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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

European Open Agility Tryouts 2010

Our try-outs for the European Open were last weekend. I went into them not really being sure if I was going to travel. The Czech Republic is a looooong drive from England! It will probably be over 20 hours to drive there.

Yet my competitive nature wants me to go! Zen will be 7 next week and I have to realistically think she does not have many more chances to be on Team GB. It would be really nice to think that this year she could be on THREE world teams (IFCS in May, EO in July) and if we can do it again, FCI in September.

So a big dilemma for me but a nice one to have to worry about! Zen did qualify for the team and she came 2nd overall in the try-outs. She was foot perfect in all her runs that weekend. On Saturday she had three normal runs and was clear and placed in everyone. On Sunday for the try-outs we had 4 runs. One jumping followed by 2 agility for the 20 medium teams qualified to try-out and then an agility final for the dogs in the top 12 after 3 rounds.

All the courses were good to run and there was nothing I felt we could not handle. I did not feel that Zen and I were running full speed in all our runs but I also knew that in this situation full speed was not what we needed. We needed good clear runs.

Everything was going according to plan until the end of the third round. Zen was putting in a great run and had a good quick clear run going. She headed up the dog walk which was the 3rd or 4th obstacle from the end and did something she never did before....she fell off from the top. It always goes in slow motion when those things happen doesn't it? I can just remember seeing her little face which had a shocked expression on it. She was on her feet and I knew she was OK yet I just wanted to give her a hug. I was told later that she struggled along the entire length of the top plank as my late front cross put her onto the dogwalk at an angle. Once along the top plank she was scrabbling for footing and when she realized she could no longer stay on she sort of leaped off as she was falling. This really saved her so she landed on her feel rather than on her side. How glad am I that she knew what to do?

The funny part is that I had to look at the judge and wait for him to decide if it was a refusal or a 5-fault contact call. If it was a refusal, I had to put her back up the dogwalk or risk an Elimination. If it was a 5-fault contact call I would keep running to try and get within the course time. In the end it did not matter as so much time was lost that we would have gone over course time (it was a tight time and I think almost every medium dog was over course time in that run!) but I obviously did not know that at the time. After some deliberation in his own mind, the judge put up his hand as a refusal which he later said was because she fell off before all 4 feet were on the down plank. It seemed like it was forever for him to decide although it was probably on a few seconds. Everyone was laughing when I got out and could not believe I was thinking quickly enough to wait for his call!

If Zen had not fallen off the dog-walk we would have definitely been on the team even after three rounds as our points for the three runs would have been high enough to get in the top 3. Now with the 0 points for that round; all was up to play for. There were quite a few dogs now that could sneak into the top placements.

The sad part for me was that when I put Zen back on the dogwalk, she was tentative. She has never been tentative on a dog walk in her whole career. And more worryingly during the final run she did the same thing again. I am going to try not to obsess about it and just pray that at her next competition (next weekend) she will have forgotten all about it and runs as normal.

As luck would have it, Zen ran clear in the final round and we ended up 2nd overall in points to guarantee us a spot on the team. I was happy but you know what I thought about the entire ride home: Is Zen ok? :-(

Zen was very tired after this weekend.

I did not bring my video camera but found out afterwards that a friend videoed the final round. I debated about putting the run on the blog as I did not want to keep seeing her hesitation on the dog walk. But I thought it would be good to share as I know other people have had to deal with this issue. What I DO know is that I would be extremely happy if the UK began to adopt rubberized contacts to prevent another dog from slipping off a dogwalk!! I am lucky that physically she is OK and we will be working very hard over the next few weeks to make sure that she is back to normal on the dogwalk. Zen has thought she has gone to heaven as she has been getting heavily rewarded with food on the dogwalk at home this past week!

So no decisions yet on the trip to the Czech Republic. Dennis is not going with me this year and sadly I cannot ride with the same people that I went with last year. So I am trying to figure out how to get there! I know things will work out for the best so I am chillaxin until the solution comes to me! (love that new word I learned!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Girlpower pups First UKA Show wrap-up

Some people asked me a few questions about the pups first show so I will try to answer them.

Here in the UK we cannot compete in kennel club agility competitions until the dogs are 18 months old. I do not mind this restriction but am happy that the UKA allows us to compete with the pups at 16 months old in Nursery and Beginners Steeplechase.

Nursery is an agility class with no weaves or see-saw and a lowered Aframe. Steeplechase is just jumps and tunnels. The UKA shows are generally smaller than KC shows which is another good thing for the baby dogs. But really the most fabulous thing about UKA is the ability to call your run "NFC" or Not for Competition. When you do this you can bring in a toy to reward (gasp!) your dog! You could even just use your allotted time (standard course time) to run whatever course you would like or even just work on your contacts or start line.

About toys and leads at the end of the course: Even in Kennel club shows you will see most dogs grab their leads/toys at the end of the runs. Most handlers and dogs go out of the ring tugging and playing. In the AKC this would be considered "out of control" There are no rules against this from UKA or from our KC. It is refreshing after having dealt with the many restrictive AKC agility rules where they always seemed to restrict the amount of FUN that a dog could have! Having another person throw the toy or encourage the dogs across the finish line is obviously double handling and not allowed although you will occasionally see it happen.

I use most of my UKA shows to reinforce Zen's contacts with a toy.

A few of us started our puppy training together last year and we all had our first show together on Friday! From Lt to right: Bee, Itz, Zaz, Yazz and Fozzie. Yay for the baby dogs! All had their first clear runs except for Itz. While Itz had no clear runs she had Awesome FAST runs and exceeded my expectations for her.

On Sunday Marilyn and Zavvi joined us and Zavvi had her first run which was clear also! Go Zavv-la!

Zaz is just such a great dog to run. She reminds me so much of Zen; she is Zen's mini-me. I am really looking forward to our journey together.

No shows for the pups this weekend. We are off up-north for the European Open Try-outs. The KC really restricts the amount of dogs that can go to the EOs. We have to qualify for the try-outs at special shows during the previous year and try and collect enough points to be in the top 10. Then we have a day of try-outs to get down to the final 3. I don't understand why they restrict it so much when we could theoretically send up to 30 dogs AND we have to pay for ourselves anyway. But hey-ho what do I know? VBG

All I know is that I would like to be taking BOTH pups next year! :-)

PS Thanks to Bee's dad for the photos of the pups!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Girlpower pups Thatcham UKA Day 3

Day three at Thatcham UKA show! Not as sunny and warm but any day it does not rain is a good day! This was a fabulous show for the pups with good weather and good spirits. The venue is beautiful and I looked forward to going back each day even with the long drive back and forth.

There were two classes again for the pups. Beginners steeplechase and Nursery. In the video you will see Zavvi (running medium) followed by Zaz, Yazz and last but not least Itzy running first in steeplechase and then in Nursery.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Girlpower pups Second Agility show 10 April 2010

The second day of competing for Zaz and Itz. Karen and Yazz stayed home so it was just the Zitzy pair running. I chose to do the Nursery class as NFC (not for competition) so that I could reward their contact performance. I was so pleased with both of them and they exceeded my expectations. They had start lines! They had contacts! They had focus and speed! They both played at the end of the run! What more could I ask for from the babies. GGG

The weekend has given me lots of information on what we need to focus on in training but it also has given me a real boost. The pup's love for the game is apparent and that is what matters to me. The only time I saw hesitation in one of them was when Itz was on the line in Beginners steeplechase. She worries about dogs lunging and barking at her on the startline. There was the cutest little papillon tied up on the startline next to her and she started out unsure. She was afraid of papillons! LOL Luckily after the first jump she picked up and ran beautifully.

Here is the video from Saturday. Video from Sunday and more details later!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Girlpower Pups First Agility Show April 2010

Friday was a sunny beautiful day at Thatcham UKA show located along the Thames river. It was Zaz, Yazz and Itz's first agility show and they all did fabulous.

More details and more video to come but here is the video of their runs on Friday. I am frustrated with trying to figure out Adobe premier video editing because I don't have Movie maker on my new laptop. So unfortunately I haven't discovered how to do titles on the movies! In case you cannot figure it out the order of appearance is Zaz, then Yazz followed by Itzy. First is Beginners Steeplechase and the second runs are the Nursery class. I am loving UKA with baby dogs!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Zaz and Itz training April 2010 and stuff

Another month has flown by. It has been a good month result-wise for all the OBay shelties. Zen started out the 2010 season well by winning the first Championship class of the year and insuring her spot at Crufts 2011. We have been away from the champ classes for about a year and it was nice to be back. Unfortunately no video or photos; I need to get back in the habit of videoing. Zen winning the first champ so early in the year meant that I could pull out of all the other champ classes for the year, save my money and concentrate on other classes with Zen. It also means less travelling which will be good as we should be in our new home next month!

Our new house is called "Old House Cottage" and it is just what we were looking for. Even better it is only 4 miles from Dennis' office so no increase in commuting time for him and he can still come home for lunch! It has more land than our current house but it is set up differently. It also has an established kitchen garden and room for the chickens that I have been wanting for a long time!

We can get into our new house on 7th of May. It is a great house and we are so excited to get in and start work. It needs some work and we will hopefully be doing things like adding a detached garage, removing trees and setting up my agility yard as soon as we can. This is a must-do as I have the Zitzy puppies to train!

Zen followed up her Champ win with a lovely win at the new UKA Masters Tournament. The best part of this win.....a £100 check from Mr. Derrett. Ahhh it was nice to finally take money from him instead of handing it over! The idea of this new Masters is to get people to really GO for the win and I like that they are trying something new. For the first tournament they picked a great judge as Andy really puts much thought into designing his courses. I would like to see more courses like that as I do get tired of pull through followed by straight lines followed by pull through. Variety is the spice of agility though and I am trying to LOVE all the courses I run this year. One of my New Years resolutions was not to complain about any courses I run. So feel free to slap me if you hear me doing it!

Zen is not the only OBay doing well so early in the season. Her children are starting to bring in some agility results! So far Ziga has qualified for the small Olympia Semi-Finals, Zev has won into Grade 6 and Zeki has won into Grade 4. Hopefully I will get some videos or photos of the pups as the season goes on but to start here is a photo of Zeki and Nancy at Easter Celebration yesterday. She followed up this win with another 1st and 2nd today.

Zaz and Itzy training is going along well. They are now 16 months old so they can compete in Nursery (no weaves or see-saw) and Steeplechase (only jumps and tunnels) at UKA. I had planned for their first show to be tomorrow but the weather had other ideas. I just heard that the showgrounds have been awful and muddy and we were advised not to take the trip out to Tewksbury. I am disappointed but I am glad that we found out in advance as I would not have shown the pups in that condition. It looks like their first UKA show will be on Friday if the weather is kind to us.

My goals for this session were to see how they could do their running contacts into a wall (fence) with jumps off to the side and to work on the see-saw. I was very pleased with both pups. Itzy's see-saw is really improving at home but still needs work in new places. Zaz's see-saw is generally very good but she needs work on running to the end even if I hold back; so this is what we worked on with her. As for my consistency in Zaz's startline; well don't judge me too hard! haha I think her moving forward while I turn my back is totally genetic as mum Zen does it and so does brother Ziga. I swear it has nothing to do with my inconsistent training and I am sticking to that story!