Yesterday was such fun, for us and everyone else, it seems. This is the third week of our new foundation group and they all worked so hard, helping their dogs and each other. The dogs are beginning to relax and enjoy themselves - some of them that were initially quieter are being quite cheeky and doing laps of honour instead of going back to their owners, and some of them that were never quiet (a particular lurcher springs to mind!) seemed to have less laps of honour now that she has discovered how much fun it is to play tug with her handler. I couldn't say which dog and handler stood out the most as they all were little stars in their own way, from the little Jack Russel Dottie, who is very driven to her ball, to the Dandie Dinmont Bracken, who only 2 weeks ago would lay down in the tunnel and now is pulling on her lead to get through it, to the lurcher Flossie who can now put several obstacles together without zooming off round the field, and the very excitable and fit retrievers, which is lovely to see, plus the little cockerpoo who is also coming out of herself this week and is developing lovely 2o2o contacts.
We were doing two sequences - one a sendaway over a jump then through a very long straight tunnel and over two more jumps, and the other sequence - a curved tunnel with 3 jumps to make a circle.
I took the sendaway sequence and to see dogs come charging through that tunnel and over two jumps to a toy was brilliant - considering most of them had never done a tunnel up to two weeks ago and I know Julie said on the curved tunnel sequence they were going through the tunnel over the 3 jumps and back through the tunnel again.
Well done all of you.
Then in our beginners class, as there was only 2 handlers, we set up quite a hard course but broke it down into sections and again we can't believe how hard Ruth and Maureen worked. Both Morse and Merlin did a round the back of a jump, which they'd never done before, sending to the wrong end of the tunnel, swapping behind at tunnels and covering quite large distances between jumps, whilst getting into place, for the next few obstacles. Ruth and Maureen did their dogs proud and we know there is a lot more to come from these two. In fact Julie and I were worried that we made things a bit too hard, but everyone wants more, so ... roll on next week.
And then, as the light was fading fast we had a quick blast round with ours, and I don't know where we are getting our energy from but we must be doing something right as our dogs seemed super happy and focused, followed by coffee and homemade lemon cheesecake (thank you Julie!). And then of course we can't seem to end the day without a bit of drama. No vehicles got stuck in the mud this time, but after finally giving all our dogs a walk in the dark (all securely fenced off), two seemed to be missing. We found Stan, who is in a world of his own these days at 14, still happily plodding round the agility field, and Glen, my dog who looks the spitting image of Ruth's dog Morse, happily settled down in Ruth's house and really couldn't see what the fuss was about!
Mid October and still training without coats, hats and gloves I think I could get used to this. Some amazing work from our foundation group, Bracken the Dandie Dinmont bought his agility mojo with him this week and was a star. Bess the Labrador joined the group and took everything in her stride and proved to be a natural, especially when it came to starting to learn her contact position.
We'd set up another challenging course for our beginner group with difficult weave entry and a couple of tunnel traps. Pauline and Harry tried handling the sequence several different ways to see which worked best for them. Morse proved that he's more than capable working the trickier courses, and keeping those pesky poles up even though we've raised them to nearly full height.
For Monty, being thrown in the deep end and moving up to the beginner class, the sequence was broken down into smaller sections so that we could reward everything that he got right and he didn't disappoint :-) Its so much better to set the dogs up for success rather then failure and he really is developing a good wait.
Roll on next week!
Jasper my Spanish Water Dog has reached the grand old of age of eleven (although you wouldn't know it). I adopted Jasper when he was two and half years old and I was his sixth home. Jasper came to me as a very troubled dog; he had completely lost his trust in people and had a lot of obsessive behaviours from being kept in a crate for long periods. Although today's Jasper is barely recognisable when compared to the dog I bought home all those years ago, he still carries a lot of baggage. Jasper was trained for agility and did compete at a handful of shows but he found the environment too stressful so we just stuck to flyball where his love of tennis balls overcame any worries he had. So many happy returns my wonderfully weird wooley dog. xx
Well again the weather gods were smiling on us as we began a new foundation group. Classes began with a quick warm up for the handlers in the shape of pushing my van out of the mud where I'd managed to get it stuck, whoops. What a lovely mix of dogs again - cockerpoos; a Dandie Dinmont; a flat coat retriever; a staffie x; a jack russell and a lurcher. All the dogs did so well at their first attempt at agility and were all completing the tunnel and small jumps by the end of the class, which was a big achievement for Heidi as she was scared of the tunnel to start with. Flossie the lurcher proved how agile lurchers are, and showed everyone her celebratory zoomies :-)
A big spread out course was in store for our beginner group. Pauline and Harry showed everyone how it was done. And then it was the three M's turn - Merlin; Morse and Monty.
Morse was really listening to Ruth and digging in for those wing wraps and driving on to the tunnel whilst Ruth crossed behind him.
Monty is a really big striding young collie and his handler did well to keep his attention and keep him with her. Merlin also is very enthusiastic and I'm sure there is a lot more to come from both these dogs and handlers.
Morse and Merlin are really starting to pick up the channel weaves now so we were able to move the channel in and we're starting to see them wiggle. Monty is still being introduced to the channel weaves and Harry can already weave and again showed everyone how it was done by picking up the weave entrance which was placed right next to the tunnel. Well done Pauline.
A trip up to Middlesborough saw a full complement of dogs competing after Whisky had recovered from his cut pad that prevented him competing at Gillingham. Nancy was entered in an any size classes. These are for dogs either retired from normal competitive classes; dogs coming back from injury or for inexperienced dogs. Dogs are able to jump lower than their Kennel Club height. Nancy showed that she's nearly ready to make her competition debut with a clear round to start the day off nicely :-)
Gertie, who runs at grade 7 medium, ran her little socks off, as usual barking her way round the agility course and had a win and a 3rd (she was only slightly hampered by her handler forgetting the course). Whisky, competing at grade 7, didn't get any clears, but as I've felt 'out of sync' with him for a while due to lack of proper training, all I was hoping for was us to have fun together again and in his first class of the day - Doc's grade 4-7 agility - he had the first two poles down which I ignored and then he worked the rest beautifully, and I even did a blind pick up on a longish straight which worked like a dream. I even had time to hear Gertie barking at the side of the ring enthusiastically encouraging her playmate along! Winnie got at least one clear in a twisty jumping class (as usual Winnie the lurcher beat Whisky the collie for clears!) but the star of the shows, in our eyes, belonged to our baby boys.
We should stop calling them our baby boys really, as Rufus and Glen are both 3 years old but we can't help it. Glen has been having a lot of poles down recently - I've had him checked out at a canine massager and his neck was painful, but he's fine now - and I've finally realised its because I give him too many commands, especially when he's in mid air when its too late to give a command and he can't do anything about them and it makes him drop his back legs. So I planned my course and ran him virtually silently with a couple of directional commands when he was on the ground before a jump.... and he felt brilliant and went clear and came 4th in Grade 5 agility! What a star! In his next class he only had one pole down and took a jump from the wrong side as I commanded him too early - so I praised him anyway! And Rufus the lurcher is actually starting to use some of that whippet speed. Up until now he's been running courses in second or third gear but I know we have fourth and fifth gear and of course whippet warp speed that we haven't unleashed yet. I think we finally hit fourth gear and it actually felt like running a proper agility dog and the 4th place in Grade 4 jumping was an added bonus. Watch out for when Rufus unleashes whippet warp speed as they'll be no stopping him.
And, as usual, we had some excitement on our end of day walk around the lake. Glen fell in and couldn't get out (everyone else managed to!) and I nearly toppled over dragging him out. Oh and Connie somehow managed to get filthy black legs!!!
Obviously when we decided to start teaching the weather gods must have approved as it was another beautiful sunny afternoon. Although we were down on numbers for both classes due to holdiays and family commitments it didn't matter as it just meant everybody got extra turns. Unfortunately as Boo had gone lame Stan the spaniel had to step in as a last minute substitute, not that you would have known as he proved to be a natural. Tia and George the cockerpoo's not to be outdone progressed to doing short sequences with the handlers managing some blind turns after the tunnel.
We'd set up a slightly more challenging sequence for our beginners group. It was great to see Harry being far more focused and responsive to Pauline even though he works away from Pauline as he's so speedy. Morse is really starting to get the hang of the channel weaves now, and is finding those entries and driving through the channel even with Ruth rear crossing him. The star of the day has to go to Merlin (or should that be Maureen his handler) as he did a text book run of the course and fast too!
Hector is the newest addition to "The Agility Dog" team. He's a five month old Chinese Crested cross. He's started clicker training and has been learning some tricks and basic obedience but he's also started to learn some agility foundations.