Welcome to The OBay Shelties blog! Our blog is an honest diary of our life with our dogs along with news from Obay shelties around the world.

Monday, October 31, 2011

FCI World Agility Championships Saturday

Zaz and I would have only one run on Saturday: Small Team Jumping. The team jumping looked pretty straight forward which was not great for us being in the 10th position we were after team agility. We needed a difficult course that would knock some higher placed teams out. This is where luck plays a great part at the World Championships. The Large and Medium teams were placing in the top 3 even with faults but the small teams were needing to get all clears in order to place. I guess us small dogs are just too darn good!

The only real difficulty was the sequence #7-#8. If I had been running Zen I would have been in a panic that she would turn away from me into the #9 tunnel after #7. With Zaz I was more confident but still did alot of calling to be sure!

What a happy bunch we are waving to our supporters after our team jumping. I appreciated everyone who was there in the stands cheering us on. It meant so much to us that when we stepped into the arena and when we finished our run we could hear the cheering. You knew that everyone was running the course with you!

Our combined runs placed us 2nd in the Small Team Jumping. Even this only improved our placement from 10th to 8th overall. Compare this to the medium and large teams who had faults in all the top 3 placings; we would have been 2nd overall if we were medium or large! I know it is difficult to compare but I think it shows the strength of our small team. I felt slightly better when we were told that we would get a trophy and podium "time" for this 2nd place in jumping but that never materialized...That was very disappointing. Luckily our large team had also placed 2nd in their team jumping received trophies, rosettes and a visit to the podium.

At the end of the day on Saturday it was our Medium team who took a medal! It felt strange to me not being part of the medium team; a few times people forgot and kept asking me why I was not walking the medium courses. And poor Zaz was getting a complex from being called Zen all weekend! I did my part for the medium team by helping Amanda warm up and I ran each course with them from up in the stands! Oh and I tried to get in the photos; that is my hand in the top right holding the flag! LOL

I was so happy for the medium team but especially for Amanda. Both of us were previously on the Medium team and together won a Silver team medal in Norway. This year we were both running our young dogs for the first time but now in different heights. It felt strange not being on the team with her!

It was another long day and our big day was tomorrow. The tough thing about being at the World Champs is that we get there early and stay to the end to support all the team members no matter what height. This makes for a long day for both human and dog. This is why your support network is so important. Like having Dennis there to take the stress for me and to keep me calm and fed! Like having good teammates to be able to go over courses with. Like having Lesley there to help me walk courses knowing she knew our strengths and weaknesses.

This year the issues with the flooring caused the dogs to slip and fall; so we were very lucky this to have both human and dog chiropractor and physiotherapists. They were invaluable in keeping us all feeling good after walking on the cement floors and sitting in hard chairs all day. They even warmed up the dogs for us before we ran so that we could know they were ready. Thanks everyone!

Our supporters were great! Yet I would really like to see some of them work on their dress code. LOL Look at one of the Japanese supporters.

Even Ant and Lee wanted to recruit him to become a British supporter. Either that or they were looking for another seminar booking....

The Dutch were pretty cool also.

More to come!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FCI World Agility Championships 2011 Friday

Friday was our first day of competition. I liked that the small dogs had two runs on the first day; it helped me get into the swing of the competition. First up for us was small individual jumping. We were not on first thing; we were second in the ring after the Large individual jumping. This was great as it gave us time to settle in on Friday morning.

I need to fully concentrate on the competition days. I have difficulty even going outside or going for something to eat. It is like I need to focus 110% on agility during those days and put myself into a little agility "bubble". Luckily Dennis is there to do the important things like take Zaz for a walk or get us something to eat. I even sit in the stands and watch the classes that I am not in and try and figure out how I would handle the course. Poor Nicky (my small team mate)had to listen to me as I would constantly babble on about "how would you handle this?" and "I would have trouble with that sequence" ect ect. And she would say "but you are not running this course"! LOL But for me it helped me focus on agility and trying to make quick decisions as we only get 8 minutes to walk a fairly complicated course.

Do I look confused about how to handle this course?

Our small jumping was a tight course. I was concerned about getting Zaz through the gap into the first rigid tunnel. As with most people I was also concerned about the weave poles running up to the side of the collapsed tunnel. To make matters worse the collapsed tunnel side was mirror-like shiny and I think this was the downfall of many great teams.

Before our run I had help from Amanda (my previous medium team-mate)in warming up. It looks silly but it really helps to focus and warm up and have a little laugh while doing it. I like this photo because the Chinese handlers look so happy next to us! It was China's first time competing at the World Champs and they did fantastic.

It was a strange set up at this sport arena. We had no team "room" to relax in and crate the dogs. We were all assigned spots in the hallway around the arena. Once it was near our turn we had to walk around to the other side of the arena where there was a small practice area where you can warm your dog up over a few jumps. When it is about 4 dogs before your turn you are escorted through this office area, down a corridor that ran under the main floor of the arena, up some stairs and then you popped up in the collecting area! It was slightly surreal coming up the stairs into the middle of the floor surrounded by people. It did add to the excitement and I couldn't help but getting more and more excited as I walked up those stairs!

The team coach was great as I just handed him Zaz, my water bottle and coat and was able to concentrate on remembering the course. Zaz, like momma Zen, likes to bark while in the collecting ring and in this situation it helps me to hand her to someone else for a few moments. Once we came up the stairs there was only one dog before us and one completing the course. There is not alot of time to watch and it is amazing how different the course looks from down at that level.

In this photo you can see the next team after us coming up through the stairs.

I know I look calm while waiting to run. What is really going on in my head is not so calm! First and foremost I am going over the course in my head. I try and remember the course based on turns and tight spots and I run through those turns in my head. Then I simply try to take in the whole experience; you will often see me bring my wrist up to adjust my bracelet. That bracelet says "Live in the Moment". I may never be there again and I want to keep that experience in me forever. The only way I can do that is by being there 100% with my dog. I am not one to chat with the coach because once I have Zaz by my side it is all about me and her. Once we get onto the floor I clap for Zaz and tell her how amazing she is and then laugh to myself knowing that our startline will be fairly fluid. LOL

I was happy with how we ran this course. I know Zaz was not running at her full speed but that was partly due to my over controlling her in those tight spots. We had a bobble before the weaves which cost us some time but overall I felt positive about the run. This run put us in 15th place which was a tough place to be in and I could only hope for a very difficult agility course on Sunday to help us move up in the placings.

I found this video on you-tube! Thanks to whoever posted it as I have yet to watch the official videos.

At the end of the first day we had our first team run. We had an amazing team as both Nicky and Indy and Dawn and Puzzle are so consistent AND fast; I couldn't have asked for a better team. I was disappointed to have made the only mistake out of all our 6 team runs over the weekend but that is agility for you. Anything can happen!

Here is our team in the collecting ring. Notice Dave,the team coach,is holding Zaz again. Bless him!

Again I found this video on youtube; music and all! It is obviously from someone in the UK but I don't know who!

So the first day of our World Champ 2011 experience was over. I knew there were things we could have done better but this was not the time to think about them. It was important to stay positive and focused. I was drained and all I could think about doing was getting Zaz out into the fresh air to stretch her legs, getting something to eat and getting myself to bed! I think we had fancy French Mc-Donalds that night to eat as we could walk there from the hotel. Ahhh nothing but the best for us athletes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FCI World Agility Championships 2011 Part 2

We arrived in France in no time and the most difficult part of the journey was finding the hotel! The hotel, while not fancy, was clean with good grass areas to walk the dogs.

The next day was our chance to practice on the equipment and on the surface at the venue. It was real eye opener as all the dogs were slipping on the "carpet". This was a surprise as it was a nice springy astroturf and the dogs do not usually slip this badly. Zaz was running well but I could see her slipping and then trying to slow down to compensate. She is a smart dog that has good self-preservation so I just let her run at whatever speed she was happy. We had 19 minutes and 30 seconds for our practice. Such a funny amount of time! It always seems like it will be too short but in reality it is a tremendous amount of time. I had planned to not do too much with Zaz and to concentrate on her self-control. Best laid plans and all that! I lost a little self-control when I realized she needed more time on the surface and did alot more than I had planned. Zaz came out of the practice session happy but tired with her tongue hanging out!

After the vet checks and measuring we all gathered for group photos. No matter how hard we try the GB team will never be organized for photos! Dennis had to yell at them and tell them "no talking, no looking at your dog" but to no avail! LOL Still one of our better attempts; here is the team with some of the supporters and management.

That afternoon we took a trip into the beautiful town of Arras for a nice French lunch followed by yummy french pastries.
Arras France

Checking out the Arras Chocolate shop!

I was feeling positive about our World Champ experience. All the issues with Zaz beforehand were forgotten and she was happy and sound after her practice. Now it was just up to our training and a little bit of luck.

I have debated with myself about whether to write on my blog about the one negative experience that happened to me while at the World Champs. I figure by putting it at the end of this post only so many people will bother to read this far. LOL Like I said in Part 1 I think that we are responsible for our own positive mental attitude. We cannot rely on others to say the right things for us all the time. Yet when you are in a team situation you really need to have and feel positive vibes from your team. I always loved that about the World Champs; we all put aside any personal issues and cheered and supported each other. Everyone on the team understands the pressure we all feel being on center stage and wanting to do well for ourselves, our dogs, our team and, yes, our country.

I struggle sometimes because I know I do not run fast enough or cannot move as quick as some of the young fit European handlers. At the World Champs that is really magnified as some of these handlers are crazy fit and fast! The night before our first day of competition someone made the statement in front of the entire team that I was "the oldest" on the team ha-ha-ha. This came out of the blue, and although it was meant in a light-hearted way, it really hit me hard. I just wanted to crawl away and go home at that point. What was supposed to be a fun relaxing night before our competition now felt like torture and I couldn't wait to leave and tried not to cry.

I got back to the hotel room and received this video message. Nothing could have cheered me up better; remembering I had Zen and Itz at home along with a gorgeous group of puppies. No matter what happened this weekend I knew I was blessed with a fantastic husband, amazing dogs and great friends cheering me on. Bring it on!

Monday, October 24, 2011

FCI World Championships 2011 Part 1

It takes me awhile to get my thoughts together after a big event. There is a combination of euphoria and depression; I don't even watch the videos of our runs for a long time. The focus and energy taken up preparing both mentally and physically takes over your life on the run up to the event.

I have been exposed to the idea of "positive mental attitude" for most of my previous career (Chiropractor) and for most of my time in the dog world in obedience and then agility. I think it comes naturally to me now; to the level that when I hear people talking themselves down I need to stop myself from trying to help them. Everyone deals with pressure differently and some people actually feel better if they say negative things and then do better than they thought. This is not what I think is best but it is what helps them. That is all that matters, having something that works for you.

When I competed in the USA I would actually get tired of hearing the constant "positive mental attitude" banter. If,God forbid, you said something negative you were told off! Hmmm a kind of a backwards way of working on positivity I think. It became almost like a religious cult of positivity! So because of this I tend to keep my goals and mental preparation work to myself; it is how I deal with things and what works for me is personal.

For the first time before a major competition I had to actually work on "mental imagery". Imagining Zaz and I running courses: what I would do and how she would react, how we would approach the start line and how we would celebrate after finishing the last jump. I ran this over and over in my head because for the month before we went to France I could not train Zaz.....

I had taken a little week break with Zaz after our last Championship show. I expected to start training on the complicated European courses during the month before we left just to get our heads into those types of courses again. I thank God that I had spent the week in Denmark in July competing over European courses because that was one thing that made me feel confident and prepared.

To keep a long story short, I found Zaz mysteriously lame one day and assumed it was a soft tissue injury even though she had not had anything happen. I thought our World Champ experience was over before it began. But after all the worrying it turns out Zaz had a cut pad and I had missed it! How I missed it I will never know but thank God for Dennis who found it and the canine osteopath who went over Zaz thoroughly and convinced me that Zaz was OK to run. This is what her pad looked like 2 weeks after the start of her lameness. How deep the cut was when it occurred I will never know. I hope this will help others to make sure you check your dog's feet thoroughly! I really had to stop kicking myself for missing this one.

To make matters more "exciting" two nights before we left for France Zaz came back into the house after being let out for her last toilet and was carrying her back leg up! WTF? I just lay down with her crying thinking this is it; I am never doing agility again. Then we watched as her rear foot swelled up and realized she must have stepped on a wasp! Popped a anti-histamine in her mouth, carried her up onto the bed with us and fell asleep. She woke up at 1 am jumped off the bed sound as ever. OK now, I was thinking, this is all just to make me stronger!

We happened to watch the movie "Secretariat" (a true story about a racehorse that exceeded all expectations and won the triple crown of racing in the USA) that week and I kept saying to myself Zaz is like Secretariat and she will surprise us all!

On Wednesday we left the pups in the capable hands of Johanna and we off through the Eurotunnel for our French adventure. I was so excited because the last time I was at the FCI Worlds in France I was just a spectator and remember being AMAZED by Sylvia Trkman and La. Now I was there myself competing with Zaz at only 2 years of age; how fantastic is that?

Thanks to Dennis for driving us to France. How nice to take a trip to the World Championships that is only a 3 hour drive!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Boyz: 8 weeks old and off to new adventures

I am often asked if I get teary when the pups leave and people wonder how I can let them go. I find the most difficult part of raising pups is finding the right owners and, if I can get that right, the easy part is letting them go.

I like to watch people with their dogs; how they treat them when things go right and, more importantly, how they treat them when things go wrong. I like to feel that potential new owners don't think of the dogs as a means to an end but rather a team-mate to enjoy the journey with. I do NOT care if the potential owner is a world class handler or frequent winner; that means nothing to me. If a person has had success because they know how to motivate a dog and enjoy competing that is just a nice bonus.

I do worry about giving the right dog to the right person. I want the new owners to have a dog that they can enjoy. Thankfully most of the time it works out perfectly. I think this time it worked out well and I wish all my pups long and healthy lives with families that love them for who they are as individuals.

Meet the new members of Team OBay:

"Ezke" OBay Boyz Will Be Boyz

"Fuze" OBay The Boyz High Voltage

"Zanee" OBay The Boyz Magic

"Giz-Mo" OBay Boyz Toyz

Yes that is me in the photo! For now, Giz-mo will stay here. I am reserving the right to make my final decision in time as I should not really keep him. Unfortunately he is so freaking adorable that it will be hard to let him go. I have to be sensible as I am still waiting for a little girl to join the family.

Here is Giz-mo in his first official training session. Feel free to turn off the volume and just enjoy his little elephant! I wasn't expecting him to get it so quickly so just grabbed my I-phone to take this little video clip. I couldn't click and video so you have to hear my constant annoying "goooood boy". LOL

So we spend the next few days getting our house back in order. Cleaning floors, putting away the puppy pen, boxing up the gazillion puppy toys and generally just taking a breath and relaxing. Zen, Zaz and Itzy will now get more attention and I can enjoy Giz-mo's antics. He is a amazingly funny boy and he can make you laugh just by looking at you. So far he seems very bold and outgoing but I don't take that for granted and socialization is our focus for him over the next few weeks.

I miss the Boyz more than I thought I would and look forward to seeing them all again soon. In the meantime their new owners are already helping by sending photos and emails. This is greatly appreciated!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Boyz: 7 weeks old

My first litter of sheltie pups was in 1992. This leads people think I am "experienced" in breeding and raising litters. The truth is that everytime I raise a litter I learn something new. Also, because I don't breed often, it is actually a matter of trying to remember what to do! Thank goodness I keep records and have photos and videos to look back on. Even with all my records I like to get new ideas from others to try. Each litter is not the same and my knowledge increases (hopefully!) over time so that I can try new and different things.

For my next litter I will definitely go away again and have someone else watch them between 6.5 and 7 weeks. LOL

I was very lucky to have Johanna offer to come and watch the pups when I learned I could be on the British World Agility Team with Zaz. It would have been difficult to leave otherwise or Dennis would have had to stay home. Not only did it allow me to go the the World Champs, it also was great for the pups! They learned to interact with a new person, learned new tricks and went on many car trips.

After their first short car ride to pick Johanna up at the train station the pups got car sick. It was only a 5 minute ride but they were drooling already. I generally have trouble with all my pups with car sickness; so I just expected it.

Johanna had some good ideas to work with them eating some meals in the car with the car off and then with the car running. While I have taken all my pups on car rides I never thought to do this with the whole litter. Sometimes is it just the logistics of getting all the pups into the car without losing one!

So during the time I was away the pups took many short car rides as well as being fed in the car. It will be interesting to see if they are less car sick than previous litters or if they are the same.

The pups even took a trip to the beach!

I play many following/chasing me games with all my litters. Johanna used this foundation to get the pups used to following her out of the puppy pen into the garden or dog run. This was great to help improve their housebreaking as she could get all 4 pups out quickly instead of having to carry them out one or two at a time. Then she used the idea of "crate games" to get them used to following her back in and get them to put themselves back into the puppy pen. I have been amazed at how clean these pups have been in their puppy pen from an early age.

Zen is a great teacher at this age. She will now play with the pups and she really encourages them to play with toys. They often get overwhelmed as she likes to shove the toys into their faces.

I think Johanna was exhausted by the time she left. It is a full time job to take care of pups when you don't just leave them in a puppy pen all day. Luckily when the new owners appreciate the effort and can enjoy their well-adjusted pups it makes the long days all worth while.

Johanna was so busy training the pups that she missed their 7 week photos. So here they are at 7.5 weeks.


Little Blaze

Full Collar

Big Blaze

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Boyz: 6 weeks old

Time is flying by and I still have so much I want to do with The Boyz. But I leave tomorrow for the FCI World Agility Championships in France and so have to turn the reigns over to Johanna. Since Johanna is the sooper-dooper Freestyle person I expect the boys will be dancing by the time I return!

This last week has been all about socialization and training. I am trying to get the boys out as much as possible. So far they have taken a car ride and visited Dennis at work and met some dogs that come here for training. We have had a few visitors but they definitely need to meet more people and get more handling; this is key for socialization.

The pups housebreaking has been going great; I cannot believe how clean they have been. I am also finding the boys very quick to learn; I spent one session clicker training them to spin and now they are like little black spinning tops!

The pups play very rough with each other and I am not sure if that is a boy thing or just how these pups are. They spend much of their time wresting, stalking and chasing each other. This is in addition to chewing everything and climbing on everything they can.

Chewing everything right now.

Climbing on everything. They scare me on the steps but I have to let them get on with it.

They even climb trees!

I try to get them outside as much as possible. I move their outside pen around so they can hear the traffic and trucks passing by. Of course when I am looking for noisy tractors they aren't around!

The pups are moved from room to room depending on what I am doing during the day. They spend alot of time free in the kitchen and I try to change the toys they play with. I spend as much time as possible encouraging them to tug and play with me as well. Sometimes all I can do is just watch them and laugh as they do the funniest things. This toy car is great as it speaks when they step on the buttons and if the car crashes into something. The pups find it quite fun!

Dennis plays a big role in raising the pups. He is the pup's best friend and they all love him.

It is Dennis' job to run around and tire the pups out! (I suggest you turn down the volume on this one!)


Little Blaze

Full Collar

Big Blaze