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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Olympia Agility Finals 2010 Part 1

So many people think of Olympia as the most prestigious agility final in the UK. Certainly we all work so very hard to get there and the qualifying process does bring the best of the best to the finals at Olympia. In order to qualify Zen and Zaz competed in classes of around 160 dogs and needed to come in the top 3 to qualify. There were approx 12 qualifiers during the year which gave us 36 dogs for the semi-final in August. Those 36 dogs will then compete over one course and the top 10 qualify for Olympia.

Yet Olympia Dog Agility Finals take place at the Olympia London International HORSE show. It is a show that is all about the horses and dog agility is a sort of side show to entertain the crowd.It is exciting to be there but it is also a long day for both the dogs and the competitors. In the small and medium finals we have a warm-up run (speed jumping for mediums and pairs for smalls) at around 1:00 pm and then we have to wait until 7:30 pm for the final event. Top this off with having to travel into London and it makes for a long day.

Each time I attend I have to tell myself that the 30 seconds in the ring make it all worthwhile! It is exciting competing in front of the crowds and having your small moment in the limelight. On the other hand no matter how hard the judge tries there is only so much he can do with his courses. I think the Kennel Club has around 15-20 minutes total in the ring each time. This includes time to set out the course, walk the course and run 10 dog/handler teams around the course AND give out awards! The poor judges barely have a chance to walk their own course to check it out before the first dog is on the line. The ring crew is like a well oiled machine! They have the equipment pulled on a trailer out in the middle of the ring and the equipment out in no time flat. The competitors have to start walking the course before everything is actually set out and even before the judge tweaks the course. We have a few seconds to check the angles and then the first dog needs to be on the line.

Here is some photos of the ring with the horse jumps and the crowds. You can see how large the ring is.

Because of this the judge has to keep the course fairly simple. In addition the course has to be spread out so that all the crowd can see. AND the jumps are extra wide so that they are easier to see. All this adds up to a fast course suited more towards the bigger dogs and the faster handlers. I think there are some dogs and handlers that are just suited to Olympia. I do struggle with the uneven ground and the distances but I was so pleased this year that I was NOT struggling for breath at the end! (no sarcastic comments that I wasn't running fast enough! LOL) Thank you Sussex Bootcamps for getting me fitter this year! No I will never win a race and even when I think I am running it looks like I am barely breaking out of a trot...but at least I was not out of breath this time and my legs did not give out at the end.

Thursday we packed up the car and off we went into London with Zen. I had it in my head that this could very well be Zen's last Olympia. Mixed feelings about that really because I love showing her there but she does not love being there. It is crowded and noisy and Zen is not a city dog. But I was pleasantly surprised this year that Zen actually seemed to enjoy herself! It is still probably her last time at Olympia as we have plans for next year which will limit her chances at the qualifiers. And realistically Olympia with the large spread out courses do not suit Zen's strong points. I felt as if she struggled with the jumps this year and this worries me. I will continue to work on her fitness over the winter to see if it is something physical or just my worrying too much.

In the morning speed jumping Zen came 4th. In the evening final she did something she has probably never done before...she missed her dog walk contact! Probably my fault as I released her early. Ever since Zen fell off her dog walk at the beginning of the year her dog walks have not been as fast as before and I knew this would effect our times even more at Olympia. In the end it really did not matter as it would have only made the difference in one placing. She ended up 5th and without the 5 faults she only would have been 4th.

Here are Zen's videos. I still think she looks so small compared to those jumps and was not flowing as she can.

After the event we all go up for champagne and photos. Unfortunately we didn't have the good camera but I had to pose with Zen anyway. She looked so happy and actually enjoyed her day at Olympia. So much that she was flirting with some boys at the champagne reception! That's my Zen!

We are getting ready to leave for New York tomorrow early so I am not sure I will get Part 2 (ZAZ at Olympia) done before I leave. First I have some packing to do!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

New Garage and Snow pups 2010

The builders left last week and our garage is nearly done. It still needs some finishing work but the weather has been so cold that they could not finish everything. Hopefully we will get a break from the cold so that they can come back sooner rather than later.

Here is the garage from the front. This is Dennis' part of the garage!

Getting this garage built has been a good start for us in the new house. We have plans for an extension and originally thought we would start on the extension next year. Now we have revised that and have decided to give ourselves a break next year and plan the extension for 2012. It would be nice to have a shiny new kitchen but it is more important that we just enjoy this beautiful house as it is for now. We are finishing off smaller projects right now and those really add up. A new front gate, a few new windows, finish fencing the agility paddock and new boiler are the next steps for this year and after that a well deserved rest.

We still need to finish off the fencing but we put some temporary fencing up so that I can do some lessons and also train my own dogs finally! Monday I actually went out and trained all three dogs for the first time in a long time. This was good timing as the snow started yesterday and has not stopped! Snow in November in England is very unusual; I don't think it has ever happened since we arrived in 2001.

This photo shows the garage from the bottom of the agility paddock. It is a nice distance from the house and now we have loads of parking.

This is my little "doggie room". I finally have my dog sink up and running which makes sheltie bathing less back breaking. I have a place to store my training bits and pieces and a place to make tea! I even have a toilet; what more could I want?

This is the view from my little doggie room.

I know it is not the indoor training venue that I would love but I am very happy with my little room and my lovely agility paddock. It is big enough to set up courses but not so big that mowing is impossible. The ground drains well and the grass/weeds seem to hold up to the dogs running. Hopefully I can continue to do some training during the winter barring anymore snow storms!

By the way, no one can say my husband doesn't know exactly what to get me for our anniversary....my new agility tyre! It was a difficult tyre to buy as they haven't used frame tyres in England for a long time. I wanted a frame tyre because that is what they use in other countries and I like to train my dogs on it right from the start.

After a cold snow day there is nothing better than a fire in our new woodburner! We love it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Discover Dogs 2010

Discover Dogs takes place at Earls Court in London. It is mostly a promotional event for The Kennel Club where they showcase all the breeds and some of the doggie activities such as agility, flyball and freestyle. It is a nice event for the public with mega shopping opportunities.

In agility they invite the small and medium dogs who are going to Olympia in December. It is a good warm up for the dogs and for me it was a good opportunity to see how Zaz dealt with travelling in London and doing agility surrounded by crowds of spectators. The venues are not the same though as Olympia takes place on a sand/dirt surface and is a huge oversize ring whereas Discover Dogs agility takes place on astroturf in a small ring.

I had a really nice day out with Zen and Zaz. I was really pleased with how Zaz dealt with the crowds and noises of London and how she worked in the agility ring. She is such a pleasure to be with!

Dennis was going to come with me and I am sure I would have loads of photos if he did! But unfortunately the heating in our house was acting up and he had to stay home to wait for the plumber. Luckily Karen was going with Todd so I caught a lift with them. Karen was very brave to drive through London and we got there quickly in the morning although the ride home in Sunday night London traffic was not so pleasant!

The courses were not difficult as this was more about a display for the audience and I think the small ring makes it difficult to be creative. So it was all about speed and not losing your head in the excitement!

Zaz came 3rd in the jumping and 2nd in the agility. This put her 2nd overall. I was very proud of my little girl; she could not have done better. Zen came 4th in the jumping and 3rd in the agility and this put her 2nd overall. If we can do this well or better at Olympia I would be chuffed to bits!

Some video. I do love my new little video camera. It is as small as my phone and takes really good video which is easy to download. Thanks to Nancy and Jay for videoing for me.

Zaz jumping.

Zaz agility. Gotta laugh at Dave who says at the end "I didn't know you could run that fast dear". haha Oh and he got Zaz's name correct! For once she was OBay Itz Got Pizzazz and not OBay Itz Got Pizza! Thanks Dave you are a star!

Zen agility.

It was really fantastic to have 2 days of agility this past weekend; I have missed it!

Next weekend is my birthday and our 22nd anniversary and Dennis gave me my present today. So more about that later with photos. I bet you can guess what it is?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Downs Agility 2010 with video!

North Downs is a lovely local indoor show that has become even better with addition of more small and medium classes! I was so excited to be running all the girls again and I had 3 runs for each. Nine runs in all. Since I have not been posting many videos of the girls lately I thought I would try and post a video of each pup's run even the ones with errors. Who knows maybe it will help someone out there to see that we all make mistakes?

First here is Zaz's winning Grade 6/7 run. It is hard to believe that Pax won into Grade 7 (aka Advanced) in 2004, Zen won into Grade 7 in 2005 and Hex won into Grade 7 in 2007 so it has been quite awhile since I had the "pressure" of trying to get that last win to get into Champ classes. I was happy with how we handled this course and even happier with our "Funny Turn" at the #7 jump after the tunnel. I have been wanting to add some European-type blind turns into our training and this is the first time we tried one in competition.

Obviously I had one major goal in mind for this show. To win Zaz into Grade 7. And we did it! The funny thing is that now I remember how important it is to be complete about my Goal setting....Out of 6 runs with Zaz and Itzy I only had ONE clear and it was the one clear that won Zaz into grade 7! HAHA I must remember to add more to my goals because I seem to only get EXACTLY what I ask for. From now on my goals will include 100% clear 1st place runs with both girls! Ask and you shall receive.

Zaz put in two more good runs but with some small miscalculations on my part. She tries so hard and we just need time and practice. In her 3-7 agility I miscalculated her speed down the middle after the Aframe and just could not get there to show her the jump before the dogwalk and she ended up taking it from the wrong side. I am not sure if a double rear cross would have worked either; it is just one of those sequences that you would have to run a few times to see what worked. I was really pleased with how she handled the Aframe even with me peeling off to try and beat her up the line of jumps.

In her jumping we made the mistake at the same place that most people did. I still think the way I handled with with Zaz was the right way for her but she just back jumped due to inexperience. Then it just went all wrong as Zaz was correctly telling me!

Itzy was a little star and I feel that she is still going up a gear. This show was her first Grade 6 show and I felt as if she belonged in Grade 6. In her first run (in the 6/7 that Zaz won) I didn't see the back of the long jump as an off course possibility. Itzy showed me it was a possibility and that helped me when running Zaz after Itzy!

In Itzy's jumping I tried a funny turn and it went all wrong! I couldn't get either pup around this course. Hmmm.. With both dogs I went wrong at #9 and #12 (jump before weaves should be from the other side).

In her 3-7 agility she just miscalculated the weave entrance but otherwise was lovely. So all in all I was really pleased with her and feel as if we will have a great season together next year.

I can't forget Zen. Sometimes I feel that now she is just coming along for the ride but she feels differently. Zen ran 2 beautiful clears in agility with a 1st and 2nd place! In one of the classes Zen got 1st, Todd (Zen's nephew) came 3rd and Zeki (Zen's daughter) came 4th! Unfortunately a border collie snuck in there for 2nd place just messing up our potential sweep! Must try harder!

We had such a lovely day at this show and I was just ridiculously happy to be running Zaz and Itzy. They are such fun: my two little "Soul Sisters". Thanks girls!

I have now finished baking the cupcakes to take to class tonight to celebrate Zaz's win. So more about Discover Dogs 2010 show with video tomorrow!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Denmark Trip 2010 Part 3

So we spent the last two days at the Silvia training day. Silvia put up some great courses to run and I have already set them up in my own agility field. It was good to watch everyone running them but, of course, the whole time I was wishing I had my dogs there with me!

I took lots of video but as they were not my dogs I don't feel right posting them. But I did think this video clip was too funny not to post. Silvia had everyone working on their "cik/cap" turns (tight wing wrap turns) in the way she recommended. I thought I would video the three shelties there who were either one of my own or sired by Monty. How strange that the noise increased exponentially when three shelties were out on the floor at the same time? LOL

The only disappointing part of the training day was the flooring. It was a beautiful venue; light and bright and open. A training venue we would all LOVE to have. Unfortunately this lovely venue was let down by the flooring as it was was carpet over concrete. Not something I would want to run my dogs on.

It was a good two days not only listening to Silvia's ideas on handling but also seeing how each handler worked on the courses. I loved the variety of handling and the variety of dogs working. What works for one team may be different for another team and that is what I love about agility. No rules; just knowing your own dog and your own strengths and abilities.

I really enjoyed the week in Demark just hanging out and talking shelties and dog training! Thanks for inviting me Johanna!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Denmark Trip 2010 Part 2

Only in Denmark. Crazy Danes!

Although it even came in pink, I didn't buy the lamp! LOL But I did buy this fab individual coffee press/travel mug. What a great idea and the coffee stays hot. Now I can make individual cups of coffee when I don't want to share my special flavoured coffees with Dennis.

People just kept torturing me with puppies; yet no one would let me buy one! LOL Here is Luna again now with Etta (litter sister to Dutchess). Etta is owned by Kirsten. Kirsten is a fabulous trainer and at 10 months old Etta already has obedience titles and is so well trained.

Yes another cutie! Pieya is a Monty daughter out of Monty's first litter sired in Denmark. Monty has produced so many nice puppies for the people smart enough to use him; for that reason alone it was worth letting him go to Denmark all those years ago. It is amazing to think that Monty had three pups (from 3 different mothers) at the World Champs this year and many up and coming up with promise.

We took a walk on the beach with Johanna and Marianne and a bunch of shelties (and one Spooky border collie). And I thought I had a noisy bunch! It was good to see Monty again. I cannot believe he will be 12 soon! He still does little bits of agility occassionally and he can still perform his studly duties. Go Monty!
By the way notice that Luna does not get involved in the mayhem with all those hooligan sheltie boys. haha

So finally we went to the Silvia Trkman training days. The first day was a trick training evening and Johanna and I just went to spectate. The building was lovely to look at; big and bright. But damn it was COLD and sitting to watch a tricks class generated little heat. Very interesting class with lots of ideas on more tricks to teach the pups. I guess because I agree with Silvia's ideas about starting pups on tricks to teach body awareness I already do alot of the work. But it is good to come back with a few more ideas that I had not thought of! Again there were some really nice dogs at this training and it was fun to watch people work through their training. I think a trick training class is hard as a one day event as some behaviors will take alot longer to perfect but everyone made a good start.

So the next two days would be the agility training days. Our class took place from 4pm-8pm so we had the days free to visit and shop which was great. The bad part about it was that it got really COLD at night! Not bad for the participants as they were running and training their dogs but for me just sitting and watching it as COLD! Did I say it was cold?

More later....

Denmark Trip 2010 Part 1

I invited myself over to Denmark when Johanna told me about a Silvia Trkman training day near her. We don't get many "foreign" trainers here in England and after being at the worlds again I was inspired to get some new ideas. It is actually cheaper to fly over to Denmark than it is to drive some places in England (due to petrol prices). We made these plans months ago and they seemed like a good idea at the time. Then when it came time to actually leave....I was sad to leave Zaz and Itzy again so soon. Johanna was at a Freestyle competition on the day I flew in so I was kindly met at the airport by Marianne. Marianne took me to a local agility show so that she could pick up her husband Bent and the dogs. Luckily I got there in enough time to be able to watch a few runs and even got to see Bent run with Ticket. I must be his good luck charm because Ticket won her class while I was there!

Agility is agility world-wide but there are always differences. This show took place indoors at a sports recreation center. Nice and warm but I did not like the flooring. It was carpet over a wooden floor. I saw alot of slipping and dogs generally being cautious about running; I would have to have thought twice about competing there. The equipment was different from anything I have seen before as it was covered in ribbed carpet! The dogs all seemed fine with it but I would think they would need to get used to it.

The next two days I tagged along with Johanna to 2 days of training Canine Freestyle with Attila Szkukalek from England. Attila was well known for his dog Fly and their amazing Charlie Chaplin and Gladiator routines. I did pay attention a little but I have to say that I sort of glaze over when people do Freestyle as it does not interest me at all. I find it amazing how they can teach the dogs such complicated tricks and maneuvers; very inspiring. But find the whole "dancing with dogs" thing a little giggle-inducing! I have told Johanna that she is still my bestest friend but if she starts doing any of those weird moves that look hmmm well just WRONG! You know...just picture... Moves like lying on your back with your legs spread in the air while the dogs jumps through them OR having the dogs put their feet on your back and hop behind you....just wrong! enuf said! I did see some amazing dogs at the training but was most impressed by......

Dutchess was the most adorable little girl. She is Luna's neice out of a Monty Daughter and would be just what I wanted out of Luna. (Damn Luna why won't you give me a puppy?) I would have bought Dutchess in a heartbeat but her owner wasn't giving in. Boo hoo.

I was so happy to see Luna again. She is beautiful as always but not the easiest dog to photograph. Bi-blacks are the hardest colour shelties to photograph. Luna is petite and feminine but all her photos make her look like she has a huge head! You can see how tiny Dutchess really is as she makes Luna (who is only 13.5") look huge! Gosh I do love the little ones....

We are still waiting for Luna to come in season again to try breeding one more time. I have got to catch a break eventually don't I? Come on Luna help me out!

This is what Luna thinks about all the fuss. If she could speak she would be saying "Whatevah!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shrewsbury Agility show 2010

The weekend after we returned from Germany I headed up to the Shrewsbury Agility show. It was a long trip up for a one day show but I really wanted a chance to move Zaz and Itz up a grade. Zaz just needs one more win to go Grade 7 and I wanted to get Itz into Grade 6. I have missed so many shows with Zaz and there are not many shows now until next year. As this was a dedicated small/medium show I thought it would be worth the drive.

I stayed at a beautiful B&B and I had the entire place to myself! The B&B was so pretty but it had cream carpets and cream duvet covers so I was so worried about muddy doggy footprints. As I had to wipe their feet everytime they took a step outside; Zaz and Itz were not as impressed with the B&B as I was. We woke up to a fantastic hot breakfast and headed out to the show which should have been only 15-20 minutes away. It is a beautiful part of the country and I would love to go back for a longer visit.

I had never been to this show before so I used my Sat Nav with the postcode given on the schedule. Unfortunately this did not take me to the show site and I drove around for over 1/2 hour trying to find it! I had to keep stopping to ask people if they knew where it was. There were no details on the schedule and it said just look for the sign; but it turned out to be the world's smallest agility show sign. LOL When I finally could see the show site; I could not figure out how to get in! There were closed gates and I could see the show site down the hill. I pulled up to the gates and turned around looking for an open entrance. Then after more driving in circles I met some local people and they said that they thought the gates could be opened! (they were those solid metal gates that you sometimes see in an industrial estate). Finally I pulled up again and some cheery guy in black leather (not!) came up and opened the gates. Without a word he let me in and then closed the gates behind him. Really strange! As he gave me no instructions I headed off to drive to where I saw cars parked and that was the only time he opened his mouth and made a comment about how I had to go park elsewhere. I guess they are used to people who have been there before but the rudeness was not necessary. Not a good start to my first experience there! Yikes at that moment I wasn't feeling too positive about my decision to drive all that way to this show.

Happily after that bad start the rest of the day was lovely. It was a nice little show and each dog had 3 runs. It was so nice to have 2 graded runs with the small dogs; I really appreciate the clubs who do that. Unsurprisingly our weeks of no training showed and I was not totally in sync with the Zitzy twins. Sadly I got an E in the graded 6 agility with Zaz and then got a 2nd place in the Graded 6 jumping. Bleh! So close! I know that Zaz will do it. She has only been shown in 8 shows since she started competing in June yet I feel as if we have been competing together forever. I just love this little dog.

Itzy and I pulled it together for her Grade 5 agility and she won it! Hurrah!!That made Itzy Grade 6. Then Itz and I went on to do two more gorgeous Jumping runs with silly mistakes. That little Itz just keeps me guessing with what she is going to do; I need her to keep me humble! Even though I have actually competed at more shows with Itzy we really don't have a complete and total understanding. I love running Itzy as there is always a little excitement involved! LOL

Her is the naughty Zitzy twins with their prizes from Shrewsbury. I have made an effort since June to get photos with all their trophies and ribbons from each show. This way I don't feel guilty recycling the trophies and ribbons at the end of the year.

Our next adventure was going to be our trip to Denmark to visit Johanna, see some shelties and to see the Silvia Trkman training day. More later!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Autumn 2010

How about this gorgeous (and yummy!) Zen Cupcake? Made by a very talented friend for Zen and I. I had no self control and ate it immediately after taking the photo!

So now the agility season is over and the excitement of the World Championships is in the past. The past few weeks of not getting up early and driving insane distances has been lovely! I have had quite a few weekends of just puttering around the house and garden with Dennis and both of us doing odd bits and pieces to make the house feel more like our own. Dennis is enjoying his new toy. And we are building a garage to house his new toy! :-) The garage was started in September and hopefully will be done in 3-4 weeks. Here it is a few weeks ago before the roof tiles and siding were put on.

Today the roof was finished and the scaffolding starting to come down. These photos show the side facing my agility paddock. The little room with the stable door on the end is my room where I can keep my training bits-n-pieces. Even better it will have a doggie bathing tub so I can groom my dogs out there. After moving the oil tank tomorrow the builders can start doing the ground work around the garage and will be making me a little paved patio for under my porch and then will gravel around the garage for extra parking.

Here is our beautiful garden this afternoon complete with the most perfect semi-border collie called Murphy. I was allowed a short Murphy visit to make me happy and help exercise the shelties. I know you can hardly see the dogs in this photo but the sun came out and everything looked so peaceful.

Training has been sporadic. Zen has been on a mega agility break and since the garage is being built I have had little chance to train the pups. We work on silly things like sheltie torture before dinner time.

I have been trying very hard to keep all three girls fit and a walk at the Witterings Beach was just the ticket to burn off some sheltie energy. Here is Zaz with Poppy. Poppy was not going to give up her tennis ball!

Another noisy walk with shelties; you may want to turn off the volume especially if you are watching this at work! Let it be known that only one of those tri-shelties were mine. I only brought Zaz on this walk; the other two tri shelties were Zeki and Yaz.

I found this photo on my Iphone today while trying to clear out some photos. Here is Zen and I after arriving at the hotel in Germany before the World Champs. I had on my Team Small Dog shirt which had arrived in the post the day before! I really bought it for Zaz and Itz who are my own personal Small Dog team. But thought it was appropriate for Zen as the logo says "small fast kick yer ass"!

We have done a few exciting doggie things over this past month including an agility show and a trip to Denmark. I will post about them later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FCI World Agility Championships 2010 Part 4: ZEN

It was our last run. I felt really relaxed as I had nothing to lose; we were in 28th place so the reality is that we could not medal. The course was not difficult at all and I knew there would be too many quick clears.

I did not feel down about it; I just made sure to enjoy it even more. This course was so easy I did not even need to ask for help in deciding how to handle it! (VBG) I went to the start line knowing this would be Zen's last FCI World Championship run. Probably the only thing I did differently was to run her Aframe as I figured we had nothing to lose. My goal was to run the course relaxed and efficient with Zen's typical smooth style.

I promised Zen that after her last run she could have an ENTIRE cup of tea. Zen's favorite treat in the world is tea. She usually shares a cup with us in the evening but only gets what we leave at the bottom. This time she deserved the whole cup to herself. So I brought a Thermos of water from the hotel and made the cup of tea before we ran. After her run we went back to our little room and I let her drink the whole cup. These little dogs don't ask for much do they?

After Zen had her cup of tea and I had a little cry I gave her the biggest hug and told her she was the best little dog in the world. Zen loves her agility and could run agility all day long. What she does not like is the travelling and the commotion at the large venues. She has done 4 FCI World Championships for me and I don't have any doubt that she did it for me. Zen placed in the 2nd in team agility and 4th in team jumping (she was not in individual that year) in 2005. In 2007 she came 3rd in Individual Agility, 2nd in Team jumping and 3rd in team agility. That year her medium team earned the Silver medal. In 2009 Zen ran two clears in her individual runs to come 5th in the world. This year she ran two clears in the individual and came 13th overall. In between she has had 3 litters of puppies and kept me from losing my mind after I lost Hex. I have no right to ask anything more of her and she has earned the right to just chill and run in local shows.

What a star...Thanks Zen.

FCI World Agility Championships 2010 Part 3

Saturday morning began early with small individual agility. I was more nervous watching Nicky with Indy and Suzanne with Unique. Each one had a shot at a medal. They were lying 4th and 6th going into the individual agility. Both dogs has also had double clears in the two team runs with Unique actually winning the team jumping class. Both Unique and Indy are super little dogs with such talented handlers. I am lucky to have matched them up all those years ago.

Here are Indy and Unique's individual jumping runs. I love watching Nicky and Suzanne's individual styles in handling.

Unfortunately Indy was up first and he misread a rear cross picking up a fault. After that Nicky gave up and finished up with an Elimination. That was stressful enough but next up was Suzanne and Unique. Unique has been so close; always at the top but just missing out due to bad luck. He was putting in a foot perfect run when a slight bobble caused him to drop the double. It seemed like the bar came down reluctantly! It was such a shame as the rest of the run was gorgeous and he would have had the silver medal.

Indy and Unique are about 3 years apart in age and have the same Mother. True really made the best babies!

After the stress of watching it was now my turn again!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FCI World Agility Championships 2010 Part 2

On Friday we had our first run. Team Jumping. All three dogs ran well and our team went into 8th place overall with the best combined times but with one fault.

Zen and I ran last and this always seems to be the case for us in team. People have asked me if I run last because Zen and I are more consistent or because I am not nervous at big events. Actually we run last because no one else wants to! I guess the pressure of running at the end after two clears worries some people. One of my former team mates said to me recently that he really wanted to see me run last after both my other teammates have run clear. I think he was implying that I wouldn't be so relaxed at that point. (VBG) Actually I would be just as relaxed as I know that neither my life nor my dog's life depends on that run. Each run is a moment in time that is meant to be enjoyed not worried about. Yes I want to run clear and fast and YES I want to win! But wanting to win and needing to win are two different things.

I take the runs seriously and obsess about how to run the course and how to remember the course. In fact my most nerve-wracking moments are getting the course map and trying to decide how to run the course. I always feel like that is the time I really could use help. I also worry about remembering the course and trying not to fall down! But once I step into the warm up area I let all that go and just try and enjoy the course and my dog. By that time, what will be will be.

All I can say to anyone who is thinking about competing at these events is DO IT! And take every moment into your heart and enjoy it.

Here is Zen in the team jumping.

The next day we had two runs. Individual jumping was first. The course was fairly straight forward and I was happy with how Zen ran. A misplaced front cross confused Zen and caused us a wide turn and almost wrong course. I was concerned about this sequence because it required a front cross followed by a pivot turn. Pivot turns for some reason are difficult for me. These are the times I wish I was more agile myself but I cannot beat myself up about it. I just need to work harder at figuring out other ways of handling the type of sequences that require pivots as it is where I really struggle. Luckily Zen saved me again although that wide turn cost us big time and we finished Individual Jumping in 28th place. I think we could have shaved off 1-2 seconds in that spot so I was slightly annoyed with myself but happy with Zen.

Team Agility was next on Saturday. I was really excited about this one as I felt we had a real shot at a team medal. I kept visualizing running last after two clears! Unfortunately my 2 team-mates made uncharacteristic mistakes and the two eliminations put the team out of the running. I felt good that we had a very positive and encouraging team and we all know that it could be any of us that made the errors. Either way we all looked good out there even with mistakes! My team-mates were so sweet and tried to talk me into joining the team again next year.

Here is Zen in the team agility. I have to encourage the GB supporters as I think they were in shock about the previous two eliminations! (VBG)

This was Zen's only mistake all weekend. Poor little thing!

I am used to seeing her jump more like this!

At the end of the day on Saturday none of our GB teams had made it to the podium. Such is the way of teams! Anything can happen.

Sunday would start early with the small individual agility followed by medium and large. So exciting!

FCI World Agility Championships 2010 Part 1

Another FCI World Agility Championships is over. There is such a long build up to this weekend that is takes me a week or so to get together with my thoughts about our experience.

The day before we left I received a call that I was not expecting. We lost Zen's brother Lucky to Lymphoma. It was so unexpected as Lucky has been doing so well in his fight against the cancer; he had only just come back to running agility in August after undergoing months of chemotherapy. I kept thinking of the special people and dogs we have lost recently to cancer; agility seemed like the last thing I wanted to do at this point. One part of my brain said why bother with something as trivial as agility when there is so much sadness. On the other side my brain said Go for it while you can; life is too short.

Zen had other ideas...She had her pink union jack bag packed and ready to go. I must admit every time I stepped to the startline I said to Zen "Let's do it for Lucky".

A gift for Zen from Lesley; what could be more "Zen" than a pink union jack?

Our World Champ build-up started the weekend before with our "official" team practice. I have never understood why we have the official practice on the weekend before we leave for the champs. It always seems to be too late by that point! Luckily the girls from the medium team got together for a few sessions the month before so that we could work on some European courses. That was so helpful; having Nancy set up courses that we could walk and run together. To me that is the best practice and a great way to get the team working together. It was those sessions with Nancy and the medium team along with a few extra lessons with Lesley that helped me feel confident going into the competition.

The official team practice has the potential to be great as Steve sets some fantastic courses and gives us all good inspiring words of wisdom. For me it is also inspiring to see the each dog/handler team from each height attack the courses in their own particular way. I just wish this session was the month before and that we had more of them. Since we all love attacking these type of european courses we just cannot help ourselves from running each course. This can be a detriment when it is only 3 days before we leave for our journey! After some close calls on injuries (handlers and dogs) we were lucky to go into the competition with all dogs and handlers able to run.

At the official practice we all got a lovely suprise from Lesley! Union Jack Dog beds for all the dogs!

On Tuesday I said Good bye to Zaz and Itzy and left them with Nancy and Andy. Gosh that gets more and more difficult; I hate leaving them. But I knew they would be both spoilt and wrapped in bubblewrap for the week. Nicky and Indy arrived on Tuesday and the evening's entertainment was watching a DVD on Russian Agility training. It was not meant to be a comedy DVD but it kinda was....just saying! Still we learned a few things about their methods of training for our own dogs and about new ways to handle our own students! Lets just say they have little patience for people who "do not listen!".

We had an early morning start to get to the Eurotunnel and start our trip across to Germany. It was one of the easier trips; not too long and fairly straight forward. Dennis drove the entire way and we got to our hotel in enough time to take a walk, unpack and shower before a nice dinner. The hotel we stayed at was gorgeous! The hotel was right on a river and you could walk along the river into the town of Amberg. The rooms were beautiful and the food was good and we were only 20 minutes from the venue. As compared to other years at the WC and EO; this was heaven!

The next day was the team practice at the venue. We were suprised to hear that other countries were able to rent equipment at the venue during the previous two days. While we probably would not have taken advantage of this; it would have been nice to know. We found out during the ride to Germany from Facebook postings of other countries!

Practice was chaotic as usual. Every year I try and go in just to work on getting Zen relaxed in the environment and used to the equipment and surface. Best laid plans and all that; the atmosphere sends her over the edge and she gets a glazed look in her eyes! I just cannot keep her from barking non-stop and after 5 minutes any advantage is gone. Zen is just not a dog that trains well in that type of environment. I walked out of the practice a little discouraged. We just did not feel in sync and as usual I feel like Zen and I are so slow compared with the border collies and younger members on our medium team. Not a good way to start our last world champ experience.

After the practice I walked Zen around for awhile and mentally slapped myself. I had the most gorgeous talented little dog in the world. I was determined to enjoy this experience with her and celebrate our time together. How lucky am I to have had this dog by my side for the last 7.5 years making me look like a good handler and trainer?

I love to hug Zen as she puts up with it with such a look of distain on her face!

After the practice we headed back to the hotel and took a walk into the town of Amberg. Such a cute town; until the Brits got there and posed and abused the local animals...