Sunday, 30 November 2008

You've been cockered!

On Friday we drove north to the first EMDAC BAA Winter show at the UK Arena, Grantham. It's an odd feeling to drive in the freezing fog to a Travelodge and not to travel in the camper van for a weekend out of doors. Jordan was excited to see the other BAA juniors but gutted there was no bicycle and long summer evenings spent together.

The Travelodge amuses me - £19 for the room and £10 per cocker i.e £20 for both. Cockers find staying in Travelodges wildly exciting. They wag their tails and race to reception. Wagging their tails to show how friendly they are. Once put in a sit stay they wrap their wagging tails under their bottoms and wobble like wagging jellies. I was relieved Magic isn't a puppy anymore. However he was still up to his tricks we arrived at the room to find he'd helped himself to a handful of leaflets on local attractions at reception - (whilst Jordan was holding him in a wobble stay.) The first hour was manic with a 3 boys playing tuggy in the room.

As this was our first BAA show of the season we set ourselves some targets. To win out of primary by the end of the season. Jordan wants to try and win the U12 advanced junior title. And we'd like to get both dogs through to the finals of the multi-mix Clever Dogs (fly agility) and to try and win it with Rupert (3rd last year.). The targets are ambitious but who knows!!!

Saturday morning was minus 2 and we somehow found the UK Arena in thick, freezing fog.

Rupert doesn't like indoor shows. He can't focus with the background noise. The first class was snakes and ladders, usually one of our best classes. No reason why Rupert couldn't do a fast run across contacts. The nice judge, Mr Retter, had placed the tunnel traps away from the equipment. No sweat! Then the cocker struck!

He was pissed off with me because I made him to a wait start so I could position myself to do a clear, firm switch after the A frame to send him away from the tunnel. Well, he did one of his famous Rupert of the Rhine charges across the jumps over the A frame and darted left of me doing a firm switch to the right and charged into the tunnel. No problem brought him back to number 5 and blow me if the ***********!!!! cocker ignored me again and went straight back in the tunnel and then bolted off and ran in every single tunnel he could find on the course not once but twice. Having completed his course he trotted back, sat sweetly and decided he was ready to do the judge's course. I was cockered!! When will I learn that cockers don't take life seriously - they just want to have fun.

Jordan had him in the jumping and agility. They were going so well in both until some tricky handling. Jordan just doesn't realise he needs to make a lot more noise indoors to get Rup's attention and Rupert goes so fast and misses the hand signal. So 2 Es followed. It's clear that now they've graduated from the fast flowing courses they need to develop strategies to help them cope with tighter handling challenges. Not a good start, but a learning experience.

I had Rup in the helter skelter which was all staggered jumps and some horrid angles and twists. I just wasn't quite fast enough to do a split second switch and Rup knocked a fence righting his approach - so fast with 5 faults.

I wasn't optimistic about the Advanced juniors. To be honest I've been worried about this. The advanced juniors are graded at BAA novice plus level i.e grade 4 upwards. Jordan won in to the advanced on his league points but no way is he or Rup at that level. I know a lot of the advanced juniors borrow novice plus (5+) dogs but it's not easy to find a dog that will run with Jordan who is non verbal. He's also significantly younger than the others. When I saw the course my heart sank. It was a real handling challenge with handling techniques that Jordan hadn't encountered in training and that Rupert is only just starting to do at Pachesham with me. It's also all heights and Rupert is the only non-large dog. The only other ABC is a large, fast G5 kelpie. To make it worse as he was the only medium dog so had to run first. I walked the course with Jordan and tried to give him a crash course in the techniques to tackle it, while a friend patiently held Rupert. Jordan for the first time got the sequance all muddled and it took a bit of time.... The judge was really nice and was happy for us to take a little longer course walking.

I told Rupert he wasn't getting another sausage if he didn't watch Jordan and do what he wanted. I couldn't bear to watch. But it was incredible Rupert showed that he can run like a grade 5+ dog and Jordan that he can handle at this level. Rupert went a bit slower than normal, due to teh handling, and they eventually finished second. I think this was one of my proudest moments. But I'm still not sure the advanced juniors is right for Jordan at this stage. What also worries me is that Magic will have to start in the advanced juniors at BAA. Mmmm!!!!

Magic was a star at Pachesham this week. The black dog wasn't there and he focused and ran really well. He loves contact equipment - like rainbows with treasure (treats) at the end!!! He's running confidently over jumps. I'll defiantely start him at UKA in nursery this Spring and then Pawsability at BAA in May. He may even go straight into UKA Beginners/BAA Introductory in the summer or once he is confident with his full height and see saws and weaves. I find him a nice little dog to handle when he isn't in a frenzy about the black dog. However his focus seems to have really improved in the last week and it'll be interesting to see how next Thursday goes when black Jack returns.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Happy Birthday Bryning Makin' Magic

Happy birthday Magic (aka Moo-poo or baby dog) and your littermates Rio, Masie, Radley, Floyd and Murphy. You are an amazing little dog, Magic, with a promising flyball, dash n splash/dock diving agility career in front of you doing sports you enjoy. we are really looking forward to the years ahead with you. I think you have already earned your birthday H-Reg INDIGO collar tag. May you have fun cos that's what it's all about. And here's to you giving older brother a run for his kibble in water jumping.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Cockers step out and wag at Discover Dogs

We came back from the States last Wednesday. Got the manic cockers from the kennels and arrived home only to find the heating and electricity were not working. Thus we were housebound with 2 manic cockers for 48 hours while electricians and gas engineers tried to repair it and avoid 2 cockers running round the house chasing each other, the cat and running off with tools. Finally it was fixed and we arrived at the Pachesham puppy class 15 mins late.

The manic Magic was madness unleashed. In his accurate moments he was exciting - fast and accurate. But he soon developed a lust for the black dog. I let him off the lead to practice figures of 8 and he was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly the pipe tunnel was moving up and down and from side to side. Magic was covering a bitch ... no a dog in the tunnel. That has to be my most embarrassing agility moment. ...Well not moment as it took a while to get him out. After that he would do nothing but go straight back in the tunnel to lie in wait for the next dog to hump. So out he went in the car. A 5 mile stimulating walk at Polsden, and only one dead pigeon later the household returned to normal.

Saturday was flyball. Took Nat up on her suggestion of harder balls and brought the USA dock diving balls. The chomper was sorted. Well, until he decided to invent a new game - flyrugby. This involves holding on to your ball and tackling all your team mates for their balls as they run out of the lanes and see how many you can get in your mouth. The treat bag put pay to that new game and soon Rupert was running a lot better. Magic just makes it look easy. It's just a shame the poor cockers handlers hold them back. Cross fingers we get Magic selected for the starters team for the Whizzers own tournament in January.

Flyball is always followed by the circus maximus in Richmond Park. Jordan rides his bike flanked by 2 manic cockers racing round the park. I had "forgotten" that both had Discover Dogs on Sunday and that Valerie had spent hours hand stripping Rup, grooming and bathing him for the big day. They were muddy afterflyball but soon cockers boy and bike ended up in the blackest ditch and it was home for 3 baths.

An early start for Discover Dogs on Sunday with both cockers in the Companion Dog show - Magic in waggiest tail and Rupert in Hot Stepper. After the facade in the pipe tunnel and Magic's constant desire to scent mark and hump, I decided not to let Jordan take him into waggiest tail. I need not have worried. Magic was a dream. Wagged his tail, licked the judge, stood as directed with tail facing the judge and wagged and wagged his way to first place and the finals, cheered on by friends from Surrey Weald DTC and Pachesham. No scent marking or humping all day. Next it was Rupert and Jordan in hot stepper doing Walk Like an Egyptian. By this time the Dash n Splash gang had left the watering hole to cheer them on and they stepped out into first place. Well Jordan stepped and Rupert, who is no heel work to music dog, did his obedeince routine and walked well on the loose lead. Both dogs were in the finals but the best in show deservedly went to best rescue, Indie. Both cockers were rewarded with new flyball harnasses.

During the day people came up and photographed the cockers and wanted details of what they were and the breeders. Magic in particular because of his colouring. I think they see Jordan with the dogs and think they are perfect family pets and Magic is ever so pretty and matches Autumn outfits!!! Their faces fall when I explain you can't have a working cocker if you are a) house proud b) not able to do long walks daily c) spend time training your dog and working it - these are made to work and if you don't do ABC you end up with the doggie descendants of dino raptors. By then I'd spent some time in the watering hole with the Dash n Splash crowd so I think Bryning kennels came out a bit like wineing, so hopfully there'll be fruitless searches on the internet for designer coloured cockers that your kids can cuddle.