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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Boyz: Zen x Carson pups 2011

Zen's final litter of pups were born on Saturday 20 August. Introducing

"The Boyz"

In order of birth:
    Big Blaze
    Full Collar
    Little Blaze

I am totally losing all creativity with puppy names so these 4 boyz are obviously named for their markings! All the Boyz are bi-factored tris as expected.

Sadly the whelping did not go as well as I would have liked. Zen was scanned at 28 days with six puppies and the scanner was absolutely correct. Zen went into labour Saturday night and all seemed good but I became worried when she was having strong contractions for longer than normal. I called the vet (of course on a Saturday and after hours!) and we brought Zen right in. After 2 oxytocin injections Zen was contracting stronger but the puppy still was not progressing; we could feel him high up. The vet was hinting for a c-section and I was almost resigned to it but worried to death about it. The vet left us alone with Zen in the waiting room and kept coming in to check to see if the pup progressed. She was extremely patient and understanding; she even lowered the lights in the waiting room to keep Zen calm.

After over 4 hours of being on the floor with Zen both at home and in the vet's waiting room I had to get up and sit down in a chair. Dennis got on the floor with Zen and he kept talking to her and encouraging her. Amazingly after a few minutes we checked and now could feel the puppy coming far enough down the canal to pull out. Unfortunately this puppy was already dead probably from being in the canal too long. He was a very large puppy but seemed perfect in every way...

After that puppy was born the other 5 puppies came in quick succession. Twice, after a strong contraction, we looked to find TWO puppies born at almost the exact same time. The final pup was born on his own and we ended up with 4 boys and one girl.

Our sadness at losing the first boy was softened by the fact that Zen did not need the c-section. But I was concerned that the girl puppy did not look good; she was not only very small but she was gasping for air. We did what we could for Zen and all the pups and then took them all home at 2 am. I slept with Zen and the pups so I could check on them all night. At 5 am I knew the girl pup was not going well; so I took her into bed with me on a heating pad to keep her warm and held her until she finally took her last breath. My last chance for a Zen girl and she was gone....

After a long night we now had 4 boys. I was hoping that things would get easier from that point on. They might be all boyz but they were adorable.

As you can see from the photo one puppy is much smaller than the others. "Spot" was smaller at birth but I was not overly concerned about that. I started becoming concerned on day 2 when he lost some weight while the others were gaining well.

I made the decision to supplement him as although he seemed to be nursing vigorously he obviously wasn't getting enough milk. After unsuccessfully trying a few bottle feeds; I gave up and started feeding him with a medicine dropper. He seemed to like this and he ate really well. I fed him every 2 hours for 3 days after which time he made up on his weight loss and started gaining! Thank God! At 1 week old he started refusing the medicine dropper as he was too full from Zen's milk; I could now rest easy and let Zen do the rest.

Here are the pups nursing at 9 days old; fat and healthy!

Some photos of the little guinea pigs!

Little Blaze 2 days old

Big Blaze 2 days old

Full Collar

Spot at 3 days old

I will have more photos once the pups open their eyes and start looking less like guinea pigs and more like puppies! The are so precious right now and I am grateful to have a healthy Zen and 4 happy boys.

Bored Itzy wants to know why she has done no agility for a week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

European Open 2011

This year the European Open Agility Championships was in Austria. You can find all the results here.

Austria is a beautiful country and this is the 3rd time we have visited there. Twice for agility and once for a walking holiday. I would love to go back and spend more time walking there; maybe when we get our motorhome and spend a few months travelling around Europe. (I can dream!)

I picked up a Linzer Tart while we walked around Linz on our day off. Believe it or not this brought back memories of Long Island! Lots of things we saw in Austria made me realize just what a melting pot of nationalities I grew up with. We had so many German delis and bakeries on Long Island that some of the Austrian and German foods seemed familiar.

Our hotel was gorgeous and had great food and ample room to walk the dogs. This was the view from my balcony! The weather was overcast on all the days but I can imagine on a clear day the views would be even more amazing.

The weather was good for agility; overcast and cool. The only bad weather was on the NIGHT of the finals. The Large dog final was run in the pouring rain in the DARK! Yes the Dark! They had floodlights but they kept failing; sometimes during people's runs. I don't care how far I have travelled; I would not run my dog in the rain, mud and dark....

I won't go into details about the lack of organization. Suffice to say it was not the best organized EO I have been to! This is so disappointing for the people who spent so much time and effort to qualify and then to get to Austria to compete.

On the positive side, the team final was an amazing event to watch! I am slightly glad I was not participating though as it was quite a tough course. If you search Youtube I am sure you can find videos of the team final event.

This will be my last time going to the EO for a few years I think. It is just not worth the long journey for what amounts to 2 or 3 runs. I think I should use my money more wisely! We pay for the entire trip ourselves. The KC gives us our clothing and our entries (which helps) but other than that all the World Champ trips and European Open trips are paid for by ourselves. I do not have a sponsor that pays for my expenses....Thank goodness on this trip Nancy offered (was convinced?) to drive! So, at least, we could split the fuel and travel costs between the three of us (Nancy, Leah and I).

Here is Zeki and Herbie at the opening ceremonies. I generally don't take my girls to the opening ceremony as they get too over the top excited. I love the closing ceremonies as I can let them be crazy if they want. Sadly this year we missed the closing ceremony as the event went on too late and too long because it was so unorganized.

I am so disappointed that the EO will not be in England next year as planned. The Kennel Club would have a fantastic job organizing it as they do with the Kennel Club International Festival every year. Nearly 20 rings of agility and more competitors than at the European Open and everything goes smoothly and on time. I realize England is harder to enter for most people, but in reality for most Europeans it is not anymore difficult than getting into Sweden.

Zaz travelled so well. Zen was fantastic to run but she hated the travel. Zaz just took everything in her stride and was her normal calm self. We had 5 runs total (2 individual,Individual final and 2 team).

I like this photo of her on the see saw as we have been working so hard to improve our see saw performance. It is still work in progress but it is getting better.

Here is Zaz chilling out in the seating area. Johanna had this beautiful blanket made up for Zaz. I love it! We also got a lovely embroidered lead from Leah and lots off Union Jack pressies from Nancy. You see we actually only do all this for the pressies! Union Jacks and pink are a great combo!

Here are the videos: the good and the bad!

Individual Jumping: I panicked at the end and blew it!

Individual Agility: I LOVED the feeling after running this course! Zaz came 4th in this class!

Individual Final: Her top 15 place in the individual agility gave her a place in the final. I was so proud to be running Zaz in the final but afterwards broke down in tears. I did not expect the announcer to mention our podium place at the 2008 EO and I kept wanted to say to them "You have it wrong; that was Hex not Zaz". Such a little thing to bother me but I couldn't help it. For me it felt worse because I didn't want people to think I was upset about my run when that was just not the case....While I would have loved to go clear I don't think I could ever cry over an agility run as long as I still had my little happy dog by my side.

Our team agility and team jumping. Clear in both but the smalls and mediums are lumped together. I think she ranked 15 in the combined small/medium agility and 40-something in the team jumping.

Again I would love to give y'all a full rundown of our experiences and runs but puppies have happened and I spend alot of time looking at them and worrying. This takes up an extraordinary amount of time. More about "The Boyz" in my next post....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dania Cup 2011 Part 2

Here is the view of the three ring Dania Cup 2011. The little tents around the rings belong to the competitors. They get there early to stake out their spots; the best ones being along the front so that you can sit in the shade or out of the rain and still watch. These tents went three rows deep; this is one of the biggest shows in Denmark. This is quite a contrast to the UK show I was at this past weekend. The Kennel Club International Festival here in England was 17 rings.

I love how they all have the same size tents and are SO neat in how they line them up. So very cute!

I really enjoyed my week in Denmark competing at the Dania Cup. The courses were exciting and it was fun to have so many runs per day. We had 2 runs at our level (Class 3 for Zaz and Itz) plus one open class per day. I would love to go into detail on all the courses but I keep running out of time. If you want to see the courses and results you can just go to the website at DANIA CUP 2011

The class 3 courses were very testing and fun! We had judges from many different countries including the two World Champ judges for this year. That alone made the trip worthwhile for me. It gave me confidence that we could do it!

The open classes are generally slightly easier as they are for class 1,2 and 3 dogs. The open class results helped to qualify you for the end of the week final. There were some complicated rules to get into the final but at the end both Zaz and Itz qualified for the finals on Saturday.

Here is Zaz in her open class on the first day. That was her only clear for the first two days as we seemed to need a few courses under our belt to get our rhythm together.

On the Monday I was disappointed as we had 3 runs with no clears for either dog. Just tiny mistakes but so frustrating. Finally on Tuesday, the third day of competition, Zaz got a clear in her Grade 3 agility which gave us her first Agility Championship Certificate! In Denmark they have a separate Jumping and Agility Championship title. They need 3 championship certificates to become a champion. The titles are Agility Champion and Jumping (Spring) Champion.

Here is Zaz in her Class 3 agility on Tuesday getting her first Championship certificate in another country!

The prize giving was at the end of each day. Everyone would sit around with their chairs and drinks to cheer on their respective country wins. The funny thing is that the prizes were not what we are used to! They did give medals out for 1st,2nd and 3rd but do not do rosettes, ribbons or trophies. Each person (usually placed 1st-6th) get a trip up to a "prize" table. On this table can be an assortment of things: dog toys, dog treats, vouchers for vendors, beer, wine, human toiletries, clothing ect! Basically anything could be up there! The 1st placed person picked first and then the rest choose in order of their placings. By the end you could be walking away with a bottle of skin lotion or bug spray! It was funny to see the men walking away with all sorts of face lotions!

This shows everyone hanging around waiting for prize giving.

Some crazy Norwegian lady! She wore this shirt to every prize giving. The Norwegians are amazing agility handlers; I love to watch them. At the European Open this year they really stood out for me again.

I wasn't so brave in dressing up but I did bring up the big Union Jack flag (thanks to Ian Watts) which in itself was quite a feat. I almost managed to kill someone with that flag because I couldn't control it!

While giving these types of prizes rather than trophies/rosettes may seem strange to us in the UK I can really see the benefits. While I love to get my beautiful trophies; in reality how many can I keep? At the Dania Cup I kept trying to collect the vouchers for a certain vendor and at the end of the week I had enough vouchers to get a lovely dog bed for free AND a free photo of my dog. I know that it might be disappointing to place 4th in a big class and walk away with bug spray but do the trophies really mean that much anyway? I like having something useful! My dogs got loads of extra dog treats, toys and leads plus I won bottles of salmon oil (very expensive!), a dog bed, photos and various toiletries. Oh and I won 3 bottles of champagne for winning some open classes. The more alcoholic team members chose cases of beer or cider whenever they won anything!

For winning a Championship Certificate they gave a special prize. You won a shirt! Since Zaz won 2 championship agility certificates and 2 championship jumping certificates I could have had 4 shirts made up. Instead I got a pink shirt that said "Winner of the Agility & Jumping certificates". I love that shirt but really didn't need another shirt so instead Dennis got a Dania Cup 2011 shirt. Again something functional that he will enjoy often. Dennis will probably wear his Dania Cup shirt more than I will wear mine. I have a closet full of Team GB shirts that I never wear either.

For the next agility and jumping certificate wins I had another shirt made up. I went for the lime green shirt and asked for pink lettering (of course!). I didn't quite expect her to use the FLUORESCENT pink lettering! Wow this is one bright shirt! I am not sure I will ever wear this shirt but wore it on our last night out for dinner with friends at the Dania cup. Hmmm maybe I will wear it for our party when Zaz finishes her Agility Championship here in England. That will give us something to look forward to. LOL

After 3 days of agility there was a day off on Wednesday. A nice relaxing day and the one day of rain! We were lucky with the weather and there was only one morning where I didn't run 2 of my classes due to the weather. I was disappointed that this show did not use the rubber coated contact equipment as I was expecting. I think we assume that all European agility shows use the rubber equipment but that is not the case. So as in the UK, I will skip a class if I think it could be unsafe for my dog. The equipment was generally good and I really liked the magnetic breakaway tyre. The tyre just gave way if the dog hit it. The judging was easy; they did not fault it as long as the dog went through the tyre.

I think I skipped the first runs on Thursday (class 3 agility) but Zaz went on to win the Class 3 Jumping Certificate later on in the day.

Friday was our best day! Zaz won both the jumping and agility championship certificates and won the open agility. Little Itzy got a 6th place in the Class 3 agility. I was really proud of Itzy all week. She had some issues with the wall jump which cost us some clear rounds but overall ran really well and constantly amazes me with what she knows! When I put more time into her training she will only get better and better.

Here is Itz in her agility class 3 on Friday.

And Zaz in her agility class 3 on Friday.

We had a fantastic time in Denmark. Dennis and I had hoped to go back next year but have just found out that the week show in 2012 will be non-KC affiliated. This makes it less attractive as they will not be awarding Championship certificates. I think because of this they also will have less competitors from other countries and will not get the world champ judges. For me it was being able to compete against some really good small dogs from other countries under tough courses in a more relaxed atmosphere that made the show so attractive. I hope to get back to Denmark again to finish Zaz's Agility and Jumping Championships but it might not be next year.

I have also decided not to tryout for the EO next year as it is in Sweden. This would be another long expensive drive. Instead I would like to find a show like the Dania Cup where I can enjoy a few days of good agility in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. So I am on the lookout for another good show in a different country next year. If anyone has any good ideas let me know? A 3 day or longer show would be best because by the time we pay for fuel,hotels and entries it is more cost effective to have more days of competing.

I am going to try and catch up by talking about the European Open next. I must get the blog caught up so that I can concentrate on writing on more important matters: PUPPIES!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dania Cup 2011 Part 1

Last month we went back to Denmark to compete at the Dania Cup 2011 agility show. In Denmark they have a week-long agility show during July that moves every year to a different part of Denmark in a 3 year cycle. This year it was called the Dania Cup and was near Naevsted Denmark. In 2004 I attended the Jutlandia Cup which was in the more western part of Denmark.

Things have changed quite a bit for me since 2004. Back then I was running my lovely Pax and came to Denmark to pick up a hopefully pregnant True (Zen's mom). Pax's best placement that week was a 4th place and I was thrilled with that! True went on to produce a singleton puppy that year called "One".

Now fast forward to 2011. I ran Zaz and Itzy at the Dania Cup and was there to pick up a hopefully pregnant Zen. Zaz won numerous first places and both Zaz and Itz made it to the end of the week Final! I already know that Zen is pregnant with more than one puppy so we are improving in both agility and breeding on our last attempt in Denmark!

From 2004:

Tazz and True. This combination produced the singleton One on their first try and then went on to produce Hex, Indy and Max. I wish I had repeated this breeding again...

4th Place for me and Pax. These courses were so foreign to us and it took me all week to get a clear round!

On that trip I got to see Unique for the first time since he left us as a puppy at 8 weeks. Here he is at 1 year old with his mom True on the left and dad Monty on the right. This breeding also produced Zen. This was one amazing breeding and encouraged many sheltie breeders in Denmark and Sweden to start using Monty.

Now back to 2011 and it was fantastic for me to see so many shelties running that are related to my dogs through Monty or One. I saw both children and grand-children of Monty! My little Monty, who almost did not come with me to England, has now really left his mark on the sheltie world. I was so glad to see him again this year and hope that it is not the last time I see him as he is now 12.5 years old. I also got to meet some grand-children of True: my little couch potato who produced the most amazingly smart and crazy pups.

In my Class 3 classes I was often beat by shelties related to Monty! HA! Don't these people realize they should have let me win as payment to me for their pups? LOL

Zaz getting 2nd to a swedish Monty daughter.

Zaz narrowly winning the class to another Monty daughter!

The happy couple of 2011: Zen and Carson. Say a prayer that all 6 pups are healthy happy and gorgeous and that there are a few little black girls for me to choose from!

More about the Dania Cup 2011 with video soon!