We went to Shrewsbury on Friday evening, after picking up Colin from work. It was pitch black all the way there (well, the evening get dark very early now!). It was more than 200 miles each way. We did stop half way to get something to eat and gave the dogs a quick toilet trip. We arrived at Travel Lodge slightly pass 11pm.
I was still not 100% in fitness, this cold can drag on forever, after 4 hours drive, I was exhausted, so we went to bed almost immediately for an early start tomorrow. I think it was a big mistake as Sizzle has never been in Travel Lodge before. I didn't give him time to settle and turn the lights off straightaway. I can felt he was uneasy and he barked when he heard the noise from outside. I was too tired to comfort him either.
We woke up 7:15 (the showground is less than 10 minutes away), I took the dogs to toilet while Colin collected all our stuff from the hotel room. I thought we will be there by 8am but we spent some time at the petrol station, filling up the fuel and stuff some breakfast ... so we got there 8:15. Oh yes, and it rain! It was wet, but not so cold! I was soak through my skin!!
I have two classes to walk first thing, one is the jumping pairs and one is the Graded 6-7 Agility. I have Sizzle pairing with Bracken in the small pairs and Saturn in the medium pairs with Seamas; Saturn in the Graded 6-7 Agility.
I like the Graded 6-7 Agility course. When I walk it, I thought it is Sing's course. I know Sing will handle the course very well, shamed that he was not fit enough to run. Saturn was his naughty self that morning. I have learned from this year, if he barks at the start line (silly bark, not the one that I asked him to "speak") or in the queue, I know he is not with me and he will do crazy thing in the ring, like taking his own line and ignore me. He did his crazy bark when I asked him to "set up", he wouldn't go between my legs (for the set up) and when I got him in between my legs, he wouldn't sit! I know straightway we will get eliminated and I was right. It was a jump to see-saw to start. I want to recall him from the see-saw, so I have enough time to do the diagonal box but he broke his wait, when I turned and looked at him, he already stand up and stood right in front of the timer, so the run was a disaster!! Not worth mention further!!
After the disaster run, I have to run over to the jumping pairs as there were only a few pairs left to go.
The Jumping pairs have 20 obstacles, each dog does 10 obstacles and there is a baton changeover. The first part of the Jumping pairs is all jumps (and a long jump), the second part has weave and tunnels. I walked the two parts and felt I am more comfortable with the second part with both Sizzle and Saturn. It has a very difficult weave entry, I find it challenging, also the WET and heavy cloth tunnel is my worried, I wasn't sure if I should put Sizzle through that. He just only started to compete and I don't want him to get stuck (and he did stuck in the cloth tunnel!). I had a word with Matthew, I told him if he is happy for me and Sizzle to make mistake in the weave, I will take up the challenge!
As we were a bit late, everything got tense. I've got Colin to bring Sizzle to me while we were quieing. I don't know if it is the cold or wet or what, we were about two pairs to go, I picked him up, he was all shaky, but the jumping went very fast, we were next to go and I was still unable to calm him down. It is definitely not the excitement shake. Before I could do anymore to help him, it was our turn to run. My plan to handle this run is to have him on my right to start with, hopefully with a pull, he will pick up the weave entry. I told Matthew this is his first pair and I do not know how he will react watching Brax runs, so the best way maybe is to carry him until the baton changeover (safe and lost time in the baton changeover). Matt is very understanding (this is why I like to pair with him, there is no pressure between us), he told me to do whichever way I like. When Matt and Brax on the start line, Sizzle was still shaking, even worst than he was, so I decided to put him down but holding his collar. He was better when he was on the ground, he watched Brax but the pocket rocket did the 10 jumps in seocnds, I wasn't sure how he will react when Matt run to me to pick the baton but I didn't let him go until I am sure he is with me. Thank God, he didn't even look back and did all the things I asked him to, even the hardest weave entry, he did it beautifully. I think we lost time in the cloth tunnel, we came 3rd, the time wasn't far behind, the first three places were all in the 27 seconds. I was very happy with Sizzle handling the pairs so well. Thanks to Matt and Brax for pairing with us!
In the Medium pairs, Saturn nearly miss the cloth tunnel! Phew! Thanks to Brian and Seamas for pairing with us!
The classes seems to finish quite efficiently, there were four rings. I only have to wait for about half an hour (in the rain) for my next run(s). Yes, unfortunately, Sizzle's three other classes all happened at the same time.
I ran him in the Graded 4-5 Jumping first. I thought it was a very nice course but he missed the weave entry! It was a jump, tyre to weave to start. When I looked through the tyre at Sizzle's level, I could see the problem, the foam of the tyre has blocked the vision of the poles. I thought if I recall him in between the jump and the tyre, I could tell him "weave" but I was wrong, the weave was set further right after the tyre, he went into the 2nd pole on the wrong side. Maybe if I were to recall from the tyre and call him towards me and send, he probably would pick up the entry. There is something I could work on! Also, the pipe tunnel was set close to the two jumps which he got eliminated by going into the tunnel twice! And, our pull through still need a lot of practise!!! Our first pull through I can see my shoulder was turning the wrong way so he wrap around the wing instead of doing the pull through!
His second jumping round (combined 4-5) was so much better. I thought the course was harder than the graded and he handled the beginning part so well. It was a very difficult start; jump, jump, tunnel and sharp left ... a lot of dogs took the jump in front of the tunnel but Sizzle didn't even look at the jump at all. He responsed to my call very well and I managed to put a front cross to do the "go around" the jump, he also picked up the weave nicely, everything was so smooth until I lost him in the box where he took the finish jump! You can hear these people said: ohhhhhhh ... I know!! It was a shamed. I have watched other dogs ran this class and I have to say, other than we took the finish jump to get eliminated, Sizzle was the one that ran this class smoothly.
I am very proud of him. He is only a baby and he is allow to do baby mistakes!! I have been thinking about the silly mistakes he made in the jumping, the graded class where he went into the tunnel twice and the combined class where he took the finish jump. I have been teaching him to take anything in front of him, so that is a good behaviour but now he is up at the Novice Level and he needs to do something not so straight forward. I am actually a little confused. He is only 18 months and I would rather he can do something straight forward to gain the confidence and speed.
Our Agility was another disaster! It was also another "run straight from one class to the other" case. I have watched a few handlers and they all starting their dogs from the left and there were a couple totally missed the DW. It was an odd angle from the jump to the DW so I ran Sizzle on my right and he missed the DW by quite a margin. I saw him leap off straight into the tunnel (more homework!!) and he picked the weave entry nicely but I wasn't aware he missed the last two poles until the judge told me! You can see me tried to run away from him to the A Frame because I was afraid he will take the jump in front (from our last jumping experienced) instead of the A Frame but I forgot he prefers the DW, hahaha ... His see-saw is improving! At least he stays on the see-saw for as long as I asked him too (eventhough not very long)!
Oh dear me! Sounds like I have tons of homework with him! I'd love running Sizzle, he is so different to Sing and Saturn!
Saturn was also naughty at his Graded 6-7 Jumping. It was another challenging course, I was hoping he will get place in that but he decided he will miss ONE jump! Other than that, he did the course beautifully!
We finished the day with Saturn's combined 6-7 Jumping. His only clear round of the day! I didn't wait til the end of it, I was very wet and uncomfortable and all I want is to go home as soon as possible!
our runs on Saturday: