We Wish you a Merry Christmas!

I don’t even know if I have any readers left at this stage! My year has been very busy and unfortunately, Fluffy Tufts had to take a back seat. I will have a bit more time in the new year, so I really hope I can update you all and start sharing our adventures on a more regular basis!

Things to look out for: a new addition to the gang, some exciting news for me and Mr Fluffytufts, extremely cute dog trick tutorials and lots more…

Happy Holidays to you all!

My Day at Crufts

Breed Ring at Crufts 2013It was a very early start for me, with the alarm clock going off at 4.30am! The plane was packed with other dog lovers heading to Birmingham to spend the day at the the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts!

Having lived in Birmingham for several years, I knew exactly how to get to the NEC and in no time at all, I had collected my pass and was queuing to enter. I chatted to a lady who’d travelled with her Heelwork to Music Club, all the way from South Africa. They had a member competing in the International HTM Freestyle, so they’d come to cheer her on. Now that’s a supportive team!

Shopping at Crufts - Hall 5The KCAI stand was in Hall 5, so I was sent in that entrance. I actually couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the size of the place. Stalls selling everything you could possibly ever need for your dogs. I spent an hour or two wandering around, picking up goodies for the lads. I will do a post over the next few days reviewing my purchases!

I watched a little bit of the breed judging in the rings in Hall 5 also. Then I headed off to explore the other four halls!

The International Agility was taking place in the Main Arena and one of the members of my training club, Declan Dolan, was representing Ireland with his collie, Bonnie.  I made my way to the Arena in plenty of time and caught the end of the Agility Teams Small Semi-finals. It was exhilarating to view such brilliant dog/handlers teams. The Beacon Smalls went on to win in the Finals. Click here to view their winning run!

Next in the Arena, the International Agility Jumping Round. The competitors had to do a jumping round in the morning and an agility round in the afternoon. Only the top sixteen would make it through to the Finals in the evening. I was really rooting for Declan and Bonnie.

I met Declan at my first ever agility competition. I had had a terrible round with Pogo. He was so excited about the show that he wasn’t focused on me at all. He even tried to climb the judge! As I left the ring feeling humiliated, Declan approached me and very kindly gave me some great training tips and advice. He made me feel a lot better about everything. It was some time later before I realised that this man was Declan Dolan, top agility handler and Crufts winner!

Declan and Bonnie went on to come 2nd in the Finals that evening and I was there in the arena cheering them on. Their round is at 12 minutes if you would like to watch it.

I could ramble on for hours about all the things that I did and saw at Crufts. I had a brilliant day and really hope to go again next year!

What I Really Do! (Wordless Wednesday – 5 December 2012)

What I really do meme - Fluffy Tufts

Fluffy Tufts is participating in the Blogpaws blog hop. Come and join the fun!

Sunday Morning Agility – Rise and Shine!

Jimmy on the bus!It was a crisp, wintry morning as I prepared to head to training.  I just took Jimmy as I was going on the bus.  He’s only been to three sessions so far but is already showing promise.  Hopefully my novice skills don’t hold him back!

I gathered up all our bits and pieces – keys, money, phone for me and salami, cheese, squeaky ball and poo bags for Jimmy.

We’re lucky that the bus to Tymon Park passes the house.  Dogs are only allowed on if they’re in a carrier.  All The Lads know that the carrier means they’re going somewhere exciting, so they will pop themselves in and snooze.

We missed the bus due to jimmy’s ill-timed need for a poo! (Typical!)  Luckily, there was one not far behind which is unusual for an Irish Sunday!

Tymon ParkWe train at Tymon Park with the Working Trials Club of Ireland. Jimmy is in the Beginner’s Class and is halfway through his first six-week block.  The trainer, Jane, is so patient and kind (both to dogs and owners). All the dogs absolutely adore her!

We are lucky to have a small class this time round. Besides myself and Jimmy, there is a Samoyed, Maya, and two long-haired German Shepherds, Lady and Ash.

We started working off-lead on week two!  Well, Jimmy needs a bit more work on his recall as he ran straight into the Intermediate Class and tried to play with the dogs there.  How embarrassing!  Still, I have learned that things like that happen to everyone at one point or another.

The others pointed out that Jimmy is carrying a little “holiday weight”!!  I had been hoping he was big-fluffed but sadly when I last clipped him, I realised this was wishful thinking.  He is indeed a bit tubby…though nothing that a slight decrease in the food rations won’t fix!

Jimmy at Training

Our homework over the Christmas break was to work on our ‘wait’ and ‘leave it’. Both are coming along nicely, though greedy-guts Jimmy does find ‘leave it’ quite a challenge. Considering the Christmas break was almost a month long, the dogs did really well.

Jimmy is surprisingly fast.  Jane calls him ‘The Pocket Rocket’!   Due to his speed, I had to find a way to reward him while he was ahead of me.  I spent the Christmas break working on getting Jimmy interested in a tennis ball by treating him for touching it with his nose. This worked a treat!

The tennis ball is great as I can throw it ahead of Jimmy as he’s jumping the last jump and now he will run and touch the ball and wait for me to come to him with a treat! I was delighted that this worked as it means that Jimmy has a focus at the end of a run, rather than getting distracted and running off.

A Wintry morning at Tymon Park

The other dogs in the class are all big dogs, but the size difference between Ash and jimmy is especially noticeable!

It is quite comical watching Ash squashing himself through the hoop and tunnel!  He also barely has to lift his legs to get over the small jumps. Sometimes I wonder what he will think of it all when the jumps are raised to competition height

That said, Jimmy appears to have heavy-duty springs in his legs as he clears the small jumps with little effort.  Once, he even cleared a jump that had accidentally been left at full-height!  I couldn’t believe my eyes as I would have considered him to be the least agile of The Lads.  It must be laziness not lack of ability that holds him back on our walks.

I was so proud of Jimmy.  He had a lot more focus on me and is really getting the hang of things. Jane was saying that he responds very strongly to my body language so I have to work hard to be clear and concise.  The slightest drop in my outside shoulder can cause him to veer out away from the obstacle, but similarly I can turn him with little effort. It will be interesting to hone this over the next few classes.

I don’t know about Jimmy, but I always sleep well after training.  While I love Sunday mornings, it can be hard work!

At the bus stop

Jimmy waiting for the bus