Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Holiday Getaway!!

A much needed and highly enjoyable break - and a fantastic time, dogs included!!  Normally we don't go away over Christmas - and usually spend it with our family, but with the events of the past year - and to be honest the last couple of years - we felt like we deserved it and just wanted to get away, just us two and our furry kids of course had to be included too.  We found this hotel in the back of a dog 'hobby' type magazine, and as much as it was quite expensive, a while ago Alex decided to bite the bullet and make the booking so that we could spoil ourselves.

Reading a few of the 'tripadvisor' style reviews left us with a bit of an odd feeling about the hotel, some incredibly positive, and some oddly negative about the strangest things!!  Anyway, we went with an open mind and low expectations - just in case of disappointment, but we were pleasantly surprised and both had a lovely time - though we could see why it was a bit of a 'love/hate' place for some.

I think one of the most important things that we realised soon into our stay, was that the hotel was probably one of the most dog friendly places we have ever been to.  By this, I don't just mean dog 'tolerant' but actually genuinely interested, friendly, accommodating and welcoming of all their canine customers (16 on Christmas Day!) including providing meals (if wanted), strokes/fuss and biscuits at regular intervals, which was just lovely and really refreshing to find.

We had a lovely ensuite double room, with a fantastic powerful shower and with a nice view over the front grounds/gardens and down across the sea in the near distance, more than pleasant enough for us. The hotel was set in its own grounds of who knows how many acres that we couldn't even begin to fully explore in the time we were there, and was literally five minutes walk from the beautifully clean, white, sandy, dog friendly beach.

The weather around pretty much most of the country was wet, rainy, stormy and cold, including home before we left, and the journey down too, so we were extremely lucky in our four days away!!  It ended up that every day was good enough - or better, some days were sunny and quite summer like - for us to be able to have one very long walk or two shorter walks, mainly on the beach but also down within the grounds.

We also took the time to see a couple of local historical landmarks, took hundreds of pictures (mainly of dogs, of course, coincidentally they are quite often in the same order in pictures, complete fluke!!), and spent a lot of time together in the hotel just relaxing, making friends with other guests - human and canine, sitting in front of the fire with the dogs, and eating and drinking far too much rich food and generally not doing a lot!!  We're certainly considering the possibility of going there again, if it was anything like this year then it was so relaxing, gave us some time together not stressing and the dogs loved it too, we all had a lovely time.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Happy 7th Birthday Kiah Pie

While we were getting ready to go away on our mini holiday and for Christmas, little miss Kiah and all of us celebrated her 7th birthday, with biscuits, toys and sardines - I can't believe my little girl is 7 already!!  I know I say that every year but its true, and I really do cherish every year with her, she brings me so much happiness, and makes me laugh all the time, and I just love to spoil her.

I just absolutely love this picture - Kiah smiling at the camera, it was taken on our Christmas break - along with many others, a total of 976 in the end, filling up our memory card completely, and in most of them the dogs are smiling, which just reflects our holiday perfectly!!  I will be writing another post about our getaway - as it was a beautiful location, positively excellent weather in comparison to the rest of the country, and as we had a fantastically relaxing time.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Oops... Lack of Updates!!

In my lack of updates, there's not really a lot we have been doing - we attended the usual Norfolk show in October, gave the ABC qualifier a go... unfortunately not our kind of course set by John Gilbert, we were not quite on the same page this year and it all went a bit wrong!  The ABC is not the only reason we go up there, its a nice show all the same.  We weren't quite as lucky this year with the raffle, no weaves but we did win a box of choccies! Stayed in a nice local B&B with friends (though a different place to the other years!) even though I had a stinking cold.  Kiah was spoiled - she is my princess, and got to come into the B&B, as long as we bring her snuggly bed she is always brilliantly behaved and just settles down for the night.  Unlike me that was all stuffed up with my cold, so frustrating they always make you bunged up, get you down and keep you awake!!  Unfortunately only a couple of weeks after we were back from the show, Alex came down with an awful cough too, and when he finally relented and went to the doctors (eventually, only took 3 weeks!) he was signed off for a week with a terrible chest infection and strong antibiotics.

The estate of my dad is still underway too, with a very efficient and friendly solicitor I am pleased to report, incredibly helpful and constantly on top of things, chasing them up and making sure the answers are received, so that's not been too stressful for us.  Thankfully the house and the flat are now on the market, so even though we still need to continue emptying them, its a start.  Its a lovely feeling when we are down there to spend an hour or two on the beach, so relaxing, fun for the dogs, fresh and a good place to just breathe, especially if its sunny blue skies.

We are both really busy at work, which is a shame to moan about as there has been so much redundancy this year for a lot of people, but it has been a hard graft all year, businesses wanting more and more from everyone.  With the evenings getting so much shorter and the weather more miserable, its always a bit more of a struggle too, the dogs get less time outside, its been colder and most definitely wetter, there's so much more darkness and generally its more difficult to function and get up in the mornings!!  Our dogs are very patient with us - more so in the winter, having to work all day, and though they get short walks every day, checked on at lunch time and their treat toys, playtime or training in the evenings (or in Kiah's case, cuddling with daddy on the sofa), mostly it is the weekends when we spend as much time as we can with them.

There were a couple of winter shows too both within an hour's drive but opposite directions, grim weather at both but Kiah enjoyed herself!!  Two agility runs we just had refusals, a serious error on my part where I just need to commit a bit more, or follow things through, Kiah is just TOO responsive at times, thats not a bad thing but it gets me and my handling in trouble.  Never any major errors, usually just me!  The boys, though not entered in the shows had a good walk and then wander around the show, Risk especially befriending anyone and everyone, such a little socialite he loves everyone, though he does have his extra special favourites, and Davy just being his usual self - apart from a minor panicky meltdown losing where I was, while I was walking a course bless him!

A couple of months ago the dogs had their boosters at the vets, they were all really good and didn't flinch at all - its really nice to get a comment from the vet about how lovely our dogs are!  I always worry about whether all the jabs are necessary, there's always a big debate about the pros and cons, but I think at least for a couple more years for all of them, otherwise I would just worry even more about them getting sick.  As usual they conned the receptionists out of three bonio biscuits each!!

Of course there have been a couple of important people's birthdays to celebrate, no not the dogs' just yet, but mine and Alex's only 15 days apart, and both December - and then importantly miss Princess Kiah's too, she is 7 already - you wait all year and they all come around at once!!  One of my gifts, was a trip up to London to watch the comedian Michael McIntyre, had a fantastic time, he was just brilliantly funny and excellent live.  Another one of my presents was the most stunning framed picture of our three dogs, which I just adore.  Most of Alex's presents are landrover related... boring to most but I think he likes the items that I pick - based on his wish list of course!

Last weekend we spent the Sunday early afternoon up at the forest with our three and their vizsla/pointer friends, we hadn't been up there for a long while and it was very enjoyable, wet and muddy underfoot, with puddles, bogs and clear overflowing ponds, but a clear and crisp sunny day - perfect for a two hour ramble, to get the heart pumping, and to catch up with a good friend, always makes you feel better.

Something I used to do when I was younger was to make (amateur) completely handmade cards from start to finish - usually for my parents or grandparents, normally done when I feel in a creative sort of mood, and a good way of relaxing for me.  I felt the need and the want to do one this year, it took me a while but I created one for my grandparents and have not long sent it off, along with a completely homemade Christmas wreath to hang on their front door if they want to.  This year and the last couple of years, (apart from our wedding of course!) has been a bit sad, so neither of us are feeling particularly festive or wanting to celebrate.  So - we are spending four days away, going down to the West Country together with Kiah, Davy and Risk - to a dog friendly hotel - they have to be involved with our celebrations too; to sleep, relax, take long walks, and spend time on the beach.  To whoever and all that reads this, I do wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Warm Walkies

A few weeks ago there were a stunningly warm few days including the weekend, so we spent a lovely morning with friends walking the dogs for a couple of hours, in the local country park.  We had recently purchased a new-to-us DSLR camera from a friend, again a Canon as we really like the brand and the quality, but this time a 40d, an update on our older 350d, so we thought we would take it and try it out.  The dogs had a great time playing with their friends, racing along the sandy lanes, in the cooler forest, across the greens, through the streams, and most importantly downhill on the offroad cycle paths - obviously when no bikes were around, a lot of fun.  The new camera did good too, we got some good photos of our three and our friends three as well, this is one of my favourite ones - you can see them bursting out of their wait, and the focus in their eyes as they heard their 'ok' release command!!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Birthday Boys!!

Wishing a very happy birthday to Risk (little dude, noodle, ewok, not poodle), who turned 1 year old on the 22nd September!! A very happy little soul and always makes you laugh, he is a little bit sensitive, and a little independent at times, but great fun and likes to play.  Really starting to enjoy his agility training, and bounces around when the clicker comes out to do tricks.  Very handsome and loves life and everything in it, our lovely boy!!

And...Wishing a very happy birthday to our first rescue boy Davy (doofus, rat boy, sofa dog), who turned 4 on the 1st October!! Such an easy going boy and also a little sensitive but very different, much more closed.  He is just starting to come out of his shell in a big way and has started playing with toys, a big step for him.  Also very handsome (not biased about my boys at all!), and takes everything in his stride, our lazy boy!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sunshine Through The Rain

We have had to make quite a few trips down to Mum/Dad's house to check up on things, do the gardening, sort out post, keep the house tidy, and generally start to have a sort out.  Its kind of sad for me going down there, but of course I have lots of lovely memories - and loads of photos to look through which I quite often do when I go down there, so its not a bad place to be, it will always be my home where I grew up.

I had to make a trip down on my own for something a couple of weeks ago, it was nice to be there again, and I took the dogs down with me, though it was absolutely miserable on the whole journey down, and not much better when I got there.  The dogs are always really good when we go down there, and after a play in the garden and a chase around the fruit trees (which always makes me laugh) they settle down really well, so I managed to get a few things sorted out.  Just as I was deciding whether to bother taking them out in the rain, I realised that it had actually stopped raining, the temperature had risen, and the sun had broken through the clouds, so we went on a really beautiful, quiet and peaceful walk along the beach, we all had a fantastic time, lovely end to the day.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Yahoo, 09.03.99-10.09.12

The Monday straight after the Burnham weekend was a very, very sad day for us as we had to make that final, fateful decision for our 'old man' Yahoo.  He was 13 and a half and one day, so for a big heavy built (but not overweight) retriever he was a pretty good age, but it didn't make it any easier.

After a vet visit the week before, due to his general health starting to go downhill, I suppose we knew that sooner or later it would be that time.  So we spoiled him rotten entirely that one last weekend, with lasagne, knuckle bones, sardines, biscuits, and chocolate (not all at the same time!) and of course sunning himself all weekend too, we made sure he enjoyed every last minute.

On that final journey, he had his favourite thing ever - a big chocolate bar all to himself, and lots of tasty biscuits while we said goodbye, with his dignity firmly intact.  Yahoo really was THE golden retriever - he was the most gentlemanly, kind, good natured, understanding, gentle, respected, calm, and friendly dog you would ever meet.

There's no one like you, our one and only 'orange dog' - we love you and miss you an awful lot.  Look after mum and dad for us, and wait at the rainbow bridge, until we meet again... xxx

Beautiful Burnham

For once we got to Burnham early ish on a Friday night and set up quickly, thanks to a friendly Dartford crossing and a reasonably easy journey up, even though by the time we got there around about 8pm, it was already pitch black, shows that autumn and eventually winter, is coming and just around the corner.  Both evenings in fact started to get damp and frosty as soon as the sun started to go down, and the night times were cold and very dewy too.

The day times were not to be sniffed at though, both days were beautifully warm and sunny, still reminiscent of 'summer' even though aforementioned seasonal days were few and far between!!  We managed to take a lot of photos at this show of the dogs, and this picture of Kiah is one of my favourite that has EVER been taken, it was very sunny but she was under a canopy (sitting on 'her' camping chair!), so I can see her beautiful dark brown eyes, but without any shadows, it shows her colour and her mane off, and she is smiling at me too.

Alex spent a lot of time at this show cleaning our van, and caravan, and helping to clean other peoples too... and some times he was having a nap in the sun!!  So unfortunately he didn't get to see all of our runs... it was such a great shame that the two he missed were the ones that we did really well in, we managed two clear rounds, and ended up with two second places, one on Saturday and one Sunday, and two lovely trophies and rosettes!!  I really was so pleased with Kiah, we so rarely manage to get any clear rounds let alone two, they were nice challenging courses set by Hayley Bray, and Neal Lye, but a little bit 'unusual' - and quite often they are the ones we do well in!!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Olympia Semis

So it was the time for the Olympia semi finals being held up at Stoneleigh, but rather than being in the ABC finals this year, Kiah and I had made it to the 6-7 instead, so proud of her but incredibly nervous being up against a lot of the top handlers in the country.  All of the finals were being set and judged by Arthur Rodgers, they were fantastic courses, perfectly set for the grades, tricky, lots of clever areas for mistakes, but plenty of room for handling and lots of exciting parts to enable power and speed, very enjoyable.

My warm up running order was number 20 so roughly in the middle of the pack which was fine, though I'm not sure whether it was good luck or really bad that I ended up with running order one in the semi final, typical!!  I think I controlled my nerves reasonably well (for me!) and after walking the course, I stayed calm and Kiah was good too, we had no poles down at all, working together and listening, and just an unlucky refusal, with a finish time that was up there with the others, so I was really pleased, and positive going into the final.

Walking the final course I really enjoyed the look of it, I must have walked it about 6 or 7 times just so that I made sure I had the hang of it, and I think at this point it was more than likely better that I had running order one, as I didn't have time to worry or stress!! Kiah was fantastic with my handling, just a couple of unfortunates - I had a couple of areas where I hesitated which was just a silly mistake by me, firstly which resulted in a pole down, and then another pole down a few obstacles later, when I called her too soon and I didnt need to.  Such a shame as again we had a time that wouldn't have been discarded.

There was so much positivity to take out of these two runs, I was so so pleased, and as much as I was a tiny bit disappointed in the poles coming down, Kiah's contacts were brilliant, and her turns, and her weaves and the entry too, and the go round, and driving to the tunnels, and taking off at the end to power to the finish line, clever Kiah bear!!  Good luck to everyone that is off to Olympia, I just hope we can qualify again, the nerves and adrenalin is exciting - would love to give it another go!!

Fun Agility For Charity

On the bank holiday weekend we had the in-laws down, its always nice to see them I really enjoy it (I don't even call them the out-laws!) and I think they enjoy seeing us too. It is lovely that they adore their 'grandkids' and the feelings are most definitely reciprocated, the dogs love them all too and all the extra fuss they get, and they usually bring dog sweeties which are always appreciated and welcomed!!

The Sunday and Monday we had plans to go to the agricultural show, and the demonstrations organised for the public and to raise lots of money for charity.  Everyone there seems to always manage to donate a few pounds which is great, either just through watching our displays or taking their own dogs around the have-a-go agility. This year the total was just over £1400 on the two days, which is split up and some is sent to a cancer charity, some to a dog charity, and the rest to other listed charities that are chosen through the organisers.

Its nice to be able to help raise a bit of money while doing something great fun with friends and the dogs, they absolutely adore doing the agility.  In the initial part of the displays, Kiah got to show off in her weaves, Davy got to do a jumping sequence, and little Risk got to do a recall over some little jumps, all done brilliantly.  Even young master Yahoo got to walk around the arena with Alex's parents, be the perfect role model for kids, and collect some charity money. Great fun for us all, and against the odds and the forecast, it stayed sunny ALL weekend!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

DIN 2012

Was a little bit subdued this year, due to the events of the previous week, but it was great to be surrounded by friends who care and understand and make you laugh. Thats why I love agility so much, and of course most importantly our agility friends so much, love them all - those at shows and those who are just at the other end of a phone or email or social site, they are a great support network and always know how to make you smile, even if you don't want to!!

I'm hoping that dad maybe had a hand in the weather forecast too while he is up there, as it was beautifully hot and sunny all week, from when we arrived early afternoon on the first day, right up until the last 'finals' day, thankfully a small slice of summer!!  All the dogs had a lovely time, Kiah got to play agility lots and lots, Davy got to do agility and sleep lots, Yahoo got to enjoy the sun in the garden, mooch gently around the rings and enjoy his knuckle bones, and little Risk got to play with his friends, most especially Tarka his girlfriend - a very pretty Hungarian Vizsla pup who is almost exactly the same age.

Both Kiah and Davy were competing this week, with the standard (and very chilled out!) two runs a day, though Kiah got to do a pairs run with a friend Jo, and her dog Kyte - a prick eared handsome black and white collie boy.  It was a great fun run, we never take it too seriously, and such a shame that unfortunately three jumps from having two clear rounds I got us spectacularly E'd after doing all the difficult bits.

Davy was a good boy in some of his runs, and did some excellent work, tackling all the eqiupment including the tyre and the flat tunnel and I think a wall too, which he hasn't seen much in training, so that was great and there were lots of positives.  He was however really struggling with the weaves this week, he did get a couple of 6 weaves completely, and Alex was really good at taking him back with the 12 where he was having issues - but I think the heat during the day was affecting sofa-dog-Davy, as some times there was very little effort being put in...

Kiah was really good over the whole week, I think there was only one run where we had to stop in the ring, have a 'calm down' chat and leave the ring - I don't drag her out at all, its just a calm walk out and chill - I do this for her safety and for my sanity, before she completely loses her mind!!  We had entered the ABC qualifiers for once, and our very first run in the qualifier we stayed calm and collected, and wow - so pleased with Kiah, a clear round and third place, with a lovely crystal trophy!!  I found out later in the week, that we had somehow successfully managed to qualify for the final on Sunday with our one placing, first time I have ever qualified, very exciting!!

Unfortunately we didn't manage to get another clear throughout the week, though we had some excellent work, a really good course set by Sara Bennett - we had two poles down which was a shame, but a brilliant weave entry, and a go round that was really difficult as it was surrounded by other jumps, that we mastered, so really pleased with that one.  The nicest course of the week was set by a judge Malcolm Jones, very well thought out, not 'gimmicky' but a real challenge, almost set like a final course, and very well set for its grade too. Unfortunately on that one we were going well, but it was a fast weave entry, and Kiah skidded on the scrubby dry ground and went 1-3, such a shame.

I was so proud of my princess for qualifying for the finals - even though when it came to the course we had a pole down, I was still so pleased as we had the second fastest time, so not disappointed at all!!  Overall, a truly lovely week for all six of us, really chilled out, great to enjoy the hot hot sun, and relaxing, in what has been a stressful few weeks - it was nice to get away and for Kiah to successfully win us a trophy was just an extra smile for me!!

Monday, 10 September 2012

My Dad

Almost two years on from losing my mum, sadly my dad passed away at just 63, no age at all, it was so sad and such a shock, and I can't believe it really.  Dad was really healthy in his life, more than most (well mostly!) and the only person I know that would swim as many lengths in the pool on his birthday as the age he was turning, a really great achievement.  He had battled leukaemia for quite a while, and was successfully in remission, and made it to our wedding in February.  That was great, absolutely loved having him there, this is one of my very favourite pictures which was taken there in the evening, of us two.

Dad loved it in Spain and had spent a lot of his young life there, working over in Gibraltar in his early 20's, so when he announced at the end of July that he was going on a 9 day holiday over in Southern Spain and to stay with a friend, no one was surprised and I hoped he had a good time, which I am certain he did.  On the day before he was due to come back home, he was taken ill into hospital in Spain, thankfully I was able to speak to him and typically just like dad, he said sorry to worry me so we had a bit of a laugh then!!  Sadly though, quite quickly he deteriorated, and though the doctors were trying everything to help, within a week his heart and organs gave up.  Basically it seems the leukaemia had come back with a real vengeance.  It was such a shock to us all and I'm so grateful for Alex's support, but I'm just so glad that Dad was enjoying himself and doing what he would have wanted, rather than suffering and hurting.

We had a lovely celebration of dad's life a week ago, where lots of friends, family and work colleagues attended, with donations to leukaemia research and some lovely flowers too.  A couple of dad's good and oldest friends said some lovely words and funny memories, which made us all smile.  I miss him, and mum too very much - I'm hoping that even though mum and dad had their differences, they are back together now, and watching down on us all, keeping us all safe.  Love you dad XXX

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Agility Club

A couple of weeks down the line, another show threatened by the weather... not entirely surprising.  Unluckily for the show the week before, at a different venue, as that one DID have to be cancelled.  Thankfully this was another local one for us, and luckily for the organisers too, the sun shone almost solidly in the week leading up to the show, so apart from the rings needing to be moved a little, the ground held up pretty well, and all bar about a 20 minute rain shower (where we were luckily sheltering under a tree!) the weather stayed breezy but thankfully dry until Sunday evening!!

Both dogs were competing this weekend, so double the amount of courses to walk, and double the runs to get to without missing any... not going to happen!!  The layout was a little bit spread out due to some of the ground but couldn't be helped - I think I got to most of my courses, and Alex has got the hang of roughly intuitively knowing approximately when courses need to be walked now - but he did miss out on walking two runs on one day which never helps as one of them was really quite complex for a grade one.  Alex and Davy did really well on that one though, did his flat tunnels and send ons, it was just the weaves that he didnt get, the hard stuff he did really well.

Davy had some other really good runs, one especially where Alex either needed to do a cross in front or behind which he forgot to do, that time there were only 6 weaves and he got those too, what a shame.  In most of his runs now though, the only thing letting him down now is his weaves, so more practise required but he is getting there, and really finding the entries now so also partly confidence building too which will come with time.

Kiah had some real handler errors this weekend, I really struggled with spatial awareness (more than normal).  There was one course by Alison Grimes, which I really enjoyed running as it was a little bit different - and did the hard weave entry where everyone was getting eliminated, but then forgot to move and watched poor Kiah take the wrong jump!!  There were two fab courses that I really remember - one by Sam Lane, really spread out and different, where I was nowhere near a jump when I should have been, and another by Marie Hembrow with lots of traps but lots of send ons - where Kiah was fantastic and picked up a fab weave entry with me at the other end, for me to then watch her rather than front cross, and send her over the wrong jump, arghhhh!!  Kiah was really good though, I was so pleased with her, just totally annoyed at me - she deserved her ice cream at the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

A Different Kind of Mud

Alex's other hobby and entertainment is his Landrover Defender 90 which is his grown up toy and working project, I must admit it is quite good fun to drive once you get used to it, even more so now that it has its 'retina burning artificial daylight' spotlights on the front, which of course only get used responsibly... One Sunday in July, when we had no shows booked, I was convinced to join in with one of the off road events, it was a very sunny day which was nice, though the previous fortnight's (at least!) weather, had ensured there were lots of deep puddles, splashes and MUD to be found.

Most of the driving and experience was fun, if a little painful in places - and I had a short turn doing some driving, though I did of jump out of the truck in some of the very worst of the areas, partly as I'm a bit of a chicken, and also to take some photos and videos of it all.  You can see from this picture quite how muddy it is and it gets (this was fairly tame), and the amount of jetwashing it takes to get it back to white again!!  There are a few sites that Alex and the 4x4 crew go to now and again, so I might think about going along again, its a bit of a different sport to agility!!

A Rather Grey...Week Away

We had a week off work at the end of June - beginning of July to recharge our batteries down in the West Country, a nice relaxing time and we were attending a couple of shows at both ends, the first and the last weekends of our holiday which we were really looking forward to.  It would have been a slightly better week away if the sun had come out a little more, I think in total out of 9 days, we had two where it didn't rain, slightly disappointing!!  The weather has been an unfortunate feature of this year, and especially that week, but we still had a good time.

At the first show it was a nice pleasant first day, once we got there around about midday, I think we managed to set up, have a cup of tea (always welcome!), take the dogs for a nice long walk through the fields and see the beautiful views over Bath, and enjoy dinner with friends, all while the sun shone, only giving way to rain in the late evening.  Saturday wasn't too bad, though the ground had started to suffer a bit, with limited areas of walkways, and traffic not being limited which I think should have been, it was showing signs of not holding up.  Kiah was really good in the runs we did, unfortunate in a fab ABC qualifier course by slipping and just having a pole. Another was in a jumping run, we had a dog run into the ring where we were going clear - the judge kindly gave us a re-run but we had a pole in that, damn!!  By the time midday came on the Sunday though, we had already decided to not do any more runs cause of the conditions, typically the rain started to subside, and the sun made an appearance, but it was too late!!  The tractors were called in (about 5 in total we think!) to tow people off, they did a fab job and so did Alex - helping out our friends getting their camps packed away and towing eyes ready.

The week in between was slightly better, we still had rain but were in a campsite not far from Gloucester rather than a field full of caravans, so slightly better drained - I suppose the rain was probably inevitable as Wimbledon was on!!  Normally we don't take a television on holiday, but borrowed a friend's for the week, it was nice to just zone out in the evenings so I think we will be investing in a small one for next season.  We still found plenty to do despite some of the gloomy days, walks with the dogs, a couple of rest days, having some professional pictures taken by Chris of 'Pet-ography' (definitely recommend!) indulging in yummy pub food, going to the beach, taking Kiah swimming down at Dogchester Hydrotherapy (also definitely recommend!), walking along the canal on one of the sunshiney days, doing a bit of shopping, and sightseeing a little with the camera.

At the end of the week it was a thankful decision by the organisers to go ahead with the show, the sun was shining as we pulled into the venue only a short journey away, and we set up quickly and easily, and after a quick run around for the dogs, they and us were happy to sit in the sun right into the evening, though it wasn't to last!!  Friday was ok, Kiah had a great time in her three 1-7 runs, we got eliminated in every single one but there were some fab courses, somewhat thankfully our runs came up at once as it only started raining heavily once we were finished.  The problem was it didnt really stop... at all...  Saturday's runs I can't really remember, the ground was pretty good though a number of our friends decided against travelling up due to the weather, which was completely the right decision.  Sunday when the rain had continued pretty much all night (again), we had just about had enough, the river was getting worryingly close to bursting its banks, and so we chose to pack up!!  Kiah and I did one course, very carefully, we were eliminated by jump two!! It was mainly just so that Kiah felt like we had done something before we left, but without putting her in danger.

The Tuffley show organisers were very helpful and smiling all the time, even though Alex was quite proud of himself that we actually managed to safely exit the showground without needing to be towed through the quagmire, and we were glad to get home at a sensible time on Sunday, and get out of the mud and rain.  The dogs were pleased to get home too, it was clear to see they were getting tired as well!  I think that we would do that week away again, the shows are very relaxing and quite laid back, the show locations are stunning and normally our highlights of the year - its just that this agility season has mostly been exceptionally bad weather wise and that can't be helped!!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunshiney Weekend!!

We had a week off from shows near the end of June, to relax and spend time at home, and to just catch up on house things.  As it was a beautiful sunny blue-sky-day from the dawn, we decided with the help of Alex's mum to get our garden in a bit of order.  It was actually quite rewarding, tidying, weeding, grass cutting and strimming, hacking back the bushes, really pleased with the end result. So no pictures of dogs this time even though they were enjoying the garden too (thankfully, say Davy and Yahoo as they hate having their pictures taken!!), just a few pictures that I took, of some beautiful flowers that we are lucky enough to have in our garden.  Just wish I could work out some better formatting for the pictures instead of having them in a big list!!


Another weekend show, this time at a different showground - slightly nearer to home, just under an hour away - so no problem with daytripping in fact quite nice (and a shorter journey than I do to work on a daily basis so really just a mere stroll!), I don't think I need to mention the reason why we weren't camping for yet another time.  It could have been worse - that I keep forcing to remind myself, as there was a little bit of sun, along with the rain and quite a lot of gusty wind!!

It always concerns me a bit when I end up walking a course differently to others, I suppose more wonder than concern, but there must be a reason why everyone is going the same way!! So one course in question, I hadn't seen more than about nine or ten people go the way I picked, but I stuck to my original plan, and when I came to queue to run - and watch others, I realised that my way would provide a far better line for Kiah, and not pull her off course - which was exactly what it did, so I was pleased with my choice.  There can be so much or so little to agility, one of many things I enjoy about the sport, it can be as big, small, or as 'anything' as you want it to be.

I think we were a little bit unlucky with some of our runs at this show, I was super pleased with how Kiah was working on both days, though by Sunday we did have a couple of those 'looney' moments that we do see every now and again!!  Generally a nice selection of courses, but some silly errors - one great fast jumping course with loads of tunnels, really fun - where we had a pole, there was another when we messed up the weave (but got the entry!) on a course that would have been great, and another pole in a fast fun jumping course, then the second pole in an agility course as I 'snatched' at a turn, arrgh!!  Oh well, a learning curve - onwards and upwards, Kiah didn't realise or mind that we didn't get any clears this week, this was a picture of her in one of the blasty courses, having a fantastic time!!

Saturday, 14 July 2012


I haven't updated in ages again, unfortunately boring things like work have been getting in the way, anyway the next show we went to (in order!) was the weekend show Thames up at the Newbury showground - and unfortunately YET again we had decided not to camp due to the probably not surprising, but disappointing weather forecast for the weekend... Thankfully (but rarely) it was for once quite incorrect, as the weather on both days was reasonable and even a little bit of sun - but I didn't mind as its nice to get home to my own bed, and without fail, Kiah sleeps better too.

I was pleased with the way Kiah had been working in training at the time, she was still as looney as ever (and highly unlikely to ever change!) but listening to me and actually thinking about things rather than just belting around as fast as she possibly can. I find at shows too we are a better team if we just spend a few minutes before our run, playing and messing around (as well as our warm up) and stopping for a few photos in this case, smiley pretty girl.  There does seem to be quite a fine line between us working well and not so much, silly little things such as timing, and delivery of my commands really does make a difference.  As much as she is a loon she does always listen to me, but sometimes almost 'too much' which gets me in more trouble!!

Anyway there weren't many courses over the weekend that I was particularly impressed by, though in our very first run we had a fairly impressive clear round - I say impressive because it was the messiest clear in time, that I think we have ever done!!  I didn't want to push Kiah hard around it, due to a couple of what were almost dangerous angles for fast/silly dogs, so we took it easy, very easy. I waited until she was long committed to contacts before crossing behind and catching her up, I even forgot to do any kind of cross at one point, so had to do a weird spin to ensure she could get a proper take off for the long jump!  So I think it was slightly representative of the type of course, when I just by complete chance I thought I would have a look at the times - and what had won - and saw Kiah's name in a very respectable 10th place, bless her my clever girl its a good job we checked!!  So, a nice show as the sun shone a little, a lovely purple rosette for Kiah, a pretty good weekend :)))

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Very Clever Dogs - 2 of 2!!

Kiah, well she was running well too, and I just don't think she wanted to be outdone by her brother on the first day!! When I walked the course I didn't really have a huge opinion on it, thought it was ok, quite challenging but also fair, as set by David Isbister, but we were unlikely to do well in it as it was a combined 6-7 class, so one set of results. Obviously I need to have a little more faith in my little princess at times, wow it felt fantastic to get a clear round, and running about three quarters of the way through the class, go into and stay in third place!!!! It wasn't the best run by me, and even though Kiah got her down contact, miss naughty-bear shouldn't have come off the side of the dogwalk, though I can't criticise really as her weaves, keeping her feet up and nice turns were really fantastic, so very pleased with her!!!!  It really does feel great when we manage to go clear, a real buzz and even more so as we don't get too many clears.  I only realised when someone told me, after the class was closed that it was a qualifier, so as well as getting a lovely trophy, Kiah and I are off to the 6-7 semi-final in September!!!! We also have a video of my girl with her run too, so proud of my Princess-Kiah-bear!!!

The second day wasn't as great with naff weather, and even though the dogs were still good, we had no clears - but with some good contacts, waits and jumping from both of them, nothing could have outdone Saturday's results!! We headed home pretty promptly, missing the worst of the weather and getting home at a reasonable time too, its nice to chill at home on a Sunday afternoon.   Of course we went home with the best ever dogs; both Kiah and Davy were brilliant, am exceptionally proud of them both - of course they got extra sweeties, and a tin of sardines each in their dinners that night as extra rewards!!

Very Clever Dogs - 1 of 2!!

The first weekend in June was always going to be an exciting one - Alex had finally bitten the bullet to enter shows, and this was Davy's first ever agility competition!!  After me having a day off - on a surprisingly warm summers day - to get our sliding windows and tinting done on the van (which look fantastic) and Alex having a half day at work, for once we hooked up the caravan relatively early on Friday afternoon... and then promptly got stuck in slow-moving traffic for about an extra hour!!  Thankfully the rest of the journey wasn't too painful, and we got there easily.

The first day of the show started off pretty great, not the worst weather we have seen of late, a little bit windy and quite sunny most of the time, so can't complain. It was exciting reading two sets of running orders, with Alex and Davy's names on the page - as well as mine and Kiah's, and the way the classes ran, it wasn't going to be us in the ring first.  So after about an hour or so it was make or break time... not really as it was just going to be a brilliant run no matter what, due to the hard work Alex has put in, to train the laziest dog on earth.  Well there was no need for anyone to worry, Davy didn't hesitate one bit, powered up the line, listened to Alex's commands, went on to tunnels, and after a fab blind turn by Alex following another excellent tunnel entry, they went clear, absolutely fantastic!!!!  Hopefully attached is a video of their debut, what clever boys!!!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Shiny New Treat :)))

We have treated ourselves to a new (newer) van, as much as our blue van has done us very well, it was our first van and it wasn't *quite* what we were looking for - if we had ever had a wider choice in picking our first van. So anyway, it has happily gone off to its new dog / agility home, to be another 'first van' for someone and to be loved by its new owner, all good reports so far and lets hope it stays that way!!

Our new van is almost exactly what we were looking for, it is a dark silver-grey, short wheel base, automatic engine, tailgate, air conditioning and came with dog cages - van as modelled by Kiah very nicely here!! The seating arrangement is a little different too - it has 2 single 'captain seats' which means Alex can stretch his legs out instead of having them jammed against the dashboard, not that I have a problem, being a foot shorter than him!!  We have since insulated the van ourselves, and Alex did a good job of swapping the cages between the old and new van - so we still have our combination lock ones which I'm happy with.  Most importantly, the dogs seem to be happy with the new van too, and it has already had its first successful agility show trip, including towing the caravan, all good so far, very pleased with it!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Tunbridge Wells

Yet another show that unfortunately had to be re-jigged thanks to the weather, the camping was very limited and was on hardstanding roadways only so very frustrating, thankfully for us we were daytripping and had four of our friends staying over to save them camping too, quite a fun evening with a yummy takeaway.  But again we were very grateful for the show to still be running, and typically the sun shone all weekend!!

I have started to notice that with little miss temper tantrum Kiah, in the last few shows, she will run so much better if we are more 'in tune' and I've spent more time with her beforehand, of course I always warm her up etc, but if she just spends a few more minutes with me, not doing anything in particular but just being there, she seems to be a little less feisty!!  Due to the show's weather move, some of the runs were inside, and unfortunately neither of us are great due to the noise and the hype, but there were some good things - a fantastic fast awkward weave entry being one of our best achievements.

They are few and far between this year, but we did get a clear round at this show!!  I'm hoping that the video will attach here.  It was a bit scrappy again - a lot of times I'm getting to a jump almost 'too early' and so when I need to cue Kiah to do something I'm already in front of the obstacle rather than flowing with her, so the judge was generous not giving refusals, but I was pleased with this run how we were working together, and some other good ones too, making it a positive weekend.

I haven't mentioned the boys in a while, oops... they are all still doing well, Yahoo is having his good and bad days, mainly good and enjoying life, and finding the odd tennis ball to death roll on, but I think the weather seems to affect him as cold damp days on old bones doesn't help.  He enjoys the garden though too, very much an independent soul and enjoys sitting outside surveying his patch when the sun shines.  Davy is coming along nicely too, he can be a little sensitive and so still comes out of his shell a little bit at a time with certain things, though he is more brave and can be quite soppy and loving too, on his terms.  He is still the laziest dog I think I know, currently sleeping on the sofa but I think he will always be like that, not that we mind as long as he is happy.  Alex and Davy have been continuing to practise their agility... watch this space as his first agility show is booked and almost upon us!!  Little Risk, well he still looks like an oversized puppy at 8 months, but has filled out a bit, and height wise is only about an inch off Kiah's height, he just needs to mature a little now as he is quite often mistaken for much younger.  He is quite confident, but not very brave when it comes to trying new things he needs a lot of encouragement - we have started little bits of agility with him, send ons, turns, playing, tunnels with his raggy toy and treats, which he is enjoying.  His personality is fantastic, absolutely second to none, loves everyone he meets with his little ewok-wookie noises, which make everyone laugh, and he is very VERY cute, which gets him out of trouble!!  I must get my camera out, and take some more pictures of them all as I haven't done in ages, when the sun comes out for a while longer...

Just The One Day

We woke up to a reasonable morning and decided to make the journey to Newbury, thankfully it was just the one day show or I would have been reluctant to consider it, knowing previously what the weekends had been like!! It has been difficult for the organisers of all these shows and I am grateful that they could keep this show running, though there was a bit of reorganising the ground required. As we got there quite early, we parked at the front of where the dayparking was (on a hardstanding, just in case!!) and took the dogs on a nice walk, in the wind but also some almost sunshine wow!!

Through reading my running orders and having two courses up first and my third and last after just 60 dogs, I realised that we could quite easily be home by lunch time, depending on how the courses were running - and I wasn't far wrong!! Due to the ground conditions, the forecast not being too pleasant and lots of people just deciding not to bother, the classes were running quicker than normal, and struggling for dogs, so we ran our first two courses sooner than expected. It was soooooo unfortunate that we had a silly refusal in the ABC qualifier, just down to me really, as she came out of a flat tunnel and I should have kept my arm out, but so pleased with her and the way she was listening to me. Well done to Jason and Stihl who had a faultless run to win it, it was a fantastic run and I'm glad we saw it!! Our second run was a really unusual course with a go round (which I really like!) and lots of space, but control too, and opposite ends of tunnel - which again I really like as I know we can usually do those really well!! So after walking and working out a way to do it... again stupid handler error and we ended up with another refusal, damn!! Very frustrating as Kiah was again fantastic completing weaves to nothing, the go round, the wrong end of tunnel and the long go on successfully mastered, so very pleased with that, Kiah that is, not me!!

Our third course was ok but nothing too exciting, and as I was walking it, the typical British weather struck again, and it started to rain, not sure I really was too surprised. Again they were struggling for dogs, and even more that the weather had deteriorated, so we got in almost straight away... Not sure it was quite worth waiting for as Kiah was nuts, so we were eliminated by obstacle four!!! The picture of 'Super-Fly-Ky' is just a reminder of how lovely it was last year at the same show!! So we had a look around the trade stands on the way back, bought the dogs some yummy fish skins, and Risk about four new toys (as he likes to shred them), and made our way home before the worst of the weather hit. It was so nice to be able to get away so early, and so with four very tired doggies, Alex and I went and got a bite to eat as a very late lunch, and went to the cinema, very enjoyable and a nice way to end the weekend!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Wet, Windy, Wild, Woeful Weekend!

It was our first camping show of the season a couple of weekends ago, Alex did a great job towing up there, and when we got there on Friday evening some friends had saved us a good camping space which was great! We set up our camp quite quickly, including putting up our full canvas awning, to a reasonably calm evening, took the dogs for a walk around the showground, and had quite a good night's sleep under our toasty duvet - it was however unfortunately NOT the sign of things to come!!

We were managing one of the rings on the Saturday all day, which was quite good fun, and Alex did a lot keeping everything running smoothly, the only down side was the weather, blowy, cold, wet and miserable - very frustrating though not entirely unexpected... we cant complain, there was a good team spirit getting us through the day!!  The dogs were fantastically well behaved, as much as they probably didn't want to come out of the van much - when we are helping at a show, they do have to be very patient, and they were all brilliant.  As I kind of knew already though, Kiah doesn't DO calm at agility when she's been sitting in the van resting during the day, so we had a bit (more than usual) of a wild child during our runs!!  It didn't help that I was being more cautious due to the ground conditions, but there were some positives - an excellent weave entry in one, and we definitely had a good time despite the weather, and there were some nice courses again.  We didn't get any photos/videos of this weekend, though I've received another fantastic video of Kiah in slow-mo from Roy (from a different show), such a fantastic feature on the camera and just absolutely brilliant to watch.

At the end of the day it was nice to get back into the warm and dry of the caravan, and use the awning as a refuge for our wet clothes - but still there was no let up in the weather whatsoever, not even overnight and right into morning!!  The fact that we knew it didn't stop overnight is the worst thing, as neither of us got an ounce of sleep, the wind and rain felt like we would either lose the awning, or the whole caravan would blow over it was that bad, I think most of the showground was the same!!  It was a relief getting to Sunday morning, and the show committee made the unfortunate, but by far the best and bravest decision to cancel, parts of the showground were completely underwater, the wind was still strong and it would have just been dangerous to continue.

There have been a few number of shows cancelled since, so they aren't alone in having to abandon weekends, it is such a shame for organisers who see all their months of work go to waste, and for the competitors who enjoy our hobby.  Of course in some ways it is good as we do so desperately need the rain here (as long as its the right sort!?) its just that agility is a bit of a fair weather sport - and we're fair weather campers so it would be nice for it to improve soon... please!!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lazy Monday

Today I have had the day off work and its been fairly lazy so far... its been really nice not being at work on a manic-Monday, and it would be lovely to do it more often!!  As you can see the dogs have been taking full advantage of my day off... by stealing all the sofa spots!!  There has been a reason for my day off though, as we are having our cavity walls insulated - we've already done the loft ourselves as I've posted about before - but there are government subsidies available, so we took advantage of the deal, and I hope we will start to notice the difference; a little to help the bills, and to help save the environment a little too.

Gardening Time!!

We were due to go to an agility show last weekend, but there was an outbreak of a very serious dog virus further up the country that a young pup had contracted, so we just decided to stay at home instead.  I'm reasonably quite certain there would have been no risk of our dogs being affected, but for the dogs sake - the fact that we have a potential lower immunity in Risk a young ish pup, and Yahoo a dog in his twilight years, and for my own sanity (as I just know I would have been scrutinising the dogs every movement even more than normal) we just decided not to go.

There was more than enough stuff to keep us entertained, we went for a huge walk with some friends and the dogs, and even sat outside a cafe on what was a surprisingly pleasant morning for some well needed breakfast when we got back. Not thinking that was enough excitement for one day, on the way home we started our gardening weekend - we bought two new water butts and dug out a new border for them, and connected them to the garage gutters. Two weekends later they are full to bursting with 380 litres of water, with all the rain we have had!!

We are lucky enough to have a beautiful long garden which we love and the dogs do too, they are always playing in it!! At the very back of it, it is very sheltered from both the wind and rain but along with this shelter, it can suffer a little from less sunshine than the rest of the garden does, not a lot will grow, bushes and hardy trees are better than grass and pretty plants in this case! We have some pretty bamboo on one side which I really like, it is very picturesque and is always green so looks good all year too. Behind that - and on our other day of gardening it was time for some manual labour; digging out the mud/mulch/leaf fall to level it, laying gravel and paving on top, which now houses our wheelbarrows, compost heap and will eventually have a shed too to hold my few bits of agility equipment and our gardening bits - its tidier, and clears space within Alex's garage for his truck toys and boys stuff!! It was a hard days work, especially digging out the earth - though Alex and Kiah found a comfy resting place in the form of our new wheelbarrow - though I'm not sure that's what it was quite designed for!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Chilly Easter Weekend!!

It was a well looked forward to four day weekend, a lovely relaxing pleasant Friday and with agility booked in for the middle two weekend days - so after a beautiful week the week before, it was slightly typical that the morning of the show was grey, and rainy and actually quite cold. Probably usual weather for March/April but I think the British way is that we're so un-used to getting such lovely weather, we crave it when its here but yet its so disappointing when it goes again. This show is close to home which is great and meant no camping, as much as I enjoy camping it is nice to get home of an evening, especially when its not sunny and warm, to relax properly!!

The first day of the weekend, we had some fab runs which I was really pleased with, a qualifier that unfortunately we messed up - the start was awesome as there was a spread that Kiah turned over safely but really well, and her contacts were great too, but then we unfortunately pulled off a tunnel, she is SO responsive that sometimes she just won't commit to a tunnel properly, more training required on that!! No poles down on that course either, always a good thing too. We did even have a clear too in another run, which I was so pleased with, it was messy as I just couldn't keep up, but so pleased with Kiah - it was a fantastic course set by Mand Pigg, very different to the usual 'pull in/go round' that is quite often seen, but just awesome, an enjoyable challenge, but really let the dogs stretch out.

On the second day, all our three runs came up at once in the mid afternoon, a little frustrating as all three rings were busy at once, but there were some ok courses, so not so bad waiting for! There was a funny (in a good way) tunnels and jumps helter skelter, which was another nice spread out ring, even though after three tunnels in a row, Kiah just couldn't believe we had to do one final one, so there was a couple of refusals on that!! Our best run was in the agility, quite a simple course but some clever traps, set by Andrew Dicker, though unfortunately we just had a pole down around a corner, but pleased with Kiah overall, really listening. At the end of the weekend Alex had even bought me two little gifts - he spoiled Kiah and Risk with new fleece plaited agility leads in their respective purple/lilac and orange/black, I love them!!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Easy Like Sunday Morning

The dogs and I have the house to ourselves for today (well and last night) as Alex and a friend Jason are off on a 'boys day' doing landrover things, it has actually been quite pleasant - I do miss him a lot, but its still nice just to have the odd day of me time. Mind you, not that we have done much, all the boring housey things have to be done like washing, cleaning, tidying, dusting and vacuuming, but there is a small element of 'feel good factor', seeing it nice and tidy when its done!!

This morning was very peaceful though, after getting up to give the dogs their breakfast as their normal routine during the week, I went back to bed - and so did the dogs (on our bed!!) and had a wonderful lie in, just for about an hour and a half but it just felt like I had the BEST nights sleep!! After a shower, I took the three youngsters out for a long walk around the local park/forest, it was nice and quiet as it was still fairly early, so it wasn't too hot either. Its not an easy walk - on purpose - as there are a lot of big hills which we try to 'power walk' up when we do this walk, but its a good feeling when you get to the other side, a bit of an achievement.

So after a quick detour to have a nosey at a new pet shop that has opened up nearby - and buy the dogs a pigs ear each, for later on - it was nice to come and chill for the afternoon too. Its a beautiful sunny and warm evening, the dinner is already on, the house is tidy and the dogs are sleeping... just one person missing - due home soon - but its a pretty good day :)))

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Risky Roodles Pup-date

I thought it was about time that Risk got another little post about himself, as he's been doing a bit of growing up recently, he's not a tiny puppy any more, more of an adolescent at 6 months (and one week!) and certainly turning into a very lovely, happy, confident little dog. He is quite chunky and has a really lovely thick jet black coat, with a sweet face too. We have decided that he must have some kind of 'ewok' type creature in his make-up, as he when he is really happy or sees someone he really likes, he loves to 'talk' to them, its very funny!!

Part of the rescue rules is that he had to be castrated by 6 months, so he was all booked in quickly and dropped off one morning two weeks ago - to stop me thinking and worrying about him. The day was over quickly thankfully, and when I went to pick him up he was just as happy, none the wiser, still 'awwooooing' and yodelling - telling me all his woes! He has been really good wearing his cone - when he was on 'parole' from it when we could keep an eye on him, he never once tried to get to his wound - plus the vet that did the snip did an absolutely fantastic job, I know its a routine operation but I've never seen such tiny stitches, and it has healed perfectly.

I have started doing a very little bit of training with Risk, not anything serious just little bits of fun, playing with his tuggy toys, little bits of basic obedience, learning lefts and rights, practising waits, and balance tricks on his peanut ball and wobble board, which he loves. We have also been lucky enough to be invited to two fab sessions with Nancy and Leah, just puppy foundation and was really pleased with how good Risk was, and how much he enjoyed it.

As the clocks have now changed - which is just great as its SO much lighter for longer, we will probably do a few more agility practice in the garden - I am so so pleased that we looked for a big garden when looking to move house, not just for agility but its so much fun to watch Risk and usually Kiah, having the room to play properly whenever they feel like it!! We may start doing some more proper training after Easter, but not before a couple of what are going to be great fun - and really quite big - proper season agility shows, Risk socialising some more, Kiah competing, and watch this space, nearer to the summer, even Davy might start his agility career!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

And The Season Starts Again!!

So back to the early morning starts and driving to a field in the middle of nowhere - but we wouldnt change it, and the first one of the season is always a bit special, catching up with people after what seems like an age!! It is the same every year, but what made it better was that it was Risk's first show too - to socialise, and a perfect venue to do so - indoors, outdoors, through arch ways, flappy tents, different textures and surfaces, noise, other dogs, and bless him little mister confident took it all in his stride, which I was just so pleased with, of course it will continue at further shows but its a great start, very proud of my little man.

The other fantastic thing about this venue, is the exercise area. I say fantastic, because so many show locations really are lacking in anywhere decent to walk, and in my view part of going to an agility show is taking the time to chill out, some early mornings, or at a quiet time during the day, or early dusky evening, and have a pleasant walk. Even more so in Davy and Yahoo's case, as much as we take them around the show venues etc, its so nice to take all of them on a good couple of walks.

Kiah was great, she was a little bit insane - but could I expect anything different, as much as she can be so frustrating, I love the mental 'want to do' attitude and it just makes you laugh!! We had a bit of a disaster on our second run, it was indoors and it was my fault, as I hadn't given her a proper rest in the van before, so the whole build up was unstructured and eventually ended up in us doing a couple of contacts and kindly thanking the judge before leaving the ring. Indoors can be more frantic as its all a bit stressful, but Kiah is usually pretty good, so I must remember that for next time, that if Kiah is a little tired (bit like her owner?!) then its best to just let her chill out for a little while... as she is doing in my hat here hey Kiah bear... this picture always makes me laugh!!

She was however really good on our two outdoor runs which were first and last, they were two courses set by the same judge, spread out but still challenging, unfortunately the first course went from a long jump to a tunnel, and my delayed reactions sent her in the wrong end!! The last run was our best of the day which the video just won't load for unfortunately!! I had a few timing issues up at the top of the course, and we got two refusals, but Kiah's jumping was great, weave entry too, a great go on at the end, and no poles down - it was a great way to finish the day.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Oops... Late Happy Birthday!!

Poor Yahoo... we completely forgot his birthday which was the week before last, on the 9th, so a very Happy Birthday orange dog / old man / stinkus / stubborn git!! I would get him something yummy for his dinner, but the consequences are unthinkable, bless him he seems to have developed a sensitive stomach, so maybe just a few extra treats and biscuits for him instead!!

Yahoo has just turned 13 and isn't doing too bad, sleeps during most of the day now though still gets up for his meals so not completely past it. This picture was taken just a couple of weeks ago, so he's still looking as distinguished as ever after a good groom. We think that he is more than likely deaf now or certainly acts it even more than he used to (if that's possible!), however he still also manages a big long walk with the rest of us every week, either getting drenched on the beach, around the lakes, or trekking in the forest, so is still enjoying himself, bless him, there's life in the old dog yet!!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Honeymoon Part 3!!

Thursday morning we woke up to the sun shining, and a fairly early start, to easily jump on to the A30 to start our hour's journey towards Cornwall with the dogs. We have been there before but it is a stunning county and is just a fantastic place to visit, all the towns and villages, and things to see and do, but especially the beaches. Once into the town, we found ourselves a very short walk down towards Fistral beach, very famous for its stunning North Coast waves and surf. On that morning the tide was out - not disappointing as there was plenty of soft yellow sand to play on, and of course there were still waves, just a bit further out - and apart from a few devoted surfers, the whole place was just so peaceful and quiet.

We spent a good couple of hours down on the beach, if nothing else but to enjoy the sunshine, it was just so warm it was a bit surreal and a bit spring-like, and very different to back home!! The dogs loved it, splashing about in the rock pools, climbing up the slate rock formations, and just generally messing about, and having fun. The rest of the day was spent in the town centre, and sampling the indulgent delights of the West Country - cornish pasty, cream tea, and yummy pub evening meal, before our journey home the following morning.

Of course the camera came too on our adventures, on Thursday and from our days throughout the week (after a good charge most nights before!!), we even got a few of us two together - I wish it was that I had taught Kiah to take pictures which would be really useful, but its really the timer function!! I must admit that we do end up taking so many pictures and we don't always end up printing a lot of them, but its just great to have them all as a reminder each time we look at them, of the best time of our lives. However, there are a few truly special ones which are going to be printed and forever remembered as the best memory of a truly fantastic week.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Honeymoon Part 2!!

So onwards in the week, Wednesday was a lazy and late start and a tasty breakfast, and then a short drive to a local reservoir to take the dogs on a long walk, over a huge impressive working bridge and dam, and around some stunning breathtaking scenery. The micro-climate around there was just something else, as it was freezing cold but the sun was out which was normal, but the temperature must have been in minus figures, as the frozen topped streams but running underneath were testament to, so pretty and quite fascinating. We barely saw anyone around so it was so quiet and peaceful, and the dogs had a great time in a brand new place to walk, and were really well behaved, especially around the wild birds, sheep and horses.

After a good few hours rest we had an exciting (well for me!) afternoon planned, with the BEST recommendation ever, to a canine hydrotherapy centre nearby in Devon - Dogchester Hydrotherapy - and the kind owner had managed to fit us into her schedule, which was just great and so helpful. The facilities there were just fantastic all round with a huge heated and ramped pool - and Trudy the owner was just so good with Kiah, getting her perfectly accustomed to the water with no rushing or stress, and it was just the best thing ever to see Kiah starting to really enjoy what was a full hour's worth of swimming.

The rest of the day was really just spent relaxing together on the cottage, with three tired and happy doggies (Yahoo had stayed with friends for the week as he is just getting a bit elderly now) and two tired and happy humans, log fire burning red hot, cosy evening together, ready for another following day, which was to be a day trip and visit to Cornwall...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Honeymoon Part 1!!

To continue; we had a very enjoyable and lazy Sunday 'post-wedding' morning, it was lovely to see lots of people who stayed over, and then just to top it off having a rather overindulgent fry up/cereal/ fruit/pastries/toast/whatever we wanted breakfast at the hotel, and a very lazy check out having stayed in the penthouse, just lovely!! We did have to eventually get back to a bit more reality, and Alex had a fun few minutes using his 4x4 for what it was really meant for in the snow of the empty car parks... typical boy!! It was great to get back to see the doggies after they had spent the previous day and evening with some very trusted friends, it was great to know they were in safe hands, and being spoiled too.

The honeymoon was a secret until we started travelling down, and I found out that it was to be down in the West Country at a beautiful secluded cottage in Devon, that the dogs were welcome at too (even better) - just a stunning place with a homely feel, the best power shower ever, and a toasty log burner that Alex made sure was roaring every night!!! The first afternoon there was just a lot of enjoyable nothing - all of us chilling out, in the cottage.

Our first full day was just perfect, Alex had arranged for Kiah and I to have an agility lesson in the morning, and a workshop in the evening, such a lovely thought. We had a great time, Kiah was mad but was really listening and did some fantastic jumping and turning work, I was so pleased with her - she looks pretty pleased with herself too!! On the way back we happened to pop into Lidl for a few bits, and by pure chance we came across a peanut balance ball for just £7, bargain!! That first day was just to be the start of loads of fun, at a highly enjoyable week spent with my bestest family ever...

Our Wedding!!

I never wish my life away (maybe the odd week at work?!) but it is a little frightening how the last few weeks have come and gone, and now we are officially 'old marrieds'...scary!! I'm not going to write down too much, as I really could go on and on, but we both had a fantastic day. We had lots of lovely people around us to help us celebrate - family and friends old and new, the sun was shining all day, thick fluffy white snow in the late evening (we're sorry some of you couldn't make it but we'd rather everyone was safe), Alex's landrover making a special guest appearance as the wedding car, a very enjoyable evening reception, and the chocolate fountain - had to be seen to be believed, but went down very well too. Even the dogs made a guest feature as they were pride of place as little models on our wedding cake, complete with paw prints, it had to be done, its just us all over! Here are a couple of amateur pictures from our special day - really love looking at them and can't wait to see the official photos hopefully in a couple of weeks...

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Walky Weekends

Continuing with the walks that we have been doing, today and yesterday have been no exception!! Yesterday brought us over to the forest again, and as it was slightly overcast to start with, there weren't too many people there so us and the dogs had a great time. There were 11 dogs in total - 8 gundogs, a shepherd and two collie-somethings!! We even actually remembered the camera - this group shot was taken at the end of the walk - usually slightly more chance of getting the dogs to sit still as they were belting around having fun!! I do even feel slightly less unfit than before, which is great, a bit of a bonus.

Otherwise we have just been continuing with the wedding plans, the final fitting has been done so everything will be ready for collection the day before 'the big day'...only two weeks away now!!! As much as we are both looking forward to it, I think after the day is over, it will be time for a rest, not that I am wishing it away, but it will be a big stress causer that we no longer have to worry about. Less stressed happy humans!!

Mind you, then anyway it will mean back thinking about agility shows - I've already entered one in March and another in April so it won't be long til they come around and spring is here. Even though they take up a lot of weekends, they are so relaxing and we are quite excited about them again - I even overheard Alex say that he is looking forward to them, not that he will admit it!! The dogs are all good too, Kiah was awesome at training the first week back, Davy has been measured obviously large so is officially allowed to enter competitions, Risk is really getting good at recalls and playing raggy out on a walk too which is great, and Yahoo is over his bug so is back to his old retrievery self and joining us on walks again... Happy and well doggies too :)))

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Busy...And Getting Busier

Our celebrations for bringing in the New Year were very enjoyable, but nice and relaxing with a couple of friends and dogs, and watching the spectacular London fireworks from the comfort of a sofa. I guess part of the reason is because it was seeing in the start of the Olympic year so they really did go all out, very impressive and great to watch- but less frightening for the dogs as we were watching on the TV.

That now seems like an age away as we have had SO much to do, and been so busy organising since then!! Aside from the boring bit of having to go back to work, we have got a wedding to finish organising - our own - as it is literally 3 weeks away today, not long at all... Thankfully we are pretty sure that most things are done, just a few last minute bits to sort, and can just look forward to the day, and then a really big party in the evening!!

We have also been on three mega walks with friends and their dogs at the weekends, for fun of course, but to keep the dogs fit, try and get us fit, and to help socialise little Riskles - not that he needs it, confident little puppy!! Of course Risk is carried some of the way, as its a long way for his little legs. Twice we have been to the beach and then once to the forest, fab opportunities for photos - and both times I have forgotten the camera, though we are going again tomorrow so will try to remember it this time.

Today to just continue the busy-ness, Alex and a good friend have been working fantastically re-doing our garden fencing, it is looking really good - it was put up quickly by the previous owners and was becoming brittle. Anyway I've been out in the garden too (supervising?!?!) with the dogs who have been playing on the frosty ground and the sunshine - the perfect opportunity for photos so I thought I'd get the camera out as I haven't in ages. A few good ones came out but the one posted here is my absolute favourite, Kiah and Risk having a fab time playing!!