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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Toven The Full Monty: 14 tomorrow!

Some dogs can change your life in ways you cannot imagine.

Happy 14th Birthday to Monty!

Monty's first litter will be 10 next month and he now has children, grand-children and great grandchildren in many countries. Who knew that this little black boy would make such an impact on so many.

I am so grateful to the many people who have participated in Monty's life. Toni who bred him, gave him to me when he was a year old and let him make the trip to England. Johanna who allowed him to shine as a show dog, agility dog and a producer of fantastic puppies. And finally Marianne who helped Monty shine as a veteran agility dog and provides him love and attention in his retirement years. Monty is one sheltie loved by many!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Crufts 2013: Agility Championships

We were up early and at Crufts almost before anyone else. Luckily Dennis came again to take care of the driving and we had Sonia joining us as a special good luck charm. Today Zaz was with us and I was thrilled to have mother and daughter at Crufts! This was the first time I have had two dogs competing together in Crufts Championship and for it to be mother Zen and daughter Zaz was very special.

Our first run (jumping) was very early; there was hardly anyone in the stands as they were still making their way into the venue. In Championship agility there are two qualifying rounds: one jumping and one agility. In order to get into the final you need to be in the top 50% based on placings in the two qualifying rounds. Any elimination in the qualifiers prevents you from going into the final. So often tactics take place in running championship. You need to decide if you just need two steady clears or if you have to go all out for a high placing in order to get through to the final. Of course, no matter what, you don't want to get eliminated in the qualifiers. This year it seemed that you couldn't play in safe; dogs with good double clears still didn't make it through. Often this is determined by the difficulty of a course. The more difficult the course the more eliminations and therefore a greater chance of getting through even with steadier clears. Sometimes courses are hard to read; they may seem difficult on walking yet they run quite easily. We had 16 dogs in medium champ and 14 dogs in small champ. Qualifying for the champ at Crufts can be very difficult as there are only 20 or so champ shows throughout country all year. So every  Championship ticket awarded is very special.

So I was feeling slightly emotional running Zen but still needed to concentrate on Zaz. I think this helped keep me focused. I had two songs in my head: Diamonds by Rihanna and Magic by Olivia Newton-John. Two very different songs from different eras! I know it is a little sappy but I do find that certain songs motivate me and help me focus. Sometimes I go for upbeat songs to charge me up and get me excited. Other times, like this Crufts, the songs have more sentimental feelings reminding me to relax and enjoy my dog.   I am always careful in big events to not have the "just enjoy" yourself mentality. I DO enjoy myself but I want more than that: I want to win and I want to have that amazing run that shows off my dog and my training.

For Zaz "Magic":

Through every turn I'll be near you
I'll come anytime you call
I'll catch you when you fall
I'll be guiding you

You have to believe we are magic
Nothin' can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic
Don't let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive
I'll bring all your dreams alive
For you

For Zen: "Diamonds":
I knew that we’d become one right away
Oh, right away
At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays
I saw the life inside your eyes
So shine bright, tonight you and I
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky
Eye to eye, so alive
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Zen was up first in Champ Jumping and then I had 7 dogs before Zaz ran. This put me into a slight  panic wondering if I would be able to catch my breath and get my legs back between dogs. We have to run in strict order in Champ and they will not delay.  Luckily someone said to me just the right words while I was talking about how worried I was. They didn't just say "Oh you will be fine" but  instead they gave me something positive to focus on. They said (paraphrasing) "it is good that you won't have time in between to let the adrenalin fade away. You will be warmed up and ready to run again."  I do not even remember who said it but it was just the right thing to say to me at the time.  Isn't it amazing how a positive comment can really make you feel so much better?

Next up was Zaz. Now many people know that  Zaz's registered name is often announced incorrectly. She has been called Itz Got Pizza so often that I just expect it now! This year at Crufts all the announcers got her name perfect but the TV screen read something else.........

Knowing how much I adore this dog; god is not a big leap!  It was  certainly God that brought her to me when I needed her most.

Here is Zaz's jumping round.

We didn't have long to wait until the Champ agility round.  I had longer between dogs for this run but I don't remember who ran first. The course was subtle again; no real traps but the angle of the  jump after the see saw was of concern and caught a few dogs out.

Zaz's agility round.

Zen's agility round. Zen got creative before the see-saw but she had her reasons.

After the two qualifying rounds we waited with anticipation to hear who made it into the finals. I knew Zaz would be in the finals as she had won both rounds but I didn't know if  Zen had done enough to get through. It turns out that  Zen actually ended up 3rd overall by getting 6th in jumping and 4th in agility! She was in the finals and that is where I wanted her to run her last run. Zen would finish her agility career running in the Championship Finals in the main ring at Crufts! The only sad part of the day was that Zen's son Zev did not make it into the finals due to having faults in his agility round. Zev will certainly be back here another year!

I love running in the finals at Crufts. The crowds are great yet not overwhelming and loud.  The ring crew is supportive and efficient and you have time to  breathe and enjoy the moment.

I loved running Zaz at Crufts again and winning the Champ two years is a row is amazing! Last year we won by a  whisker and this year it was close again with under 1/2 second to play with. Gosh we have some fab small dogs in  UK agility! I have to use the video direct from Crufts as the commentary is such fun. Every time I hear Peter Purvis say that our run is not quick enough my heart skips and I wonder if  we actually won!  Thank goodness we did! It was a fun course.

And Zen's Champ final run.

I guess it would have been nice to say Zen finished with a clear round but actually that was never my goal. This was not about a fairy tale ending but about celebrating my amazing dog. Zen was allowed to miss contacts and obstacles and generally just enjoy herself! I love this photo. Our new Samsung Camera has this feature where you can take a photo while videoing and Dennis got this shot just as Zen came over the finish. I love my Zen!

Beautiful mother and daughter.

The 2013 Crufts Champions: Large, Medium and Small.

So that was Crufts 2013.  I am not promising to blog regularly but with Giz-mo just about ready to compete and my new sable ball of fluff beginning her training I may start blogging again. Puppies are planned for the end of 2013 so that always gets me blogging! 2013 looks to be a great year!  xxxooo

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crufts 2013: Zen-star in Crufts Singles

Zen also ran in Crufts Singles on Friday. Those runs were a bonus as I hadn't really expected to be running in singles. Again I think the weather played havoc with many 2012 shows and Zen qualified for the singles class without many points. Or  maybe Zen just wanted to enjoy Crufts with lots of runs!

I knew Zen had 3 of her pups entered at Crufts this year. Zaz and Zev were in the Champs and Zavvi was in medium team. 3 pups competing at Crufts alongside their mom is pretty amazing. So I had these cupcakes made up to celebrate!

Then on Saturday while watching livestream on Youtube I found out that Zen had another pup competing in small team! I wish I had known; I felt sad that Zoe's owner did not let me know. Luckily I got to watch on livestream and Zoe looked fab and put in two fantastic clear rounds to help her team come 2nd in the final! So that made FOUR Zen pups competing at Crufts 2013!

I was so pleased that the Medium Team event was held on the Friday as Zavvi was running in team for her first time at Crufts and I could be there to watch in person. Of course I forgot to get a photo of Zen and Zavvi together (and did the same on Sunday forgetting to get a family photo of Zen and her son Zev in Champ) but here is a photo of Zavvi with her teammates. Zavvi ran a lovely fast clear for her team but unfortunately they didn't make it to the finals. Team is a tough class at Crufts; you only get ONE run unless your team makes the final cut. That is a lot of time, money and effort for one run!


One of the best parts of my day on Friday was the greeting I got from Zavvi. Not that I am biased but she is such a lovely dog. Some of my pups act like they have forgotten who I am or don't really care about greeting me even if I see them on a regular basis. Others, like Zavvi, go crazy when they see me or hear my voice. Zavvi made me feel special that day.

Crufts Singles consists of two rounds (jumping and agility) on the day. The top 4 in medium then go through to the finals in the evening. Zen ran great but a pole down in the jumping put her out of contention for the final. I was disappointed but it meant we could head home early! Zen and I were both very tired by the end of Friday!

Here is her Crufts Singles Jumping.

And her Crufts Singles Agility.

After a long drive home we stopped at a fabulous pub for dinner (oh my goodness...they had sweet potato fries!)and  we were back home by 9pm. On Saturday I got up early to watch the livestream and spend the rest of the day trying to recuperate.  I don't  think Zen got out of bed all day!  We had to be up early again on Sunday to finish out Crufts 2013 with the best class of all: CHAMPIONSHIP!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crufts 2013 Day 1: Zen-Star in Medium ABC

Friday morning we were up at 3:30 am and on the road by 4 for  the 2.5 hour drive up to the Birmingham NEC. Friday is all about Zen: Crufts 2013 is to be Zen's final agility show as I couldn't think of a better way for her to retire.  One day I should sit down and write down all that Zen has accomplished in her agility career; I just have never been one to focus on those details. This weekend was to be all about enjoying every run with her.

Zen will be 10 next month. She is running well and has no injuries but I feel responsible to try and keep her that way. She loves agility with a passion but she also loves walking, chasing a tennis ball and chasing the other shelties.   I could continue running her for another 2 years but why? She has given me so much and I know I would be inconsolable the first time I saw her feel stiff after an agility run.  I know how I feel after a long weekend of agility and Zen is now older than me.....I don't judge anyone who continues to run their older dogs; this is strictly a personal decision for Zen and I.

The shelties and I did very little agility during 2012.  My heart was not into competing and I was focused on the building work at our house and the addition of a little sable fluffball. (more about that another time!) The only agility goal I was focused on was trying qualify Zen for the new competition called Medium ABC. This new class gave me a fitting way to retire Zen on a high; she deserved to end her career at the top.

Qualifying for the Medium ABC at Crufts was not easy!  First we needed to go to the shows that held the qualifying classes and try to guess how many points would be needed to get us through to the semi-final in November. We went through a bit of a roller coaster while trying to get the points. We only had one qualifying show in June and  had entered 3 more qualifier shows for the rest of the year. I hoped that 4 qualifiers would give me enough points.  Then the "summer of 2012" came and it was a VERY wet summer.   I had to wrestle with my conscience and pull Zen out of some shows because I worried about her getting hurt. Some shows were even cancelled.  Due to this  I was convinced that we would  never make the points to get to the semi. We had our 2nd qualifying show in September and I was doubtful we would get through to the semifinal with points from only two shows. 

I was amazed when I read that we had squeaked through on points to get to the semi-final at Discover Dogs 2012.  Only two of each breed qualify to get into the semi and there were 5 shelties with points in the top 20. Zen qualified as the 2nd highest placing sheltie only one point ahead of her daughter and tied with another sheltie. We only got in due to the rule that to break a tie they take the results of the first competition and Zen had one more point at that show! How close was that? In my opinion the "two of each breed" rule is definitely not necessary and a little sad and I hope the Kennel club looks into this.  The ABC (Anything But a (border)Collie) class has it's place in UK agility but limiting it further is not something that promotes better ABC dogs. Let the top ABC dogs shine; the final would have had a huge variety of breeds even without the extra restrictions.

The next hurdle was the semi-final in November at Discover Dogs. 20 dogs in the semi and the top 10 go through to Crufts.  Zen placed 3rd overall to  qualify for Crufts 2013: our 2012 goal accomplished!

So here we are competing against the best 10 medium  ABC dogs in the country at Crufts.  Half of the dogs competing were already agility champions or ticket winners so it was set to be a great competition.  I was so excited to have Zen by my side again at Crufts.  Two runs: jumping and agility and the combined scores produce the winners. Zen was amazing: coming 2nd in jumping and 4th in agility to come 2nd overall. Runner Up Medium ABC Crufts Champion!  Coming 2nd behind one of the fastest dogs in the country is not bad at all!

Here is her jumping run videoed with our new Samsung camera!

Here is her agility run.

The first ever Crufts Medium ABC!

My only disappointment of the day is that 2nd place did not get a trophy... Instead only a rosette. For a sponsored class that required so many shows to be entered plus a semi final I think that was a little disappointing for all the Medium ABC dogs that placed 1st through 3rd. Now I have to try to make something special out of our ribbon so I am up in the attic trying to find all of Zen's old Crufts rosettes from 2006 through 2013. Did I mention I tend  to not keep my rosettes....uh oh.

So Zen had a busy Crufts 2013.  Medium ABC was my only goal for Zen but our Zen had other ideas and also qualified for Crufts Singles AND Championship! More later.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome Back Team OBay: Crufts preview 2013

Well well well; it has been a year! A busy year and a happy year. I will take my time to catch up; no reason to rush in one post! Let's start at the best, biggest and most prestigious dog show in the world: CRUFTS 2013!

I really tried to stretch out my fun at Crufts this year. We were competing on Friday with Zen in Medium ABC and Cruft Singles and on Sunday with Zen and Zaz in Agility Championships. Dennis came with me this year so we drove up and down each day. An early 4 am start for a 3 hour drive but it meant that the dogs and I could come home on Saturday and chill. Here is Zen and I on the first day at our bench. Our motto for Crufts 2013: Keep Calm and Believe! All our good luck cards and our special Crufts pink and white sheltie plaque came along for good luck!

It was fun having Dennis with me again; I don't think he has been at Crufts for many years. He enjoyed himself running around, visiting stalls and taking photos and videos with his new toy. A Samsung Galaxy camera. This camera was great at Crufts where we could video the dog's runs and immediately upload to Facebook for friends to see! It took really nice photos as well and we could email them to family to share the day as it happened. As you can guess Dennis had more fun than usual at a dog show!


We had fun playing around the Samsung booth. Giz-mo came along and not only attracted attention with his cuteness but helped me send to send email love postcards to Dennis. Cuteness overload!  It is appropriate that Giz-mo's registered name is  OBay Boyz Toyz!

Samsung is a Crufts partner and what a great match for the dog world! Not only have I been using their camera and TV to record and watch our Crufts experiences but I have found out that Samsung is working hard with dog charities.

And more locally they have created a Facebook app where you can adopt a virtual rescue dog. You can choose your own virtual dog and interact with it to make sure it has everything it needs to be happy and healthy – from taking it for a walk to buying it a new ball. For every virtual dog ‘adopted,’ Samsung will make a contribution towards a vital health check for a Blue Cross rescue dog. To ‘adopt’ a virtual dog, all you have to do it ‘like’ the app, and give your virtual dog a name. How easy and fun is that? Check out Help-A-Dog-A-Thon

So between all our agility runs and Dennis playing around with his new toy there was not much time for much else. But somehow there is always time for shopping of course!

The best dog food company! Burns!

And seeing cool if slightly strange modes of transportation!

A preview of our Crufts weekend results! More to come with video!