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Here are some of the previous articles in the Dog Blog.  

Friday 12th March - Builder watching

Monday morning, two hairy builders arrived to strip the roof and put a new one on.  Sasha adored Andy but was a little more wary of Mike.  Jamie could take them or leave them.  By mid morning both dogs had taken up residence in the garden so that they could indulge in their new sport, builder watching.  By the afternoon both dogs had tried to mug the builders to see if they had food.  They also tried to get them to play and they went through their bags to see if they'd brought toys or a secret stash of food.  By the evening they were all exhausted! (Dogs and builders). This happy state of affairs continued until Friday. 



Now I thought border collies were the university graduates of the dog world.  Given a few instructions I'm sure Sasha could have put the roof on all by herself.  She might have had a bit of trouble with the sunlight tunnels but at least the instructions are given in pictures.  What she didn't seem to understand is that when it rains, hairy builders put on wet gear.  This simple operation completely bypassed Sasha.  No amount of cajoling, titbits or kind words could persuade her that the builders were the same ones who'd been there all week.


Tuesday 10th November - Sasha comes sixth in the steeplechase and what fun it was

Sasha did really well on this steeplechase course at the UKA show on 8th November.   She got her first clear round and sixth place.  Sasha was highly excited by all the tunnels and nearly went wrong several times.  We thought the course was unusual and great fun but the judge said a lot of people had complained about it. I think with any course it's a case of you can't please all of the people all of the time. 



A couple of other things delighted me at this particular show.  Sasha managed short waits at the start in spite of being highly excited and raring to go.  I didn't hold her long as it might have encouraged her to break the wait and I'd much rather have a dog that doesn't have to be corrected. 




Something even more remarkable, we got all the contacts on the agility course.  This is progress indeed.  It was the first course of the day and because of the small exercise area it was the first time Sasha had been off the lead that day.  I forgave the missed weave and the wrong course that gave us the big E.




Please don't give up if you haven't got the magic clear yet.  We've waited a long time and put in a lot of work to get this far.  I've also lost nearly four stone so that I can run more successfully with Sasha and it's really starting to pay off.  Here's Sasha's round complete with lots of excited barking.

Thursday 2nd July - What to do with an old video cabinet

Last week we replaced a video cabinet that was acting as a sideboard with something that was actually meant as a sideboard.  Bernie and Jamie scarpered while I put it together (5 hours of frustration and I had bits left over at the end, two dowels, several screws and a nail).  Sasha got in the way but lost interest when she realised it wasn't for her.  I digress. 

After much discussion on what to do with the video cabinet it finally ended up in the porch where it took up far too much room.  Unfortunately it had a broken castor and Bernie was too mean to buy a pack of four castors to replace one broken one and he didn't want to throw the thing away.  He's a self confessed serial miser so no change there.  This was when I waded in and said  I could use the wood. 

The result is a contact trainer/mini A-frame.  It's 38" high and the ramps measure 58".  It can be lowered or laid flat on the ground and I think it's an excellent use of an old piece of furniture. 

I'm still working out what to use for non slip paint.  I've tried Coo-var anti slip but Sasha slides down the thing when it's at full height.  Nevertheless we've done a bit of training with it flat on the ground and at the lower height.  I'm teaching two on and two off as we haven't been very successful with running contacts.  Got some brilliant ones in training but it's very hit and miss with more miss than hit.  I'll post updates on the non slip paint and the contacts so until then, happy jumping.





Monday 13th April - Why we love Wadebridge

Easter Sunday and what could be better than a show at Wadebridge showground?  This has to be one of the loveliest showgrounds in the whole of the country and it more than makes up for the ratbag, (Sasha), who wouldn't weave at all.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Jamie did lovely clear rounds in his any size classes and I couldn't keep up with him.  I wish he'd give Sasha some lessons but the girl promises to be very, very good eventually.  I'm not sure when eventually is but we'll let everyone know when it arrives.






This is early morning on Easter Sunday.  It was a bit frosty and there was a morning mist hanging in the valleys.  The sun was already shining and soon we were left with a beautiful warm day, not too hot and not too cold either.

And later on we had some lovely walks and collected one of Jamie's rosettes. 



Our next show at Wadebridge is in two weeks time.  H opefully Sasha will remember how to weave again and I'll walk the courses in two completely different ways.  The first will be walking for a dog that spins and barks and won't weave and the second will be for a dog that suddenly decides to jump and takes me by surprise.  Do look at this clip of Sasha in the grade 1 jumping class on Sunday.  She had spent the whole weekend spinning and barking and she was so excited I don't think she did two jumps in succession.  Then suddenly out of nowhere she hurtled off round the course.  I did try and meet her at the tunnel but failed miserably.  We're a right pair. 

Sunday 15th February - Double take

So there we were on Par beach when along came Jamie's double accompanied by a collie.  In the photo on the right, Jamie's the one furthest away. 

The other dogs' owners called us over to ask what breed Jamie was and how old he is as they thought they must be litter mates.  Jamie's twin turned out to be much younger than him at four years old.  Jamie is now eleven.

Our two got fed up with nattering and went off for a lovely romp in the sea. 





Thursday 5th February - Heatwave, what a contrast

My niece sent me this email from Sydney.  Oh what a difference a hemishpere makes!

 " It has been so hot in South Australia for over a week…40+ degrees Celsius everyday, very dry also.   A guy at work has a friend who lives at Maude.  The friend's wife sent him these photos of a little Koala which just walked into the back porch looking for a bi relief.  She filled up a bucket and this is what happened! It's very unusual for koalas to drink, let alone do what this little one did. He/she appears to be a fairly young one - not fully grown yet.
Angela "


Tuesday 3rd February - We're snowed in

Looked out of the window this morning and it was all white.  A lovely silence had descended in the night and to the dogs' delight we couldn't go to work.
  "Come on," said Jamie.  "We've got to go for a walk."
  "Yes, get off that computer NOW," said Sasha.
Bernie wasn't so keen but we wrapped him up in layers and handed him a lead and off we went. 









It's odd to think that Sasha didn't like the snow at first. 

Sunday 16th November - The judge can see an improvement

Well, we didn't go clear at the match today but the judge could see an improvement in Sasha.  Having learned to do nine obstacles at training classes without barking and spinning this is what she did in competition.  The trouble with competitions is that they tend to have more than nine obstacles in the ring at any one time.  When we got to jump number ten Sasha lost it.  
"Nine jumps and a tunnel we did in training and you said it was good."
"Yes, but you have to do more than that in the ring.  There's seventeen obstacles."
"But that's not fair.  You're always doing this.  You get me to practice one thing and then it's all different.  Why is it different?"
"It just is." 
 "Well, why can't you ask the judge what they're going to do so that we can practice it first?"
Yes, Sasha.  We'll do that next time shall we?   If only it was that simple!
Here's the jumping course.  It looked as if we were going to do a brilliant clear at first....

Jamie went clear in the jumping of course.  He's looking very smug these days. 


Sunday 9th November - Sasha gets it right and then Jamie mucks about.

We've been putting in a bit of practice this week and when it came to training classes Sasha did the longest sequence she's ever done without barking and spinning.  It may not seem like much to people with nice steady dogs like Jamie, but when you have a loopy collie whose sole object is to bark and spin it's quite an achievement.  I hope it lasts.  Here's the girl doing nine jumps and a tunnel.  Yes, I know she knocked a pole but at least we got the sequence right.





....and then it was Jamie's turn.  He must have been getting tips from Sasha on the way to the classes.  First of all he takes off before we're ready and then he does some spinning and jumping up and running round the wings.  It must be my fault.  It usually is.   I think today could well be a day for just mooching about in a field.

Monday 20th October - Sasha has a problem with the weave

Up until now Sasha's been doing very well in the weave and then all of a sudden she stopped doing the sequence jump , weave.  She's never actually done it properly at a show but usually in training she'll go jump , weave.  I've put a little video together to show the problem and the possible solution.  I know weaving causes more eliminations than anything else so it's important to get it right. 






The problem with Sasha is that she thinks it should go jump, bark, spin, bark, run round the first pole and then weave.  This isn't quite what we want.  Everyone at training classes had a look at the problem and even Tilly the beardie cross studied us carefully to see if she could help. 

The solution we've decided is to send Sasha a little ahead of me into the weave.  I can't race her or she pops a pole.  You'll see her doing that in the video clip.  It doesn't matter.  What we're looking for is a good entry so what we have to work on is going into the weave and completing it the first time every time.  I can leave out the jump and concentrate on increasing the distance to the weave a little bit at a time.  I can also increase my distance from Sasha a little bit at a time so that even if she gets well ahead of me she should go into the weave and complete it at the first go.

"Now then," says Jamie.  "I don't know what all the fuss is about.  I just do it and bring home the prizes."

Here's an interesting comment from a visitor:

Hi my name is Cassie and I am a year old jack russell. My owners name is Jess and today in the garden we made some make-shift agility  jumps out of bits and bobs from the shed. It was really fun and I really got the hang of it. I hope one day. When I grow up I can enter an agility show and be as good as Sasha. lots of love and licks,
Cassie xxx
Pat says: Good luck Cassie.  I think Jamie might be a better role model for you.

Wednesday 3rd September - A new tunnel for the dogs

The strange thing about agility is that most dogs won't have anything to do with scary equipment when they first start and yet after a short time you can't keep them off it.  With tunnels there are several stages before addiction.

I'm NOT going in there EVER.......
Well, I'll go if you insist, but I'm only doing it ONCE......
Alright, I'll have another go just to please you......
If you get the titbit ready I'll do it again.....
WHY can't I keep going in the tunnel?

 Jamie and Sasha are no exceptions to this and it didn't take long for them to get to love tunnels.  Jamie makes a beeline for the pipe tunnel whenever he can and Sasha goes belting into it as soon as she sees it.  The problem with Sasha though is that she sees the tunnel from a long way off and she either speeds up and runs under the preceding jump or she goes hell for leather and knocks the jump down.  Here's a little clip that shows you what I mean.

And it was so exciting she had to knock another jump down when she came out.  We've had to buy a tunnel to practice this jump, tunnel, jump business and I was delighted to find one that only cost me £19.99 in a Pet Shop.  Several people have asked me about it so here are the details.  It's made by a German firm called Karlie.  The entrance is formed by something similar to a children's play tunnel and then there's a chute.  The whole thing was way too long but the chute was easy enough to shorten.  You can just cut a bit off and stitch it round. 



The tunnel is anchored by four substantial pegs on the outside and just for good measure there are some smaller pegs at the entrance to hold it firmly in place.

The tunnel comes in a bag that you can sling over your shoulder and it's easy to fold up when you've finished, so you don't have to leave it outside to get wet.  Jamie and Sasha were delighted with it and hopefully we can do some training if it ever stops raining. 
 I bought the tunnel from Pets at Home.  I had a look on ebay to see if you could get the same thing on there but I couldn't see one exactly the same.  However it might be worth a look at the agility pages in the doggie shop. The American one below looks interesting.  Petplanet also does a couple of tunnels. 

Update 16th September:  We no longer use the flat tunnel.  As Sasha has picked up speed we found it too light in construction to be of any use.  If you do use a flat tunnel in training always make sure it's safe.  Never, never include turns after flat tunnel as this can cause injury to a dog going at speed.  To be safe, I believe the entry and the exit should be in a straight line with the preceding and following obstacles also in a straight line.  If you come across anything other than this in the ring take extreme care and work out exactly how you are going to handle the course so as to avoid injury.

Sunday 13th July - Sasha gets her first clear round

Yes, she's done it.  My little sweetie pie has finally got a clear round in the any size class and is ready to go on and join in with the big dogs.  Everyone congratulated us and said the first clear is very special.  I think judge Kath Cable was being kind but then it is a silly young dogs' class as much as anything else so spinning and barking is a little more acceptable. 


For everyone who is in despair of ever getting a clear round with their dog.  It took us nearly a year to get round an any size course without being eliminated or chucked out.  We finally managed to get round round two any size courses at a limited show in May with 13 faults in one class and ten in another.  Judge Heidi said Sasha will be a really good dog when I've got more control.....Oooh er, will that be round about 2012 do you think? 

We haven't done big jumps at a show yet because a certain little girl wanted to get to where she was going by the fastest possible route and that was under the poles.  The answer in our case has been lots of training over small jumps and then a gradual increase up to medium height.  To get the top height in training we've put poles on the slant and double poled problem jumps.  We've also mixed up the heights.  Dogs like Sasha tend to be fast and furious when jumping and this can make it difficult for them to control their bodies, especially if they're jumping long.  Going round a star is very difficult.  One way I've found to help with this is to sprain my ankle.  It has meant that I've had to train in the back garden whilst standing in one place.  Within the confines of a small garden Sasha has had to learn to be more bendy and to adopt a different jumping style.   To give Sasha some practice before she joins the big dogs she's been in any sizes classes and has done full height in the practice ring at shows.  I'd recommend this to anyone whose dog is having problems in the ring.  Don't worry about the competition.  Just get your dog to a show and train away from the competition but within a show atmosphere.

Jamie was not to be outdone by Sasha at the Cornwall show.  He did the same course only it was in the veterans class and he was competing against more dogs.  His brilliant clear round brought him home in a good time.  It's a shame the places only went down to fourth as we were fifth.  Nevertheless we were given a special rosette for being the best unplaced club member, so Jamie cam home with two rosettes for the board while Sasha had one.  Well done Jamie.  He's my boy.


Monday 30th June - There's a tent in the field.  It just has to be a dog show.

This is the world according to Sasha.  On Thursday evening a very large marquee appeared in the field over the road and to Sasha and Jamie's delight it was the start of a long weekend of barking and watching people do silly things.  What could be better for two dogs that like to look out of the window?  It was ready made entertainment with all those people walking about and parking cars and disappearing into the fields. 

The long weekend was the start of the Rescorla festival.  We might be a little weeny hamlet in the back of beyond but as from 2008 we have our own festival.    Actually that's not quite true because parts of it are a re-creation of the old fashioned tea treat and feast day which used to be one of the high days and holidays of many Cornish villages.   And then on Saturday we took Jamie and Sasha across the fields where they aren't normally allowed and that was exciting.   The grass had been cut, there were tents and stalls. 
"Is it a dog show they asked?"

They didn't seem to mind when we said it wasn't a dog show.  It was just so much fun being able to gallop around everywhere.  And then the next day it was even better because Phoebe came and had a look as well.
"It isn't a dog show," she said, "It's just people doing silly things like they do."  Phoebe's very sensible but Sasha just had to go and check for herself.

We never actually found out what she got up to in the marquee.  We were too far away to hear what went on after she took off across the field and disappeared into the vast white tent and she didn't tell us when she got back.  
"Did you join in the clog dancing then?" I asked but she stuck her nose in the air and ignored me.  Later on I thought I heard her telling Jamie that Phoebe was right after all and that the dog jumps really weren't in there.  
Ah well, Sunday afternoon and what better after a good run than to watch your silly humans being even sillier than normal and dancing through the hamlet and round the fields. 

Gathering for a group photo after dancing the "Snail Creep" round the hamlet.   The Snail Creep is a traditional dance that was performed every year on Feast Day.  The young men and women enjoyed it because the dancers form a long line which coils up like a snail before uncoiling again.  It gave them a chance to get in close to the young ladies.  I'm afraid most of us aren't so young any more but who cares.  The dance was last performed in 1948 in Rescorla. 

Music From The Rescorla Festival - The Snail Creep
Here's a short video clip of everybody gathering in the marquee for the ending of the snail creep dance and music.

Thursday 12th June - So what do we do about leaving the ring?

It's the end of the round, the last jump has been jumped and some of the equipment is still intact.  The judge and ring party have fixed smiles and are bravely carrying on as if nothing happened.  The pole pickers are busy picking up jump wings and trying to remember how the course should go, and the scrimer is weeping quietly over the timing gear.  The next person on the line is wishing they hadn't queued up behind us but at long last it's all more or less in place.....except for one little thing. Sasha is now refusing to leave the ring.  It happens every time and it's getting to the point where it's not funny any more.

Sasha has this idea that if she lies down under the last jump one of two thing will happen. Either:
a) No-one will see her and once we're not looking she can go and play all over again.
b) No-one else can use the jumps while she's lying there so we'll have to let her go again.

The only way I can get her out of the ring is to ask the lead mover to put the lead right beside the last jump.  Once the lead is on she will sort of walk away although she does it very reluctantly.  If the lead isn't there then I have to get hold of her collar and drag her.  To all intents and purposes this can look as if the dog has collapsed and the heartless handler is simply dragging her along the ground oblivious to her plight.   
I haven't ever heard of anyone else having this problem but then I always end up with eccentric dogs.  If this has happened to you and you've cured it, please let me know how you did it. 

Tuesday 6th May- A little mate for Jamie

Comments received from a dog training site:
Jamie would love a little mate and Pat can then run another dog in the smaller class.

Pat says:  Ooh er.  Then we'd have the gruesome threesome.  One day...when we've moved and we have a bigger garden and a bigger house.  A little cocker like Tilly would be nice.


Tuesday 29th April- Little Miss Gobby and the anti bark device

I don't know how many of you have problems with barking dogs but Sasha loves to raise the roof whenever she can.  This sets Jamie off and then I do the wrong thing and join in and finally Bernie starts shouting at us all to stop.  I decided to do some anti bark training.  It started with me standing up in front of the gruesome twosome and telling them, "Thank you, " in a firm voice.  They did stop but not straight away.  Nevertheless they had praise and a titbit and the training was repeated each time they barked.  And then they got clever.

Sasha was definitely the ringleader and before long she'd taught Jamie how to get an endless supply of titbits by going to the window and barking and then running back to me all nice and quiet. 
  "Ha ha.  Very good.  It doesn't work like that," I said.
  "OK then we'll bark some more and then you tell us to stop and we'll have the titbit.  Ruff ruff.  RUFF, RUFF, RUFF."
It was stalemate, or so I thought, and then I found the perfect anti bark device.  Pictured below is the Agility Bits exclusive anti bark training device which looks uncannily like the cardboard tube from the inside of a roll of kitchen towel. 





In fact what you're looking at is the cardboard tube from the inside of a roll of kitchen towel and all I did was to make a funny noise down it whilst having a bit of a silly turn.  The effect was amazing.  I had Sasha's full attention for about ten minutes until she deemed it safe enough to go to sleep.  "Aha," I thought, "This could be put to good use," so I've been using it to interrupt Little Miss Gobby whenever she feels inclined to bark.  It failed to work when the postman knocked on the door but you can't have everything.  Little Miss Gobby does look at me for titbits when she shuts up but the barking has definitely decreased by approximately ten thousand one hundred and fifty two times.  This is a great improvement.  If anyone wants to do likewise, the noise I'm making sounds like a cross between a cow and Johnny Kingdom calling up the deer on Exmoor.   

Friday 21st March - Little Miss destructive

PhotobucketIt was the first outdoor show of the season today and when we got there, those who had survived the gales and rain were busy pegging down the jumps so that they wouldn't blow away.  It was also freezing in the bitter winds and it was amazing that anyone at all was there but we're a hardy lot in Cornwall.   Some people had already gone home but we stayed and collected two E's in the anysize jumping class before we too made a beeline for home and a warm fire.
Now all those with a collie put their hands up if their dogs are content to come home in the middle of the day and sit by a warm fire when they should be running riot at a show.  Me neither, so I thought I'd get the toys out for a game.  Now this is the interesting bit. 

Two of Sasha's toys live in the airing cupboard.  This has a round doorknob which has to be pulled and Sasha hasn't yet worked out how to do it so she simply sits and barks at the door instead.  So far the door has responded by looking blank.  It can't help it.  It's just the way doors are, although some will squeak and groan sometimes if they're pushed.  Anyway I thought we'd have a little play with the other toys so I got them out and then it struck me just how destructive Little Miss destructive really is.  All of Jamie's toys are pristine.  They do get a bit dirty eventually but he has a lot of retriever in him and as such he is very soft mouthed.  He really takes care of his toys.  They may get pulled and squeaked but they are never ripped to shreds.  Little Miss destructive on the other hand.......well, I'll let the photo speak for itself.  Full marks to all those who can spot Jamie's toys and Sasha's toys.  Both started off by looking exactly the same apart from the colours......

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