Level Unlocked: Weaves

Rio can weave! Well, she can do four upright poles, and that counts in my book. We’ll work on taking her to a full set of 6 this week, and then progress will slow down again as I don’t have room for 12weaves at home.

Thus far, I’m pleased with how effective the 2×2 method has been, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the be-all-end-all method. I have been lucky enough to a) have relatively nice weather over the past month, and b) been able to steal 6 weaves from my agility group to bring home. If I didn’t have equipment which was easily accessable for very short, frequent sessions (ie, if you only see equipment when you’re at class once a week), I’m not sure how well it would have worked. I don’t think I’ve really gained the biggest advantages that this method should bring, either, because I have very limited space which means working on entries, and approaches at speed, has been impossible.

Rio also begins Rally this week, which should be fun. Mollie’s class finished last week, but due to her health, she wasn’t able to attend the last two classes so I took Kim instead. Kim does not have the heelwork for Rally, but she’s really cute at doing all the station exercises, and she really enjoyed her trips out, so she’s going to continue as well.

I’m very much enjoying not having flyball training or competitions to attend. I didn’t want to blog about my decision to leave my team – and the sport – before; it was both a very difficult decision, and a very, very easy one. I’m not going to another team and I’m not missing anything about flyball, at least not right now. Whilst I was sort of aware of it at the time, it’s only in leaving that I truly understood of how stressful flyball had become for me.

2012 Review

20 Weeks

I didn’t have any goals for 2012, but it was an interesting year. It was not a subtle year, or a kind year, or a gentle year. I want a lot of things for 2013, but I hope they all come about in a softer way.

Rio 10 Months

I still don’t feel comfortable setting goals with Dylan, he lives up to his name and we just have to play it by ear. I want him to be as happy and confident in competition as he is in training, but I know that this might be an impossible task. I think I need to continue trying to be more aware of when he is mentally struggling. I also need to learn how to accept that knowledge, to recover and move on from the frustration and disappointment it often carries.

Play

For Rio, I’d like her to be happy and confident when she starts competing. I don’t want to pile expectations on her, especially during this first year. That’s as much as I’ll say, because otherwise I’m sure I’ll say something to jinx her or inadvertantly add a bit more pressure. I just want to have fun, and since that’s Rio’s outlook on life as well, I don’t think we’ll go far wrong.

The old ladies are sadly ever older. Kim is always chipper, she likes sleeping and lounging and barking (always always barking). Her body maybe isn’t what it was but it can still do everything she wants it to, and her mind is as sharp as it ever was. Mollie isn’t feeling well right now, which is worrying for all of us, and I will blog about that when I know more.

Onwards to 2013.

Time Flies

Where has the time gone since my last blog post?!

I am very happy to report Rio’s target training is now rolling along at a good pace. I took it back to basics and we did some shaping, and she’s now double-front-paw hitting from any position. I’m not comfortable asking her for wall-turns, I don’t think I know what I’m doing enough for that, so we did some sofa-turns instead. She’s ready for the chute now, I think, which means I actually have to finish the chute. Hmm …

We did some simple circle work last week at agility and Rio decided this was boring. As in, after two repetitions (once each way), as soon as I took her lead off she went and did the whole circle and then said right, what’s next? So I’m upping the difficulty this week, she’ll have to work for a living.

Dylan seems back to his normal self, bit of a podge but I think that’s because I’m walking them in a morning now and I always have a pocketful of treats. He’s up to 20.75kg, little fatman! He’s back at agility too since we have a competition this weekend, first one since the end of September! I’m looking forward to it, fingers crossed for some challenging courses.

The older ladies are doing well. I feel as though I don’t write about them often enough, but they are just cruising through life in their own equally special ways. Mollie is always doing her own thing, she is starting Rally class soon so that should keep her happily entertained! And to be reunited with her old frenemy Bryn, just like in the old days … !

Kim remains very noisy and has a tiny lump on her chest which worries me; I wish I could say it’s a minor worry, but actually it’s more of a “I’m going to burst into tears and be crippled by fear at any given moment” sort of worry. I love this dog, and I love her more now she’s old and slightly daft. This week I am greatly appreciating the time when she gets up after a good deep sleep, all creaky bones and warm squidgy muscles, and she does her slinky stretches and I scritch behind her ears to tell her how awesome she is. And then she usually goes and fetches her Monkey and kills it, and there are tufts of slowly disintegrating soft toy everywhere, constantly, because we do this routine three or four times a day at least. How on earth can I want her to stay anything but perfectly healthy?

Sutton Fields Sept 2012

I love this tournament; my dogs and my team always seem to run well at Sutton Fields, and it’s always been my milestone tournament as well. Kim got her first sub-20 time in 2006, retired 2011, Dylan did his first Open 2008, Mollie retired 2012. Dylan got back to sub-20, 2012.

Kim ran in Starters on Saturday, our super-starter team of Snoop, Mylo, Kim, and Diva. We ran these four together at Larden Green and they are such a good little team, we came 1st again. Kim is obviously the experienced one on the team, but the others are true baby dogs; capable of running up and down, but still learning changeovers and occasionally making some silly inexperienced mistakes. It’s a proper Starter team, and these dogs will be ready for Open next season.

Sutton Fields: Mollie

Mollie’s team ran on Sunday and came 3rd, with a BreakOut time of 22.10 – this team won’t run together again so it’s sort of irrelevant. Mollie and Bailey are both officially retired now; they have both been superstars, rolling on with their own unique takes on flyball, but consistent team members to the end. Retiring Mollie does make me sad, she is still raring to go and loves flyball, but at her age and with her fading eyesight, it’s just too much to let her run these days.

Dylan was back running over 9″, the same team as we had at Larden Green. All the dogs were on top form, it was so nice to be running in a seriously competitive team. We were seeded on 20.12 so knew the sub-20s was within easy reach. Dylan clocked some easy 4.6s times, Roxy was consistently producing 4.6-4.7, height dog Ronnie was getting down to 4.9, and even Chip got his act together at the end of the summer and went down to 4.6 at times. We eventually got our 19.85 at the end of the day, with Chip, Dyl, Ronnie, Roxy. I also feel a little bit smug for not getting a single light all day, even when we got dropped into lead dog; 4x rolling starts, I win!

I can’t wait to get the new box and start training for next season; I suddenly feel like 4.5s is within Dylan’s capabilities, and that has never really been a prospect before. I’m pretty excited for next season, but I’m also a little anxious as I’m still not sure if I want to continue flyball after this year. We require some changes within the team to really reach next year’s potential, and considering those are changes of attitude and control, I’m not sure it will happen.

Friendship

Bispham

Onwards

Our plan was to try and get to a beach sometime this bank holiday. It’s always a bit of a hassle; so few dog friendly beaches at this time of year, especially within 2 hours of us. We live pretty much in the centre of the country, it’s about the same distance to the East or West coasts. Not so bad on the way there, but I don’t like the old ladies to be sat in the car for 2 hours whilst damp and potentially baking or freezing, considering the British weather.

Mollie

It rained, obviously, so no worries about the baking. We picked Bispham, which is really just a continuation of Blackpool beach, just because we knew there would be plenty of parking and lots of beachy goodness. It is a nice beach, but there were a lot of muddy spots, not good. The girls are getting a bit too old now for beach trips too, they were both very stiff and tired today. Dylan wasn’t, he loves the beach and swimming in the sea and so on, he had a blast and is ready to go again.

Kim

Rio had to stay home; her paw is almost entirely healed, but not enough to withstand a few miles of beach walking, especially at the kind of 100mph pace that Ri goes at. The manuka honey dressings have worked surprisingly well. I’m always sceptical about remedies like this, but it did seem to make a noticable difference. Enough that I’m keeping hold of the honey left over, in case we need it again!

Run!

So, still no beach for Rio. It might be Hare’n’Hounds next May before she gets a trip, at this rate!

Larden Green 2012

This was such a fun tournament. I think everyone knows what an absolute Olympics fangirl I am, and I was gutted not to get tickets for our home games this year. Instead I’m glued to the television 24/7 watching all the coverage, so I was panicking going into this weekend knowing I would be missing some of the events. Cue DAB Radio purchase … thank goodness for that impulse buy, as it got us all through the weekend! The whole team was huddled around the radio between divisions – and even between races, at times! – and it was a little bit special to have us all crammed into a caravan, cheering for our athletes on Saturday night as they brought home all those gold medals. Immensely proud of being British at the moment.

The dogs also ran well this weekend. Kim was in Starters with Diva and Mylo, and we borrowed a Chilli Pepper dog in Scoot. A four dog Starter team, and they won all their races! It was a four team Starter division so we raced everyone twice (same format as a 7-team div) so very proud of all of them.

Dylan’s team had a bit of a shake up as we have some dogs returning to the team, so he was running over 9″. We tried to reduce any changes for him, so he continued running second, into Chip (or on the front when Chip was out). The dog running in third was different, but is the small height dog and one he’s comfortable with. He is massively overjumping over 9″ and his box has deteriorated, as expected … he takes a long time to adjust, especially as he’s been running over 14″ all season. However, we were able to get splits this weekend and he was running fairly consistent 4.7s (including my changeovers!) and I’m happy with that. If he stays at 9″, he should improve on those times and if he transitions to the new box ok I’d expect him to be running 4.5-4.6s. Which would be awesome! We came 2nd with a fastest time of 20.12 (OLYMPIC TIME!), so very happy.

Mollie finally got to compete again, with the new dogs we had the few extra we needed for three teams. She’s not as fast as she was when she was pulled at the start of the season, probably running about 6s now, but she’s consistent and having a blast, as ever. The team came 4th, not too shabby!

No idea what we’re doing for the Champs now as we’d only entered two teams, and unfortunately now have more than enough dogs for three! In some ways I want our “normal” team to go, as we have run together all season, but the dogs and the team are not consistent at all. But reshuffling the orders at this stage is a little late. We’ll see …

Epworth/Drax/DruridgeBay/Somewhere Flyball

We were originally entered at Epworth, but then venue changes and tournament changes and we ended up running at Drax. The dogs got to compete and everyone was happy, and our top team actually won their division despite running a little slower than usual.

The Starters came 4th (of 5). So happy to be running my Kim again, she had the best day and couldn’t stop smiling at everyone! Mollie had a ball and Diva ran like a superstar, so huge thank yous to Stormchasers for letting us tag on to their team.

Rave Tuggy

Barking came last, unsurprisingly since Biba isn’t running consistently which meant we were down to four dogs, including two who cannot run all day. As a result, the team times were still very slow. It’s out of my control at this point, but I am pleased that Dylan ran well. Chip was running just over 5s and as a pair they clocked 10.03, which suggests Dylan was around 4.8-4.9s … I’m going to ask for splits at the next tournament so I can find out exactly. Whatever his singles times, he seems to be consistently under 5s which considering he’s running over 14″ and running every leg is not too shabby.

Rio came and played agility by the cars, thankfully this was a very small tournament so there was plenty of room for me to set a jump up! She was offering wing-wraps like it was going out of fashion, and she did some send-ons as well. Still figuring out her feet over the small height jumps, her take offs aren’t always pretty as this stage but she’s learning. She did well at working through distractions (like Diva and collective Beardies) so I was very happy with her as well. I spent the rest of the day snuggling Rave and admiring Jet, who is looking particularly gorgeous at the moment. She likes having Katie home!

Jet

You should all definitely check out Dog Rad Design (FB link); Cat was taking the photos for this tournament and they are stunning!

Dogs Unleashed 2012

G5-7 Jumping Can’t believe this is our fourth year at this show! The first year we did it, at Newark, it was absolutely baking hot, and every year seems to have got slightly more damp. This year was a complete washout, I’m still amazed that they were able to go ahead with the show. Flyball ran on Saturday but was cancelled on Sunday, agility ran both days but they were lucky in getting the best ground from the off.

The girls were due to run in Starters on Saturday, but when we arrived we were told they weren’t running Starters to preserve the ground. The decision was a good one, but it should have been made earlier. It would have been much better for us, and for Kim and Mollie, to leave them at home in the warm and dry. Sheffield also made the (right) decision to go to a Best of Three Run all Three format.

The ground was very wet and very muddy by the time our division went in. We’d already decided as a team that we weren’t interested in risking the dogs, so absolutely no re-running if we had a light and ideally leaving it easy on the changes in case any of the dogs were slipping. I actually think all the dogs handled the ground well, although obviously they weren’t running their usual times, and I think our fastest time was 20.47 (we finished 2nd). I was very pleased with how Dylan ran, his striding was great and he looked confident throughout. He was full of it when we got home though, the reduced racing was way too easy for him apparently!

Puddles or Lakes?

The Agility competition has gone to KC regulated, which meant it was limited to Large dogs only this year. A little disappointing for Kim, but I wouldn’t have run her in the conditions anyway. The judges thankfully took the weather into account and set good, flowing courses with challenges that were appropriate to the ground conditions, and left the course times generous so that nobody had to push their dogs for speed.

Dylan nailed the only difficult bit in the G5-7 Jumping, the weave entry/exit, and then I daren’t run to the next bit and promptly got into the wrong place and got him E’d. Oops. He was happy though, bounced around and got E’d a few more times. The G4-7 Jumping was a lot easier and we went clear, as did everyone else, but Dyl slipped and faceplanted on one of the turns. He was fine, albeit a bit muddy, but it cost us the time for the placings.

G5-7 Jumping Dogs UnleashedG5-7 Agility was another nice course but again, my not daring to run in the mud cost us. It was a long run to the weave entry and Dylan was quite far ahead of me, and pulled out to see where I was. He ran the rest of the course well, our Aframe training on Tuesday worked out as his Aframe was lovely (even with rubber contacts!). His seesaw was very very slow though, I think the aluminium ones at Wigton have undone his confidence more than I had hoped.

We did a little bit of wandering around the show, but not much, and I refused to take the camera in case I slipped and dropped it into one of the immense foot-deep puddles. Kim played on the bale scurry but refused to pick up the disgustingly slimy dummy, and I wouldn’t let her do the lure coursing in case she slipped. Dylan played at being a Gundog and did some blind search-retrieves of a dummy from behind hay bales and piles of branches. He loved this game, and apparently he was the only collie all weekend who actually did it right.

Saturday Flyball

Kim and Mollie’s Starter team is looking so good! We did some team training and a little head-to-head for Diva. Mollie was a Bad Dog because my mother wasn’t there running her, but thankfully she had an experienced handler to keep her in line! Kim is thrilled to be back at training, and I’m so looking forward to running her this weekend. My hope is that she’ll actually be running with one of our Starter handlers and teaching them the ropes at the next tournament. Mollie doesn’t get offered to newbies, she’s has too many quirky habits!

Dylan ran really well. Due to a serious of unfortunate events he’s not able to run with his usual team this weekend, and is instead running with the top team dogs. I actually think running with the same dogs every tournament has really helped him; because we’ve been able to focus on his actual runs rather than being worried about everything else, he feels more confident about exactly what is expected from him, so switching teams hasn’t been as much of a worry. As the top team are missing their anchor dog, Dylan can slot in nicely on the end and over the same hurdle height as usual, so we are reducing the amount of changes he has to deal with. As it was, we kept the changes easy and he ran very smoothly, so I was happy!

Rio didn’t come training, mainly because it was raining and I could not be bothered to dry her off again. But also because Saturday is Team Training rather than Starter/Baby dog training, so it was nice to get to focus on Dylan.