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