Monday, 28 November 2011

Sheltie Obedience Training Day

Matthew and I had such an enjoyable day yesterday at the Obedience training day organised by the ESSC working section. I really think that even if agility is our main hobby, it is so good for the dogs do some obedience work, especially around new dogs and in a different environment. Agility is just obedience at speed with a few obstacles after all! Our trainer Domini was really enthusiastic and didn't once make us feel inadequate because we don't generally compete at obedience. She was very into motivation and rewards to create drive and desire to work - just like agility really!!

We worked all three of ours and they all did so well at the different exercises. We did stays, distance control, heelwork, retrieves and sendaways/recalls. Brooke pups got lots of lovely comments from the obedience people and bless her she did so well for an 8 month old pup. She even did her first sendaway :) She didn't get distracted at all and couldn't take her eyes off Matthew. I worked Brodie and we both worked Brax and they had great fun too! There were so many lovely shelties there and it was great to see how enthusiastic they were no matter what level they work at. Domini really broke exercises down if the dog was struggling by shaping behaviours with a clicker - this helped a lot of the younger dogs with retrieves in particular. Matthew got to work one of Domini's collies at the end which was interesting as he is sooo used to little dogs! They all slept well when they got home!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Brooke is 8 months old!!

Our little bundle of fun Brooke is now 8 months old and it only seems like yest that we picked her up! We had great fun on saturday as she did a puppy training day with Leah Gardner in Kent and there were two other sheltie puppies present - her brother Sonic and little Shark. It was a lovely class and it was really fun and informative :) They worked through waits, recalls, ladder work, tunnels and had lots of play. The video below is from Lian and was filmed by Colin

There are a few short videos on my YouTube page of the exercises but they are not as good as Colins video!! Brooke has still only done the basics but its so nice to see that her waits are solid and her speed is improving as she gets more confident. Her tugging is better and less polite as well! She is an amazing little puppy and we love her to bits :)

On a sad note, Brodie and I can't take part in the UKA national finals. The dogs had an physio appointment with Caroline from Galen and she confirmed my fears that Brodie wasn't right :( Brooke had side slammed him a few times during the summer, once taking him off his feet and they were playing rough together in the house as well. It is amazing how much damage dogs can do to each other in free play. I've never been a fan of dogs bundling each other like nutters but whereas Brax will tell Brooke off, Brodie is so sweet that he doesn't! Coupled with Brodie being a small medium (and jumping 9cm higher than his back at KC shows) despite not doing many shows this year he had obviously managed to sustain an injury to his neck and also was found to be tight through his back, shoulders have a tilted pelvis. Poor boy, I could have cried :( Anyway, Caroline being the star she is worked wonders and we also have some exercises to do. He is moving more freely already and cocking his leg better again. He can also now turn his head to the right!!

The signs that something wasn't right were
- being reluctant to do heelwork in obedience (he couldn't turn his head right and look up)
- coming out of the weaves (especially the narrower ones, wider spacing seemed ok)
- turning left when I gave him a right command (this happened in the Champ final where he won his RCC!!)
- not trotting on walks but trying to canter or pace
- not cocking his leg properly
- measuring slightly on KC sized spread jumps
- grumpy when being groomed (not like Brodie at all)
- going 'flat' at competitions and lacking power

Looking back I think that there were issues brewing in August and the worst moments came at Letchworth. I put it down to him being tired from being in the tent and competing but I pulled him out of several classes. Still, I could kick myself that I didn't get him looked at sooner. In the future I will keep a closer eye on him. I do wonder whether he is prone to injuries after falling off the dog walk a couple of years ago. I'm not going to do any agility training with him until Jan and will spend Dec building up his fitness. Brax on the other hand passed with flying colours, bit tight in a couple of spots but normal agility dog wear and tear. We have done much more warming her up this year and it has paid off :)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Brooke Videos

I've been so hectic that I am blogging late again! Its great to be so busy though and I feel so lucky to spend everyday doing something I love and seeing all my fab clients, both human and canine!! I am really impressed by the hard work and dedication that some people have to their animals. We are privileged to share our lives with them and can all learn a lot from spending time with them, no matter what the species (ok, possibly not goldfish although they are very therapeutic to watch!!) One of the most amazing people I know is a lovely lady called Sarah who with her husband Simon take on retired and sometimes elderly greyhounds. They have four hounds at the moment that vary in age and have a few issues that most people wouldn't be able to deal with. One of them is nervously aggressive to anything that doesn't resemble a greyhound / lurcher type and they have put in SO much work to help him overcome his issues. Put it like this, if I came back to earth as a dog I'd want to live with them - they are possibly the most dedicated, selfless people that I have ever been lucky enough to know. If only all owners were so good...

It really makes me think about whether there should be a test to pass before owning an animal. For example, the number of people recently who I've seen walking round our village with their dogs off lead on the pavement of a busy road is ridiculous. I narrowly missed running over a terrier this evening which is what prompted this rant. I don't know whether these people think they are clever or amazing dog trainers but actually IT'S ILLEGAL (and stupid) to have your dog off the lead on a public highway. Is it worth the risk?? My dogs are well trained but I wouldn't do something that potentially is fatal to my dogs! The poor terrier I almost hit got grabbed by its owner and then smacked - poor dog probably wanted to push her in the road :(

Anyway, I rarely rant on the blog so I do apologise! Anyway, here are a couple of videos of Miss Brooke taken this week. We realised that we hadn't done handstands for a long time so here are a few of the attempts

This a a short video of Brooke doing her running contact on the raised plank for the second time ever. Her striding ok, she gets the contact with all four feet but I would prefer her back feet to be a little bit more split if I was being fussy. What I was pleased about was that she did about 10 reps and only missed once which was better than I thought she would do. She is thinking about it a bit now rather than chucking herself around like a nutter!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Family Reunion!

On saturday we went to visit Lian and her shelties, including Brooke's brother Sonic. We had a lovely time and the dogs were so worn out by the time we got home that they slept all the way through the firework display on the common!

We decided to take the train to see Lian as its good for the dogs and quite an adventure :) It involved train to St Pancras International, tube to Victoria and overground again to Mitcham. Brax doesn't particularly enjoy going on the train but got better each time. Brodie LOVES going on the train but isn't keen on escalators (he doesn't understand why he is moving!) and Brooke loves all of it!!

We had a lovely time seeing Lian, Colin and all the shelties. Brooke met her little half brother Scampi and his sisters Fly and Sweep. Beautiful puppies and we had so much fun playing with them! Brooke was fascinated with them and played very gently with them as did Brodie. Brax just steered clear! This is Brooke and Sweep - how cute!!!

Brooke also got the chance to run around like a nutter with her brother Sonic! In the video you can see their Daddy Sing watching them and Sizzle who is Brodies brother. Please excuse Brax yapping in the video!

Lian managed to take some lovely photos of the dogs - I've put the one of all three of them on the blog heading - thanks Lian! There are some great action shots on Lians blog as well. This is Sonic and Brooke with Sing, what great smiles! Sing has a poorly paw so we all hope it gets better soon.

Here are Brodie and Brooke chilling out on the train
This is me and the woofs at St Pancras - couldn't get them all looking at the camera!

This is Brookes little brother Scampi - he is adorable and wow does he have attitude!!

This is little Sweep having a cuddle on my lap-she is a very pretty girly.

This is Fly who is a very playful pup, she fell asleep on their food toy!

Brax was worn out barking all day so fell asleep on me all evening - bless her!

Brodie snuggled up in his bed when we got home

and Brooke puppy claimed her spot on 'her' sofa!!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Brooke Balance and Coordination Workshop

Brooke went to her first winter workshop on saturday, Balance and Coordination by Hannah Banks. It was very well run and informative and the dogs really enjoyed themselves - thanks Hannah! As an observer it was obvious how their confidence and balance got better and they started to think things through rather than dashing into everything at 100mph. I'm going to do some of the exercises with Brax too as she isn't that well balanced and goes at everything like a bull in a china shop :)

Brooke doing the wobble board, you can see that she worked out to sit in the centre as that was where she was most stable - clever pup

Brooke getting the hang of walking through the ladder SLOWLY! Slower the better for exercises like this as they can't use their momentum to cheat and jump through

We also have been proofing her waits now that she understands what is required of her. Lots of rewards for not moving while me and Matthew jump around like lunatics! :) She is really getting to grips with it, even with distractions.

I'm loving the fact that its now November and the sun is out, its mild and fairly dry at the moment. I took this pic along the canal as the leaves were so striking.

Brodie and Brooke at St Albans market waiting for Matthew - look at that ear fuzz on Brooke!!

Sleeping beauties!! Awww :)

Brooke taking over the sofa

Look what clever Brodie got in the post!