Saturday, 29 August 2009

Monkstone Phoenix

Phee turns 5 in December, we will of owned her for 4 years and in that time as most of you know we have had a number of ups and downs (for her full story refer to her page on my website).
For her 5th birthday I will be retiring her from competitive agility. This is not a decision I have made easily, and is one that I have been mulling over all of this year but at the LEADS fun day I watched Mum run her over small height and her love and lust for the sport had gone, she was verging on struggling and this made my mind up for me.

Phee can be a fantastic agility dog, she used to have the fastest weaves I have ever seen on a Spaniel, her directional control is that of a Collie, but because of her health she cannot perform all of the time – she needs the right course on the right day in the right conditions, when she is feeling fine and the days that Phee feels ‘fine’ are now becoming less and less and when we reflect that the vets didn’t think she would make 2, we consider ourselves lucky that she can soldier on as she does.

Every time I thought that I had made Phee’s retirement decision she would put in another stonking round and my aspirations for her reaching Grade 5 were back, but the guilt I feel when she goes down and can’t do herself proud outweighs this and I said to myself at Dashin’ Dogs- ‘no more’. It’s not fair to put the pressure on her when she would be equally happy just hanging out at the shows, being naughty, cheering on the others, having tummy tickles and sharing ice-creams.

Typing this is making it very real and is very hard for me, a lot harder than I thought it would be; I love this little dog to bits and if she hadn’t had the start in life that she did, I have no doubt that she would excel at the sport she loves – the frustration, disappointment and remorse surrounding this decision are overwhelming but it is the right decision to make, I am sure.
Will I enter her in the odd anysize class next year? – who knows? Will I continue to let her play on the equipment in the field? – I most certainly will! – Whatever she wants to do, I will make sure she gets the chance to do it but I want her to have the choice.

So if you see Phee at the field or out and about at shows please take the time to make her feel as special as she is, she needs to know that she doesn’t have to jump jumps and climb contacts to make us smile. Love you Phee-wee x


To everyone who brought a raffle ticket for the Many Tears raffle – THANKYOU! In total Mum and I sold an impressive £130.00 worth of tickets. Good luck to everyone with a ticket, I expect you to invite me if you win any of the holidays ; )

Dashin' Dogs

So we got there Thursday late afternoon and pitched the tent with great difficulty due to the wind, thankfully everyone chipped in to help each other; we needed 3 people to set up my tent and we needed 5 people to tame Sam’s!

As usual, the week consisted of some dodgy toilets, stupidly long queues for the shower, one day of unbearable weather (80mph winds... not fun in a tent) and an ever deflating air bed! But what is great about weeklong shows is the team morale – we can all look back and laugh now at what we tolerated but on the plus side we enjoyed cocktails at the Keating’s, a wicked Chinese takeaway, a dodgy training DVD, a fab walk on our day off and spending some quality time with our dogs as well as the agility itself of course. Big disappointment of the week was that the Bingo was cancelled as the Marquee was unusable as a result of the strong winds!

My dogs had a fantastic holiday, and Mum’s Stitch took really well to camping although he was a little terror around the rings screaming ‘I wanna do that!’ at the top of his lungs non-stop! Our camping neighbours took great joy in watching Stitch tear around our make shift garden carrying numerous items he stole (socks, pants, cookies, poo-bags, hairbrush) with Matt and myself hot at his heels.

As for the results it wasn’t a great week for me; Phee spent half the week ill and I pulled her out of the ring most runs. The thing with Phee is that you never know what you’re dealing with until she does the first jump and she can vary from hour to hour so it was always worth a try (last year at this show she won up to G4) she got her act together in the last two days but decided to put her best performances in when she was in the combined classes against short collies or speedier spaniels (no chance), on the graded classes she thought it would be more fun to gain 5 faults. I’m sure a blind judge robbed us on a trophy in the graded 3-5 agility on the last day by missing the foot she put on her dogwalk contact 1 obstacle from the end. Grrrrr.
Kif just wasn’t fast enough this year – he took great pride in collecting a clear round rosette in every colour the show had to offer but unfortunately was not fast enough for the places, he’s only 3 and I know he has the capability to speed up if he’d just relax, open up and jump the jumps at the right height!.... Maybe next year?
Good old Sprite brought home some top 5 places but struggled with some of the tighter corners set in the ‘anysize’ classes and again, the competition was just so tough this year so no 1st places.

Sam & Billy went up to Grade 3 and I lost count of the number of places they went home with!
Mike & Rio had a number of top 10 places
A number of my friends at SWAT travelled up the grades, most having their best results hung over (shame that didn’t work for me or ‘Ant-y Abi’)

We will definitely be attending Dashin’ Dogs next year although hopefully in a caravan!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Skinner Pack has a new member!

Mum saw a dog on Many Tears Rescue 2 months ago which she fell in love with, by the time she had weighed up the pros and cons and built up the courage to ask Dad, it was too late, he was gone and she regretted resisting for the amount of time she did.
She had quietly been keeping an eye on the Many Tears site should another pop up that caught her eye and who should pop up but the little fella that got her broody for another in the first place! He had been returned to Many Tears for ‘an unprovoked attack’ (he is 16 weeks old, so make of that what you will). This time Mum didn’t waste any time and told Dad that he didn’t have to think about what to get her for her 50th any longer.
Next thing I know I’m travelling up the M5 all the dogs in tow for a meet and great and bring him home. Never have we been so unprepared for a new dog – Mum fresh out of hospital and as for supplies, well we only had half a pack of puppy pads left over from Hex – all of her other puppy things had been given away to other puppies in need. So I had to stop at Pets at Home on the way back and take him in for a collar and bed fitting and then finally I took him home 14/08/09.
Mum has named him Stitch, he is a Collie (Dad) X JR Terrier (Mum) and he is to be her project to work on while I am at shows, he will go to France with her when the time comes and I think he will make a cracking little dog for her – he has SO much character and is already terrorising my guys and my Mum’s socks!

(I apologise for my inability to edit videos - this was my first attempt)

Off to Dashin’ Dogs on Thursday and so much to do! Job applications to complete, a van to pack, lesson plans to hand over to Mum, a suitcase to pack for Bulgaria (for when I get back from Dashin’ Dogs) and a puppy to watch.

It’s all go go go!

And finally congratulations to the newbies who are now happily going ‘over the top’ (have mastered the Dog Walk and A-Frame); Tila, Tilly, Spud & Collie Charlie WELL DONE!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Wow! What a super fine week we have had.

I have really enjoyed teaching in the new field this week, it’s got a really good vibe about it and all the dogs seem to like it too with some great improvements coming in particular from Tess, Collie Charlie & Tila

For those of you concerned about about the sheep next door, be re-assured; a whole week of lessons and only one dog took an interest in them and it wasn’t a was the Dalmatian! Billy cleared the fencing in a single bound, had a frolic with the sheep and then helped clear the ram’s rear of poop (I’m sorry, but that’s the nicest way to put it) before being manually retrieved – quite the sight to behold!

As most of you know, I was at a fun show this weekend running Hex in a competition environment for the first time. Her first run was in agility and was clear and gained her 2nd place! She had 10 faults in the jumping and a 5R in the steeplechase but she was such a pleasure to run, she felt great (once I’ve worked out how to work the video programme we brought the other month, I’ll try and post the video). I’m now at the edge of my seat waiting for the 19th September when she comes out for real and am continuing to switch between being excited and nervous but I have booked her into ‘Mucky Pups’ in Clevedon to be made prettiful so at least if my nerves stuff it up for her she’ll look damn fine! ; )

My other dogs had a good day too; Kif came 5th in the Jumping. Sprite was running ‘not for competition’ over a lower height (as there weren’t enough veterans to warrant a veteran course) and he really enjoyed tearing around even if it was just for fun, he didn’t know (although he was a bit sore this morning). Mum had fun running Phee (also ‘NFC’ on a lower height because she was feeling the heat). So a good day had by all. I also got to see a good friend of mine and Mum’s running her collie, Molly, who is gaining speed and confidence each time I see her – Karen I hope to see you at more shows next year!

No show this coming weekend as I am saving the guy’s legs for the week long Dashin’ Dogs show next week. Bring it on!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Well I was never gonna have as good of a day as I did last weekend (2x 1st’s with Sprite & a 2nd with Kif) but it doesn’t hurt to try!

The show at Blackdown was lovely and well organised but unfortunately due to bad weather we weren’t in the field originally planned for the show, instead we were in a field covered in designer highland cattle poo! Phee had a typical spaniel day so no joy there (again! – come on Phee!), Sprite had fun in the anysize jumping but took an extra jump 3 obstacles from the end (trying to get his monies worth) and Kif did 2 fantastic clear rounds (G3-4 Jumping & G4-7 steeplechase) but was just out the placings time wise, which I should be disappointed with but actually was not at all because post-injury Kif is running more and more like pre-injury Kif and is now only slowing down and measuring on straight runs where I think he has time to think and worry about hurting himself again.

I may not have matched last week’s results but Sam did with another win from spotty dog Billy. I hope she remembered to take him up to the prize giving again to collect his trophy – it’s fantastic to see people’s faces when they see a Dalmatian has beaten their Collies – but Billy’s not just any Dalmatian!

Mike won the G3 jumping with Rio : )

I saw some more happy SWAT members around the show with placed rosettes; although they’ll have to forgive me for not noting what they were.

Diane Graves also got a 3rd in the G3 Agility with Frase who seems to be speeding up each time I see him!

And now I have an exciting week ahead of me with lessons in the NEW field commencing from Tuesday and a fun interclub competition which Hex will get to play in on Sunday!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

I have finally started a Blog!

I think I'm going to be a rubbish blogger but I wanted to make an attempt at recording and sharing my results and doggy doings as well as sharing the successes of my friends and people who train with me at A-SIT (Agility Sprites in Training).

So wish me luck and feel free to give me advice on how to work a blog!