Thursday, 24 July 2008

Agility 11th week

Well we had some good bits and bad bits at agility tonight. His dog walk looked really good tonight, his final position was alot better than it has been as he had been lifting his back legs off the contact but he held in the correct position until I released him so I was really pleased. His aframe was ok, it was fine when there was someone there waiting to feed him in FP but when they weren't there he wasn't really driving to his target and was more looking for the next obstacle which I can see becoming a problem in the future so more work on this I think! Jumping was quite challenging tonight as he seemed very hyper (I can always tell cuz he makes a very odd screechy-growl when you release him). The first thing we did was go ons in to tunnels which he LOVES so after that, thats all he wanted to do! So when we tried to do a sequence of left turns I think I lost him three times in to the tunnel... naughty boy, also unlike him cuz he usually tries so hard to listen, luckily he redeemed himself because his right turns were lovely! Hes also started to pick his feet up, were now working them over medium height and I was worried he would knock loads of poles because of all his flyball training and lots of speed but so far he is not doing too badly. We didn't do any weaves tonight but I am thinking of getting a practice set for the garden as I can see this being a weakness for him.

Were off to Anglesey on Friday, actually can not wait, been looking forward to this for ages! Lots of parties happening whilst were up there and the dogs really love it... lets just pray for sunshine!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Asher was born on 1st May 2006 on a farm in Llandovery, Wales. He is a shortish coated tri blue merle working sheepdog. I'd always intended to get a pedigree collie from working lines as my second dog but up until a week before I got him I still wasn't allowed to get another dog. I got the go ahead to get a puppy on the Tuesday and Asher came home on the Sunday. I kind of had to seize the moment before anyone had a chance to change there mind! As it was such short notice all the litters I had been looking at had been booked in advance and there wasn't alot else around so I decided to do a tour of Wales. I found 4 litters to look at and off we went! The first litter were lovely but were all black and white, I didn't really mind what colour but as I already had a b+w I wanted something different, they also looked like they might end up a bit small. The second litter only one pup was left, I really liked the mother and father but the pup was quiet and a bit too laid back for my liking (i was looking for a flyball dog!!). The 3rd litter included Asher, there was just something about him, he wanted to be with us and was so so friendly. We still went to see the last litter as I expected them to be the best pups as both the parents were ISDS reg. trial dogs but I didn't really like the father as he was too chunky and just not my sort or collie. I also just didn't click with the puppies so we drove all the way back up from Bridgend to Llandovery to collect Asher. I think I drove over 400miles that day and we didn't get home til after midnight.

He was a very active puppy (not your usual play then fall asleep kind), he was on the go all the time, he also didn't like being left at night and it took him about a month to stop screaming in his cage for the first hour when we went to bed. However, he was extremely clean and was completely housetrained within about 2-3wks, he also never nipped. He didn't do much chewing and he learnt things very quickly. He's such a nice dog to work with because he is incredibly loyal and all he wants to do is please me, he can be quite sensitive because of this so will swtich off if he thinks he's doing something wrong.

He is quite a tall dog and has very long legs, he took ages to get control of them! I used to think he would never be very fast because he was almost a year old before he could keep up with Tess, luckily something clicked and all that changed, now he is super fast!

I started putting in the groundwork for flyball as soon as I got him, he was retrieveing at 10weeks! I knew the most important thing was getting the drive bringing the ball back so I really worked on that. I also got him obsessed with a tuggy which is what he still runs back to on his flyball runs to this day. I've never had a problem with him dropping his ball on the way back because I proofed this very early by ensuring he always brought the ball right to me before he could play tuggy. He is still reluctant to play tuggy unless he has brought me something first! I also started teaching him to turn around my legs (both ways until he decided which way he was going to turn). At about 7months, it looked like he was going to turn right so I started his cone work and started him on the box at about 10months. He started full training at 12months and picked it up instantly, it was like he was born to do it, he started fast and has just got faster! His 1st starters competition was at Anglesey almost exactly a year ago with his team mate Sonny, George from the Dolphins and Taff from Hotshots. He ran start dog flawlessly all day, only from 20ft as I didn't want to mess up his box, we won are division with a time of 19.87secs, I was very pleased! He took part in one other starters tournament and his 1st open was Newark in November last year. Unfortunately, a week before Newark he decided he didn't want to turn right anymore and that he was infact a lefty, this completely ruined the months of work I put in. We are finally getting there with his left turns now but it has taken a while!

Since his first show (where he was a little star) he has gone from strength to strength, he is the fastest dog on our team and runs around 4.00-4.10 over 14inches. He ran for the first time over 11inches last weekend and was seen to run a 3.60, I didn't see it so I don't know if I believe it yet but I know he ran late 3.7s and 3.8s so I am thrilled, he is my special boy!

I always indended to do agility with him but wanted to wait until his flyball was completely solid first. We eventually started in May and are 10wks in to the beginner course. He is doing really well, he has no fear of any of the equipment and really seems to understand my body movements so I need to make sure I get it right! His contacts are looking good and he loves going on in to tunnels. Need to work on his directional commands and also weaves as he has trouble finding the entry when it gets too narrow, he's fine at about 8-9inches. I would really like to compete with him as I know I've got a very special dog and I want him to be as successful as possible.
I would also eventually like to do some obedience with him, I don't think it will ever be his speciality but I 've worked really hard with him and he can work really well so I would like to see if he can do well. His only fault is his behaviour with other dogs particularly in a confined space or when he's on the lead, he can be quite agressive so taking him to obedience classes isn't really very fun as I have to be very aware all the time. Out on walks and at flyball he's fine as long as he doesn't get harassed. Oh well, a small price to pay I suppose when you have the dog of a lifetime. He really is amazing and I can't wait to be with him through everything we achieve in the future.

Mobella my Tess

Tess was born on 2nd May 1997 (she has the same birthday as David Beckham:-)) at the Mobella kennels in Southampton. Her mother is Mobella Just a Dream and her father is Mobella Tuckers Luck, who has sired many good puppies in agility, obedience and the showring. She stands at 18ins at the shoulder and is quite petite. She is black and white classically marked and very pretty.

I don't really think I knew what I was letting myself in for when I brought my very cute, little puppy home. I had wanted a border collie so that I could train it for dog sports but I hadn't anticipated how far one little dog would push me! She's naturally very herdy and also quite dominant and with me being only 10 when I got her and not very dominant it caused some problems. She would nip me all the time particularly during training sessions and when she got excited, she herded, chased shadows and snapped at cars and bridges but mainly me! She thought my dad was god so if he was around she wouldn't take any notice of what I told her to do. The training class I went to were not at all helpful and mainly just sneered at the fact a 10yr old had been allowed a collie puppy, I went every week but things didn't get better. I rarely left happy and quite often in tears! So I decided to leave, I had done my research before getting her and I realised I was making more progress with her at home rather than putting her in such a stressful situation every week. I'm making her sound awful and when I look back she probably wasn't that bad but at the time it was quite stressful! Well to cut a long story short, I put alot of work in and trained her myself. We went back to the christmas party at training and won a couple of classes beating some dogs in the top class so I think I proved them wrong!

Since then she has learnt loads of tricks and is very obedient, I can take her anywhere, put her in any situation and she is now very sweet and loving. At 18months we started flyball training, she picked it up incredibly quickly even though she wasn't very fast. As we started competing she got more confident and excited by the atmosphere so gradually got faster. She peaked at around the 4.8secs mark, nothing to set the world on fire but then I could probably count the number of times she's ran out on one hand (in nearly 10yrs) so atleast she's realiable and she loves it! She's now 11 and still runs in our bottom team, she can only manage low jumps now but her box is still really good and she's always sound the day after racing so I still think she's fit enough to be running even if it's not every race of the day. This however will be her last season as I want her to have a long happy retirement so I'm going to enjoy any racing we still have left together. She has her Flyball dog GOLD award for 15,000points and currently has about 18,700 points but sadly I don't think she'll reach the next award.

When she was younger I also taught her agility in my back garden with equipment I made my dad make, she picked up everything really well and probably would have been an excellent agility dog. We took part in a couple of cleverdogs competitions which we had a lot of fun in but weren't quite quick enough to win. When I got Asher I took her back to obedience classes (different club) as she hated being left at home, she fitted straight back in to it and really enjoys it. Her heelwork is gradually getting better as she used to work quite forward, she has a lovely recall and retrieve and her stays are completely solid. I thought about entering obedience competitions with her but outside she gets her madam head on and will NOT work!! All she wants to do when you're on grass is herd!

Overall she is a little madam who is too clever for her own good but she is also my best friend who's always been there with me whilst I've been growing up. She's taught me alot and introduced me to the wonderful world of flyball, she's my princess and I love her more than words can tell.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The First Post

Hi, I don't really know where to start but I thought at 5.00am on my 21st birthday would be a good time! I read alot of blogs so thought it was about time I started my own although we shall see if I have enough to say and if I can keep it up!

Ok, well my name's Natalie, I was born and still live in Bristol, I just love it here, don't think I could live anywhere else (although I would one day like a big house in the country on the outskirts of bristol!). I go to Bristol University and study Anatomical Science with Veterinary Anatomy although I don't know what I'm going to do with that yet.

I'm a big animal lover, particularly dogs. I've had dogs throughout my life, being brought up with two Dobermanns. I wanted my own dog for a long time, researching breeds and reading training books, I think I knew pretty much every dog breed by the time I was 6! I got my 1st puppy for my 10th birthday back in 1997, I called her Tess and I suppose thats where my story begins. I'll write a separate post about her as there's alot to say about our time together.

I joined the Bristol Ball-istics Flyball team in November 1998 when Tess was 18months and have been with them ever since. Our 1st competition was at Longleat on 10th July 1999 (My 12th birthday) and we were instantly hooked. Since then we have travelled the country competing and having a great time, I love the people in my team, I have grown up with them and we're like a family. I also love the thrill of racing and still can't wait for the weekend when a competition is coming up. The parties are also amazing!

I got my 2nd puppy Asher in June '06, he is the most fabulous flyball dog and everything i could of wished for. He started competing, aged 18months at Newark showground in November '07 and hasn't looked back. Recently I started agility training with Clifton agility club and I am really enjoying it. It is a new challenge for both me and Asher although I think we are doing pretty well so far!

I am also a member of Stoke Bishop Dog Training Club, where both my dogs are in the top class although I don't go as often as I should! I have competed with Tess in a few league matches where she has done very well but as yet we haven't ventured to a proper obedience competition, maybe sometime in the future!

This blog is to record my training and competition results for both flyball and agility and hopefully it will become as good a read as some of the brilliant and very imformative blogs I already read on here.