Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All better now! :)

Well when the vet said that Brax would be back to full power and will be like a different dog I didn't think we would see the changes so quickly! Since she has been on her tablets she hasn't shivered (despite the cold weather), she has been striding out in front on walks, playing with the others and 'killing' her toys constantly! I ran her round at the field and she was back to her pocket rocket speed - yay!! :)

Brax hasn't done any 'proper' training for a while but she is going to be coming back into work and helping a couple of people learn more about handling. She is a great 'schoolmaster' as unless you give her the right commands she will not get it right. Brodie bless him will guess if he is unsure of someones handling whereas Brax just stops and barks!! If she was a horse you would say she is not very 'honest'!

Brooke has had the all clear from the physio today and is allowed to do agility again as long as she has the appropriate warm up routine and wears splint boots. Sally (physio) thinks that as she is so fast and has such long pasterns and delicate legs that she shouldn't jump without carpal wraps/splint boots on as she risks tweaking an important ligament if she lands awkwardly as she has a carpal deviation (knocky knees!). Sally has made her a pair of wraps that look very smart.  The above photo is a still from a video on my phone from a couple of months ago - as you can see Brooke isn't slow about anything she does!!

I am a very proud trainer this week as one of my clients went to her first show with her super Lab Bailey. He is a very clever but quite anxious dog and tends to run on his adrenaline. Bailey can be reactive with high energy dogs but his Mum has done so much work with him and he will now focus on her when close to other  dogs. I was going to a UKA show and suggested that she should enter as he could do Nursery and Beginners Steeplechase and if he was too worried about the other dogs then he could just get used to the atmosphere. It was a perfect show as it was only three rings and well spaced out. I had Dolly and Brodie with me and they were both little stars - Brodie WON champ agility and Dolly spaniel got weaves in the ring which was my goal - super doglets!! Anyway Bailey was very good in his Nursery and got his contacts and more importantly focused on his Mum. She put him in Beg Steeplechase not nfc and he only went and came 3rd out of 12 dogs!! Pretty good considering he was the only non collie! If you want to see the video of Bailey then look at his blog. I suggested to his Mum not to do a wait as there was a man with a very excited dog right behind them and I thought it might make Bailey break his wait. It lost them a second or so but once he gets into his stride he looks great - not many Labs can bounce those distances either so gridwork paying off :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Rainy Day Contacts!

At the weekend we did a bit of work on the contact trainer with Brooke and Brodie. Brooke isn't allowed off lead or to do too much so we thought we would shape a 2o/2o with her as she loves anything like that. The physio said to keep up her proprioception work and Brooke is getting very good at shaping different behaviours. Once they are doing full equipment its so easy to forget about the basic foundation and fitness stuff!

Here is Brooke puppy having a game on the contact trainer :)

Brodie has always done a running contact but thought there was no harm teaching him a 2o/2o as its just another behaviour at the end of the day. My dogs know different cues = different behaviours on jumps (go, left, right, dig, wrap) so why not on contacts? Brodie is a great guinea pig!! I did shape it first and will try and get a better video of him reversing his feet onto it :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Poor ginger girlies :(

What a day of bad news :(  Brodie and Brooke saw the physio this morning for a general check over before doing too much winter training and the good news was that Brodie toad was given the all clear!! After blowing off a dog walk a few years ago I've been cautious about warm ups, stretches and not letting him get bowled over by other dogs (Brooke took him off his feet last year and hurt his back) This is also the first year that he has jumped Midi and not medium all season and the height suits him much better.

Anyway, bad news for Brooke puppy. She was very tight in her back and across her shoulders probably the result of a rough play injury as she has been whacked into a couple of times recently. Fortunately we haven't done much agility with her in the last couple of weeks due to lack of time. She has to have heat pads, stretching exercises and lead walks for ten days and then go back to the physio. Thinking about it she has been caught up to by dogs she usually out runs which is a sign I'd missed. I'm just relived that I got them checked as we could have put her off agility for life by training her when she was sore.

Bad news for Brax (but also good in a way) - turns out that she is suffering from hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) so will be on tablets for the rest of her life. Good news is that we caught it and can start treatment. The vet said she'd be like a different dog on the tablets and may even go back to competing at toy height instead of micro once she feels better :) Its so great having a vet and physio who know about agility dogs!

(Thanks to Lian for the photos!)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Obedience show and poor Brax :(

We took our three to the ESSC champ show at the weekend where the Working section run obedience alongside the breed showing. We entered Brooke into Pre-Beginners, Brodie into Beginners and Brax into both. In pre-beg, the dog has to do a set pattern of heelwork on and off lead (that the steward tells you as you go along so unlike dressage you can't learn it in advance!), wait and recall to your front and then move into the 'finish' position, 1 min sit stay and 2 min down stay. Beginners is exactly the same except they also have to do a retrieve.

 Brooke won pre-Beg with some amazing 'flicky' heelwork! She had tied with Bracken going into the stays but Brax thought the floor was tooooo cold for a down stay and broke it so ended up 5th. In the Beginners, Brodie was 4th and Brax was 3rd (I haven't heard the end of it!!) so clever shelties all round. Considering most of the people competing are regular obedience competitors we are really pleased! We don't make a point of training them purposely for obedience (apart for the annual sheltie obedience training day) so they cope well with it! To be honest, I like them to do it occasionally as its great ring training for agility and they have to remain focused for a long time through the exercises. Even getting a stay in a ring full of other dogs is great agility training :)

During the show, a lot of people asked us how old Brax is and were all surprised when I said only seven. Some people said that their smaller shelties had prematurely greyed in the face when middle aged which was interesting. Maybe its something to do with being so tiny? Matthew had a very interesting conversation with someone about other signs of Brax ageing (reluctance to walk in rain, seeking out heat, hair loss, weight gain)   and they suggested it might be a thyroid problem :(

We went to the vets this afternoon and she has had a blood test so keep your fingers crossed for wee Brax.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Training day and photos!

We got our photos back from Cat at Dog Rad Design and they are just fabulous!! I particularly love the one of all three lying down so I've had to make it my header :)

I also love these two of Brooke's dog walk, I love her expression of total concentration! Her dog walk is still a work in progress and will def be a winter project. She is doing dog walks in different venues ok but still is a bit inconsistent with her focus and drive over it (despite still getting the contact but a bit high), due to lack of confidence.

Brooke and her handsome merle friend Rommy and his owner Jenni went to a training day with Toni Dawkins at the weekend. I was so proud of how the two dogs coped as some of the exercises were quite tricky and they worked through them well. Brooke managed a fair few sets of weaves and didn't go wrong at all - clever little bean! Matthew on the other hand could not get to grips with some of the European style turns. Jenni and Rommy managed these really well and for the first time I could see a point in doing them. I have always been quite dismissive of European turns as most of them involve blind crosses and no-one has ever explained where to use them or why they are useful. Toni is excellent at explaining things and I like the fact she is not very tall and still gets places on a course to help her very fast dogs out. I still can't see Matthew being a convert as he is pre-programmed to only front cross/rear cross/pivot! I like to take ideas and put them in my 'tool kit' as its something that is worth knowing and understanding. I can't wait to see the runs from the FCI World Champs this weekend as they'll all be blind crossing and doing 'funny' turns all over the place!!

This is Matthew doing a 'German' turn (finally!) 

This was a course set to work on tightening turns, watch Matthew's feet cueing Brooke early that a turn is coming up - it worked beautifully and made her turns less like a lorry!

Although Matthew doesn't get the turn right, I love this video of Brooke doing her weaves!