Jilly's Blog

Jilly's Blog is now morphing into the dog blog 
Earlier entries for Jilly's blog can be found here.  It includes lots of training notes.

Training Notes and ideas for puppy training and puppy equipment can be found in Jilly's training pages

Wednesday 7th December - The quickest exit from a dog show ever

We had only done one run at the November Dartmoor show when we got a life changing phone call that meant we had to dash away.  The dogs were not impressed. 

I was checking where everyone had got to in the LHO section of the grade 3 and 4 jumping and it was just about Sasha's turn to start queueing.  Jilly had already had her first run over the course and although she did well she knocked a pole.  I wanted to see how Sasha would do over the same course.

I was chatting to a friend and we were talking about hospitals.  I was telling her how we have to take a phone everywhere and always answer every call as Bernie was on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

  'What would you do if you got the phone call here?' she asked and I said we would just have to drop everything and go.  Just as I said it Bernie came into the riding school looking worried.

  'I've just had a call from Derriford hospital and they think they've got a kidney for me,' he said.  I knew he didn't want to go as it's a scary thing to do but I hurried him out of the riding school and back to the car. 

With everyone wishing us good luck and me crying on my friend's shoulder we dropped everything and dashed off to the hospital.  We were 50 miles from home but only about 25 miles from the hospital in Plymouth.

The dogs were not impressed with our rapid exit from their show but they put up with it stoically.  In the late afternoon and early evening Bernie had a successful transplant and his new kidney is now working well.

To anyone in a similar situation hang on in there.  A transplant is not without complications and it's early days yet.  The body has to settle down to the idea that it now has a kidney and the bladder may have to be retrained to know what to do.  There are endless drugs and visits to to clinics and this is very costly but worth it in the long run.

Unfortunately Bernie fell and broke his shoulder a couple of weeks after the op so he is still pretty much out of action.  Nevertheless we're hoping that next year we can take the dogs on a proper holiday for the first time in four years. Who knows?  We have been invited to the Isle of Harris so I'd better get the maps out and start planning.


Monday 12th September - We won out of grade 2

Hooray, we won into grade three at the weekend when Jilly won a grade two agility class.  We had lots of fun, the judge was great fun and so were the ring party.  Jilly got to play with her toy before and after the run and she got yummy treats and lots of praise.  She achieved all of her ambitions in one go and was mighty pleased with herself.  Here's her winning run.



Jilly just missed out on third place in the grade 1 and 2 jumping.  She was going hell for leather round the ring but I slowed her at the jump before the weave.  I know she's a very good dog but I don't want her going full pelt into the weave until she's learned how to do it at speed without slamming into it and hurting herself.

My little sweetie pie Sasha only did three runs over the weekend all at the lower height option and she loves this new game.  She had clear rounds in the grade 1 and 2 jumping on both days and also a clear in the steeplechase. 



Monday 12th September - How to win at agility

Your dog's ambitions are:-

To get the toy.

To get the yummy treat.

To get the toy and the yummy treat.

To have a game with the toy, eat the yummy treat and get lots of praise.

This is the be all and end all of agility and it's rather like playing on the beach or in the park. 


Tuesday 6th September - What an eventful summer


We've had lots of fun over the summer and also lots of disappointment.  The best bit was finding that both dogs could go over lower heights.  This suits Jilly as she's quite small and it suits Sasha as she's nearly eleven years old. 

In July Sasha won a lovely glass trophy and a red rosette for coming first in the jumping class. 

This makes us grade two and third.  We only need two more jumping wins or one agility win to go into
grade 3. 



Sasha in fine form winning a jumping class. She's nearly eleven and now doing LHO.







Disappointment was to follow however.  Jilly and Sasha both went down with kennel cough and we had to miss the whole of our lovely local UKA show.  We'd paid for entries for the whole six days so that was an expensive business.  The main thing was that the dogs were ok. Jilly coughed for a week and then the cough became more occasional.  After two weeks she'd stopped coughing but we had to wait another three weeks before we could go to any Kennel Club shows.  Sasha didn't have the cough so badly thank goodness and she stopped coughing several days before Jilly.

Just a reminder, as someone told me they didn't know this and their dogs had been coughing. The Kennel Club rules are that if your dog has a contagious disease or has been in contact with another dog suffering from a contagious disease you have to wait for three weeks after they've shed the infection before you can go to any Kennel Club event.

We were actually allowed back into our pet training classes two weeks after the dogs had stopped coughing but we had to wait for longer for other classes.  This is dependent on the trainer and what they allow.  In the event no other dog caught kennel cough thank goodness and Jilly and Sasha are fine.



Our first day back was at a fun show held by the Labrador Trust.  Jilly won the waggiest tail class  (she wagged everything) and Sasha had a special rosette in the veterans class.



Our first day back at an agility show was at Merton in Devon where we had a lot of fun at the Dartmoor show. Sasha had three out of three clear rounds and she won a lovely glass trophy and a rosette for coming third in the jumping class.

Jilly had a lot of fun and she won a big biscuit in a fun recall challenge.  The dogs had to run between bowls of food and doggy toys.  Sasha just about managed this but she stopped look at the food so she wasn't very quick.

Our next show will also be in Devon and as it goes on over two days we have rented a caravan in Devon for the weekend. I hope the weather stays good.

Just a note.  If you can't afford a nice tent/caravan/campervan and all the stuff you have to buy to go with it why not make a holiday out of one particular show and stay somewhere nearby for the weekend?  I know it's great to stay with all your mates at the showground but for some of us it isn't an option.  That doesn't mean to say you can't enjoy a little holiday somewhere and go to your favourite show at the same time.  Have fun.


Wednesday 1st June - Jilly wins an Agility Class

Yay, after a couple of months of patient training Jilly has become much more confident on the see-saw and we actually won the grade 1 agility class at Barnstaple.

We followed our trainer's advice and did as many different see-saws as possible.  I also did some training at home on our garden see-saw which is about two thirds the size of a competition see-saw and Jilly seems to be feeling much better about it. 


Our other problem has been getting distracted in the ring at outdoor shows.  Anyone with a spaniel or a spaniel cross will know about the spaniel nose.  It's into everything and they need lots of encouragement to keep them focused.  Hence spaniel handlers can appear to be totally bonkers at times.  We found focus gets better with practice.


Here we are with our trophy and rosette at the Barnstaple show. Well done Jilly.

It was a very hot day and so the dogs only did three of their seven runs.  Sasha has a gene that makes her prone to border collie collapse and this means that she can collapse if she does too much in the heat. She's never been able to do much in the way of training but what she does she really enjoys.  It's quite hard work for little Jilly over full height jumps so we pulled out of the special classes we'd entered. 



Here's our winning run.  (Click anywhere on the image to see it on Youtube.)


Wednesday 13th April - Fear of the see-saw revisited

Since Jilly has become a bit frightened of the see-saw I've been working hard on it.  She became frightened when a light aluminium see-saw came crashing down in an indoor riding school.  It tipped faster than Jilly was expecting and the noise gave her a fright. This meant that she wouldn't go anywhere near a see-saw in the following few days and we had competitions coming up. 

The first thing I did to help Jilly was to refurbish our garden see-saw and put it in the garden so that she saw it every time she went out.  Next I shaped an approach to the see-saw using a clicker.  If Jilly went close to it I clicked and treated.  When she was fully confident I clicked and treated a nose touch and finally we worked up to putting paws on the dreaded thing.  When doing this kind of training you might not get results immediately.  It always takes time and you can't rush things.

The next stage was to put a stool and a balance cushion under each end of the see-saw.  This meant the see-saw could rock but not come crashing down or make a scary noise.  I encouraged Jilly to jump on it and play the see-saw game of running backwards and forwards.  She was rewarded for tipping the see-saw and eventually she go to enjoy the game. After this I could take the balance cushions away and introduce the noise element. 

When Jilly was thoroughly confident I took the stool away at one end so that Jilly would need to tip the see-saw down to the ground.  Again there were lots of rewards.  Finally we went over the garden see-saw as a normal see-saw. We practised on this every day and then I moved the see-saw down to our training ground and we practised down there.

Jilly had a bit of practice on the see-saw at training classes before the first outdoor show and then at the show she was able to go in the practice ring.  When it came to the competition she was a bit nervous in the ring but she did do all the contact equipment.  It wasn't ideal as she started to do a lot of displacement activity such as sniffing and going up to the judge with a waggy tail.  'You don't really want me to do that do you?'

The following week Jilly was showing lots of confidence in training but not in the ring.  The ground conditions were pretty bad.  In the photos below she tackles the see-saw but she's very low and cautious. 


Our trainer has recommended trying out as many different see-saws as possible in different locations. Jilly seemed fully confident again in training indoors as so this is what we're going to do.  Hopefully, if the ground conditions are better and I can run more confidently without fear of slipping, we'll beat the scary see-saw and come back fighting.

Here we are on a friend's aluminium see-saw which is quite light and tips easily.  Jilly was happy to go over it this morning.



Monday 21st March - Sasha's winning and Jilly's scared of the see-saw
                             as the Easter show approaches


Left: Jilly is happy on see-saw outside at a show in October last year. Is she scared of the noise indoors or is it the tipping point?





Well, it's nearly Easter and I hope everyone has honed their skills all ready for the summer season to come.  We have a lovely Easter show to go to but we'll only go on Friday and Sunday. Sasha is ten years old and Jilly's a small large dog so I never give them too much to do over full height jumps.  In July they'll both do the new lower height option where it's available.  

Sasha has now had two wins but only one counts towards progression  as the second one was scheduled as special jumping.

Jilly is going well in training but in the last two or three weeks she has developed a fear of the see-saw.  This has shown itself in training classes to a small degree when she's crouched sometimes at the tipping point.  The turning point came when she went over the club's new aluminium see-saw.  It not only felt different it was much lighter and tipped very suddenly.  It frightened several of the dogs but Jilly refused to have anything more to do with it.  To add to the fear it was very loud and echoing in the riding school and I came away with one scared dog.

Since then I've worked really hard with her and hopefully I've persuaded her that the seesaw is the bees knees and the one piece of equipment she really wants to do.  We've only done this in the safety of the garden and we'll find out today at training (different venue, different see-saw) whether it's worked. 

If Jilly is still scared then she won't be expected to run in the agility class at Easter.  If the training's worked and she's able to do the agility class then I'll write an article on how I helped her to get over her fear.  Fingers crossed.


Sunday 14th February - Sasha does it again

Yes, Sasha has won her jumping class again and that makes two wins in the last month. Our clever girlie is ten years old and she still loves jumping. 

She hasn't been able to do agility in her career and she can't train for a whole class as she suffers from border collie collapse and can get quite dizzy but jumping seems to be her thing.  We'll let her go on for as long as she wants to and for as long as she feels fit enough to jump.

We didn't catch all of her winning run but here's a part of it.


Sunday 31st January - Sasha wins the jumping and we have a disturbed night

Does anyone else have dogs like this or is it just me?

3.30am - The morning after a show...

Sasha: I want a wee wee.

Me: Oh no, didn't you go last night?

Sasha: Yes, but I had a long drink.


Sasha:  Mum, Jilly's been sick downstairs.

Me: Oh no.  Are you alright Jilly?

Jilly: No of course I'm not alright. I've been sick.

Me:  It looks like saliva with grass in it.  What have you been eating?

Jilly: Grass.

Me: Yes, but why?

Jilly:  The long car ride to that horrible show made me feel sick.

Me:  It wasn't a horrible show.  Sasha won the jumping class.

Jilly:  Yeah, and don't we all know it.


Sasha: Mum Jilly's barking downstairs.

Me: Why are you barking Jilly?

Jilly:  I want to go out.  Sasha went out and now I want to go out.


Me:  I'm worried about Jilly and I'm wake awake now would you like a cup of tea?

Bernie: Yes please. I'm awake as well.

Sasha and Jilly in unison: We want our breakfast.


Me:  Jilly's in the garden chasing a mouse.

Bernie:  There can't be much wrong with her if she's eaten her breakfast and gone out to chase a mouse.

4:30 am

Me watching Eastenders on my iplayer, Bernie watching Casualty on his iplayer.  Both dogs sound asleep and dreaming, both humans wide awake.  Oh and by the way Jilly is absolutely fine and Sasha did win the grade 1 and 2 jumping.  She had the only clear round and she was fast as well.  She also had a clear round in the grade 1 to 7 jumping.  Clever girl Sasha. 


Sunday 3rd January - How could mother forget?

In October we went to a an activity break where we did all sort of things apart from agility.  Both dogs did some training in rally obedience and the following day there was a little competition.  Both dogs did a good test and Jilly won the competition for the dogs that don't normally do rally. 

Later that week they both went in for a proper rally show at level 1 and both of them gained qualifying scores for the next level.  In rally all dogs start at level one regardless of experience and they need three qualifying scores under different judges to go up to level two. 


In the pictures below Jilly practices her heelwork and call fronts helped by the grids laid out for us.  The signs tell us what to do at each station.

The next day we did a little fun competition.  Both dogs did well enough to get a qualifying score but as it was a fun day it didn't count towards progression.  Jilly actually won the competition which was excellent for her as she doesn't go to rally classes.   The pics below show the test under way and me and Jilly with a big red rosette.  In the left hand pic I'm actually in the far ring with Sasha doing a recall while the other competitors queue up for their turn. 

Rally obedience is now run by the Kennel Club and if you think you'd like to have a go you can find all the information you need on their website.  Kennel Club Rally

Tuesday 29th December - Jilly's first full season of competition

As we come to the end of the year it's time to look back.  Like a lot of young dogs Jilly seemed as if she would never get the hang of going into the ring and running round the course with a clear round, a few faults or a good elimination.  Apart from staggering out of a Beat The Clock class with a dodgy clear we struggled through most of the summer.  Then August came around and we went to a UKA show where Jilly was able to jump standard jumps and within a few days we were starting to have some success.  Jilly came second in a jumping class and she won gamblers. 

A couple of weeks later we went to a small show at the Ivybridge Donkey Sanctuary and Jilly came second in the agility class and went on to win the jumping class.

To celebrate we adopted Eyeore the donkey.



It still took us a while to start going clear at Kennel Club heights but by the time we started competing at indoor shows Jilly was doing well over the full height jumps and she is currently in eighth place in the winter league.


Sasha's still enjoying the competition as well.  She's ten years old and still loves jumping.  Here she is showing off in a grade 1 to 3 jumping class.  It was a shame about the pole as we had a good time.

And here's Jilly at the Kernow winter league. She came second in the agility class.



Monday 27th April - We Beat the Clock

Well that was a bit of a fun weekend.  After getting lots of e's at the start of the season this year wasn't looking too promising.  I know people say E is for Excellent but in our case it was E for 'Elp.  Yesterday we seemed to break the chain of disasters.  Sasha and Jilly both got round the jumping class with five faults each and then they both went clear in Beat the Clock.

For those of you who haven't done Beat the Clock this is a fun class where the obstacles are set out round the ring at the 'hours' of the clock.  The dog starts in the middle with a tunnel and they go on to the first element at one o'clock followed by the second element at two o'clock and so on.  When they've done 12 o'clock they finish on the tunnel.  Each element can be made up of one or more obstacles and you can do them in any way you choose but you mustn't take any one obstacle more than once.  I swore at myself when got stranded in a box and couldn't work out what to do.  I thought I'd done it quietly but The ring party was in fits of giggles as they watched me trying to extricate myself.  Jilly had already done 7 o'clock and was going on to 8 when I caught up with her. 

Thursday 23rd April - Crossing behind 

We're still busy training and we've just started the summer season on outdoor shows.  Jilly can be a bit overwhelmed sometimes at shows but she does do some nice sequences sometimes and she's showing a lot of potential.  Like lots of spaniels and their crosses she's a great sniffer so we have to work on getting her nose off the floor.

We're learning some of the new turns and we're attempting a different way of handling so that I'm not constantly trying to run from behind.  In this little training session Jilly's learning to cross behind me.  I set the jumps out like this.  Jilly crosses behind me after jump 3 so that I can change from handling on left side to my right side without having to do any turns to get to jump 5.  After jump 5 you can do any sequence you like to finish.



Here's a couple of photos and a video.


Here's the video showing two different sequences after jump 5. 
Now all we have to do is to get Jilly's nose off the floor, stop her
going to say hello to the judge and repeat it in the ring.