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A Makeshift Tunnel and Some Voice Commands

Voice commands.  How often do we really train them?  Not enough I discovered when I tried getting Jilly into the tunnel while I ran in a different direction.  We did eventually manage it but I decided maybe we should train a bit more at home in odd moments, between bouts of rain.  The little clip below show what we were doing in the field.

And here's what we've been doing at home.  I didn't want to drag a big tunnel from my plot to the garden and I didn't want to make the classic temporary one out of a sheet and a couple of chairs.  My makeshift tunnel is one step up and I made it out of two pop up leaf bags.  I've had these bags for a while and I use them for training hoopers, but today I thought I'd try putting them together to make a little tunnel.  Please note,  I would only do this in a small garden with a dog that's not running full pelt.  It really is a makeshift tunnel but it worked for what we were trying to do.  These are the two pop up leaf bags.  They measure 60cm in diameter.

I managed to find a bit of oilcloth I had used a while ago to make a screen across the campervan. 

As luck would have it already had hooks and loops on either side. 

I set up the tunnel alongside a little practice jump and we had a lot of fun training our voice commands for ten minutes.

I use "tunnel" to go in the tunnel and "out" to go round the back of a jump.  I have a list of words I use and bit by bit we'll go through the list and revise everything we're doing.  Hopefully it's going to help a lot in our weekly training in the field.  Here's the video I made of our garden training session. 



Everyone's posting their 2019 successes....

I thought I'd do the same.  Jilly did well last year winning a few classes and coming second and third in others.  It's not all about winning though.  We had quite few shows where we came home with three e's but still had a good time.

I have posted a couple of inspirational quotes round the house to spur us on to greater things this year.  One of them comes from Caitlyn Jenner who took part in I'm a celebrity get me out of here.  Yes, I do watch it and I love it.  Caitlyn woke the campmates up with the rallying cry, 'Today is not just another day it's another day to excel, another day to be great.  Rise and shine.'  The morning after I posted that next to my bed we went out and won. Thanks Caitlyn. That's going to be my rallying cry on show days and other days as well.  The other quote is from the great Mo Farrah, 'Don't think about winning, train for it.'  Never a truer word was said.  Onwards and upwards.

 T'was the night before Christmas Eve Eve


(Cartoon courtesy of Behind the Voice Actors)

T'was the night before Christmas Eve Eve and something was stirring.  It wasn't a mouse.  No, it was my brain and it was thinking about chocolate marzipan. You know that annoying feeling when you get something on the brain and you can't stop thinking about it?  Well that was me and chocolate marzipan on Christmas Eve Eve and I hadn't bought any. 

  Now the only shop that sells chocolate marzipan is Lidl and if I went to Lidl I could also get a pomelo. Having thought about a pomelo and knowing Tesco don't sell them, I made the big decision to brave Lidl on Christmas Eve Eve.  I took the dogs with me as I had no idea how long the chocolate marzipan and pomelo expedition would last.  I thought about taking blankets and a pillow for the traffic jam but decided to risk it. 

  So that's it.  I am officially stark staring raving mad. When I got near the roundabout at the end of the road where the shops are the traffic slowed and by the time I'd followed several cars into the right road it had stopped altogether.  I was at one end of the road and the shops were at the other end and between us was solid traffic.  The two cars in front of me did three point turns in the road and went back again.
   'Wimps,' I thought. 'What's going to happen when they go home without the turkey?'  Ha.  I got mine yesterday so that's sorted although I still needed Calor gas for the cooker to cook it with.  After a long wait in which it seemed as if a whole year had gone by and we were actually at next Christmas I turned into the Lidl car park and had a pleasant drive round it looking at all the parked cars.  Do you ever go into a full car park and make a beeline for a space only to find there's a very little car in occupation and you couldn't see it until you got there?  After a couple of false reccis someone drove out of a space right in front of me and I was in it before you could say pomelo.

  Then came the huge blow.  I COULDN'T FIND THE CHOCOLATE MARZIPAN.   WAAAAAAAAAAH!  I searched the shop high and low and there was none to be found.  I was about to scream when I suddenly saw an alien box sitting on top of the Haribos.  I swooped on it and to my everlasting delight it contained chocolate marzipan.  It wasn't the sort I usually buy. That normally comes in a bar, no, these were posh things all wrapped up individually.  I could find nothing else even vaguely like it so I could only assume the angels had taken pity on me but were restricting me to just the one box.  I found my pomelo and headed for the self service checkout.  After a while I worked out how to use it and bore my shopping away in triumph. 

Then I went to buy the Calor gas.  Horror of horrors the garden centre where I always buy it had run out.  A quick dash home and a check on the Calor website and I discovered B&Q sell it and they have some in stock.  Now all I have to do is to brave the traffic again and fight my way to B&Q.  I did actually telephone them first so all being well I can get my gas on Christmas Eve.  Wish me luck.  I have to pass Asda on the way.


 Starting a new year soon and moving on

Weíve had a mixed year this year. Weíve all had to come to terms with Bernieís death in July last year and both dogs have felt it very badly. Sasha stopped competing and Jilly developed epilepsy. She has been on medication for several months now. It made her quite wobbly and uncoordinated at first but sheís become much more tolerant of the medication and has started winning again. Last week she won the grade 1 to 3 agility class at a local winter league match and this week she won both the jumping and steeplechase classes at our club's Christmas party.

Sasha has had a couple of episodes of vestibular disease which made her completely lose her balance. Itís was unclear whether she would be able to recover at first but she made really good progress. So much so that I let her do a pay on the day hoopers run and she did a lovely clear round.

Soon weíll start a new year and I have a feeling that this is going to be a great year. Recently we had stop going to our regular training classes as the trainer has stopped teaching. We couldnít find anyone locally to train with at a convenient time and so I joined Dave Munnings' online training group. This is proving to be a great move. Iím in the happy position of being able to train in our clubís training field and although we only go once a week itís really useful. Dave puts up different exercises every week and gives different handling options Itís up to each individual to find out what works best for them. You donít need a great deal of equipment. Itís mostly just five jumps and a tunnel. Iím finding it works really well for me.

This sort of training would be great for anyone who has access to somewhere to train. It is possible to find people who hire out dog walking fields by the hour and some may even have agility equipment you can use. You might even be able to hire an indoor riding school and equipment if you share the cost with friends. If I wanted to train indoors there is a riding school about 40 minutes away from where I live. I can hire this out by the hour complete with equipment. Itís only £15 for an hour so two of you would only pay £7.50 each. Thatís about the same as a regular agility lesson.

Finally some words of inspiration. It really does help to think positively and not dwell on past mistakes. Thatís yesterdayís news. You need to move on and know that youíre destined for much better things. It doesnít just happen out of the blue though, as Mo Farrah said.


This has nothing to do with agility but....

This is something that we read all the time on agility forums so I thought I'd write a bit about something that really has nothing to do with agility but has lots to do with fish.  Not the sort you eat but the sort you put in an aquarium and look at and go aaaah!  Or in Jilly's case stare at it and ask, 'what's it for?'

Truth to tell I haven't actually got the fish yet but I have got the fish tank.  I've had it for several weeks.  Being a total skinflint I was loathe to go into a shop or on ebay and pay through the nose for gravel to go on the bottom of the tank.  The prices they charge seem an awful lot for a little bit, and I mean a little bit of plain old gravel all be it nice and clean.   I did what all skinflints do and looked elsewhere until I found a lovely big bag of pea gravel costing only £3.99.  You can actually get it cheaper in B and Q but that would have meant more miles driving and more money spent on fuel.  Anyway I washed and washed the gravel until the water ran clear and then I set up the tank.  I thought the pea gravel was lovely.  When it was sparkling clean I could see all sorts of bits in it like citrine and other crystaline rocks.  It didn't look as if there was any limestone or anything toxic.  I planted some plants and put a couple of ornaments in plus a piece if bog wood from The Range. 

One week later the water was brown.  Help.  I rushed to Google, as you do, and it said brown water in a fish tank is usually due to the presence of wood.  It leaches tannins and causes the water to go a horrible brown colour.   I took the wood out and did a partial water change and then I waited another week.  This time the water was clear but the plants were floating about and they really didn't want to put down roots.  Hmmm.  They were clearly nomadic plants I thought, and I wondered if I would get up one morning and find them going out of the door complete with a camel and yurt.  Possibly not but whatever they did they needed to be anchored in something.

Then I discovered that aquascapists seem to like to plant their plants in John Innes number 3.  Ha!  I'd got a big bag of that outside so out I trotted and filled up a baking tray with the soil.  I didn't look to see if any neighbours were watching but if they were they probably thought I was so hungry and poor I'd taken to eating the garden.  Anyway, I stuck it in the oven to sterilise it.  The dogs were mightily disappointed when the timer went off to discover it was a dish full of soil and not their usual dog treats.   'Right' I thought when the soil had cooled.  'Here goes.  In for penny and all that.'

I marched off to the fish tank bearing the tray and dropped the soil into my nice clean water.  Then I watched as everything clouded over and the water went black.  'It will settle,' I thought, 'and the plants will love it.'  Hmmm.  yes, it did settle alright.  All over the ornaments, all over the clean gravel, and all over the plants. The tank looked and was filthy.  Oh dear.

I spent a sleepless night worrying about it.  I tossed and turned wondering if you could brush dirt off things underwater but really there was only one thing to do and I had to do it.

The next day I cleaned the whole black mess out of the tank and started again.  This time I put a layer of clean sand on the bottom and the gravel on top.  Then I planted the plants.  By this time I had a few more plants, and after bit of effort and a very wet floor I had anchored everything well into the sand.  I only put one ornament back.  I chucked a load of stuff into the tank.  Water conditioner, good bacteria, fish food and anything else I could lay my hands on that looked as if it might do some good.

Now it's a waiting game.  I'm waiting for the water to be ready for my new fish, one of which will be called Petronella.  In a new fish tank you have to create a nitrogen cycle which will deal with the ammonia excreted by the fish.  The good bacteria live on the ammonia and other wastes and eventually turn it into something the fish can live in safely.  You create the start of the cycle through a filter which goes 24 hours a day in the tank. 

Ho hum.  I've been waiting a week but there's no sign of anything happening yet.  From time to time Jilly goes up to the tank and looks at.  Then she gives me a puzzled look and walks away.  Sasha ignores it completely.    Every morning I leap out of my bed and do the water tests and every morning the tank remains stubbornly full of ammonia.  It would be lethal to fish so it's no good thinking I'll just try it.  Oh well.  Petronella and the other fish will just have to wait a little longer before joining the family.

Years ago I used to keep a couple of goldfish in a big tank.  The tank had an open top and no filter.  It needed cleaning out regularly as goldfish are dirty little devils.  The clean water also helped to get rid any build up of toxins from the fish.  I used to put plenty of plants and some water snails in there.  The tank had no lid and the large surface area and the plants helped to oxygenate the water.  The fish lived for years.  I fed them live food as often as possible and they always seemed happy enough.  In those days we didn't treat the water with all the muck we put in it now and no fish were harmed going into tap water.  I wonder what tap water is doing to my dogs and to me come to that. 

As a footnote lots of people have asked me what sort of fish I'm going to get and when I tell them, 'Jaws,' they shake their heads and go away.  Eventually a friend pointed out that the tank might be a bit small for a great white shark and so I have decided to get some white cloud mountain minnows instead.  I could call one of them Jaws.

Monday 3rd February 2019 - Weaves That Wow and a Dodgy Wait

I'm posting this as it's a perfect illustration of what happens when you don't maintain criteria.  We're doing an exercise from a book I've bought from Clean Run called 'Weaves that Wow'.  As you can see in the video below Jilly gets up from the wait at the start and takes a step forward and I let her go.  The next time I ask her to wait we've had it.  I didn't maintain criteria and the wait has gone to pot.  I have to give Jilly the choice of waiting or not waiting.  If she doesn't wait nothing happens.  If she does wait she do the exercise and she gets to play with her ball.  It's better than nagging and getting cross and the wait becomes much more reliable.  The second time around she wants to move but this time I've stopped and I'm watching her properly.  She understands that she gets to play when she waits for the magic word 'go'.  (The video opens in YouTube in a new window)

Then we go off and play Wag It Games.


Saturday 2nd February 2019 - Fun in the snow

We don't get a lot of snow in Cornwall so when it happens it's quite exciting, unless you have to go somewhere in it of course.  We were snowed in for a day so we played games in the garden, then we did some training indoors. 

Jilly will be resuming Wag It Games next week and she is entered in a shadows skill trial at skilled level.  Time to practice all the exercises then so this is what we did indoors.  Sasha joined in as well.  Later we went down the lane to our little plot and Jilly wanted to do some jumping.  She would!  I let her go over a small jump in the snow.  She seemed to have better grip than she does in the mud.  To my amazement Sasha also wanted to go over the jump.  It's the first time she's shown any interest in going over any kind of jump for six months. 
















It's not often we can't go for a walk because of the weather but it really doesn't do the dogs any harm.  In our case it just meant that both dogs thought they needed more exercise.  That was easily remedied by running up and down the stairs barking for half the night because they thought there was a mouse in the kitchen.  There probably was but it wouldn't find any food.  I carefully put edible things away out of the reach of mouse jaws.  No-one eats my chocolate biscuits except me.

Having welcomed the snow and had fun in it I want it all to go.  We were entered in a show in Devon on Sunday but it has had to be cancelled due to pack ice and snow. I know how much work goes into the organisation of shows, all the working out and checking of schedules and ring plans and arranging equipment and helpers and a ton of other jobs.  

I hope everyone is keeping safe and warm.  Roll on the spring.

Wednesday 2nd January 2019 - New Year Hoopers Fun

Happy new year everyone. Weíre having a lot of fun with Hoopers. I put some hoops up in the training field on New Yearís day to see if it was something Sasha might enjoy. Sasha retired last year and has shown absolutely no interest in doing anything since then except going for a walk, eating and barking.

I made the course very simple as neither dog has had any real training where Hoopers is concerned. Making things easy will give them confidence and they'll have every chance of getting it right.  Weíve done the odd have-a-go Hoopers and Iíve put a couple of hoops in the garden now and again but we havenít done any training apart from that. Hereís how we got on. As you'll see in the video below Jilly didn't do the last hoop on the first few go's but after a few repetitions she soon got the idea. Sasha was keen to watch Jillyís progress and she even had a little go herself. I think she enjoyed it. I used food at first with Sasha, not because she trains better with food but because she had put her toy down somewhere in the field and then couldn't find it.  Sasha thinks I'm a bottomless pit of toys and when she puts her toy down she either pinches Jilly's or looks at me to provide another one. We eventually found her toy lurking by the shed so she did her last run for this rather than for food.

Hoopers has really taken off in the UK and several agility shows are including have-a-go Hoopers rings. My Club, which is Cornwall Agility Club, had a Hoopers ring at both of our shows last year. It proved so popular that this year we will be running a have-a-go ring on one day and a proper Hoopers competition on the next day. The competition will be run under Hooperholics rules.

Hooperholics has been set up by Angela Lucas and if you'd like to find out more and find out about the rules do have a look at her website.  It's called Hooperholics South UK

Update: See the Agility Bits Hoopers page


Monday 17th December - Our last run of the year

Here's our last run of 2018, the most difficult year of my life. It's the grade 1 to 3 steeplechase at the Roseland Dog Training Club Christmas match.  I'm delighted to say we had a perfect wait at the start and a nice run over a course that was perfect for the last run of the day.  Here's hoping next year will see us go from strength to strength and recover some of our equilibrium. 

And at the prize giving we were really pleased to find we'd come third.



Monday 17th September - Hoopers fun at the Cornwall Agility Club show


The Hoopers ring turned out to be very popular at the show this weekend.  Sasha even managed to overcome her fear of the road that runs past the showground and get round the course I'd put up without any mistakes.  Jilly was quite naughty and although she did some good bits she kept running towards the barrier fence to see if the lady watching still had the tennis ball she'd spotted earlier. 

Hoopers is rapidly gaining in popularity in the UK and it's the perfect complement to an agility show.  There so many people saying they had dogs that had had to give up jumping but were able to run about normally otherwise.  Hoopers is perfect for them.  There is no strain on the joints and the dog feels as if it's working again.  It was really uplifting to see some of the older dogs come to life in the Hoopers ring. 

I put up an easy course with the hoops fairly close together.  I only had the use of two agility tunnels but on the Sunday Christine and Margaret ran the ring and they brought along proper Hoopers sized tunnels.  These are 80cm in diameter and only 1.5 metres long.  They timed people's runs and gave a score and the club gave them a big box of rosettes to give out.  They also used some pop up garden bags to act as 'barrels' which the dogs have to run around.  Jilly decided the barrels must have something to do with food and had to investigate them just in case.  One little border terrier jumped right on top of the 'barrel'.

We charged £1 a go and the money raised is helping to pay for the hoops and the rosettes and to buy some more equipment. We're hoping to buy some tunnels if we can raise enough money.  Normally in Hoopers there's no such thing as a clear round, you just run for a score.   On my course I let people have a little practice go first and then run for a rosette.
Here's Jilly about to play hunt the toy and mess it all up. 


If you look in the background you can see how close the road is.  Some of the more nervous dogs didn't want to run towards the road so next time I'll move the ring as far back from it as I can.  There is a high strong fence around the showground so the dogs are quite safe.

Next year our club is hoping to run a Hoopers competition alongside the show.  This will be a proper competition for anyone who wants to enter.  We are waiting to see how much interest there is in the first Hoopers show being held in Devon in October before we make the final decision.  As with any show we will need lots of help and most of this will be concentrated on the agility rings.  This is a permanent problem for anyone running shows.  We need lots of manpower and womanpower and we will need some non agility people to commit to helping at the Hoopers show for it to be able to go ahead.  I hope we can make it happen.  It's such fun and the dogs love it so much.

See the Agility Bits Hoopers page


Saturday 1st September - Seeds, seeds and more seeds

You take them out all clean and nicely brushed and they come back looking like this.  Well, Jilly did anyway.  She has that difficult spaniel coat that matts in about 5 seconds flat and picks up seeds for a pastime. 

You can spend hours picking them out individually or you can take up the various suggestions for seed removal.  I was advised to cut them out or use baby oil, peg them up out of the way, use a fine toothed comb or put plastic bags over them.  What I actually did was to get out the anti tangle grooming spray and use an ordinary comb to ease them out.  The spray makes the fine hairs a little more slippery so that the seeds come out easily.

Sasha remained seed free with her much easier to manage collie coat.  She thought the whole business was hilarious.


Both Groomers and Christies do a wide range of detangle sprays.


Wednesday 8th August - We get a measured fourth height for KC shows

This is the UKA 500mm height for Standard dogs

The minutes of the July ALC meeting are out and they have recommended that we have a measured fourth height for the smaller large dogs like Jilly. 

Regulation H(1)(B)3


a. Hurdle Ė The height of the hurdle must be
650mm (2ft 1.6ins) (550mm (1ft 9.6ins) for Lower Height Option)

600mm for Large Dogs,
500mm for Intermediate Dogs,
450mm (1ft 5.7ins) (350mm (1ft 1.75ins) for Lower Height Option)

400mm for Medium Dogs and
350mm (1ft 1.75ins) (250mm (9.8ins) for Lower Height Option)

300mm for Small Dogs. Width: 1.219m (4ft) minimum.

The top bar or plank All bars, planks and fillers must be easily displaced by the dog. The inner upright of the wings must be a minimum of 900mm with no unnecessary protrusions. A wall should have displaceable units on the top. The height of hurdles in special classes may be lower than those listed above, but the height(s) must be included in the schedule.

H(1)(B)2 Height Limit for Dogs


2. Height Limit for Dogs 

a. Large Dogs Ė For dogs measuring over 430mm (1ft 5ins) 500mm at the withers.

b. Intermediate Dogs Ė For dogs measuring over 430mm and measuring 500mm or under at the withers.

c. Medium Dogs Ė For dogs measuring over 350mm (1ft 1.75ins) and measuring 430mm (1ft 5ins) or under at the withers.

d. Small Dogs Ė For dogs measuring 350mm (1ft 1.75ins) or under at the withers.

This is brilliant news for the smaller dogs.  I've seen too many little dogs struggling over 650mm and some of these have been asked more than once to get a remeasure as the judge is unsure that they should be in the large category.

It also means that I shall start training Jilly to stand still while a measuring hoop is placed over her withers so she can be properly measured into her new height. 

Many thanks to Fiona Hulse who started the whole discussion and submitted the first proposal for a measured fourth height back in 2008. 

Sunday 5th August - Anxiously awaiting the minutes of the Kennel Club meeting

With so much to discuss and possibly change it's no wonder the minutes of the Kennel Club Agility Liaison Council haven't been published yet.  For those of you who are new to agility this is the council that discusses everything agility from jump heights to handler grading and everything in between. 

The meetings are held twice a year and they're made up of representatives from all over the country.  They usually have a huge agenda with all the proposals from clubs and individuals and also lots of discussion items.  They listen to reports from the various panels such as the equipment panel and they decide whether they think any rule changes should be made. 

The council themselves can't change the rules, they can only advise the Kennel Club but generally if they have accepted that a rule change needs to be made the Kennel Club will review and accept their findings.

The reps themselves also hold their own meetings and invite anyone who competes at agility or who has a connection with agility to come along and give their views on the agenda. If you're at a show during the summer you may well find that a meeting is being held when all the rings close.  Do go along if you can.  Agility needs the competitors to help shape it's future and to tweak the rules. 

This is just a very brief outline of how the rules are made.  You can find out more on the Kennel Club website and find out who your local representative is. You can also read the latest agend and the minutes from the meetings.  Click the link here


Friday 3rd August - Back to training with rear crosses

After two weeks of the most devastating sadness I decided the dogs needed a break.  They are grieving too and they need something to do that will divert them for a little while.  I decided to reinforce some rear cross training with Jilly.

With all the new style European handling and all the turns weíre learning, rear crosses seem to have slipped from favour. In fact sometimes I feel as if theyíre absolutely frowned upon. If youíre a faster and more agile handler it seems to make more sense to be ahead of the dog all the time. It looks so smooth and easy when a long legged athlete is zooming round the ring putting in blinds and nifty front crosses with ease. It probably is for them. If youíre less agile this just isnít going to be possible. This is where the rear cross comes into itís own.

Iíve been to training classes in the past where the young trainer has insisted that I run the way Iíve been told and not the way thatís comfortable for me. In most cases, after a huge effort, Iíve managed to do it but it hasnít been comfortable and my body is telling me so. My body is 70 years old, the trainerís is less than 30. There has to be a difference.

The rear cross needs some training however. Many dogs will spin if you suddenly disappear behind them, and some may go off course altogether. At one time people used to teach this on the ground by asking the dog to stay and then walking behind them. Any kind of spin or turning the wrong way was not rewarded. The dog turning itís head towards you without spinning got the reward. This didnít work for me and itís now regarded as the old fashioned method.

Teaching Jilly the rear cross

When we do a rear cross Jilly is expecting to turn and it can be really useful if you want a dog to turn when thereís a tempting tunnel straight ahead or a straight line of jumps. The important thing for me is to look at the line I need to take to get Jilly to turn to the left without spinning. The best line for me is to run from the right hand side of the first jump wing to the left hand side of the jump at 2. It needs to be completely diagonal. If I run towards 2 in a straight line and suddenly veer to the left Jilly is going to spin. Letís go and set it up.

I really don't have a lot of room on the Plot but we managed to do some passable rear crosses without spinning.  I started with crossing behind jump 2 and then we tried it starting at jump 1.  To go to the right it was easier to set up jumps 2 and 3 at 180 degrees to each other.  (video opens in a new window)


Wednesday 25th July - Sad News

On 21st July my beloved husband of 47 years died in hospital.  We are in bits.  We miss him so much, his silly sense of humour, his lively chatter, his outgoing personality and even his moaning.  I would give the world to hear him yell, 'Pat' one more time. 

Bernie loved the dogs and they adored him.  He always wanted to come for walks with them but in the last 18 months it became increasingly difficult as he became more disabled.  On the last day of June he was rushed to hospital with what they thought was a kidney infection but what was actually a burst appendix and peritonitis.  Sadly he suffered a stroke in the hospital and then sepsis and septic shock. He was too weak to fight back.  He didn't want to leave but I had to let him go. 

As I sat with him I told him he was at Pencarrow where we loved to walk the dogs.  I said it was a lovely sunny day, we were walking in the field and the dogs were playing.  We would soon have a cup of tea and something to eat but if he found a nice place to stop on the way it was ok for him to go.  I would be alright and I'd see him in a little while.  It was so peaceful.  I loved him so much words aren't enough for this.


Saturday 3rd March - First place and a title for Jilly

Jilly now has a novice shadow skills title with Wag It Games.  In the February video trial she had a perfect score and tied with one other person for first place.  She now has five qualifying scores and this entitles her to a standard novice title.  In the five trials she gained three first places and two second places.  Well done Jilly.

For the next trial we'll start working towards a champion novice title.  This will give us time to learn the skills we need to do the next level up which is the skilled level.  

Sasha also does a few Wag It Games classes but she finds sitting a bit difficult if it keeps being repeated.  She loves dog ball and if we get to be good enough we'll do a dog ball trial.  She doesn't want to retire yet as there's still lots of fun to be had with Wag It and any size agility. 


Wednesday 7th February - Happy Birthday Jilly

Five years old today and it doesn't seem five minutes since she was a little puppy! 
Jilly says,
  'I had a lovely new squeaky dumb bell for my birthday.  I loved the one I used to have so much that I chewed it up and it didn't squeak any more.  We played games in the snow in the garden first thing this morning then the shopping man came and he brought me some lovely chicken.'

'After that we went to one of our favourite places, Lanhydrock.  There are loads of big fields for us to run in.  It's great fun and we always take our toys.'

'After we got home we had a little rest and our dinner and then I went to Wag It Games.  I wanted to play with all the toys in the toy box and they wouldn't let me.  One of the games was getting in a cardboard box and then doing tricks.  I sat down and then stood up, gave a paw and did a bow.  Then we had to practice our shadow skills.  I only need to get one more qualifying score in shadow skills and I get a novice title.'
'Actually I think I look a right wally sitting in a box but everyone else thinks it's sweet so I have to go along with it.'
'Anyway, that was my birthday and I'm tired now so I'm going to sleep for a couple of hours.  Night night all.'


Friday 12th January 2018 - A Good Start to the New Year

It was so cold at the UKA show on Sunday but the sun shone and the weather stayed fine all day.  What lovely judges to stand there for hours watching us go round their courses.  They must have been freezing.  I know the organisers needed some time to thaw out when they finally crawled home.

Jilly did very well after her Christmas excesses.  She came fourth in the Beginners Jumping class and third in the Beginners Steeplechase.  We only need one point now to go up to novice in the steeplechase programme.  We don't have many UKA shows within reach of us and we had a couple of years where we didn't compete at all at these shows.   We are so fortunate to have another show organised by the same people in April.  It's in Devon but not too far for most of us in Cornwall.

Sasha didn't have a class at this show but she did an anysize class the week before and came home with a clear round rosette.

Now it's an odd thing but my dogs seem to know about posing with their trophies and rosettes and neither of them likes to be left out.  Last year I had to explain to Jilly that she didn't get a rosette at the show and Sasha did so she couldn't be in the photo. She looked completely crestfallen. This year both dogs will pose even if one of them hasn't won anything. 


Tuesday 5th December - Jilly does it again at Wag It Games

The Wag It Games novice shadow skills video trial results are out and Jilly Won.  She is turning out to be awesome at this game.  To get a qualifying score you need to score 80 or more out of 100.  You can add a bonus exercise at the end to gain a higher score.  In this trial Jilly scored 106 out of a possible 115. 

To get a Shadow Skills video title you need five qualifying scores.  We now have three and hope to gain the next two next year. 

For this trial we got together with some other Wag It Games people in the area and we hired an indoor riding school.  Here we can film each other and we can also set up a little practice course.  Some of the Wag It Class who hadn't entered the trial were able to come and have a try out on the day so we were able to make a bit of an occasion of it.


Tuesday 31st October - Jilly has another brag

Jilly has won the October video trial for Wag It Games.  We need three more qualifying scores to get a Novice shadow skills title.  Clever girl Jilly. 
The question I'm asking now is should we do something similar in agility?

In the video trials each dog starts with 100 points and then points are deducted for things like a tight lead.  The dog and handler does a set course which you can download and practice beforehand.  At the end of the course you can do a bonus exercise for 5, 10 or 15 points depending on the skill level you choose.  We chose the most difficult and gained the perfect score of 115 points.  The placing actually doesn't matter as the point of the trial is to gain a qualifying score of 80 towards your title. 

I've often thought something like this would be wonderful for agility.  It's something that can be done away from a competitive environment and if a few people who are training wanted to do it then the trainer could use one class to put up a set course in the training field and judge it for points towards a title. 

The benefits of doing something like this is that people who are unable to travel very far to shows or who don't compete for any other reason can work towards a goal and improve their training along the way.

People who do compete would benefit enormously.  There's nothing like being given a course plan and seeing what you have to achieve to make you train all the elements and get them right.  If you know someone's going to judge you then you want to do the very best you can.  This can only benefit agility in general.  I'd love to see the Kennel Club develop a non competitive side to agility that isn't totally focused on winning all the time.  (I can hear people saying we've got the warrant for that but we haven't.  The agility warrant is for people who go to shows and gain points in a completely competitive environment.)

Back to Wag it Games...

Jilly couldn't do heelwork on the right before we started the Wag It Games video trials.  She also struggled with the idea of the loose lead on the left or right and she didn't have much idea of the heel position. 

There's nothing like a trial for making you focus on the training needed to achieve this.  Hence our perfect score.




Monday 30th October - Jilly wants to brag

She won her steeplechase at the weekend.  Clever girl Jilly.

Jilly would just like to have a little brag that she won a lovely rosette and trophy in the beginners steeplechase on Saturday at the Paws UKA show. It's a shame we don't have a video of the winning run.  I told her we can show people what fun we had finishing another course after we'd been E'd. She wanted to know why I was making funny noises and I said I was trying to whoop and make it fun but I was out of breath.  She doesn't know anything about E's so please don't tell her.


Tuesday 24th October - Sasha starts Wag It Games


After much consideration Sasha has decided to give up her rally class and join Wag It Games instead.  It's not that she didn't like rally. She quite enjoyed bits of it but as she said, it would be fine if it wasn't for all those sits.  Here's what she told me.

  "When we do rally Mummy makes me sit and then we go forward just one step and I have to get up and sit down again.  No sooner have I done that than she takes two steps forward and I have to get up and sit down again.  Then she starts having a laugh.  I get up again and she does three steps and just as I think we're going somewhere at last I have to sit down YET AGAIN.  'Listen Mother', I said to her.  'One sit is fine.  Two sits is pushing it a bit but THREE.  Well I ask you.'  So then she asked me if I'd like to do Wag It Games instead.  Games?  Did I hear Games.  Now you're talking. 

The next Saturday afternoon we went off to the training shed where we do our rally and stuff and lovely Melissa gave me a big ball to play with.  I didn't burst it and I was the bestest dog in the whole class.  I pushed the ball all round the room. Jilly can't do it very well, I've seen her.  I'm much better.  Mummy hasn't got a video of me doing it so you'll have to look at that Silly Jilly getting it all wrong in class.  This is what ball skills look like.  Just remember when you watch the video I'm brilliant and Jilly's silly .  You have to click on the picture to start it.'

I've started a little section on Wag It Games if you'd like to have a look.
Wag It Games


Wednesday 19th July - Off we go to Wag It Games - No Need For Speed

It was our first day at a new class and Jilly was really keen. We'd decided to have a go at Wag It Games. We both like any sort of new training and when the class started our first task was to do the box walk. It looked easy. Well it would if you've never done it before. All Jilly had to do was to walk along a series of plastic boxes stepping into and out of each one. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Ahem, not for an agility dog. Yes, I know, 'Go' usually means take off like a bat out of hell and don't stop till you get to the end but in this case it didn't work. The boxes slipped and Jilly couldn't step into each one at all. Whoops!

We had to slow down and take it calm and easy and concentrate on accuracy rather than speed. Something we've failed to do in agility so far and it's costing us dear.  We're collecting e's like there's no tomorrow and there has to be a reason.

In agility people watching can say what went wrong at the point we were e'd but not where we've gone wrong for the whole year. And then I spoke to someone who said she thought we concentrating on speed rather than accuracy and as a result we were making mistakes.

'It's happening all the time,' she said, 'lots of people are going for speed but it doesn't always work.'

It was definitely food for thought and so I looked at the results from a few shows held earlier in 2017 and sure enough I wasn't the only one collecting e's and faults. On one day at a show there were 21 classes and in 10 of those classes there were people who were placed with faults as there weren't enough clears. It certainly did look as if some of us might be trying to go a bit too fast.

Maybe that sounds a bit simplistic and maybe I'm wrong but I've decided to spend some time training for accuracy rather than speed and the Wag It Games are an ideal place to start.

We had a lot more tasks in the Wag It Games 'no need for speed class.' These included putting a toy in a basket, circling round a cone, sending to a mat, pushing a plastic cylinder along the floor, and stepping up and down on a platform. Each one needed to be carefully thought out and executed and Jilly turned out to be quite good at using her brain once she'd got over the idea of rushing everything in these exercises.



Many thanks to our brilliant trainer Melissa Chapman for the videos.

Wag It Games covers a huge range of tasks and games designed to keep dogs happy and to keep humans occupied keeping their dogs happy.

There are many exercises to learn in the 'No need for speed' section using hoops, tunnels, gym balls and cones and much more equipment but we just started with the basics and Jilly loved it. Some of the exercises were similar to those we do when starting agility but there's no harm in repeating the exercises throughout a dog's working life.

Wag It Games also satisfies my need to be making something or inventing something all the time. The cylinder that has to be pushed along, for instance is made from plastic drainpipe so it's going to be 'Wey hey, Freecycle here I come with another want.'


Monday 19th June - When is it too hot to go to a show?

When it was like it was yesterday, round about 27C. As luck would have it though, there was a little gentle breeze on an otherwise scorching day.  The dogs were cool enough in the shaded car with the tailgate and windows open. They had plenty to drink and the shading was moved to keep the sun off them.  They were actually cooler than they are at home on a hot day but the biggest problem was they couldn't get out of the car and go for regular walks as it was just too darned hot.

Jilly was fine over her first two courses but on the third one near the end of the day she developed a peculiar jumping style.  Either the sun was coming from a direction that made it more difficult for her to judge the poles or she was suffering from the day in the car.  Either way we won't do it again. 

Sasha was fine.  She would have loved to jump in and out of the car all day and go for walks but she couldn't.  She loved her any size run but I can't say the same for her poor human.  We had four jumps at the start and then a straight tunnel, oh dear.  Sasha went off like a bat out of hell and as soon as she bolted out of the tunnel she looked round for further directions. Poor dog.  All she saw was her human still staggering drunkenly past jump 2 and wondering what sort of direction to give her.  Shouting 'go on' was no good because she was facing completely the wrong way.  On reflection 'Hang on and wait for me,' might have been better. In the absence of any direction whatsoever Sasha used her initiative and went round and did the tunnel again.  She belted round the rest of the course at about 90 miles an hour completely unaware that the human had cocked it up again and oblivious to the hot weather.  She loved it.

I shan't stay at show again in boiling hot weather.  We'll do a couple of runs and go home.  That's enough for us.

Friday 16th June - A tale of two agility dogs and three cars

What sort of car is best for agility dogs? Ha ha ha ha ha. In our case one that goes.

A few weeks ago we said goodbye to our beloved gold Berlingo. It had served us well for nine years and was perfect for two dogs and all our stuff. We had Sasha's big cage in the back and Jilly sat in the space between the cage and the tailgate guard. Brilliant. The poor old car was starting to fall to pieces though. I mean bits were literally dropping off. I'd had to bolt a hose on to stop a fearful rattling and a friendly mechanic managed to fix up the oil filter that was hanging down somewhere near the road. It had been welded and fixed and welded and fixed but when the whole instrument cluster failed and we couldn't buy a new one that was it. The Berlingo had to go. Someone bought it for carrying bales of hay round their farm. We still had the little Fiat Panda though.

The Panda was ok for space with the rear seat rest taken out. I checked it was ok with the insurance company first. They get the hump if you modify your car and don't tell them. There wasn't room for a cage and another dog in the back so Jilly and Sasha had to sit together. They aren't too keen on this at shows as Sasha gets a bit excited and jumps all over Jilly and Jilly ends up biting her. If you have a little Panda and two dogs it can work. I was able to put Sasha in the back and Jilly in the front when we got to the show and all was fine. Our trouble was the little Panda wasn't fine. It wasn't very old and had only done 20000 miles.  Never be fooled by low mileage though. Our brakes seized because the car wasn't used enough and after spending £500 getting them fixed and putting new tyres on all round we thought we were okay right? Wrong!

The little Panda soon started overheating.  The garage had said the thermostat was probably faulty but when they looked at it properly they decided it was more likely the water pump. An overnight pressure test however gave the worst possible news. Water was going into the engine and the car had a cracked cylinder head. The likely cost of repair could be around £1500. We left the car with them and they took it to the local action room for us where it was sold.

Meanwhile we had actually bought a Kangoo to replace the Berlingo.  I hope you're keeping up with this.  Our breakdown company isn't.  The man on the phone seems to be having a breakdown every time we ring.  I'd gone to buy a bag of kindling at the time and came back with a car. 

I'd left the Panda at the garage but now that it was sold we only had the Kangoo and it was doing strange things. The doors locked and unlocked by themselves and within a few days the engine management light refused to go out and the car was a bit difficult to start. If you're thinking of buying a Kangoo spacewise it's great. I could put Sasha's big cage at the back and Jilly sat between the cage and the seats. The Kangoo doesn't have all the bits of storage space that the Berlingo does and be warned. If you have a tailgate guard that fits a Berlingo it won't fit a Kangoo. Our car was a 1.5 diesel and it was so economical we thought the fuel guage was stuck. It still locked and unlocked the doors though and that light that wouldn't go out.

We took it back to the garage for repair and for a few days it was fine. Then the problems started again so we took it a back a second time. This time it was in the car hospital for a couple of days and when we got it back it was fine for a whole week before we heard the dreaded clunk clunk of the doors locking and unlocking. A couple of days later the wretched computer shouted 'something wrong, something wrong.' This time we took it back and left it there.

As luck would have it we'd been driving down our road just before we took the Kangoo back when we noticed a neighbour had a 'for sale' notice on a car. The neighbour is a mechanic. We stopped and looked at it and it's perfect for us for the time being. It's a Mitsubishi Space Star. It was elderly but it was cheap and within a couple of days it was mine. I can get Jilly's cage in the back and there's plenty of room for Sasha between the cage and the front seats.


So what now? What's the best car for agility dogs? Well, we couldn't fault the Berlingo. We know loads of agility people who have them and they hang onto them. They're fantastic if you have two or three collies although I do know someone who used to put four dogs in the back of theirs and they were fine. Ours wasn't all that cheap to run. The road tax was £240 a year and it wasn't particularly economical on fuel. Would we have another one? You bet. If I can find one anywhere for sale it's mine. It's got my name on it.

Another car that agility people love is the Skoda Roomster. These cars are really spacious but very economical at the same time.  I looked for a second hand one but now that I know a bit more about them I wouldn't have one.  I spoke to someone who had parked a Roomster next to ours and she couldn't open the doors.  They were all electronic and she couldn't get into her car.  Then I read about someone who kept getting locked inside his Roomster and was unable to get out. In order to escape he had to attract the attention of a passer by.  Now imagine that on a hot day with you and the dogs inside or worse you outside and the dogs inside.  

The Peugeot partner is similar to the Berlingo and then of course there's the Fiat Doblo. I don't want another Fiat but that's my personal preference.  It's also the preference of a few other people I've spoken to.  Sorry Fiat but your cars don't seem very well made.

If you are going to buy a car for agility dogs and you want a tailgate guard bear in mind that they cost in the region of £300 each. I haven't sold the guard we had in the Berlingo. It's waiting for the next one to come along.  Also bear in mind that if you have fixed cages built into the car it's a modification and you have to let the insurance company know. 

Another thing to think about is a warranty.  We had two months warranty on the Kangoo so the repairs were free.  When it needed repairs for a third time there was no problem getting our money back.  The garage took £200 off for our use for a month and they are quite within their rights to do this.  It's only fair.  We'd done quite a lot of mileage in it.  If you buy privately you don't have so much protection. 

Now, If anyone has a Berlingo for sale and lives in Cornwall do let us know.  It has to be cheap and reliable.


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. 

Satisfy your dog's ambitions and have fun.


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 and she has done agility for years, only jumping, 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 but not past her eleventh birthday.

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.