wait for her, the divisional judge and head judge ignored this and insisted we run without her, forcing us to hastily draft in an Ethan runner in the form of Nigel who actually did a great job under the circumstances. I have to say I was very disappointed by how rude and arrogant the head judge was with us when we explained the situation (a nonchalant shoulder shrug followed by the most insincere uttering ‘oh well that’s unfortunate…start the racing’), really not needed at all and very unprofessional…if I thought it would achieve anything I would put in a complaint but with the way things currently stand within the BFA I’d be wasting my time and money (and yes….I am posting this on a public website but, contrary to current BFA committee beliefs, BFA members ARE allowed to have and express their own opinions, in common with every other citizen of the UK and are not there to be ‘shut up’ every time they question something)

The Pawz faired much better in Division 8 which they won with relative ease running a fastest time of 21.51 despite Pip having a funny ‘moment’ in one race where she just wouldn’t run and we had to rely on Fynn instead. She couldn’t take her eyes of the dog in the other lane and once at the box she was running out and trying to get as far away from it as she could even though it was taking no notice of her. I can only think this dog reminded her of the one that attacked her a couple of months back at Eastham and put a hole through her lip as it was also a black/white spaniel x collie, and that she was scared it was going to happen again, bless her! It’s very, VERY unlike Pip to run out or be nervous of anything and she ran fine in the next race but it just goes to show that such incidents can have lasting affects on the most confident and reliable of dogs :o(

I really don’t know what was wrong with the Demonz on Sunday but they ran really badly in div 1, 18.53 and 5th place…just not on form at all…ho hum! We also had a starter team entered on Sunday which included Travis and Maisie along with Spark and Tarka making their debuts joined by Mouse and Fly from Tyne. I didn’t run Spark much because it was another ‘handlers in both rings chaos’ kind of a division and I need to be calm and focused on him but he did run a couple of legs and did great…SO pleased with him :o) Tarka also surprised me by being really rather good! She absolutely knew what she was doing and wasn’t at all distracted by all the other dogs and people…she was chased up the lane by Maisie a couple of times (BAD beardie!) but got her ball on the re-send…good girlie. We had a nice early finish and got home in time for tea :o)

Doncaster
We headed over to the Northern Racing College at Doncaster for the first of the indoor winter shows, this is run on grass turf laid over a peat/sand sort of surface in a large indoor riding arena. We haven’t done this show for a couple of years, it’s quite a long way for us in winter and the days often start very early and finish really late. This day was no exception with an 8.30am start time but fortunately we didn’t need to be there ‘til 10am and Hazell kindly put our paperwork in for us (and no doubt did a better job than me at our last couple of shows where I’ve totally screwed up the team sheets…totally brain dead at that time of a morning! lol) There was just the 5 of us (and Hazell) so we relied very much on help from our friends at Tyne, Brigg and Roseberry especially since we had two teams running in division 3! With the way the seed times had panned out I ended up having to mix the teams up to try and ensure we would be running teams that would run around the seed times we were in on. The Dyno Demonz consisted of Dylan, Faith, River and Squirrel; Racers were Mac, Lexie, Dottie and Nell and Pawz were Pip, Fly, Jovi, Ethan and Maisie (who was making her open debut…exactly 18 months old on the day!). I was quite pleased that, despite getting nowhere near their seed times and the fact we had to run in and out the ring swapping one team for another, both teams ran consistently and achieved a 1st and 3rd place :o) The Pawz really struggled…Jovi had a total meltdown and couldn’t run in the red lane meaning we HAD to run Maisie….at the same time as Ethan…both of which have to run last…buggar! lol I ended up hiding behind the judges table with Maisie and then sending her from the side once Ethan was out. Not ideal for the little dogs debut but I was seriously impressed that she managed to come in at such a tight angle, so close to the line and find her way up to the box and back without running out. This is the first time she’s ever run without netting against another lane and the first time she’s ever run her own height (12”) so I was very pleased with her. We didn’t leave ‘til gone 8pm so it had been a 12 hour day for most people, with all the running in the middle and 2 hours of driving at either end it is rather knackering! I was soooooo tired when I got home and headed straight for the shower, the colour of the water running off my hair was black! Amazing how filthy you can get without even realizing it, I guess my dogs coats must all have been the same too!

This weekend we just have a starters competition over at Newark showground, god help us but we thought it would be *nice* to run all the cockers together so we have one team (The Cock Ups) consisting of Travis and Tarka running with her littermates Tally (Cambridgeshire) and Charlie (Ready2Fly) and Auntie Radley too. Maisie and Spark are running in a mixed team with Beamer (Linnotts), Jessy (Ready2Fly), Spencer (Cambidgeshire) with Jovi coming along as a spare (although I think she could do with the practice after last weekend’s performance!)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A slightly odd and eventful week

My busy day off proved to be the start of a rather odd and eventful week since my mum was on holiday and on the Tuesday night I had headed off to bed and, unusually, I completely shut my bedroom door to stop the dogs from opening it during the night. Perhaps more unusually I hadn’t taken my laptop to bed with me since I was so tired and intended to go straight to sleep, nor my mobile phone. When I decided I needed a glass of water just before going to sleep and went to open the door I had a terrible shock…the handle had broken so I couldn’t get out! I tried for about an hour with various implements made out of coat hangers and the such like but to no avail so decided I would just go to sleep and look out for the postman in the morning and try to catch his attention. I woke early (not surprisingly) and sat by the window looking out for the postman. I should just point out here that we live in a totally detached farmhouse down a small private lane that we share only with a church and another farm.

view from my bedroom, church...

farm...

as you can see, not a great location when you want to catch someone's attention!

Someone drove past on a quad bike around 7.30am to feed the heifers at the top of the road but I had no hope of being heard above the engine. At about 10am the postman went past, he always goes to the farm first and stops at our gates on the way back to the main road where we have a post box, but….he never stopped, we had no post! I did contemplate climbing out of the window but it’s quite a long way down and I had visions of me falling and breaking something and lying there for hours instead! I was most concerned about what my boss was thinking about the fact I just hadn’t turned up for work! To cut a long story short (ish), my mum arrived back off holiday around 7pm and let me out so I had been trapped in the room for 20 hours with no way to contact anyone, no TV, nothing to drink and no toilet…as you can imagine…I was very glad to see her! Fortunately most of the dogs had been in the utility room with access in and out of the house, the few that were in the house had been camped outside my door, probably wondering why the hell I wasn’t coming to let them out and give them their breakfast! There was just a single pee on the landing, they had stayed clean that whole time…good doggies :o) Needless to say, I shan’t ever be closing a bedroom door again!

Saturday morning Spark and I headed over to Darlington Champ show by ourselves while some of the flyball team headed down to Norfolk Park for the tournament taking place over the weekend, taking Travis, Ethan and Dottie with them. Travis was joining the Water Orton Extreme team in starters and Ethan and Dottie were running in the Pawz. I was going to travel straight down from Newby Hall to camp overnight and run in the other two teams on the Sunday.

Well, in typical fashion things didn’t run quite according to plan. I decided to get up early and bath Spark on the morning of the show, judging started at 9.30am, we weren’t in until Limit Dog and the venue is less than 2 hours from us so I reckoned we needed to leave around 8.30am. Best laid plans and all that! Well, we left on time but as I got a couple of miles down the road I realised I’d forgotten to pick up any bait so quickly decided to stop at the village post office and buy something suitable rather than turn around (first mistake!), I bought a packet of cooked ham and as I came back to the van noticed an elderly man standing at the side of the road beckoning me so I went to see what he wanted. Apparently he was waiting for a bus which hadn’t turned up and wondered whether I might give him a lift into town…well, what could I do?! Of course I’d packed the van for both the show and flyball with all my camping gear too so had thrown a load of stuff on the front seats which I had to move into the back before I could get this chap in, I duly drove him into town (in the opposite direction to where I needed to go) and he was a really nice guy, he was 99…and a bit and I was really amazed by the fact he was still getting the bus into town to be honest! He was a little deaf but bright and chatty and extremely spritely for his years (getting in and out of my van is no easy task!). I did have to smile at the ‘and a bit’ and wondered at what age you started adding the ‘and a bit’ when people asked your age again like you did as a child, I remember proudly telling people ‘I’m 7 and 3 quarters’ but am not so keen on ‘33 and a half’ nowadays lol

The route from Preston to Thirsk along the A59 is a pleasant and scenic one, but not when you’re running very very late! I recalled that the entries at this show weren’t very big so the class sizes may be smaller then usual and therefore judging going a lot quicker. I was right! We arrived around 11am and I just grabbed all my bags and ran to the entrance to hand over my pass where Spark promptly did an enormous poo! The lady on the gate kindly offered to hold him while I picked it up then we dashed to the benching area where I grabbed the first border collie person I saw and asked ‘what class is she on?’ to be told ‘Limit has just gone in’…panic! Drop all my bags and run to the ring and guess what? The bloody ham was on the dashboard in the van so no bait!! I can’t say he showed himself off to his best but he certainly didn’t go badly…we didn’t get placed but having watched the rest of the judging I’m not that surprised. It would be unfair to comment any further on the quality of the judging since others obviously placed well and I was pleased for them but I shan’t be entering any dogs under that judge again. Since I only had one dog with me (very unusual) I had entered him in the Any Variety Open Stakes class too, we’ve never entered a stakes class before but thought we’d give it a go. My friend Jackie had also entered with her Cruise son Drift, his mother is also the litter sister to my Mercy, he’s a lovely dog that has done a lot of winning and has a ticket. So we headed over the Any Variety ring and as we were waiting to go in a couple walked past with a rough collie and the lady pointed at Spark and turned to her husband and said ‘oh John, look at the lovely merling on that AUSSIE’…I think my face must have said it all because she seemed to instantly realise she’d made a faux pas when she caught my eye and I seethed ‘he’s a border collie’, she was very apologetic and made some feeble excuse about nor being used to seeing them with so much bone or coat but the fact is, she just looked at his colour and assumed. I started to worry slightly that the judge might do the same and glance him over and think ‘what a terrible looking Aussie’ lol Anyway, we headed into the ring first with Jackie and Drift behind us and joined by an assortment of Malamutes, huskies, Aussies, Rough Collies, Old English, Boxers etc I was really pleased with the way Spark went in this class (now I had stolen some sausage from Audrey!), he moved really nicely and was attentive and keen in the free stand. Drift also went really well so I wasn’t at all surprised when the judge picked him out first but kinda expected Spark wouldn’t get placed too but she picked him out 2nd so the border collies did a clean sweep…woo hoo! We also actually won money for this class, £10 to pay for that night’s takeaway anyway, clever Spark :o) All in all the border collies had a great showing at Darlington, winning Pastoral Group 1, Veteran Group 1, RCC stakes, AV Open Dog and AV Open Bitch and all that from a relatively small overall entry of 139 dogs. We had a nice day out anyway.

A few pics of friends dogs, none of Spark since I was on my own so had no-one to operate the camera while we were in the ring...sorry!
The aforementioned Drift, Locheil Stand and Deliver at Sandmont, he is a half brother to my Kitten and a nephew of Mercy


Jazz, Locheil Black Label at Sandmont, a half brother to my Ethan on his mothers' side and Dazzle, Dottie and Eabha through their father Bond


Diva, Borderbrook I'm the Diva, she is also a half sister to Kitten and Drift, pretty girl :o)




I’ll do a flyball update in another post but my eventful week was rounded off when on the Monday morning I was driving to work and the side door fell off my van as I was going round a roundabout!
oh dear!

This may sound a little random but I badly damaged this door a number of years ago while we were camping on Anglesey so I'm suprised it's survived this long to be honest! A week in the body shop and a big bill later and I got it back, good as new and sparkly clean too (for the first time in a long time! lol)

Busy but constructive day off

Oh dear, falling behind already again! Well we have slipped from summer into autumn over the last month but still quite busy with various things. I did promise to do a short update on my busy day off after Lochaber show but now realise that I don’t actually have a great deal to say, probably because it was it was over a fortnight ago now and I’ve forgotten half of it! lol

Well, anyway…I took the opportunity to have Travis and Jovi hip scored and eye tested. Sadly my usual fabulous hip scoring vet (Mark Lingard at Moy Farm, Out Rawcliffe) is very poorly and unable to work. He is such a lovely man as well as a great vet, so this was very sad and upsetting news. So, Tom to the rescue again (poor Tom must be sick of the sight of me!) and a trip down to Nantwhich Verterinary Group or a 10am appointment. I know many people will wonder why I don’t use my regular vets for hip scoring but I like the fact that both Tom and Mark will do the dogs under sedation while I wait and will offer a pretty good idea of what the score back from the BVA is likely to be. This was particularly important for me with Travis due to Teal’s impending season and the fact I wanted to mate her (to him obviously) this time. Fortunately both sets of hips looked good and I expect some good scored back from the BVA in a few weeks. I had just enough time to get home, have some lunch and sort the pups out etc before we headed off to our appointment with Stuart Ellis at Riverbank Vets for eye testing; fortunately they are in Preston just a 10 min or so drive from us. Both dogs were having the standard eye test and gonioscopy too so we had to arrive 20 mins or so early to have the anaesthetic eye drops in before the testing; Jovi was a bit dramatic about the drops so I was a little worried about her gonio test but she sat quietly and was well behaved throughout as was Travis although I have to say, I think the lingering effect of the mornings sedative may have helped! lol Both passed with no problems so two more boxes ticked and we were ‘good to go’ for the mating. Very excited about the prospect of more Teal babies, her first litter are just about to turn 3 so we’ve waited a while for this next instalment! With both parents being roans we will only have roan puppies…blue roan, blue roan and tan and lemon roan puppies expected in November…can’t wait! I must get some new photos of Trav for his webpage now he’s a big grown up handsome boy.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Lochaber Open Show



So this weekend saw my first breed judging appointment up at Lochaber and District Open Show in Fort William, I don’t need much of an excuse to visit that part of the world, I am totally in love with the Scottish Highlands but this was a perfectly good one anyway, I just wish I’d been able to spend a bit more time up there to enjoy the beautiful landscape. It was a bit like a mystery tour since I decided to just follow the SatNav and discover which route it was going to take me as we went along. I would normally travel up via Glasgow and the A82 up past Loch Lomond and through the Trossachs and Glencoe which is a stunning drive. Instead the SatNav decided to take me up to Perth then West along the A9 to Dalwhinnie before dropping back down to Lochaber via Laggan, more beautiful scenery to make a long drive much more enjoyable...









Ardverikie - on the banks of Loch Laggan, was used as the ficticious Glenbogle house in the TV drama Monarch of the Glen


Laggan Dam on the River Spean, to the south west of Loch Laggan


I didn’t arrive ‘til about 8pm having stopped at Strathmashie Forest on the way and taken the 7 dogs I had with me for a run up the forest to blow away the cobwebs after that 5 hour drive! We had another lovely forest walk early Sunday morning before the show too so I didn’t feel so bad about having taken them all that way.

I was sharing the judging with Stuart Platt (Caldonbeck) so just had 4 bitch classes - puppy, yearling, post grad and open and was pleased to receive a respectable entry of 23 and some really lovely quality bitches , I ended up having to really nit pick for the places but I was pleased as punch when the bitch winner went best of breed (under the referee) and then Pastoral Group 3 and my puppy went best pup in breed and reserve best pup in show. Both beautiful girls I would have happily taken home (think someone might have noticed though lol)

Full results were…
Lochaber and District Canine Society Open Show – 12th September 2010
Puppy Dog (1)


1 - McCallum's Borderbrook The Dauphin

Yearling Dog (3,1)

1 - MacDonald's Locheil Once in a Blue Moon
2 - Kempton's Borderbrook Show Me

Post Graduate Dog (3)

1 - Jones' Sianworth Firecracker
2 - Heggie's Dalond Blaze of Glory
3 - MacDonald's Bordertime Hot Chocolate

Open Dog (8,3)

1 - Turner and Alexander's Kaeleon Showstopper at Locheil - BD
2 - Gray's Locheil Joint Venture
3 - Kempton's Locheil Manhatten at Borderbrook (AI)
4 - Gray's Rosara Dream Boat

Puppy Bitch (4,2)

1 - MacDonald's Locheil Just Cruisin – BP RBPIS
2 - Kempton's Borderbrook I'm The Diva

Yearling Bitch (5,1)

1 - Donald's Locheil Violets are Blue
2 - Jones' Starside Gold Dust Over Sianworth
3 - Kempton's Borderbrook I'm The Diva
4 - Downie's Dalond Blue Bayou

Post Graduate Bitch (7,3)

1 - Hagan's Tribboch Thistle Do Me
2 - McCallum's Tribboch Truly Scrumptious
3 - Conacher's Locheil Chic Flick
4 - Downie's Dalond Blue Bayou

Open Bitch (7,2)

1 - Turner and Alexander's Locheil Funny Face - BB BOB PG3
2 - Jones' Sianworth Mystic Dream JW
3 - Kempton's Borderbrook Atomic Kitten
4 - Donald's Locheil Luck of the Irish

The hospitality was excellent and after the judging we sat and had a good old natter with some of the other judges and stewards over lunch before I embarked on the long drive home around 2.30pm I stopped and took my dogs for another run up Strathmashie Forest at Laggan on the way home so they had a good stretch of their legs first and happened across an impromptu hitchhiker at Dalwhinnie, some poor chap who had missed his train and since he was headed back to Oxenholme (just outside Lancaster) I agreed to drop him at Penrith train station so he could catch a train there instead so he got home at a decent time and I had some company for a few hours of the journey at least. I stopped at Sizergh (near Kendal) on the way home to pop in for a cup of tea and a natter with my mum and gran who were there in the caravan for the week (seemed rude not to since I was passing!) so we were pretty late home but young Rachel had done a great job minding all the dogs at home and they were all pleased to see us back. I was very glad to have Monday off work, despite it being a pretty hectic one but I’ll post more about that later.

Dogs enjoying one of their forest runs…



Esther, who appears to be rather enjoying her holiday in the caravan...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Catching up with some training

So, we’ve had a couple of weekends off from flyball competition and it’s been quite nice to do other things for a change. Admittedly we did train twice last week (we managed to find sufficient breaks in the awful weather we’ve been having!) but that in itself made quite a refreshing change! I’m pleased with the progress the youngsters are making. We probably made the most progress with Travis and Maisie, both of whom are already running well in starters but had areas we needed to work on so we did lots of chute training and made some real improvements in their respective box turns as well as running them both over higher hurdles (11” which I think will be Travis’s height once he’s measured…I expect Maisie will be 12”) and without any training wings and both did really great…so proud of them :o) Perhaps the biggest achievment with these two is that we managed to get them passing tightly with each other, this has been quite a challenge as you might expect with two playful, similarly aged pups that have been brought up and live in the same household together! I think this gives in insight into the change in mentality over the last few weeks, they are taking the whole game much more seriously and are much more focused. All being well Maisie will make her open debut next month and Travis in the new year.

Tarka is now 12 months old and is set to make her starters debut at Redcar in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately I can’t run her this weekend at Norfolk Park as starters is on Saturday only and I’m over at Darlington Champ show that day so she and Maisie will miss out competing :o( Travis will hopefully run in someone else’s starter team with Megan. I did nothing with her on our Sunday training session as she had total ‘spanner’ head on and wouldn’t concentrate at all so on Thursday evening I got her out before anyone else arrived and got her focused on fetching her ball and then did a few runbacks with her. By the time everyone else arrived she was fine and knew exactly what she was doing so we ran her onto the training chute for the first time and she was really good, taking the ball nicely and hurdling well in both directions…good girlie. She’s going very high up the chute at the moment but I think she’ll learn to adjust herself the more she does, we’ll see! The plan at the moment is to run an all cocker team at the starters event at Newark next month, the three littermates…Tarka, Tally and Charlie along with their half brother Travis…god help us! lol

Pixie and Fergus are both also making good progress but we are having an issue with Pixie ‘stalking’ the ball so we’re going to have to do some seperate exercises away from training to try and overcome that. Aston is currently resting from a shoulder injury but should be able to start training in a few weeks, he is certainly very keen, we will just need to manage his very strong ‘eye’ I think. He is an incredibly clever dog and reminds me very much of half sister Faith (only he has a much softer nature…she’s hard as nails..possibly just the difference between boys and girls?) and while he may have Lexie’s tendency to ‘bizzy-ness’ (everything at 100 mph) he is also very smart and figures things out to his advantage very quickly which I have learnt to my cost while he’s been on ‘house rest’! He has learned how to open every door in the house so just happily lets himself in/out of wherever he does/doesn’t want to be, along with anyone else that happens to be on either side of said door! He has also learned how to open the stairgate and has dug a huge hole in the one corner of the garden where this could lead to escape! This has resulted in quite a bit of destructive behaviour we didn’t have from him as a little puppy (he’s now 10 months old) which includes chewing my laptop charger up into a zillion pieces and eating a huge hole out of the seat of my jeans as well as merrily leading everyone else through his escape tunnel so they can galavant around the orchard and storage yard out the back…all in all…he’s been quite hard work of late! I've entered him in a couple of shows next month but he really is bald as a coot at the moment and looking very 'raw' so may not make it into the ring again just yet...we'll see!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Drax - August Bank Holiday

So the last of our 5 legger August flyball marathon was the bank holiday weekend over at Drax. Not the most picturesque of venues to spend a bank holiday weekend admittedly (in the shadow of the power station cooling towers!) but a good venue nonetheless, it boasts a good sized nice club house that do really good food and drink and excellent shower facilities too, priorities for any weekend away flyballing! I also took my two Spark-Mercy pups, Viva and Vogue for their first camping trip since they’d come as a litter at 5 weeks old, they were very well behaved (apart from barking at every passer by!)

Our NEW team gazebo in the shadow of the cooling towers…lovely!

The troublesome twins!


I travelled over after work on Friday and had the luxury of having a tent all set up ready for me on my arrival (thanks Hazell!) so could just feed my dogs and get on with the important job of socialising! It ended up being a rather late one to bed (about 5am) and up a couple of hours later to get sorted for the days racing, fortunately we were off the first two divisions so that gave us just enough time to fully wake up! This team wasn’t the usual line up since Faith (the fastest dog on the team) was in season and stayed home so we brought Pip up from the Pawz to replace her. Paul continued running Mac start dog while Alison took over running Pip, Hazell kindly ran Dottie (and this is a very kind act…she’s hard work to run as she likes to nip her handler to psyche herself up!) and I ran Teal last dog. This combination actually worked quite well, Pip loves running behind her daddy (both human and canine in this case! lol) and Alison totally nailed the changeover into Mac, Dottie ran a bit better than she has done of late but Teal was really off form…she’s carrying too much weight at the moment and just wasn’t really that up for it. They ran a fastest time of 19.71 to come 4th in Division 5, about what I would have expected with Pip in place of Faith, we probably could have won this division with the regular line up, oh well.

Saturday we had a nice early night (lol) ready for a busy day ahead Sunday. Sunday began at 8.30am with the starter team, Demon Cubz, which comprised Maisie, Travis, Spud and Radley. Radley has been struggling for focus and confidence recently so we decided to pop her back into starters this weekend to see whether that would help; unfortunately they hadn’t arrived for the first race so we lost it but the other 3 were running well and when Radley did join us she was too which I was really pleased about. I don’t quite know what has happened to Radley but this seems to have started when she had a litter of pups earlier in the year. It seems to have really affected her confidence which is the opposite to what I found with Teal when she had her first litter and came back raring and brimming with confidence but I wonder if this is because I didn’t keep a Teal puppy (well not one that continued to live with us anyway) whereas Radley now has her daughter Truly to think about, which is possibly more important for her as she is also now no longer an ‘only dog’. She ran well all day though and they came 3rd :o)

Radley and Truly


We were straight into division 11 with the Pawz and boy did we struggle with this team! When moving Pip up into the Racers I hadn’t considered that we were also moving our only experienced start dog from this team. We started out running Fynn start, followed by Fly, Ethan and Squirrel who I was having to tuck in on the line so Ethan wouldn’t run out (seems a waste of a perfectly good terrier who will run in and change from 30ft but hey ho!); this worked fine until Fynn started doing his ‘stopping to take in the view’ routine (damn dog!) and Gemma asked to run him last. We tried running fly first…she bolted straight across to the other lane, we lost the leg on interference…she has WAY too much eye and is NOT cut out for start dog! The only way we could do this was to run Ethan start dog (yes…Ethan…eternal ‘arse-ender’ going start!) with Squirrel tucked in behind followed by Fly and then Fynn which worked ok for a couple of legs until Fly went in early against Squirrel causing her to run out…poor little Squirrel, as soon as a dog goes in early on her it knocks her confidence and she will keep running out she was going to have to go last…which meant Ethan was going to have to go 3rd and since Fly couldn’t go start she was going to have to go 2nd so….Fynn ended up back start in the same order we’d started on. We did actually run our two best times, morning and afternoon with this line up , we came last with a fastest time of 22.30…not actually that bad considered we’d submitted 22.20 and lost the fastest dog (Pip ) to the second team…work in progress me thinks! Lol

We than had a division off before heading back into the ring for Division 2 with the Demonz…Dylan, Bailey, Lexie and River. I can’t quite put my finger on why but we struggled with this team managing 3rd place with only an 18.13 (a little disappointing after the 17.85 we ran at the Champs). We have a two week break before running again so hopefully the dogs will come back refreshed.

Monday we had two multibreed teams running, our usual line up in the first team, Diverse Demonz…Dylan, Ruaraidh (collie x kelpie from Dolphins), Leo (standard Poodle from supernovas) and Teal. Teal seemed to be a little better than Saturday but still not back on full form and Leo was nursing a knee injury so we struggled to get anywhere near our previous 17.84 but we ran well and consistently, this is a really good little team. It came down to the last race…us (no. 1 seed) Vs Doncaster (no. 2 seed) and they had run faster than us so we knew it was going to be incredibly tight. It was and came down to the 5th leg but we’d pushed them enough and they got a light…phew! We’d won all our races and the Division again…excellent!

The 2nd team, Demon Medley was a hastily thrown together combination due to no Bailey, injury of our crossbreed and losing the other standard poodle (he’d run for his own team since the last time he’d run for us making him ineligible to run again)…Faith would have been next choice BC but of course she was in season so we had Saffy (gorgeous lurcher), River, Radley, Squirrel and Echo (border terrier from Doncaster). I was hoping Radley would be full of beans after her successful run out in starters the previous day but alas she wasn’t and refused to run…very frustrating. Echo was steady but seemed to struggle on our Belgian box, the hole settings are quite high for a little dog, especially if they’ve not been taught to jump on/off so are just reaching up to take the ball. River and Saffy were fab, Riv ran start dog and they both but in some excellent times, Squirrel also ran reliably as last dog but we were seriously outclassed in that division, especially as we were running two little height dogs, and came last by a long way! Had I known which dogs we would end up running I would have submitted a much slower time.

I also judged division 2 which saw some really good close racing and it was lovely to see Echo (Bryning Superstella, Quillan – Lexie daughter and Rivers sister) running so well with Doghouse Odd’s n Sod’s, she was hitting 4.1’s all day…she’s really come on this season and is proving to be a cracking little flyball dog. All in all it was a good day.

The only slightly disappointing aspect was the Multibreed trophy which was to be awarded to the ‘best’ multibreed team over the two tournaments. This was calculated on total number of races won. Well…we were unbeaten at both tournaments, winning division 1 on both occasions and running a fastest time of 17.84 but another team were also unbeaten over both comps winning a division 4 and 3 with a fastest time of 19.78 (running on a seed time of 21.61). The organizers had no idea what to do about a tie because… ‘it’s never happened before’…well surely it was always a distinct possibility! Now as far as I’m concerned common sense would dictate that the fastest team should be the winners? This is a competitive sport after all and the whole point is to run 4 dogs as fast as you can but no, the options were to share the trophy (6 months each) or some ludicrous system of which team’s average time was closest to their seed time. Now, it’s worth pointing out that the other team had actually run a fastest time 1.8 seconds faster than their seed time and had (obviously) anihalated the opposition in their division (hardly in the spirit of competition) but occasionally throwing in a slower dog when they were two legs up and could afford to lose a leg (knowing they wouldn’t struggle to win the next one) so yes…their ‘average’ time probably wasn’t that far off their seed time but a more accurate measure of consistency is in the variance between their fastest and slowest times (some nearly 4 seconds!). While we were running a four dog team in division 1 where seed time is completely irrelevant, hence there being no break out times…you’re already running against the fastest opposition possible so there’s no way you can ‘cheat’ the seed time system to pitch yourself in a less competitive division and we didn’t even run the fastest time of that division, we raced damn hard to get our 5 race wins that day. To be honest, by this point I really couldn’t be bothered and had to go and judge division two so told them to just give it to the other team, after all, what did we want it for? The fact we were even having this conversation meant it clearly didn’t mean anything anyway so had just become a pointless piece of wood and metal! If it gives others satisfaction to achieve meaningless things so easily then let them have their easily attained pleasures. I am increasingly disappointed by the number of flyballers this appears to apply to :o(

Anyway, this got me on to thinking about another discussion we’d had the previous weekend about rosettes…I can’t stand the fact that rosettes are awarded to 4th place…in a 6 team division this is so stupid, that’s rosettes to 66%!! The system in agility is so much better, rosettes to 10%, sometimes possibly 15% but the elite competitors anyway, makes them mean something, something to strive for and a real sense of achievement when you win one! For a long time now I’ve just handed mine back at flyball, I only keep firsts or those that are special in some other way, like my dogs first comp or a tournament we’ve never been to before etc. I never keep a 4th though! It was the same thing with the change in the points system to offer higher points rewards to slower teams. What is so wrong about rewarding the best? It’s nice getting the awards but to be honest they are becoming worth less and less in my opinion. This is supposed to be a competitive sport, the aim is to run as fast as you can, as with all sports… some teams/dogs will be faster than others but they should be rewarded for being so! In my opinion a new tier of points should be brought in for teams running under 18 seconds so the very fastest dogs get the highest rewards (as it should be!). Ok, that’s my rant over... lol

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A (hard) lesson in colour genetics

So…last weekend I’m out with the dogs and Dazzle’s coat looks an absolute disgrace, all this rain we’ve been having isn’t great for a dog with a huge coat that acts like a sponge! So I decided a good bath and groom was in order when we got home. She’s always like a little barrel, like her mother before her she is prone to weight gain, despite me cutting her food back, which is not helped by her great thick coat either. Well, I got her in the bath and soaked her and…what’s this?? OMG…Dazzle is in whelp...panic!! I looked back at when she was in season…around the time my grandad died, so the week she must have been mated was the week of the funeral when we had a whole load of family staying in the house and everything was a bit of a blur!! I just had no idea who the sire was, since I had no inkling that she’d been mated at all it really could have been anyone and no matter which way I looked at it, none of the options were particularly favourable but Spark was probably ‘worst case scenario’ being her son and a merle too :o(

Now normally when I have a bitch due to whelp it’s been a long awaited event that results in lots of excited anticipation. This last week I have to say has been one of nervous dread, waiting to see what arrived. So…she whelped Monday night and when the first pup was born…a chocolate merle…I briefly thought they might be cocker crosses (sired by Travis) but they were the size and shape of normal collie pups with neat little triangle ears, another choc merle and then the third one…an almost all white choc merle…a double merle…and I knew for sure then that the puppies were Mac’s, he is the only dog I have here that carries chocolate and he is obviously also a merle; probably second worst case scenario :o(

We finished up with 3 ‘normal’ (heterozygous Mm) choc merle boys and a ‘normal’ blue merle boy as well as a choc/white boy along with the ‘double’ (homozygous MM) choc merle. I spoke with my vet and we agreed that the kindest option was to have the white pup humanely put to sleep. The risk of deafness, blindness, lack of eyes etc was just too great to justify rearing this poor baby and there was no hesitation from my vet that this was the most sensible course of action, as sad as it seems now I’m sure we made the right decision but that doesn't actually make it any the less tough.

the unexpected arrivals...


I am totally unsure how I feel about this litter now…they certainly weren’t planned or expected and their arrival is tinged by sadness, guilt and regret but the five remaining pups are beautiful so I can’t help but smile when I look at them and I’m also quietly excited at the prospect of Mac babies; something I had resigned myself would never happen again so this is an unexpected surprise, it’s all so very bitter/sweet and I feel guilty again about being a little bit excited. The irony is that when I took all my dogs for gonioscopy testing last year, I had planned to mate Dottie to Mac so I could keep a puppy. When Mac failed the gonio test my hopes were dashed and I was desperately disappointed. I asked Stuart (opthamologist) whether it would be possible to use him again at all and he pulled his face but suggested that if I really MUST use him again it should be to a bitch with completely perfect eye structure and drainage angles, such as Dazzle (who he claimed has the best drainage angles he’s ever seen) which I obviously pointed out was never going to happen since they were both merles! I did contemplate having Mac castrated at the time but decided against it because I didn’t want to upset the hierarchy in my pack; all my boys get along so well with Mac being the ‘top dog’ amongst them and because he’s not really one for bothering when we have girls in season I’ve never found him being entire a problem (huh!).

So, here I am, well read and experienced in breeding and colour genetics and a staunch advocate against merle to merle matings, in the situation I never imagined I would find myself in, it just goes to show…you never quite know what’s around the corner in this game!

So I’m just going to share a few facts about merle to merle matings and double merles as I'm sure some people reading this will have questions.

Merle is a dominant gene and as such a dog only needs one copy of the gene to exhibit the coat pattern. So the vast majority of merles are heterozygous for merle Mm (that means they have two different genes on that allele…one for merle M and one not for merle m). When you mate a merle to a solid coloured dog the merle should (statictically) pass on the merle gene to 50% of the offspring and the non merle gene to the other 50%, so half the litter will also be heterozygous merle (Mm) and the other half will be homozygous (two copies of the same gene) for non merle (mm).

Problems arise when two merles are mated together because you now have the probability that 25% of the pups will inherit the merle gene from both parents so statistically 25% of the litter will be homozygous non merle (mm), 50% will be heterozygous ‘normal’ merle (Mm) and 25% will be homozygous ‘double’ merle (MM). The effect of the double merle gene is to drastically dilute the colour pigmentation so you end up with a puppy that is almost entirely white and this is where the problems lie. The colour pigmentation cells are involved in the development of optical and auditory systems (sight and hearing) so the lack of pigmentation can result in a whole host of deafness and eyesight issues.

What this means is that the fact that these double merle puppies have issues is secondary to the fact they are mostly white (if that makes sense)…the genes themselves don’t cause the problems, only the fact that the genes result in a lack of pigment so, while the double merle pups themselves will likely have health issues, the rest of the pups in the litter are perfectly normal healthy puppies and should a double merle be retained and bred from (whether it be deaf and/or blind itself) it would not pass any of these issues onto it’s offspring. It was (and probably still is in some places) common practice for ‘colour breeders’ (those breeding solely for colour and nothing else) to deliberately do a merle to merle mating and retain a double merle pup as a stud dog. Being homozygous MM means that a double merle, when mated to a solid coloured bitch, can ONLY pass on the merle gene and therefore can only produce merle puppies. It is also much more commonplace in breeds where merle is more prevelant, such as Australian Shepherds and shelties.

Here are a few interesting links regarding double merles but let me just clarify that I WOULD NOT EVER recommend a deliberate merle to merle mating; intentionally producing defective puppies is not my idea of good breeding practice and having to make the heart breaking decision to have a newborn puppy pts is not something I would wish on any other caring and conscientious breeder.

LethalWhites.com

Double Merle Genetics

Deafness in White Aussies

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

August Flyball

For some bizarre reason I thought it would be a good idea for us to enter a flyball tournament every weekend in August (which also happens to be a 5 week month) but not content with just that we would include two weekends that involved 2 sanctioned tournaments i.e. 7 sanctioned tournaments in a single month…nuts I know!

We started at Eastham on the Wirral over the 31st July/1st August weekend. I don’t entirely remember what happened that weekend but the Pawz and Racers ran really well and got new seed times and the Demonz ran really rubbish! To be fair, everyone in our division (div 2) ran really slow and I am pretty convinced that the ring was ‘out’ making the runs longer than they should have been…our other two teams ran in the other ring which ran really well (possibly a little on the short side??).

The following weekend we took the long trek up to Dundee for two 1-day sanctioned tournaments held at Caird Park and Camperdown Park (fab venue). We ran ‘scratch’ teams since Gemma couldn’t make it so Mac replaced Bailey in the Demonz and we mixed the other two teams together on a submitted time. The dogs actually ran really well and we ran some good times plus we ran Travis and Maisie in the starters and they were both fab! After chatting to my friend Hazell (Tyne flyball teams) on the Saturday night about the problem she had running her two dogs (River – Bryning Super Cool and Jack – Bryning Bold Jack Donohoe) in their top team we decided she would move River into our team so she could run them both herself and get the best out of them. So the next day River ran with us which was really nice since Lexie ended up running with 3 of her kids (Dylan, Faith and River); this also did the trick for Tyne who ran sub 18.00 seconds for the first time when Hazell ran Jack herself! We had a really nice weekend, good company and good flyball…very enjoyable and worth the long drive.

Hear No, See No, Speak No… lol
Maisie, Mouse and Spark enjoy the wide open spaces of Camperdown Park

A rare pic of Tarka at 11 months old, she’s usually just a blur!


’HERE’s’ some more pics I took at Camperdown Park, none of the flyball I’m afraid!

The following weekend we were at the British Flyball championships, I couldn’t make the Friday and the Pawz really did struggle and came last in their division…oh well! The Racers were running Saturday with a new line up since we had moved Teal and Faith down out of the Demonz and moved Lexie up to join her daughter River in the team. Faith is considerably faster than Lex over 8” but not over 13” so she moved down with the height dog (Teal). The weather was horrendous…torrential rain meant the conditions were awful so despite them running some good times and winning all their races in the morning, it all went belly up in the afternoon with the dogs sliding all over the place and really struggling on the box; the times suffered and we ended up losing races, a real shame. Mac suffered the most, I could see him twisting off the box as he struggled for grip and sure enough he was very stiff that evening so had a massage and slept in his coat to keep his poor aching back muscles warm, bless him. We had a team BBQ in the rain on Saturday evening (true British spirit!) and all really enjoyed the fancy dress party and disco in the marquee…we all went dressed as Demons! Haha

The Demonz were running Sunday in Division 5, this was a real learning curve since this was a completely untried team of Dylan, Bailey, Lexie and River, we lost all our morning races while we all got a feel for changeovers etc but got it together for the afternoon and actually beat the two fastest teams in the division thus handing the division win to our old friends at Red Rose who were running an entire Bryning team in the form of Aztec (Bryning Aztec), Harry (Bryning Silver Harrier), Haze (Bryning Indian Summer) and Oz (Bryning Willie Wagtail)…very proud of the babies :o). It does just go to show the way flyball goes though, the two teams we beat ran fastest times of 17.60 and 17.62, we ran a fastest time of 17.85 (seasons best) and the Red Rose Rascals won the division with a fastest time 18.18! lol

There are some pics of the Pawz and Demonz ’HERE’
(kindly taken by David Flood)

A couple of my faves...
Ethan…on a mission!

Lexie…

And daughter River…


The following weekend we were over at Rotherham for the tournament hosted by our friends at Tyne. We were top seed with all 3 open teams which is always the kiss of death! True to form we didn’t win a single division! Well, apart from starters actually where we were joined by Beamer (a BC bred by my friend Julie) who was making his tournament debut and ran really well; along with Spud, Travis and Maisie they managed to win the division with the fastest time of the day…clever babies :o)

Spud - 10 years old and rather arthritic, he’s retired from competing but makes the odd appearance in starters when we need a ‘steady hand’ ;o)

Travis

Maisie

Beamer

There are more pics of this team ’HERE’
(thanks to Kirsty Price for the photos)

Again we struggled with the Pawz, Radley seems to be struggling for confidence at the moment and Fynn is struggling to concentrate for a whole division but I was a particularly pleased with Squirrel who ran her little socks off :o) We actually managed a 2nd with this lot and a fastest time of 22.17

The Racers ran ok, Mac was a little off form since he’d has an abscess on his foot so wasn’t quite 100% and I really struggled with my changeovers in on Dottie who is becoming increasingly erratic off the box, lots of lights, very frustrating!

The Demonz ran Sunday and again we seemed to struggle for consistency, throwing away easy wins on stupid lights…tsk! Hoping for better results this weekend coming at Drax!