Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Old, Frail, Infirm and Just Plain Uncoordinated...

So we know that the Noodle is deaf as a post and now it would appear that Kenneth the Karate Kat is as blind as a bat. He probably lost his sight a while ago but because we’d been in the same house for five years he knew exactly where everything was. Now Kenny’s in a new house things aren’t quite so easy for him. Mind you it is remarkable how well an animal can get around without having any sight. Our first tip off was a few too many bumps into the coffee table, an inability to find his way back into the house if we let him go for a walk outside and consistently running into his dinner bowl at dinner time. It's still hard to come to terms with the fact that my beautiful animals are getting old.

Ahhh, when they were but babes 1997....Murphy (14 weeks) & Kenny (18 months)

Then we have the uncoordinated members of the household. Sonic, who has no excuse, (other than being young and hyperactive and never looks where he’s going) slammed into a plastic rubbish bin at training last week. I ducked/braced/grimaced for him prior to impact but it didn’t help. He kind of ricocheted back off it and as per usual form, kept right on going. Riot, who has a penchant for walking backwards and not looking where he’s going, reversed into the patio support. Unfortunately for him, they are metal and I suspect a rather large headache followed. He was quite dazed afterwards. Not to be left out, Noodle bounced backwards (as she likes to do, much to my ongoing distress) and straight into the very same metal patio support, very hard. You rarely hear her so much as wince, but she cried while her front leg dangled uselessly underneath her. I had a major freak out moment but after carrying her inside and icing her shoulder, she seemed to be OK. Then lastly, the poor Murphster (the most uncoordinated of the lot) copped it. Not his fault, his body just doesn’t quite work the way it used to. Following another incident of not looking where he’s going, Sonic ran straight into the poor old bugger who happened to be standing in front of another metal patio post. Murph’s legs went straight out from underneath him and straight into the pole. He was Ok though, just a little sore. I’ve been contemplating taping old pillows around the posts so they’re padded like football goal posts seeing as my dogs don't want to look after themselves.

Murphy ( at 5 months of age) with his best mate "da Noodle" Soda (at 7 months of age) 1997

Agility right now is pretty quiet for us. I’ve only been to two trials since the Royal. I guess it’s a combination of being busy at the new house, being too hot or just because it’s coming to the end of the year and both Sonic and I could use a break. We have actually managed two Masters Jumping passes since he moved into the class in July. Sonic has had some really nice runs with only small errors to big disasters that were pretty rubbish from start to end. Of late our biggest break down is he isn’t reading my positional cues AT ALL... I can be standing completely stationary on course, next to the obstacle that I want to turn him onto, and he has just blasted straight past me. About three or four strides later he stops and looks at me with a “what are you doing over there” expression. I do think that if he spent more time paying attention and less giving me a mouthful of cheek, it might be working out a bit better! Masters Agility has been pretty much more of the same. Open has been a little more successful with a few passes in Agility and Jumping. Both titles shouldn’t be too far away. His contacts have been pretty good though since the Royal which I’m very happy with.

He is still my beautiful boy even with the grey eye lashes! (Murphy 2009)

So, what is the plan? The rest of this year will be a wind down for us. I go overseas on holiday at the end of this week which means I miss four trials while I’m away. Then I think there are only a few trials left to take us to the end of the year. I will probably enter them but my focus will be on confidence with him in the ring rather than worrying overly much on high level skills. He will then have about five to six weeks of no agility at all. So I would say that at the end of January it will be time to bring him back in with all eyes on preparation for the Nationals in Perth at the end of April 2010. I have to say that I am VERY glad we get six months in Masters before the Nationals. At this point we certainly need all the experience we can get!

Noodle relaxing at home in the sun 2009.

I have also been lucky enough to secure a working spot at the Lynda Orton-Hill seminar in Victoria next year. I missed the last one and I was extremely keen to make it this time round. This seminar for me will be all about improving my skills as a dog trainer. Lynda is doing some handling workshops as well but given that seminars aren’t cheap I think that focusing on dog training is the most important thing for me. In general most seminars that are organised do tend to be more handling related so it will be brilliant to just focus on how to improve my understanding of how to get the best from my dogs. In particular building contact behaviours and building drive around the course. I have SOOOO many questions to ask!

Kenny's house. Is anyone game enough to tell him it's a dog crate???

Being on 5 acres of bush does bring a few concerns about snakes. We've done what we can to make the backyard as snake proof as possible for all the dogs. Thank goodness so far we've not seen any sign of the slithery creepy suckers however our friendly neighbourhood bob-tails are a regular fixture. Appartently not to be thwarted by five border collies they make a daily pilgramige into our backyard. Angel is the only one who pays any attention to them at all with some serious attempts at rounding them up. The bob-tails don't seem to care.

A local enjoying the sun.

Now I have to show off about my NEW CAR. It is lovely and will shortly be transformed into a dog transportation vehicle. The hardest thing is controlling the lead foot... shiney and new.