Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Post Trialling 2013 - Christmas Time

Our trialling year is now officially over for 2013 with our last trial on the weekend. They have tacked on an extra ANKC agility trial on 28th December but Cassie is having an agility holiday and Colin is taking me to Cavalia that night.

Santa's Little Helper
 We had an interesting last two trials with some papillon challenges thrown my way by a certain little pappy pants. She is not one for letting me rest and think that all this agility training is easy! I entered her in an ADAA trial a fortnight ago as I thought she was pretty much ready to try her first ADAA agility class and give the full size see-saw a go. Her first run for the evening was Intermediate Jumping. She was a bit fidgety on the start line so I went back to settle her but next thing I know she takes off over the first jump. I took her back and restarted for a super faultless run however the restart meant a DQ. The next run was the Jumping without Weaves class and it was almost dark with the lights now on. She was running OK but definitely slower than her first run. After missing a jump I took her back and a couple of jumps on she took off badly and hit a jump quite hard bringing her up very short. She seemed OK and we did continue but her jumping was all over the place (one jump she jumped high enough to clear a 400 height jump) and she ran past the last jump. I gave her a cuddle afterwards as always and waited for our next run which was Intermediate Agility. I had decided to do it as NFC as I wanted to help her with the see-saw for the first time. We actually didn't get that far. She did not want to run at all and when I released her at the start line she took off back to Colin. I brought her back and she did about five obstacles before taking off again out of the ring. I was really unsure about what was going on for her so I put her away for a break and got her back out for her next run Open Jumping. Again I took her up to the start line and when released she took off hiding under the scoring table. I tried once more but she didn't want to know about it. So that was it for us for the night. I can only assume that knocking the bar really upset her. She wasn't showing any of the standard stress behaviours, so no licking lips or scratching and she was happily tugging and doing tricks while we waited although in agility she was sniffing the ground at one point. Cassie has always been her own little lady and if she doesn't want to do something she won't. Before we left I did pop her over a spare jump and rewarded her a few times. However I can safely say that I won't be going back to those grounds if it's a night trial as I'm pretty sure that she struggled with the lighting and I'm not putting her through that again.

I decided the following week that I was only going to have one training session with her and not overdo it. I needed to make sure she was still feeling happy about her agility and fortunately where I train is where the weekends trial was going to be. As I suspected she was perfectly fine at training and was being her normal wacky self. I didn't do anything fancy, just lots of rewarding and fun, fun, fun. The day of last weekends trial was crazy hot, something like 39 degrees during the day. I wasn't overly worried about Cassie after the jumping incident but I was wondering what would happen when I put her on the start line.  Plus even though it was evening it was still very warm and not really optimum trialling conditions.

As it happened the first run was great and we got a Q to give us her third pass in Excellent Jumping from the last four trials. She is certainly handling like a dream. Next up was Excellent Agility. She looked to all the world that she was focused on the start line but just before I released her she looked back behind us (Aunty Kriszty had just arrived to watch) and then when I released she ran straight back to the crowd. Mmmmmmm..... I got her back and we took off as soon as she was in position but her brain wasn't quite in the game and she ran past the third jump. Such a shame as she nailed the rest of the course like a pro and was absolutely flying on the second half. Our last event was Open Jumping and I knew that the distance challenge would be too hard. As it happened it was rather a mess and included a pappy zoomie but she was with me and did some super fast weavers that I was very happy with. At the end of the day I really just wanted to make sure she was having fun with no pressure. 

Papillons are such strange little creatures. Cassie is just a mass of contradictions. She is a total mummy's girl but can be fiercely independent and will never do anything that she doesn't want to. Once I figured out what made her tick (generally food) I have found that the majority of training issues I've encountered can be over come with piece of roast chicken.   But sometimes she gets a bee in her bonnet about something and I can forget it. My plan has always been to give her a break from agility over the summer with her first trial back on 31st Jan next year. But I need to sort out her start line confidence so I will do a little bit of work building drive off the start line to one of her favourite things in the world, the Manners Minder. Nothing speaks to her better than a remote food dispensing machine!  The other thing I will try when we return to trialling is not waiting on the start line.  I want to be able to put her on the start line and just go.  I wonder if I'm leaving her for too long.  It is interesting that when I watch some of the top paps in the world compete the handlers never wait with them.  The pretty much drop and go.  We can't do that as such because we must have our hands off the dog before the judge will ask if we are ready.  So I will have to think about how I'm going to manage that.  Ahhhhhh, love my pappy challenges! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Going the distance

Only two trials to go till the end of my trialling year.  We've had our first two evening trials which have been pretty successful for Cassie with one Q in Excellent Agility, one in Excellent Jumping and the biggest surprise of all, one in Open Jumping.  Who would have thought she would be able to do distance work already!  

I do think we've been pretty lucky so far and I don't think we've had an overly difficult Excellent course as yet.  I remember last year when we were still in Novice seeing some of the Excellent courses and really worrying about how we were going to manage when we got there.  Some of them looked harder than the Masters courses I was running with Sonic.  In saying that some tricky courses are probably what we need.  They are the ones that flush out the weak spots!  Saturday nights trial was a good example of that.  In agility there was a tyre right next to the entry of the weave poles.  It took Cassie three attempts to find what would normally have been an easy entry for her, I'm assuming because the tyre changed the picture for her.  So guess what we'll be working on for the next few weeks....

The see-saw is still a work in progress.  I'm trying hard to get her to listen to the verbal and not assume which is the dog walk and which is the see-saw.  I'm not sure I've been that successful yet.  It definitely needs a lot more work.  I can still remember Sonic taking a while to get the hang of the difference.  I've entered her in her first agility classes at ADAA this weekend which is why I've been focusing on the full height one so much.  Although I'm still hoping it won't be too much longer before the ANKC one returns to it's former full size glory.  Lets hope she listens when she goes charging up the plank!

Poor Sonic is resting from agility for the rest of the year.  I haven't been happy with is lower back.  So I decided that it would be better to just rest him and then slowly build him up for the Nationals next year.  I'm still optimistic that I can get him there sound and ready to go.  It would be such a shame to not take him and I want to have at least one more with him but I guess we shall see.  I have a full exercise plan in place to have him as physically ready as I can.  I miss trialling him so much.

The WAO try-outs for 2014 have been and gone.  I did feel a pang of regret that I didn't try out this year but at the same time I know it's the right decision and having my own dogs right for the Nationals is more important.  It will be hard when the time comes and the team heads off knowing what I'm missing.  I guess we can't always do everything.  As of February 2014 the quarantine restrictions mean that dogs only have to stay in quarantine for 10 days when coming into Australia.  Does that mean that we can consider taking our own dogs next time?  Wouldn't that be amazing.  Competing with my own dogs at a world agility event is something I thought I would only ever dream of.  2015 maybe....

Back to the real world, my focus for the rest of this year and early next year is to work really hard on my handling.  We are fortunate here in WA to have some amazing international seminar presenters come and work with us.  I have booked a couple of slots with Dave Munnings when he is here in April/May next year.  I feel like I'm getting a lot more comfortable with changing things to a more European style  but I have a long way to go.  Certainly the move from most is the European handling which is funny when you think about it.  We've always been so influenced from the UK and USA styles but even they have shifted to European handling.  If you can't beat them join them perhaps?  We are also very lucky having our own agility local Megan Bell Jones having recently come back from a Lisa Frick and Tereza Kravlova seminar.  Very much looking forward to continue working with Megan and learning more about being the best handler I can be for my dogs.

Monday, October 28, 2013

An excellent pappy

It has felt like ages since the Royal so I was really looking forward to the weekends agility trial hosted by the Agility Club of WA.  Unfortunately I managed to pick up the flu bug AGAIN during the week so it wasn't quite the pleasant day doing agility I had planned plus it was an unseasonably warm day of 29 degrees as Perth does it's annoying launch from Winter to Summer with the barest hint of spring in between.   

Cassie has never competed in that sort of heat before so I wasn't really sure how she would handle it.  I purchased a very cute extra small sized cool coat for her last year so that got a good work out and certainly seemed to keep her temperature down during the day.  I thought she looked a lot more comfortable than some of the other small dogs who were huffing and puffing away.  Her speed once on course seemed as per normal.  She absolutely flew around the Excellent Jumping course using her super pappy warp speed (aside from a brief visit to say hi to the judge, as you do...) finishing with a clear round and her first pass.  Her second run was Excellent Agility and again she flew around the course but unfortunately crossed behind me when I was trying to push her out to a jump and we ended up with an off course.  For her first time in this class was very happy and she handled the see-saw without any hesitation.  I just need to work on getting her to run more to the end.  I'm sure that will come with practice.

I also entered her in Open Jumping for the first time.  We've been working on some distance handling at home and she is going really well so I thought it was a good opportunity to give her additional experience on courses that are generally more challenging.  At the end of the day if the distance challenge is too hard I can just cross over the line.  She didn't do too badly but I thought the heat was starting to take it's toll and although she ran fast I struggled to keep her focus and she went visiting part way through her run but finished off really well.  Lastly we had our first Novice Strategic Pairs run with our new partners Ashleigh and Spirit.  I had to wake Cassie up for this one as she was pretty whacked by that stage.  I had trouble getting her focused before we went in the ring and I wasn't overly surprised when she air scented her Aunty Kriszty watching and I lost her briefly while she thought about going over for a visit.  Thankfully I got her back and we still got through it with a Q and 6th place against all heights.  I'm pretty sure they were first placed 200 out of three pairs.  Spirit was his normal Mr Perfect self and didn't put a foot wrong.

Sonic was only entered in Masters Jumping and Masters Strategic Pairs.  His MJ run was OK but he turned the wrong way over a jump, got all out of position which I struggled to fix and we ended up with a refusal.  He doesn't look lame when he runs and is still running better than earlier in the year but is still not driving off the ground as much as I would like.  So his hips are clearly still impacting the way he runs even with everything that I'm doing.  He has a ball when he's out there though so I'm going to stick with it and see if I can increase his muscle and fitness further to see if that will help.

By the end of the day I was truly knackered and my voice was barely a croak, with a bit of sunburn thrown in.  Our next trial is two weeks away and the really good news is that we now move to night trials until April next year.  I suspect that Cassie will love doing night trials!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Perth Royal Show 2013

I have a weird phenomenon going with the Royal.  One year will be amazing and the next I can't buy a quallie card.  This has been going on since I started doing Royal's with Murphy and Soda back in 1999.  I remember one year taking home 30kgs of dog food (in the days when we actually got good stuff as prizes for the Royal!) only to leave with nothing the next.  The tradition has carried on yet again in 2013 with a pretty average Royal after Sonic double Qing and placing in both his events in 2012.  Sonic ran overall reasonably well for a dog who gets very little training.  He had two fantastic runs in Masters Jumping but wasn't fast enough to challenge for the top spots.  Agility didn't go quite so well but the courses were pretty hard and our skills a bit rusty.

Then we have poor little Cassie who I can safely say is not a fan of the Royal Show.  She was pretty freaked out from the minute she got there.  She has never been comfortable under cover in unfamiliar places so the kennelling area under the marquee was stressful for her to begin with.  She settled a bit when she got to play with some of her friends and before her runs was offering me tricks and playing with her toy as she would at any trial.  But once she got to the start line and copped an eyeful of the crowd she didn't want a bar of it!  She did get better over the two days she was there and was running reasonably confidently on one side of the course where the competitors were but as soon as she had to run on the side where the crowd was gathered it was all too much for her.  I did everything I could to keep it happy and fun with no pressure.  More than anything I wanted to give her that experience and even though it was overwhelming to her I hope that she is stronger for the exposure and being out of her comfort zone.  I also have to say a huge thank you to both Kriszty and Simone for being outside the ring and ready with rewards as soon as Cassie finished to help make the experience as positive as possible. 

After how upset she was I had thought that I would never take Cassie to the Royal again but on reflection I probably will.  I've seen so many other dogs who haven't coped at the Royal as young dogs but have overcome the stress later on.  So we'll see.  The problem is there is no other place quite like the Royal so almost impossible to proof for that sort of distraction.  Cassie has a lot coming up over the next 12 months and I'm sure she will mature and grow as an agility dog over that time.

Aside from dramas with my own dogs I enjoyed the Royal and the opportunity to watch others competing.  In particular the Masters Jumping courses were fantastic and allowed competitors to throw caution to the wind and just go for it.  There were some phenomenal runs that were seriously breathtaking to watch.  One of the reasons I love competing in Perth is the depth of talent here and how much it drives you to be better handler and dog trainer.

We have a few weeks off now which is weird after the crazy agility month of September.  I'm looking forward to a bit of a break as I have heaps to catch up on at home and an agility area to finish off.  Our next trial is ACWA where Cassie will have her first Excellent Agility class. She did the see-saw properly for the first time at training last week and I have set up the tunnel under the dog walk at home. So we'll keep working on getting those two things ready for the ring. Then we get to do Strategic Pairs for the first time with our new partner the handsome Spirit a little tri-colour papillon who has been doing agility for a few years now and one of Cassie's many boyfriends. I'm sure they will make a great little team and all going well will partner up for the ANKC Nationals in Brisbane next year.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Has it been a month already??  A third of spring almost gone!  Although if you live in Perth like me, you would be asking "what spring?"  All things agility have been going well.  Cassie finished off her Agility Dog title ending up with three passes in a row.  The runs weren't perfect but she is gaining in confidence every time she is out there, not to mention that she is getting faster and faster.  She has been in about four excellent jumping classes now.  Each one is oh so close to a quallie. Her last run was a total scorcher until her idiot handler pulled her off the last two jumps!  I was so annoyed with myself.  What I love with her jumping runs is that she is just putting her head down and driving to the next jump with every ounce of drive in her little body.  For such a little dog she has got such an amazing amount of determination and heart.

Cassie competed in her first ADAA trial last weekend.  I entered her in the jumping classes only as I'm not quite ready to put her on the contact equipment which is a little different to what she is used to.  I'd rather wait until she is a lot more confident and at the end of the day there is no rush.  She had no problem jumping 250 instead of 200.  Really the only thing she struggled with was the bigger distances between the jumps, particularly on the first two classes when she was feeling a little fresh and silly.  I had no control of her at all.  As the day went on she got better and better as she settled into the task, finishing with a clear run on the hardest jumping course of the day the Open A Jumping.  I won't do anymore ADAA this year but will certainly get into it a bit more next year because I'd really like to go and do the Grand Prix in Tamworth around this time next year.

This weekend is the Perth Royal Show.  Both Cassie and Sonic are competing in eight events each over two days.  I'll have to be really careful with Sonic to make sure that his body is OK.  If I see any signs of discomfort then I'm quite happy to withdraw him from classes but hopefully he will be OK.  It is always a massive weekend but loads of fun.  I can't wait to see the crowds reaction to little miss dynamo and I'll be quietly hoping that she can cope with all the distractions that the Royal brings  and show everyone just what she can do.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Having some serious fun!

I don't know if it's possible for me to be enjoying agility any more than I am right now.   Sonic is sound and running well for the first time in, well I have to say years.  He's had moments of soundness of course during that time but to see him powering around the course on the weekend made me realise just how much I've missed him and how long it's been.  I've even noticed a change in him at home.  He's become a lot more social and comes to visit Colin and I during the evening which he hasn't really done for a long time.  He just seems overall happier in himself.  Which of course makes me happy :-)  We still have some handling tweaks to iron out but that will come when we get the feel for each other again.

Then of course we have Cassie my beautiful super charged papillon.  In the last two weeks she has achieved her first two Novice Agility passes.  It feels like things have really clicked with her and her confidence grows with each run.  She is just getting faster and faster.  The look of determination on her face as she charges around the course is priceless.  She has had two runs in the Excellent Jumping class both of which were pretty good and only minor mistakes.  I suspect that some clear runs won't be too far away.  I really can't wait until we have some other 200 height dogs to compete against!  I've entered Cassie in the ADAA trial before the Royal Show.  We are only doing jumping as I'm not ready to put her on different equipment when she is only just getting confident on the ANKC stuff.  I've entered her in Mini for the Combined classes as there is no way I'm running her on 150mm height jumps.  So with a bit of luck we may have some other little dogs to compete against for a change!  Then of course the Royal Show is just around the corner and I can't wait for Cassie to compete in her first one.  I'm sure the crowd will love her.

Here are the video's from the Dogs West Fundraiser trial last weekend.  Thanks to Nikki and Tracey for stepping in and helping with the videoing :-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cassie the Jumping Dog

It was a momentous occasion on the weekend when Cassie achieved the last leg of her Jumping Dog title.  Once you've been in the sport for a while and taken multiple dogs through to all their titles there is the tendency to become a little blasé but I have to say the first title is always really exciting.  She had fabulous jumping runs on both days and on Sunday did the second course in 17secs.  This weekend I've moved her up to Excellent Jumping.  So much fun.

Cassie with Jacinta her very proud breeder.
Agility is going OK but we seem to keep having something go wrong each time.  On Saturday she missed a difficult weaver entry which is understandable at her stage of competing.  She then headed straight for the dog walk which she gets masses of reinforcement for.  Then in her first agility run on Sunday she totally avoided the weavers and didn't want to go near them and it was a nice straight entry this time.  The half of the course before the weavers and after the weavers was awesome.  Then in our second run I was expecting her to avoid the weavers again.  When things like that go wrong I figure you just suck it up until you can work on it in training.  Strangely enough she did the weavers perfectly and instead I lost her on a 270 (very unusual to have a 270 in Novice) and by the time I'd straightened her up she got called for a refusal.  No matter of course.  I think the extra time in Novice Agility will be good for her.  Some of those Excellent Agility courses are really hard and I it will be good for her to grow in confidence first.  Needless to say we will be doing reinforcement central for weavers this week! 

Fizzy Bear at 16 months of age.
This weekends trial will also see Sonic's return to the trial ring.  I'm really happy with his progress during the ongoing rehab and I think he is looking extremely fit and healthy right now.  I ran him on a Masters Jumping course at training last week and feedback from those watching is that he looked totally sound and was moving nicely.  He was extremely over excited to be back out doing agility that's for sure.  This week my plan is to run him over some agility equipment at training to see how he goes.  I did some figure eights over 24" jumps tonight and he looked powerful and comfortable.  Fingers crossed we have turned the corner.  No doubt it will be a little messy running him.  I've spent the last two months running novice courses which are generally circles.  Running a masters course is a completely different prospect and I am way out of practice!!  Can't wait to get back in the ring with him.  I've seriously missed doing agility with my lovely boy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The cutest dog in the world!

A few weeks ago Kriszty's husband Mike was kind enough to come to one of our agility trials and take some photo's of little Cassie doing agility.  The results of which are totally gorgeous.  Thanks heaps Mike :-) www.starperth.com

Concentrating very hard!

Aerodynamic ear position required when going very fast.

Princess Cassie
Only peasants go inside dog crates...!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Highs and Lows

How things can change in the world of dog training.  Only a few months ago I was wondering if I was ever going to be able to get Cassie in a trial.  I couldn't even run a sequence with her at training because she'd take off at any given moment.  Catching her was even harder!  So I spent most of my time teaching Cassie the skills at home and everything we did at training was on lead.  As outgoing as she is I had problems with her confidence after she got bitten by an ant at training and any time she went near that area she shut down and refused to do anything.  When she was going through that phase I could get to training and not be able to get her over more than a couple of obstacles.   It felt like every time I got through one struggle there would be another. 

But somehow we have worked through it.  Every single time I put a smile on my face, felt the love and worked through it piece by piece mustering as much patience as I could find.  It was all about breaking it down and using the power of positive reinforcement.  I've always known how much talent she has and all I've ever wanted to do is do that talent justice.  Not to mention that she's my bestest little friend and I love her to bits.  I also noticed things changed with her at home.  She started to find hanging out with me more rewarding than being with my other dogs.  When I took her for runs around the property she comes back to me to check in all the time and often just trots along beside me instead of chasing the others.  Even when the other borders are charging around the backyard I can play retrieve games with her.  Things that I never would have dreamed we could do only six months ago.  And so I salute the value of reinforcement.

I entered her in her first trial in March and then we've only competed a few times since then as I've been working on building her skills and confidence in the ring as there were some pretty big holes.  Then yesterday at the Sheltie Club trial I can finally say that things are truly coming together.  It's not perfect of course but she is just getting so close.  Her running contacts were fantastic, her weavers lovely and she handled really well.  Even with a little zoomie thrown in!  And of course a super run in novice jumping for her second quallie.  I truly can't wait for the future in front of this dog.  She is one special little girl.

But of course with all the highs come the lows. 

I've had huge issues keeping Sonic sound for the last 18 months or so.  No matter what I tried signs of soreness would keep appearing when he was doing agility and had gotten progressively worse this year.  He's really struggled with power off the ground and even after getting the all clear from physio treatments I was not seeing any great improvement when he was jumping.  So I decided that when I got back from Europe that I would get his hips and lower back x-rayed to try and find what the underlying cause could be.  So that's what I did and as soon as the hip x-rays were done it was clear that the cause is hips dysplasia. 

It's pretty crushing to hear news like that.  That the dog that you love, who loves agility and who you love doing agility with is going to have a very limited time in the sport and will never reach his true potential.  Not to mention knowing how much it's going to affect his later life.  I am optimistic that with some rehab and a few months working on specific muscle areas to build up more strength to support his hips will allow me to continue with at least a little agility with him.  I'm working on a plan for him that will do just that.  Obviously his life in the sport will be significantly shortened but hopefully it's not the end.  Sonic lives to run and run fast so I have to balance out his quality of life against wrapping him in cotton wool.

I've always felt very strongly about how important both x-raying hips and genetic testing is before breeding dogs.  Certainly all my other border collies come from generations of health checked and hip scored dogs.  Before Riot was used at stud he had the whole lot done and I'm very proud to say that he is genetically clear of everything and has a 0:1 hip score.  With Sonic I was well aware of the risks as there is little health history back through any of his parentage.  As is the world of agility I was starry eyed and dreaming of having that magical super fast border collie that wins everything and I made a conscious decision that I would take the risk.  I had no plans to breed from him so who was I hurting?  As it happens it is my beloved dog who will suffer.  For the rest of his life.  I adore this dog and wouldn't change having him for anything.  But I will certainly never again consider bringing another puppy into my life without having at least parents who have had their hips x-rayed and cleared for HD.  It is unfortunate that the disease is polygenetic, therefore can skip generations and there is never any certainty that a puppy won't have HD however there has to be some responsibility taken so that every measure to prevent producing puppies with hips dysplasia is taken.  My eyes are certainly forever open.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My World Agility Open 2013

This years World Agility Open was something I had been very much looking forward to since making the team. Being my second time attending I had a better idea of what to expect which increased my anticipation but more importantly knowing that I would be running a fantastic dog in Hydro had me feeling pretty excited.

The flight over to London was long and tiring as always but no sooner had we arrived at our hotel when we were off to Lizzie's house so I could start to get to know Hydro. For our first afternoon session we went to a field that Lizzie uses and I joined in with her class. Hydro wasn't worried in the slightest that I was running him.  I had to really think about my handling and cues as Lizzie's verbal and physical cues are different to what I use with my own dogs however I thought it went pretty well for our very first session.  The following day I had a little sleep in but we didn't want to over do it so we could take a trip by train into London for some sightseeing with our training session for the day to be indoors later in the evening. This training session was with a "mad" but very nice Scotsman Dennis. Dennis yelled at me quite a lot although with his thick Scottish accent I only understood every third word or so! One of the things I loved about the class was how you only got to spend about five minutes walking the full course and then every sequence you ran from the course was done by Dennis yelling out which numbers to do in what order. No more walking allowed! So you just have to suck it up and hope you remember where to go... At home we would spend another fifteen minutes re-walking it! The next day I just had a brief session at Lizzie's field going over some basic handling drills, again to try and embed in my brain his verbal and physical cues.

On the weekend it was off to Tunbridge Wells for some trialling action to see how Hydro and I fared in the competition ring. Saturday was extremely cold. I had multiple layers on and even with a thick jacket borrowed from Lizzie I was still feeling it. The surface was longish grass with a muddy layer underneath so I also borrowed a pair of footy boots as it was unlikely the Dita's would be up for the task and I didn't want to end up on my arse. Lizzie had entered Hydro in a few classes and I was all set to run him in a G7 jumping followed later in the day by a Power and Speed class.  The first half of the G7 jumping was looking pretty good and Hydro was running really well for me. Unfortunately when I got to about jump 12 I told him the wrong verbal directional which sent him the wrong way, then I got a little bit lost and didn't push Hydro onto the right jump. The Power and Speed didn't go so well with Hydro really pushing me on his contacts plus a dubious contact call which meant we couldn't finish the jumping half of the class. We were all pretty much frozen solid by this point so we headed home.  I wasn't unhappy with our first attempts but I was hoping I could do better the next day.

On Sunday the weather was a little better and the sun at least made an effort to show its face.  I had three classes to run with Hydro starting with a G7 jumping. We started off really strongly but again at about obstacle 12 I had a moment of panic and couldn't remember which way to turn after the jump putting both myself and Hydro off completely and making quite a mess of the end.  Just goes to show how much you can fall apart when your stressed!  I went in to the G7 agility determined to handle it far better.  Thank goodness I finally did having a great run over quite a tight and challenging course finishing with just a penalty for a missed weaver entry. After lunch I was to run Hydro in a G7 Cruft's Qualifier.  I really, really wanted to finish the day off well and thankfully it went beautifully for the most part, but I had a major handler stuff up, putting Hydro the wrong way over the second last jump. What a total IDIOT!  I was incredibly annoyed with myself for that as it was a really good run and Hydro really deserved the Q. It is very unusual for me to forget where I'm going when I'm running a course but I think with a combination of information overload and desire to get it right I was just a bit too stressed and nervous. On the bonus side while I was there I also ran a lovely bearded collie for one of Lizzie's friends who had hurt her knee. Young Chip was great and we ended up running clear over a G6 jumping course. Not bad given that I'd only met him five minutes before our run!  We headed back still a little annoyed with myself for stuffing up but overall really happy with our progress after just a few days of training.

Aside from the opportunity to compete at Tunbridge Wells it was such a thrill to be there. So many awesome dogs and handlers that I only normally get to see on You Tube or live streams. At one point I was standing in line with Hydro waiting for my turn with Natasha Wise, three time World Agility Champion standing in front of me with one of her dogs while we have a chat. All quite normal stuff for a UK agility person but totally mind blowing for me.

The following day the time had come for us to start our road trip to Spain for WAO. The plan was for us to meet up with Simone, Stig, Sarah, Angela and little Dan at the Eurotunnel where we would convoy all the way through to Oviedo. Unfortunately things hadn't worked quite so well for Simone who had arrived the night before only to discover that the car hire company was closed. This meant frantic Facebook messages so some last minute rearranging of plans could take place.  As it happened we all made it just a little later than planned and the drive was pretty painless.

Oviedo is a beautiful place with rolling green hills as far as the eye could see.  The hotel was very nice but slightly chaotic with British, Japanese, Swedish and Danish teams also staying there.  There were dogs everywhere but the hotel staff were great about it.  The event was being held at a big equestrian centre not far from town.  The venue was fantastic the only down side being the weather which was unseasonably cold making it quite unpleasant for those not competing who spent a lot of their time freezing.  Fortunately we only had a little bit of rain and our rotation put us inside the main arena which meant we missed most of it.  Our Wednesday training session was really exciting as it was the first time most of us had the opportunity to see how each other were faring with our borrowed dogs.  I was thrilled to see that everyone's dogs were going brilliantly for them.  No one looked like they had only been working with their dogs for a week.  It really sent a great feeling through the team and anticipation about what was in front of us.  Thursday we had check in, which included vet checks, a very brief training session in the main arena and then a quiet afternoon, if you can call going crazy in the local Decathlon (picture a Bunnings size store filled with sporting clothes/gear) store quiet before the real thing started on Friday.

Friday saw us at the venue by 7am ready to walk our first courses.  We were starting with Snooker in one of the outdoor rings, followed by Individual Pentathlon Agility 1 in the main ring with the team running the Team Pentathlon Agility to finish up the morning classes.  The Snooker course was looking OK but to do all sevens in the opening would require lots of control as there were three obstacles making up seven and getting to the reds meant weaving between lots of equipment.  Lizzie and I had a good chat about it and with Hydro's responsiveness we decided I should just go for it and do suicide seven.  I was mega psyched for our first run and ready to hit it hard.  And what a run it was.  Hydro was spectacular and did everything I asked.  Unfortunately as we got to the first jump of the seven combination in the closing sequence Hydro slipped slightly and brought down the bar.  Either way I was thrilled with the run but it meant we went from what would have been 8th spot to 24th spot.  Still not bad for our first run of the comp.  Next up was Individual Pentathlon Agility in the main arena.  I was a bit nervous for our first time inside.  The main arena was a massive space and the course was big and spread out.  I didn't think the course was too difficult but there were some challenging angles to consider.  In the end I think the nerves got the better of me and I wasn't thrilled with how I handled the course.  I didn't push him onto the back of the wall very well which earned us a refusal.  Then he knocked the bar from a really bad angle where I didn't give him enough space.  Looking back it wasn't a bad run with three penalties all up after the spread came down. 

Friday afternoon I had two more runs, firstly the Individual Pentathlon Jumping 1 in one of the outdoor rings and finishing up with Biathlon Jumping in the main arena.  I walked the Pentathlon Jumping till my brain hurt.  I was finding that my nerves were causing me to panic a little about forgetting where I was going on course which wasn't helping.  This Pentathlon Jumping class ended up being one of my favourite runs of WAO being our very first clear and putting us in 22nd place with a dream run, just losing a little time as I gave him extra room to make sure the spread stayed up.  My high though didn't last too long with a very tough Biathlon Jumping course that gave me our first Elimination of the event.  This course caused all sorts of carnage as the weaver entry was extremely hard which was compounded by the tunnel being in the way.  As it happened we did get a refusal there but nothing major, however later on in the course I couldn't get where I needed to be which resulted in Hydro taking a jump from the wrong side.  I was pretty disappointed as if nothing else I really didn't want any E's, but such is agility.

Saturday was another early morning but I was pumped following the news that I'd made the cut from the first Pentathlon round taking me into the Individual Pentathlon Agility 2 and Individual Pentathlon Jumping 2 classes.  First off for me was the Jumping.  I didn't think the course was too bad and definitely doable.  However things didn't go well at all.  I was running late for the ring, it was raining as well as very cold and things just fell apart.  I was so annoyed with myself as I knew the E would cost us any chance of making the Speedstakes final the following day but all I could do was resolve to make up for it in the afternoons Pentathlon Agility class.  Thankfully we did just that.  It was by far our best run in the main arena and out best placing of the event with Hydro coming in at 14th place.  So awesome :-)  I was one happy camper.  To finish the day off was Gamblers.  I picked out a course that would get us over all the bonus obstacles but I was a bit nervous because distance handling is so not my forte.  I don't do a lot of distance work at home and when it works it is normally more good luck than good management.  And as it panned out the opening sequence was a cracker.  Hydro was flying, we ended up exactly where I'd planned and straight into the gamble.  BUT, my inadequate skills brought us down.  As I was sending him to the distance challenge I glanced down and thought I'd gone over the line and I hesitated expected the judge to call it.  As it happened the judge didn't but unfortunately I didn't recover quick enough and when Hydro needed me to give him information to do his job I didn't and he pulled off the last line of jumps.  I was pretty annoyed with myself for that.  Talk about choke!

Sunday we could start a little bit later as the first class was the Individual Pentathlon Speedstakes Final which was top 20 dogs in each height and unfortunately none of us had made it this time around.  So we got to sit back and enjoy watching some of the best dog and handler combinations in the world strut their stuff.  I would have loved to have been out there and without the E we may well have been but watching how much pressure they were all under made me feel a tiny bit of relief that I could just watch and enjoy.  Once the Speedstakes was finished it was onto the Biathlon Agility which gave all of us the opportunity for one last run.  I had been really psyching myself up for an awesome run to finish off but it wasn't quite to be.  Hydro kicked a brick out of the wall on jump three, then I got too far behind at the seesaw contact which had him in front of me and over the wrong side of a jump for an elimination.  Other than that I thought it wasn't too bad and not a bad way to finish off my WAO for 2013.  Frank was certainly saving  his best till last as he came in at 7th place in the 525 height with Ella.  It was a fantastic run.  The final event for the day was the Team Pentathlon Speedstakes Relay.  The Aussie Team hadn't made the top 10 so we all got to sit back and watch the USA show them how it's done.  So with the Closing Ceremony done and dusted, lots of uniform swapping and goodbyes WAO was over for another year. 

What can I say, it was amazing.  I feel like the Australian Team is really a part of it now and that we aren't thought of as just up numbers.  The dogs ran a treat for everyone and no one would have thought we'd only been working with them for a week and a half.  Hydro was sensational and Lizzie was so generous in her support and doing everything she could to make sure that I was as successful as possible.  I'm pretty sure the event exceeded everyone's expectations.  I had been thinking that this one would likely be my last one but to be honest I'm not sure that I want to stop yet.  To be a part of the event and the people and the atmosphere is something that is totally addictive.  Obviously I have to qualify first but if I do I'm pretty sure I'll be packing my bags and be on my way to Lignano Italy. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

State Agility 2013

I was really looking forward to this years State Trial.  With Sonic running pretty well and of course it was Cassie's first States I was excited about two fun full days of competition.  Day one was pretty good with Sonic going clear in both Masters Agility classes but no luck in Masters Jumping although I was happy with both runs.  No quallies with Cassie but she was really enjoying herself and so close to getting that first Q.  On Sunday the dogs were all fresh and ready to go with Cassie bright and sparkly.  Her first run was in Novice Jumping and she flew around the course totally outsprinting me.  She has really got the drive home down and showed me a clean set of paws.  Although she did swing wide of the tunnel entrance before going in the judge gave us a clear round for her first ever Q and first place qualifying her for the Novice Jumping final!  Sonic also had a good morning getting that elusive clear round in Masters Jumping.  So by lunchtime I was pretty happy having qualified my dogs for three out of four finals. 

Unfortunately from there the day went downhill.  There was apparently an issue with the computer system which meant we waited around for about five hours before results were given and finals started.  The biggest disappointment was the way it was handled.  There was no communication with competitors about what was going on and from what I can gather there were situations that weren't managed particularly well and some decisions made that were surprising.  What should have been an awesome afternoon of competing and watching some of the top dogs and handlers in Australia pushing themselves to the limit turned into a frustratingly long wait.  Once the finals finally started I ran Cassie in the Novice Jumping final.  Although she was pretty tired by this stage she still ran like a superstar and we just had a refusal at the tunnel which was really my fault as I got in her way trying to make sure she got the tunnel entry.  By the time the Masters Agility final was running it was raining and as I watched everyone pushing for top speed all I could think of was my shoes were not up to me sprinting in this weather without a big risk of sliding over.  Then on top of that Sonic had only been given the all clear from injury that week and of course I'm going to Europe for the World Agility Open in two weeks.  With all that on my mind I had a bad gut feeling about it.  Next thing I know Lyrik comes flying off the side of the dog walk and that decided it for me.  So I scratched Sonic from both the Masters Agility and Masters Jumping finals.  So to say I'm disappointed about how it panned out is an understatement.  I hope there is a "Lessons Learned" discussion after what happened to prevent another such disaster but all I heard afterwards was lots of blaming so I'm not overly optimistic.

The State Trial was the last competition for me before we head overseas for WAO.  I think it will be good for Cassie to have a break and the pressure off as we were working really hard to try and be ready for the States.  As it happened I think she is still another couple of months away from being competely "ready" for the ring.  I'm 90% pleased with her skill level but her weavers and A-frame are not quite where I want them.  At home she's great but I need to spend more time at training working on those things so she gains confidence.  There are no other major events this year so it really doesn't matter how long it takes for us to get back out there.  I have so much fun running her though I hope I won't take too long.  I'm also still not convinced Sonic is right.  Although his runs were good over the weekend and he is handling like a dream when I watch the video back I don't like what his hindquarters are doing over some of the jumps and there is an element of power missing.  So something is going on.  He has a break now too so when I get back I'll work on his fitness levels and see if increased conditioning makes a difference.  If not I'll look at things from a more medical level.  It goes without saying that I hope it's nothing serious.  I love running that dog and he loves doing agility.  It would be heartbreaking if there is a physical problem that means he can't do agility anymore.

On the up side I am the fittest and healthiest I've been in ages.  On our weight loss and exercise program I've lost almost 5kgs, am fitting into clothes I haven't worn for years and I can run (apparently not faster than a papillon though...).  It's going to make such a difference at WAO.  Last year I never managed to get anywhere near as fit as I wanted but this year it's all gone to plan for a change.  Got my new Asics runners and I'm ready for action!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Birthday Girl

The Fizzy Bear turned one year old this week.  Can't believe my youngest is a year old!  Time flies by so quickly.  I'm the first to admit that I haven't done very much with Fizz as yet but in saying that she is very immature and a touch on the soft side thanks to her father's genes so not rushing her is without a doubt the best thing for her. 

I was a bit worried about her softness to begin with but with patience and lots of rewarding she is now really enjoying her training and loves getting out there.  Getting her to drive to a toy is funny because she bounces to it and then pounces on the toy but she's confident and happy which is what's important.  The extent of her agility training thus far is a jump, tunnel, jump combination (200 height jumps).  The only other thing I've been focusing on is getting her to drive to my side and building value for reinforcement zone.  It's taken a while but for the first time last week she was driving off her hindquaters to my side.  Small steps but all progress.

Colin is going to give herding a try with her.  When she's been running with the other dogs she has been showing a lot of natural herding moves so I think it will be good for her.  Plus it's something that Colin can do with her that won't interfere with her agility training.  Today Colin had a lesson just about moving stock to get the idea and then after the State Trial we'll head back out so Fizz can have a go on sheep for the first time.  I'm hoping it may help with her confidence too.  You never know I may even dust Riot off and put him back on sheep too!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's Agility Time

Yesterday saw Cassie's first ever run in the novice agility class.  On the drive there I was feeling a little apprehensive about my decision to enter her.  Firstly she had never done any agility at the Cloverdale grounds so she had never been on their equipment before and secondly it was her first day trial and the weather forecast was for 30 degrees.  Needless to say there were many "what was I thinking moments".  Aside from that I was keen to see how she'd go.  I've done so much work on her contacts and her confidence that it was hard not to be excited to see how she would handle it. 

All in all I think the day was a success.  No clear rounds but she was happy, fast and confident.  With the warm afternoon a lot of the little dogs were barely breaking out of a trot in the jumping course but she ran just as fast as she normally would.  Her contacts were very good in the mornings agility class and no slowing down as I thought might happen when she realised it was all new.  The only piece of equipment that she didn't do well was the weavers.  She just didn't switch onto the entry at all and wanted to enter half way through.  We made a second attempt for the same result so I kept going and we'll endevour to get a load more work done on those in the next couple of weeks.  She is still running past jumps and sometimes I feel like I'm really hanging around to make sure she fully commits but in saying that I made some dumb handling decisions with her and I can't help but think that contributed towards it.

We have the State Agility Trial in two weeks.  I have no idea how that is going to go and I'm not overly confident that it will be a roaring success but I like the fact that we get more than one go in both agility and jumping with three classes of each up for grabs to try and qualify for finals.  She will only improve the more she's out there.  That will be the last trial we do before Colin and I make our way  back over to Europe for this years World Agility Open so Cassie will have a big break until June when we are back.  I think that break will likely do her good and it wouldn't surprise me if she comes out even more confident.

Speaking of the World Agility Open I have to say I'm very excited about competing in Spain this year.  I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to run a dog by the name of Hydro who is owned by Lizzie Langwade in the UK.  Hydro is a lovely four and a half year old border collie beautifully trained by Lizzie and is currently competing in Grade 7 agility in the UK.  Hydro and Lizzie have been doing really well themselves, recently winning the Senior Agility class at Crufts.  It is great to know that I just have to focus on running him well as he certainly knows his job thanks to Lizzie's great training.  Here is the video of Hydro winning at Crufts.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Attempt Two

The weekend saw Cassie and I hit the ring again in our second novice jumping run.  Unfortunately not a clear round but pretty damn close with only a refusal at the tunnel.  I had finished Sonic's runs for the evening so it was nice to be able to totally focus on her and get my "papillon handling skills" embedded in my head!  That part of it went pretty well.  As she was approaching the spread I could see that she was a bit hesitant so I really had to push her to commit.  It was after the spread that she went to the side of the tunnel (and over the ring rope).  She seemed to relax a bit more after that and had a lovely run home.  So again I was really happy with the run and as with all baby dogs each one will only bring more confidence to her.  I can't wait until I can just run and know that she has the confidence to take what's in front of her.  Next up I have entered her in agility and jumping at the Cloverdale trial on 4th April.  That gives me another three weeks to finish off her A-Frame training.  When she does the full height A-Frame she skies it every time but there are legs flying everywhere so it would be nice for her to get a bit more control over what she's doing so she can make better decisions about her body.  Doing her first agility run I think will be one hell of an adventure!

Sonic was a very good boy at the trial with his first double Q of the year.  I'm still working on getting his body back to full capacity.  I thought he looked nice and powerful but I'm a bit concerned that he's not jumping quite right.  Hugely happy with the way he's handling though and hopefully if I can keep him sound we'll have a good trialling year.   He certainly enjoyed himself.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cassie's First Trial

Finally the moment arrived last night with Cassie's very first run in a competition.  I was surprised by how much more nervous I was than normal, mainly because I just didn't know what to expect.  So I'm very glad I only entered novice jumping as I don't think I could have mentally coped with running in the agility class as well!  I felt pretty confident she would stay with me because she's been training so well but you never really know what's going to happen when you get out there.  I needn't have worried though as she was fantastic.  She was with me all the way, totally focused and enjoying herself.  I think it helped that we had a lovely open and fast course where the dogs could just stretch out and have fun.  I had been telling myself that I had to run with her the whole way and be as close to every jump as possible.  Unfortunately when I got in the ring I went into a bit of auto-pilot and reverted to my border collie handling and of course she came off the tunnel entry and a couple of jumps.  I was pretty annoyed with myself but I just kept going though to make sure it was  nothing but fun for her.

So mission accomplished, first one is done.  I learned a lot and have plenty of things to work on.  I wasn't going to trial her again until the States but I've decided to enter her in novice jumping at the Dobe Club trial in two weeks just to get a bit more ring experience under our belts.  I'd prefer not to leave it all to the States and blow our chances by not being prepared enough.  Then hopefully I can get this A-Frame finished off and she'll be right to hit the agility ring too.  Just so much fun, I can't wait to get out there again with her.


Sonic was a good boy and went clear in Masters Agility.  He is running so well for me at the moment and is handling like a real pro.  Unfortunately the poor bugger has been sore in his back all week.  He looked OK but would not drive through the weavers so I can only assume that he's still not 100%.  I wish our dogs would listen to us when we tell them to slow down.  I hate to think what his body is going to be like in another couple of years when he takes so little care of himself.  More treatment this week and hopefully I can get him right for the States. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Getting Fit

A couple of weeks ago when I caught up with one of my long time girlfriends she totally inspired me with both her physical and mental transformation.  She had struggled for many years to return to her pre-child (and twins I might add) bearing sized body of thirteen years ago.  Out of the blue she made a decision that she'd had enough of accepting things as they were, signed up for a twelve week diet and exercise program and has never looked back.  Not only does she look great but she is the most positive I've ever seen her.  Just brilliant.  So I came home and raved to Colin how fabulous she looked and next thing you know we are now doing the same program ourselves.  We both have different goals.  Colin is keen to lose some extra kilos that have crept up and I want to be both fitter and healther.  It's hard work keeping up with a papillon.  It's only week 1 and it is hard work both in doing an hour of exercise every day (especially when your knackered after a long day at work) but also completely changing our eating habits.  But we are both determined and of course there to support each other.  We've both already started losing weight.  It's amazing what can happen when you eliminate crap from your diet and stick to calorie limits!

I'm more than anything looking forward to be fitter.  It's going to be of great benefit when I travel to Spain to compete at the World Agility Open this year and of course my main goal in all this will be to keep up with Cassie.  It's only one week until Cassie's first trial.  I've been very much up and down about whether to run her or not.  I have no doubt that she will easily manage a novice jumping course but getting her focused is a bit of a work of art.  I'm getting much better at understanding what I need to do to have her in the zone but given the pressure of having to have her spot on mentally ready at the point in which we walk up to the start line is going to be challenging.  At least at training if I don't think she's ready I can spend another couple of minutes getting there.  We won't have that luxury at a trial.  But you know, sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and just have a go.  If it's a disaster then we'll keep working on it. 

Cassie started her A-frame training a couple of weeks ago after I took delivery of our magnificent brand new A-frame courtesy of Brian Cowling.  Cassie approves and is loving it.  With her already solid understanding of the mat she has picked it up very quickly.  I'm expecting to get her up to full height by the end of this week.  My biggest aim with Cassie is to have her ready for the State Trial in April.  I think we'll be OK.  Again, it's really about her focus with her understanding of the equipment pretty good at this stage.  It is hugely exciting.  She's such a talented little dog and just so much fun.  I feel so lucky that she's come into my life and brough with her a new level of excitment for my favourite sport.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tribute to Murphy

How do you say goodbye to your best mate?  There are no words I can find that explain the feeling.  Questioning yourself constantly but knowing that it's the right decision.  Dreading it till the very last moment.  Knowing that you can't take it back once it's done.  Once the tears abait realising that you have given the gift of peace and that no more pain will be suffered.  It has to be enough.

I picked Murphy out when he was three days old.  He had a "thumb print" on his head just like his mother.  It seemed to me a good sign.  I had my heart set on a chocolate and white border collie so when an ad appeared in the newspaper for a choc and white litter to be born it seemed that it was meant to be.  I had not always been a border collie person.  When I was younger my favourite breed was the German Shepherd.  But somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do obedience and agility and I knew that a border collie would be the perfect partner.

He was for the most part a gentle soul.  He was my shadow from the very beginning and would never have left my side if he'd had a choice.  For a big softy he had quite a tough side and was extremely protective of those that he loved.  Over fifteen years of wonderful memories that I'll never forget. 

I'll miss you so much my big man.  Gone to join his best friend Soda at the rainbow bridge.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Summer Training

So finally here we have it, another video of the gorgeous wee Cassie. I certainly think we are getting there. Her confidence on the equipment is growing and some final tweaking like weaver entries at speed will need to be done before she goes in the ring. But otherwise I'm pretty happy with where she's at now she's reached 18 months of age.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting my green thumb on

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic this weekend after spending most of it working in the garden so I decided to look back at some old photo's of my agility areas humble beginnings. 

When I first started my agility area it looked like this;

October 2010
Today it looks like this;

January 2013

Did I mention that ALL of it has been painstakingly hand planted by me!  At this point in time I recon it's about two thirds done.  So if the weather is kind over the next month and I can get the rest of it weeded, then get some more runners in the ground, by next summer I should have the whole area to play agility on!  It's definitely been my saviour with Cassie.  I don't know how I would have gotten her running dog walk trained without it (and of course my speccy dog walk).

I haven't really done that much dog training since the end of last year.  Mostly because of our usual summer heat which makes it impossible to get more than five minutes of training done before your lathered in sweat.  I decided over Christmas and New Year that we would all have a break (puppies included) and of course then we went to New Zealand for a couple of weeks to go to Kriszty's wedding and have a bit of a holiday while we were there.

New Zealand is a great place.  If I didn't want to live in Perth anymore I could easily live there.  Huge open spaces everywhere, so green and picturesque.  Did I mention they don't have snakes!  I think we'd only been there a day when we drove past a lady walking her border collie's out in hills.  We did all the touristy stuff.  I think Queenstown was my favourite place.  Even though it was busy and full of tourists like ourselves it had a real atmosphere and vibe to it.  And no I didn't go bungee jumping...  I did however go white water rafting and loved it.  We had massive rapids thanks to the huge amount of rain they'd had.  I only fell out once and it was very dignified.  Just don't ask the german girl sitting behind me who I appeared to have kicked in the head on my way overboard....oops!

On the way down (I'm camera side second from the back) in my oversized life jacket.

Yes that would be me doing the splits....what a wonderful moment to be caught on film!

However all good things must come to an end and I'm back at work and back to full training with the dogs.  Cassie is going well and if we can overcome her over arousal issues we'll be hitting the ring hopefully sooner rather than later.  My plan is to enter her in Novice Jumping at the Classic which is on at the beginning of March but I will run her only if I'm satisfied that her running off has resolved and I can run her through sequences without it happening at training.  Then if her jumping run is  successful I will look at entering her in agility as well.  I just want to walk up to that start line 100% confident that she's going to stay with me and it's not going to be too much for her to handle.  It will certainly be very exciting if it comes off!

Little Fizz is going well.  She's in the middle of her first season.  Riot her father has had to go on "holiday" for the next couple of weeks as he can't handle having a girl in season at home.  Boy brain doesn't even begin to describe it.  For all our sanity it was best that he's not here until it's over.  She won't leave poor Sonic alone and of course he's quite bambozzled as to what's going on...  I'm not doing much with her agility wise other than having a lot of fun getting her to chase me and just learn to play.  She's not hugely confident so I don't want to put any pressure on her at all.  I doubt we'll do anything much equipment wise for quite some time to come.  Which is really good considering how much work I have to do with Cassie yet!  Hopefully I should have some video coming very soon....