And so we come to the end of 2009. There were many, many great things about 2009 but the loss of Angel earlier this month has certainly put a lot of them into perspective and changed a small part of everyone in our house.
We are slowly putting our mark on our fantastic new property. The dogs are definately so much happier living with all this space. There is no longer the pressure to keep them entertained all the time as they get so much from just being here. I think there is a new calmness to all of them.
I'll have loads to work on starting as soon as the New Year is here. Lexi is coming to stay with me for the next six months or so. We thought it would be really great to get her ready for the Nationals in 2010. She was doing so well at agility before she headed back off on maternity leave and it seemed a shame to call it quits on her agility career just yet. Having her living with us will make it much easier for me to straighten out a few of her little training issues that were bugging me when I was trialling her before. Plus I can get her really fit really quickly. I'm totally unfit right now and Sonic's fitness isn't great either so I plan on doing a couple of days of normal agility training plus a couple of nights a week down the beach jogging. Murphy and Soda won't be able to come as this won't be the usual relaxed weekend paddle, I mean running up and down the beach and getting some serious exercise. From past experience I'm well aware that it's not just the dogs that need to get fit. Running Nationals requires a lot of energy and you need to be at your peak to get through them successfully. It will be the first year in a while that I expect to be running two competitive dogs with about ten runs on each day of the Nationals.
As to Sonic's first year of agility trialling, I'm pretty happy. There has without a doubt been lots of ups and downs. He went through the levels extremely quickly. Looking back my only regret is that I probably should have just left him in Excellent until the end of the year. But on the other hand he was managing the Excellent courses really well so until you put them into Masters, you don't really know how they are going to cope. His actual performance of obstacles is going really well and he is completing the dog walk, A-frame and weavers at a very competitive speed. He has dropped over half a second on his weaver performance in the last month alone. I'm also happy with his see-saw in that he is getting really confident however I'm not sure that I truly like the performance so we'll work on that in the New Year. The biggest issue I have is Sonic's ground speed which is by far our weakest area. I do think he'll speed up between his obstacles when his confidence grows but I know that we will need to do a fair bit of work on improving his drive between obstacles when we get back to training. With the speed of some of Perth's top dogs I need to get Sonic driving out of his corners and turns much harder.
Once 2010 is with us all eyes turn to the Agility Nationals which are being held in Perth between 29th April and 2nd May. I'm really looking forward to it and for Sonic to compete at that level for the first time. I don't have huge aspirations in that he's going to be winning any finals. I think that is way too much to ask of a two and a half year old and it is just going to be too early in his agility career to be competitive with some of Australia's top dogs. It always been apparent that all the dogs from his litter are going to be late maturers in many ways. We really need much more time to develop our team work and general skills before seriously being able to hit it with the big guns. I would think that in 2012 he will be a force to be reaconed with. Doesn't mean we're not going to give it a red hot go though. It is also great to catch up with some of the interstaters that I only normally see at Nationals and I love watching dogs from all around Australia coming together to pit their skills against each other. One not so bad things about not making finals is being able to watch the other dogs without the stress of your own runs coming up. Obviously I'd still rather make finals though...
I put together some footage of some of Sonic's runs over the year, spanning Novice right through to when he first got into the Masters class. I love being able to look back on his first runs through to now and see how much he has grown and developed in the last ten months. But now it's time to say goodbye to 2009 and bring on 2010!