This is Grace, my 5 month old Spanish greyhound on her first walk with our 'extended pack'. As you can see she is settling in fine and loving every minute. And isn't she just beautiful? (or am I just biased!). And thanks to Julie for the fantastic photos.
Well - what an exciting training afternoon. Not only have we bought a new dog walk, we have also had a gate put in to create a short cut into our larger agility field, which means a lot less walking for us with all the equipment.
It was freezing and windy, yet blindingly sunny and again everyone turned up to stand out in the elements. We set up a course and broke it down into 2 sequences, then put it together at the end. Well, we cannot believe how good our handlers have become in just a few short weeks. We've tended to do lots of little elements up to now, teaching all the necessary building blocks of agility, eg wing wraps, handling, and the end position on the contacts, and on Sunday we put a lot more things together and they did so well. The dogs were driving on into tunnels, doing wing wraps, and driving on again and it was lovely to see. Magic amazed me as she's suddenly picked up and understands what she's doing, and Adrienne's handling of Millie was perfect and I can't wait to see more from both of these dogs.
Flossie was having a few lurcher moments, but this dog has come on so far. She has gone from doing .... nothing except lots and lots of lurcher zoomies, to doing a few obstacles in a row, and then playing tug with her owners and coming back to them. She actually did a wait, bombed down the channel weaves, into a tunnel, a wing wrap and into the tunnel again, and anyone who knows lurchers will understand what an achievement that is.
We have a couple of newcomers Jei a Spaniel who really wants to work and has tons of enthusiasm and is already catching up quickly and Ruben a German Shepherd, who has done some agility before and you can see lots of potential there.
We had Pauline running the full course with Tia, (sorry if we tired you out Pauline, we forget your age sometimes!!) who will soon be ready for competing, and she is driving on much more now that Pauline has had help with rewarding Tia away from her.
Then for our second group, the beginners, we put the numbers out and let them walk the course, listening to all the gasps of horror! Actually it was lovely to hear them all helping each other. Then we broke it down into a couple of sections first before they ran the whole course.
Well what fun we had and what amazing handling - some from people and dogs that have only done this for 7 weeks. Where do we start? Ruth with Morse is now driving onto everything and his contacts are spot on and he did a wonderful drive down a long straight into a tunnel where Ruth rear crossed behind him. And Maureen worked really hard in understanding how to handle and it was fantastic to see her and Merlin working together. Merlin is going to be one super-fast driven dog. Again, like Morse he did an incredible drive down a long straight with Maureen rear crossing behind him.
Wendy and Monty only started doing agility when we started this club, 3 months ago and Wendy has had to work extra hard with Monty - mainly because he found it stressful in such an exciting environment and he wasn't quite sure how to behave. I understand how hard this work is from a collie I had about 20 years ago and how much work Wendy will have had to put in and it's showing. He is much calmer, less 'eyeballing' and is listening. Well, she did so well getting round the course and I am really proud of them both. He is staying with Wendy more, driving on, getting his contacts and learning how much fun playing tug is. And again, he is going to be one fast dog.
Then our little dogs Bertie the Scottie and Dottie and Harry. Dottie just loves running, chasing her owner and basically anything as long as her ball is at the end of it, which is a perfect combination for an agility partnership. I think these two will go far as not only can Dottie run, but Debbie too and I was speechless watching how fast they both bombed down the middle straight. Dottie is a dog to make you smile and I think she would work all day.
Again, another dog to make you smile is the endless antics of Bertie. Although much more interested in investigating a stick that Julie threw out of the way to the side of the course, he actually worked the best and fastest we have ever seen (with a detour yet again just to make sure the stick was still in its place). How a little Scottie dog can make the ground shake as he thunders past I will never know!
Pauline ran a harder course with Harry as he is competes a high level. Pauline handles him so well anyway and only needs a helping hand with some ball throwing to get him to turn away from her and treats at the end of the dog walk. Well done Pauline - again you must go home shattered with all the running we make you do.
And, then as the light was virtually gone, we had a quick blast round with all our dogs which was so fun. One positive from hardly having any time for our own dogs at the moment is at least they will never be over-worked like we know some agility dogs are. We pick one or two things that we need to train with each dog and that is it, a big game of tug and back they go.
And then of course there the usual bit of drama. Walking the dogs in total darkness by now (there was a bright moon luckily) we set off to the back of Ruth's field with a wheelbarrow to bring back some pallets we needed for the shed. Ruth was pushing and Julie and I were attempting to help her steer - with the dogs helping to! - and as we got closer to the gate we kept telling Ruth to turn right, and the more we kept saying turn right, the more she turned left until we were hopelessly stuck behind the gate with a barrow full of pallets!