Monday, 4 October 2010

We had a fantastic practice yesterday for our upcoming demos at Newark Showground, and 3 of us decided to stay at the barn for a bit (ok, A LOT) longer to get a decent agility training session in before Agility Nuts next Sunday. I am really pleased with my dogs, but most of all Trent. As soon as he is more able to cope with show environments I'm sure he will be showing off to the world what Smooth Collies are really capable of!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Fair to say it's been a while.. :)

Well.. I have not updated this blog since March 2009.. whoops! So much for that resolve I talked about. :)

I am keen to start blogging again, as a lot has been going on with me and the dogs. I honestly thought about deleting this blog and starting again, as it has been left for so long, but meh, I'll stick with it! :)

Since I last posted here, a lot has changed -

- Trent and Indie have both now passed their Kennel Club Good Citizen Gold assessments, so I now have 3 KCGC Gold dogs, yay :)

- Ash has been competing successfully in agility at unaffiliated shows since August 2009, but we have only been regularly going to competitions since this June. He competes in medium as he is close to 18 inches at the withers, and the limit at the unaffiliated shows we have been to is 18 inches for medium dogs. The KC limit for medium, however, is lower.. so I fear that when we start competing at KC shows (as soon as I can get my dogs officially measured), he will end up in Large.. not good for a short legged, fluff monster Sheltie. He isn't a slow dog, but he could never compete with Trent and Indie for speed. I am training him with full height jumps now, just in case.

- Out of 5, 2 day Agility Nuts shows, we competed in 2 and a half, and Ash managed to come 7th overall in the ABL Elementary league due to his consistently good placings earning him a lot of points. We have already entered every show in the Agility Nuts winter series so we can have a crack at perhaps winning the league. I feel this would be a real highlight for his career, as if he ends up in Large at KC, he won't be able to achieve much there (breaks my heart really, as I feel he could be fairly successful in medium). Darn my freaky Sheltie for growing so much! :P

- Trent and Indie are both now competing in agility. I have only been doing dedicated agility training with them since around June/July. I started entering them purely so they weren't left out doing nothing whilst I was at competitions with Ash, as they knew all of the equipment and had some experience due to ICC occasionally doing agility training in the KC Good Citizen classes. I found they both really enjoyed it, were really motivated and exceptionally fast, so I decided to actually focus on agility with both of them, on top of the heelwork to music/freestyle/obedience. We started off the summer with constant eliminations (as I expected.. we were only having a bit of fun!), but have already ended up managing to get in the placings (with faults) and a few rosettes. Indie's only problem now is that she can be a bit of a pole-knocker. I called her destruct-o-dog at first as she'd have so many poles down, but it's frustratingly down to 1 or 2 at times now. Frustrating because her times are so fast, that without that one pole we'd have done really well. Trent just has issues with containing himself. He has some absolutely fabulous runs, and some diabolical ones. Nothing to do with his actual skill.. just his personality. He finds the agility shows very stressful and sometimes gets himself so wound up that he will fail to work with me, and just targets me, mouthing me. I need to dedicate a lot of time to him at the shows, working with him in the practice rings etc. to prevent this. As my friend dislocated her knee in August, I ended up running my own 3 dogs and 2 others for 2 days, and had no time to eat let alone go in the practice ring. I noticed this had a huge impact on Trent's performance, as at the next show when I was able to focus on him again, he worked the best he ever has done. I do think the shows are really good for him as he does get better and better at coping with the environment with each show we go to.

- Despite all my previous ramblings about HTM/freestyle shows I had entered.. I chickened out of all of them! However, I did actually enter my very first competition with Indie in September, after basically being forced to by people from dog training (Lorraine and Naomi!!). I don't think there is anything I am more passionate about in life than freestyle, and we have worked so hard, so the terror I felt was absolutely indescribable. I was shaking, I couldn't speak properly.. I was an absolute mess! Somehow, despite this, Indie and I actually managed to come 3rd! The marks were very close between the top 3, and I don't think I have ever been more happy in my entire life (how sad!).

- I have been doing public demos with my dogs, as part of the ICC display team, throughout 2009 and 2010. I have done freestyle displays with all 3 of my dogs (separately - yes I even did a cute little routine with Ash to Hillbilly Rock!), as well as being part of the off-lead, obedience-to-music display (it's a lot of the KC Gold stuff, done in a group routine to Madonna's "Hung Up", put together by our very own Barry). Our next display is on the 16th and 17th of October at the Robin Hood Game and Country Fair, at Newark Showground. We have a practice for this tomorrow morning.

- I plan to continue competing in freestyle with Indie, and start entering her in practice rounds for the heelwork to music. I built her freestyle routine around ensuring I could keep her focused, so i'd be interested to see how focused she can be doing just heelwork. I am also going to start entering Trent for practice rounds in freestyle. He is a sensitive little soul, so I want to ensure he is happy and coping with the strange environment before I enter for competition.

- Since August I am now training Indie for competitive obedience at Black Jack DTC in Wigtoft, with Hetty Van Hassell. I have had a few private freestyle lessons with Hetty with both Trent and Indie, and had been dying to get into one of her classes for a long time. When she finally had a space for Indie in competitive obedience I snapped it up and I feel we have been doing really well. I'm not particularly passionate about competitive obedience, but I feel that if I can keep my dogs focused and motivated doing that, then the more exciting freestyle should be a doddle! I am actually really enjoying it, and Indie seems to be thriving too.

Right, I can't think of much more to say right now as it is incredibly late at night and I'm dying of flu, but I may come back and edit this tomorrow to add more and include some photos.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Mother's Day

We went over to visit Matt's mum in Swinstead on Sunday afternoon.  What I had assumed was going to be a quiet visit, turned into a 2 hour dog walk!  We didn't even go inside the house, straight away Matt's mum got 2 of her dogs, Chelsea (a Miniature Poodle x Lhasa Apso) and Cilla (Chelsea's daughter), and Matt's sister Katie and her fiance Brett brought their gorgeous Labrador Codie. 

I hadn't quite expected this, so I was absolutely freezing cold in the chilling wind, only wearing a pair of combat trousers, flat, strappy sandals and a long top!  

The dogs had a great time and they all got on really well.  Codie had a hoop toy that she carried, and wanted thrown for her, constantly.  Trent thought about trying to steal it from her a few times, but all it took was a little growl from her for him to decide it wasn't worth it.  On a couple of occasions, Indie lay down on top of the hoop so Codie couldn't pick it up, and there was a slight "dominant bitch face off", but it never lead to anything.

We eventually reached the big lake at Grimsthorpe Castle.  Codie and Indie were straight in the water, swimming off to fetch sticks.  Trent and Ash paddled around up to their tummies but refused to go any further, and Cilla and Chelsea would not even leave the bank!  Prissy girls!  

We had a slight panic on the way back, as Cilla and Chelsea decided to disappear off after pheasants, which could have got us in huge trouble with the gamekeeper, had we been seen.  They eventually came back of their own accord, as it seemed no amount of us all calling and shouting was going to make any difference.  

Despite my inappropriate footwear, and my discomfort (especially when walking through stinging nettles!), we had a great time and I can't believe we haven't all walked together before!

The dogs were absolutely out for the count when we got home, they all slept really deeply!  That may have ran over slightly to today, as when I got home from work at around 10.30am, Ash was fast asleep on top of Trent's crate, with the cats on top of him, and he didn't even notice I was there until I went into the conservatory to let them into the garden!  Bless!  It was absolutely adorable, I even managed to snap a photo on my phone through the glass doors, although sadly my phone is not co-operating and I can't get it onto the computer!  

Not really done anything of particular interest today.  I took Ash and Trent out for a walk together and took Indie seperately.  If I take Indie out with the boys then I can't focus on her enough to ensure she is constantly walking on a loose lead.  I'd rather take two lovely, relaxing and enjoyable walks than just one where I am being dragged down the street!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Been a bit rubbish at updating the blog this week, but I'm back at work now so much more exhausted!

Had a great time at dog training on Wednesday.  We found out that we will be doing a display at the Belton Horse Trials at the end of April.  A display team has been set up and it is likely we will be doing some kind of obedience to music group routines.  Ash was to do an agility display, but we have since been informed that we will not be allowed to do anything agility related due to clashing interests with an agility club that have been at Belton for years.  

Either way, I think it is going to be a triumph or a disaster..  we cannot rely on practising only in the Wednesday night class or it will be pointless.  It could provide some great advertising for ICC, and we need to have a tight routine that will impress the audience.

Agility class on Wednesday was great as well.  There was only me and Ash, and Alex and his Cocker Spaniel Jaffa in attendance, so we had twice as much time to train.  Just for fun, Alex and I swapped dogs and I ran Jaffa, with Alex running Ash, which was fun and went surprisingly well!  I think Alex is a new best friend for life of Ash's though, as he gave him some chip shop sausage.  We did lots more weave practise, which was really beneficial, as perfecting the weave poles is the only thing that is preventing Ash and I from properly competing.  I was training with the normal weaves, instead of the channel weaves, and Ash is doing well with this, but we need to work on increasing the speed he takes them now.

Yesterday was a busy day for me, and Ash.  ICC had been invited to attend a puppy show at Pets at Home, and I left work early to go along with Ash to do some good PR for the club.  Lorraine was there with George, and Fiona took Gwenna along to enter into the show.  As we had been led to believe that the show would not be very well attended, Lorraine gave Heather the morning off, but my God the place was absolutely packed!  There were so many people there that you could barely move!  By the time I got there, Fiona and Lorraine had already ensured that they had spoken to most people and given them our business cards, but I still managed to sell ICC to a few new people, and I also made sure I mingled with the others and gushed about how great ICC is (which is easy to do, and I could do all day!).  Ash was very good, he was petted by lots of lovely polite children and fed lots of treats!  What could be better eh?  He was also very happy that Becky arrived with his "girlfriend" Saffron, the most beautiful, tiny little gold and white Sheltie with one blue eye.  I adore her!  I could happily pop her in my jacket and take her home! <3

All in all, I'd say the morning was a great success.  From what I could ascertain, we had lots of very interested people.  I went back to Lorraine's for lunch afterwards (to save me driving home, only to drive back out again for the puppy social walk a couple of hours later), and the business phone rang a few times!  Hopefully that will be some keen new owners from the morning at Pets at Home! ;)

At 2pm we headed to Wilsford village hall to meet up for the puppy social walk.  Due to Ancaster Valley still being inhabited by sheep, we all drove over to Sudbrooke for the walk.  It went really well, and no one had to feel Ashy's wrath other than Bruce, a slightly OTT Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy.  Only 5 months old but still a good 3 times the size of Ash!

As tired as I was when I got home, I still had to walk Trent and Indie.  I decided to take them out seperately, for about 40 minutes each, so I could do some training.  Indie is really good at walking on a loose lead when we're on our own together, although her herding instinct still kicks in whenever she sees a lone car coming down the highstreet!  She doesn't pull me, she just stops and goes into typical collie herding pose, giving the car the eye!  Silly girl..

Sunday, 15 March 2009

It was the monthly ICC adult dog social walk yesterday, and I decided to just take Indie along with me this time.  When we got out of the car she was initially her manic, squeaky self, but as soon as we got walking that all changed.  I let her off the lead and she was really well behaved for the entire walk.  The only problem we had was that the other dogs seemed to target her (not in an aggressive way, just very, very interested and playful), and she was rolling on her back left, right and centre to submit to them!  I went home with a very dirty dog as she was rolling on her back in wet mud!  

She eventually decided to stand up for herself a bit and told the other dogs where to go, which helped a lot, and she finally enjoyed the rest of the walk without spending most of her time on her back with her legs in the air!  

My mum and dad came over to visit from Birmingham today and brought Izzy, their Shih Tzu.  I love seeing Izzy, she is the most adorable little pooch in the world!  After an initial sniff, my dogs completely ignored her, which was good!  Izzy isn't so good with other dogs, not aggressive, but just has no idea how to behave.

When I brought Indie in, I asked my parents to completely ignore her no matter what, and this worked very well as she settled quickly and ended up spending most of the day asleep. 

I took my parents to Horbling Nature Reserve for a walk with all the dogs.  It was really nice, my dogs had a great time, and ran around and played rough together without interfering with Izzy. 

After my parents left, I did a bit more training with the dogs for our freestyle routines.  I am really quite panic stricken about it!  I sent my entries off so there is no going back now, but I am just scared that my dogs are going to ignore me in the ring and I'll be really embarassed!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Well what a busy day I had yesterday!  I didn't get home from dog training until nearly 11 at night, so had no time left to update my blog!

Matt took the dogs out to Horbling nature reserve for me yesterday, as I was out and busy with other things.  

Indie had a private heelwork to music lesson yesterday.. which could have gone better!  I had been very prepared, wrote up my routine (well, I had completed about 2/3 of it) on paper etc. and had been practising it lots in the morning.  Indie pretty much switched off as soon as we got into the barn and just played stupid.  "Paw????? Wha..?  What's that mean?"  She managed to get a little bit of work done but I was very disappointed and I don't think it bodes well for the competition we are entering.  It is so difficult and frustrating.  I know she is improving, and I know I have the patience and motivation to get us past this, but it's just whether that will be in time for the competition!  She is too easily distracted!

Then there was the Gold/Platinum class, and Trent was on his absolute best behaviour.  He was absolutely smashing and I was chuffed to bits with him!

The lesson started with a bit of a test to see how our dogs would respond to commands on either voice alone (hands behind your back!) or hand signals alone.  It was very interesting and I found out a couple of things.  I hadn't realised that Trent would do heelwork with my hands behind my back!   Trent will not walk back on hand signal alone, but he would on voice alone and he would not stand on his back legs by voice alone, but he would on hand signal alone.  Everything else, he would do with either.  

We also started a bit of competitive obedience send aways and a sort of '101 things to do with a pole'!

I taught Trent a new command, "wrap", where he will sit and wrap both his front paws around a pole and hold it!  It's so cute, I love it!  He's such a clever boy and he loves training.  You can almost see the cogs going round in his head when he's training, trying to figure out what I want!

Ash was excellent as usual in agility, but it was worked out that he actually performs better if I just shut my mouth for the majority of the course LOL!  He has developed an obsession with the stalls in the barn, because I used to throw food treats over the top to make being in the stall a nice experience for him and to keep him quiet.  When he entered the barn last night, the first thing he did was run full speed into one of the stalls.  It's getting a bit irritating now though as we will run a course, then he will run back and try to get into his stall again!  I refused to throw any treats over into the stall last night, and we did have the odd indignant yap, but I would rather break this habit now!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Today I have continued clicker training the dogs with the target stick. Trent and Indie are making progress, but Ash seems to be a bit behind them.  He is still too focused on the fact that I have food somewhere on my person to do much more than prod the end of the target stick with his nose for a split second.. he just stares at me!  I've been throwing food away when I click, to try to discourage his fixation on me.  

I have had a few opportunities today to click and reward for a bit of trotting pace with Indie and Trent.  It looks so gorgeous, I really want to achieve this with my dogs.  

Having spent so much time (and half a block  of cheese!) training with the target stick however, means I neglected to continue working on my freestyle routine with Indie today.  I feel a bit stupid about that now, as I've got a heelwork to music lesson tomorrow and could have done with having a solid routine to practise.  I will try to get it worked out tomorrow before the class, but I have a couple of other committments tomorrow also which means I will be having a non-stop busy day! 

We didn't have a particularly special walk today, we just walked around the village for a while and let the dogs off to run and play in the paddock next to the village hall.