Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas, New Year, and an agility in the middle

I did the very last minute entry to enter South Eastern Christmas Show. I weren't too sure if we are going to make it as normally we will be exhausted by then. This Christmas has been an easy one, and I feel like I want to do some agility to keep me fit, after all the big meals I had over the Christmas week.

Our runs were schedule in the afternoon, the morning runs were Combined Grades 1-3. It is very strange that I haven't got a Grade 3 dog anymore. I wish I have. I really enjoy competing in Grade 3. I can't wait to get Sipzie in the ring! Mmmm ... not for 18 months!

We had a lie-in, how strange! No rush, had a good morning coffee before setting off to South Eastern. We got there just before mid-day and we were still way too early. It was good for me to catch up with some agility friends and watch the Combined 1-3 classes. I watched quite a few Large dogs running and there was one Belgian Shepherd caught my eyes. She was amazing, the speed is so scarry, very fast. Her weave is in a flash and her contacts were superb.

Our first run was at 2pm, the Combined 1-7 Helter Skelter, medium dogs first. Saturn was the the third dog on the line. He was in a good form. The first one to go was Indira's Ebony, poor Ebony, the timing didn't start so she got to run again after the second dog goes. Saturn was a good boy, he didn't break his start on this run. I wasn't sure what speed he is going to put on, so I only lead out to just before jump #2. Then, released him, he comes in a flash and I have to adjust myself so I am not too far ahead to turn him right (jump #4 & #5). He turns very nicely in that corner but I think he is unsure where to go after jump #7, so he looked at me, that must cost a bit of time. Otherwise, we had a really good run. I was very surprised that he is in the 17 seconds zone. The end result was, Ebony won the class with 17.41 and Saturn came 2nd with 17.43. I am very happy as Ebony is a very fast dog and Saturn is able to keep up such a close time to her.

Next up is Sizzle in the Small. I do not like to queue with my dog if there is a very long queue but when I got Sizzle, the queue was right out to the building, so I have to send Colin to queue for me and I play with Sizzle. It wasn't long to wait as it is an easy flowy course, I can't see any dog could make a mistake in that course but it does.

Sizzle is not so enthusiastic towards jumping. He is more of an agility dog. He loves the contacts. I guess I reward him more each time he does it right and I don't think I reward him in the jumping. He wasn't power on from the beginning and he did turn wide on the corners. He went clear in 17.99 seconds and that put him in 5th place. I think we have a lot of works to improve in that area.

Next, we have Combined 1-7 Agility. I was very surprised to see we have to do the A Frame twice and a DW and a SS. I thought you only have a repeat of a contact if there is only two contacts out there but I probably wrong. I am not complain, I love to practise on the contacts.

This is a combined of grades 1-7, so there is some easy bits and some hard bits. I found the A Frame to the wrong end of the tunnel (not really the wrong end, but the entrance close to the A Frame) is a challenge to me, especially with a running contact. I wasn't sure if I am able to beat Sizzle to it so I can do a front cross and send him into the tunnel. I guess if I can trust him to take the A Frame on his own, I will have time to shoot up there to do my front cross, if not, I have to do a pull into the tunnel. Well, I am glad I trust him to do the A Frame and I have time to run up to do my front cross. I feel really good doing the front cross, send into tunnel, pick him up to turn left on the jump and send him back into the tunnel and back up the A Frame again. I feel the handling was smooth and all the timing were good. I rarely feel this way. Then, from the A Frame to the jump, it was a wide angle, again I trust him to do his job ... until the DW. Mmmm ... we haven't done any training/practise for at least 3 weeks, with a running contact, if you don't train it everyday for just 2/3 minutes, I always think there is a risk of jumping off the contact but Sizzle was good, he didn't leap off and he runs till the end of plank, WooHoo! Now, my other worry is the See-Saw. I know we haven't master the SS yet, he either leave too early or slow up. He chose to be careful and he got his weave entry. Jackpot! I was a bit behind when he weaves, so my front cross was a bit late but we finished in clear round of 31.61seconds. That was brilliant. Later I found out he won the class by a good margin! I feel good and proud!

Saturn's agility run wasn't perfect. Eventhough he went clear and got all his contact AREAS and came 4th. I wasn't happy with the performance. I should have not run him in the agility until I fix the problem, I have been very naughty again! Arrrggghhh ... please kill me!

and here is our runs:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Seagull

Happy Birthday to my "crazy" Seagull
7th today!!

enjoy this little crazy montage:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sing and his Christmas present

Sing is recovering very well from his unknown injury. Sara came over on Sunday to give him his 3rd massage and she now approved that I can slowly exercise him to build up his stamina. It was such a relief when Sara said he looks very well. I must admit I have been very naughty, when we have snow, I just can't resist not to let him play in the snow. Sing loves snow but I put a limit to it. I didnt throw the ball in the air for him to catch anymore, each time, I roll the ball so he is always on the ground. I am so afraid to hurt him again, poor boy!
I got to talk to someone on our walk in Mitcham Common, her rottie Olivia had a bad accident and nearly didn't survive but Gayna insists she will give him every chance to survive and did her best to make him walk again. It has been three years since the accident and Olivia is looking very fit. She told me about Orthopaedic bed for dog that I could get from Argos but I didn't fancy the one in Argos, it is like an egg cell shape, I can't imagine the dog can get comfortable in a bed with a lot of holes so I started looking up on the Internet and found this ExtraComfort Restore Orthopaedic Memory Foam Dog Bed. I thought it would make a perfect Christmas present for Sing. The bed arrived three weeks before Christmas and I didn't bother to wait that long, I just want him to get better if that helps at all.
Funny thing is, Sing is spoil (well, all mine are spoil!), he loves to sleep on my bed eventhough he has three different beds already! I put the Orthopaedic bed under my office table where he usually sleeps when I work on my computer but Sing didn't fancy it too much. Saturn is the one that loves this bed. Ha!

Sing is not impress with his expensive orthopaedic bed!

... continue Christmas presents

The shelties are very lucky to receive so many pressies ...

this one is from wee Ellie to her handsome brother Sizzle, a soft white quackie duck:
Sizzle just loved it. He had a good play with his quackie duck on Christmas morning before we set off to Brighton to be with our family. He then have another good play with it when we got home. This has becomes his new favourite toy. Sizzle said: Thanks, sis!

... and this is Sizzle enjoyed his Christmas bone from his niece. You can see how much he enjoyed chewing it.

and this one is from daddy:

this is the batteries operated hamster

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas and presents

Eventhough I have been very tired and exhausted this festive season but we have a peaceful Christmas with our family on Christmas Day and received a lot of wonderful presents from friends and family; one of them is this Manners Minder Remote Reward System.

I told Colin that I have lost all ideas/methods to "retrain" Saturn's contacts. He is now a Grade 6 dog and we simply cannot let this contact problem stopping us. I told him about this expensive Manners Minder Remote Reward System which might be able to help us, and guess what? It arrives on the 23rd December! I was so anxious to try this new toy and told him don't bother to wrap it up for Christmas (I probably is the least romantic person in the world!). I have been spending Christmas Eve playing with the new toy indoor. Saturn, Sizzle and Sing just loved it. As I planned to use this to train on the contacts with Saturn, I've got a piece of mat out to teach him (and Sizzle and Sing) to touch and then send him to the machine for the reward. It has been going on well, all boys are very keen.

Then, Christmas Day came and we didn't get time to use the machine at all.

On Boxing Day, we spent all morning clearing up the garden. By this time, the Willow tree has dropped all the leafs, so is about time to give the garden a good clear up. We got a pair of this Leaf Collector for Christmas, it is a brilliant tool to pick up the leafs.

We also washed down the Dog Walk, so it looks new. I've tried to move the DW to the middle of the garden. I know it makes the garden looks smaller and crowded but I couldn't care less, all I want to do this winter is to make sure I can train Saturn's contacts properly and hopefully he will get the idea what he should do in the ring.

I've got the Manners Minder out in the garden to start using it. I show Saturn the machine and he has picked up a few treats from the machine, so everything is ready to go. Unfortunately, this machine got me so frustrated, the remote didn't work every single time, sometimes it work and sometimes it was delay and sometimes it don't work at all. I was really frustrated with it. How can I teach Saturn if the reward is delay? Or the reward nevers arrive when he hit the correct position? At the end, I just gave up on it!

Colin tried to film me with my new toy, please turn down the volume, you don't want to hear my frustration voice:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas everyone!

wishing you all a very Merry Christmas

snow puppies

Here are the snow puppies ...

Cute Sadie in her cute pink coat, she is very lucky to have 8" of snow up in Suffolk to play with but Chris said she probably is the only sheltie that hates snow!

Cheeky Tiggi. I have to keep reminding Sally to bring camera with her when she goes out walking!

Happy Skye, you can read more about her on her blog

little Miss Sipzie, she has plenty of snow in Belgium to play
Now, guess who is missing here? ... Zap!! Hopefully I will get some of his pictures soon.
Merry Christmas from all of us

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

snow and ice

Most of the snow has turned into ice now, walking becomes difficult as the pavement is slippery, luckily my shelties don't pull so I am still safe walking with them on the slippery road unless I slip myself!
One thing I am not happy about is the dogs tends to bleed walking on the icy condition. On Monday, while we were walking in Epping Forest, I saw blood on the snow, I was a little panic, so I checked on every single dog to find Titan's pad was bleeding; this morning, I found more blood on the snow, this time, it was Sing. As we walk further, I found more blood, it was Titan again! I think if this winter is going to be bad like this, I may need to get the dogs some boots!

here are my happy bunch playing in the icy snow:


I spent two days trying to recover from Monday's adventure! We have arranged to meet up with Jolanda, Joost and Skye to go for a nice winter walk in Epping Forest. We left home on Monday morning, the journey to Epping Forest was rather smooth, no traffic and certainly no hold up at all.
Epping Forest was very beautiful, not like the one we used to remember, muddy and wet! We ended up walking for three hours and didn't get lost! WooHoo! Thanks for Joost, he cycles a lot in Epping Forest so we all depend on him to guide us around the beautiful forest. The shelties certainly enjoyed their snowy walk. The snow on the groud was still very thick, so after three hours walk, they still look fairly clean.
Skye loves to chase Samber, and it was funny to watch them played. Samber is not a gentle girl when she plays, she likes to play rough. Now, Skye has grown up, it is ok for her to play rough with her. Skye was very active and agile, following her mama and daddy and uncles around the forest. I was amazed that she didn't show any sign of slowing down, she was running, jumping over the logs ... chasing the dogs ...

a nice family photo

and a gorgeous puppy

I was a bit disappointed with the photos I took at Epping Forest, the lighthing wasn't good for some action shots, most of the photos turned out blur and dark. I tried my best to edit them but they are still not what I was hoping for. Above are a series of photos of Skye chasing her mama.

at least I can take a good still photo ... handsome Sizzle

... and golden Seagull
After the walk, we went over to Jolanda & Joost's house at Woodford Green for a meal. Thank you very much to Joost for cooking us a wonderful meal, Colin and I were really enjoying the good food and luckily we stuff ourselves with the yummy food as the rest of the day was a disaster!
As we were enjoying our meal, I looked out through the window, I saw a lot of big flakes falling down from sky, both Colin and Joost reassured me that is just sleet but after half an hour later, they think the sleet has now become heavy snow! I couldn't relax myself anymore, I know it is rude to leave straight after the meal but I can't think of how I am going to drive home! I started to panic! There were at least 1" of snow on the ground!
We gave the dog a quick toilet trip before we go, the dogs were all covered in snow flakes! I love snow and I wish we were around home and walking the dogs in Mitcham Common instead of East London!
We left Jolanda & Joost's place at 16:45, I can only drive 5mph. If I have a choice, I would not want to drive at all. I have been driving 5mph for miles and miles. The snow was very heavy and I have to pay full attention to the road. The roads were snowy and icy, the car got skidded a few times but I managed to control it everytime it skidded. I was very scared but have to be braved. As soon as I got onto A12, I managed to speed up a bit, 20/25mph but not for long. Just before the Blackwall Tunnel, we were totally stuck in the traffic. The traffic wasn't moving for more than 30 minutes. Colin suggested we pulled over somewhere and luckily we spotted a McDonald's from a distance, we came off from the roundabout and carefully roll the car over to the McDonald's carpark. I was quite relief when we got to the icy McDonald's carpark, well at least I know I won't be driving through the icy road. The skidded condition really frightened me.
We stopped at McDonald's for an hour, the dogs were stressed, they don't understand what was going on and that well pass their dinner time. I normally carry dog treats and some dry food in the car but I recently clear them all out! Doh! Why everytime when you need something, you never seems to get it?
I spoke my brother-in-law Russell when we were at McDonald's carpark, he suggested we leave as early as we can as all the roads are busy and will become icy when the temperature drop, so we left the carpark after talking to him. We drove through Central London, the journey wasn't too bad, we sailed through quite easily until we hit Brixton. We have another deadlock again! We were totally stuck once again in Brixton, the traffic hardly move, at one point, we only moved ONE mile in an hour! I remembered we got to Brixton at about 9pm, at about 10:30pm, we were still in Brixton!
We tried to do a bit of short cut but it wasn't a good idea, mostly the side roads were very icy, so more skidding! Also, Londoners are very bad temper. We were stuck in the traffic, everyone is stressed and frustrated. We all want to get home as soon as we can. While we were stuck in the gridlock, I saw so many drivers lost their temper and nearly got into fight with other drivers! I have to admit I am short temper too but luckily I was chilled all the way home. I don't know why, maybe the snow and maybe the roads need my attention, I was totally concentrate on the road and didn't lost any of my temper.
From Brixton to Streatham was another 1.5 hours (3 miles!), then I found another short cut to take us home. Phew! I was so glad to be home again!! We were in the car for 7 hours! At this rate, we probably in Scotland already!!!
I struggled to get out from the car, my knees were stiff and sore! It took me two days to recover and I do not want to drive at all!!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

where is the 20cm of snow?

Where is the 20cm of snow that the weatherman promised? I was very excited and so much looking forward to it but yesterday morning, we woke up to probabaly a 2cm of snow! What a disappointment! The shelties love the snow, even my doppey and quiet Seagull loves the snow. He was crazy playing in the snow with Samber, the two of them made us laugh!

here is the very well behaved boys and girl sitting pretty for the photo, no problem at all taking this group photo, guess they are now more settled since we came home.

what a handsome boy! butter wouldn't melt expression!

have to inculde this photo of my handsome boy

crazy Seagull, he don't normally run when we go out walking but the snow can't stop him running like a loonie!!

this is a series of photos of Seagull and Samber playing in the snow:

boys playing:

Titan in the garden, you can see snow falling on his black coat

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ...

picture courtesy of Miguel

I've received this beautiful picture of Sipzie from Miguel tonight. They have plenty of snow in Belgium and Sipzie is enjoying the white puffy stuff.
It is beginning to snow here just now, the weatherman said we will have 20cm of snow by tomorrow, we shall see. It would be fun if we do have 20cm of snow, I am so much looking forward to it.
For now, here is Frank Sinarta singing for you ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

walking in the snow

I am still exhausting from our Belgium trip! We were out all day in the freezing cold weather on Sunday, watching some Belgian training in agility and other activities, playing with the puppies ... we managed to rush to Dunkerque to catch the midnight crossing home. We got home about 4am UK time, all I want is my warm comfy bed but I can't neglect my poor dogs, they have been missing me, so I spent another hour to calm them down before I can retired to bed.
We had a good lie-in on Monday before collecting Sizzle. He was very pleased to see us, he can't stop kissing/licking me. It is good to know he missed me, he was spoiled rotten. When we went to pick him up, little Trouble (Sophie's little tri colour sheltie) looked so sad, they were best pal and clever Trouble knew Sizzle is going home.
We then took the dogs for a good long walk. Sing, Seagull, Saturn, Titan and Samber didn't get their walk when we were away. I dare not ask my nephew to take them out as I know they will try to run away from him. My dogs are very much of mummy's boys, so I cannot trust anyone to take them out.
I never thought I will have a problem taking a group photo before but yesterday was a nightmare. Seagull and Titan would not want to sit stay for the photo, they just want to run around and sniff every single bush. It took me more than half an hour to settle these two. The other four were as good as gold, they have been sitting pretty waiting patiently (actually fed-up!). At the end, I have to put Seagull and Titan on the lead to make them sit still for one second!!! Luckily, it didn't take me long to take this photo. Only one snap! Phew!
Today, we have snow. Not a lot that I wish for. We went to the Common for a long walk, it was very pretty in the Common, the Seven Islands Pond was very pretty, very wintery looking, the pond is frozen and Sing has forgotten the accident, he wanted to go into the pond so much and I was petrified, kept calling him off from the pond. Then, Saturn gave me a fright, he saw a group of coots, he ran straight towards the pond and walked on the thin ice and luckily the ice broke before he could go far, Phew!
I was singing "walking in the winter wonderland" all the way ... I wish I brought the camera with us but after yesterday having trouble getting Seagull and Titan to sit for the photo, I decided we just go for a nice walk.

Sizzle needs his Christmas pressie before Christmas! Not good quality photo, taken with my mobile phone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Belgium trip

Merry Christmas from Bruges!

We enjoyed our Belgium trip very much, eventhough it was exhausting but we were so happy to meet Miguel of the Of The Five Colors Sheltiekennel, my sweet little Miss Sipzie and her brothers and sister and some of their owners as well.
We left home on Friday 1:30am to catch the Ferry from Dover to Dunkerque. The Ferry crossing was at 4am, I thought it was the quietest time of the crossing but I was wrong. They were quite a lot of people on board and they were serving English Breakfast at that time!
The crossing was smooth (I was far asleep with my travel sickness pill so I don't really know the crossing was good or bad but I assume it was a good one.) We got to Dunkerque at 7am, their local time and drove straight into Bruges. We arrived at Bruges safely at 8:30am with the helpful Tom Tom that we borrowed from Vanessa.
We checked in at our hotel, the Flanders Hotel so we could park the car. We are not allow to go into our room before 2pm, that gave us a good opportunity to walk around the beautiful Bruges. The last time we went to Bruges must be nearly 7 years ago and it wasn't that cold, we were able to sit outside drinking Belgium beers and ate mussels but this time, it was freezing. We walked around admiring the beautiful scneries and every now and then hop into a coffee shop for some warm nice coffee and the tasty Belgian waffle.

Venice of the North

I like Bruges, it is known as the Venice of the North, the most beautiful cities in Europe! The Squares and Catherals are so beautiful. When we arrived on Friday, the Squares and Christmas markets weren't too busy at all, we can walk freely without knocking anybody. There is an ice skating ring on one of the squares, I was so tempted to go ice skating but when I looked around, there were young agile kids/teenagers whizzing around, I felt so old and embarrassed and decided not to join the kiddies.

this is one of the Chritsmas markets in the Square, behind those wooden halt, that is the ice skating ring

One thing that amazed me was we found too many chocolate shops in one street, many of them are open next to each other. I know Belgium is famous for chocolate but I think it is crazy to have so many chocolate shops in one street. I wanted to buy some chocolates but when I look at them, I really can't decide which one to go to and what to buy, so I come back empty handed and people asked me: Are you sure you've just came back from Belgium?

mouth watering chocolate fondue

I decided to have a white chocolate coated banana.

We were very happy with the Hotel, the service is brilliant and it has a nice size swimming pool, so Colin spent most of the time swimming while I catch up on sleep! We even have a little balcony over look the carpark but it was too cold to sit outside. The breakfast was very nice, Colin and I enjoyed a HUGE breakfast on Saturday morning!

Colin and his little mermaid at Het Zand, Bruges biggest open square

close up, what a happy man he is!

I wanted to go visit the famous Chocolate museum but Colin insisted we take the long walk to the Lake of Love:

I can't see anything special of this other than plenty of Swans!!!

I think Belgian are quite creative as well:

would you like a GIFT house?

one of the many Christmas decorations

more Christmas decoration

love this inflatable snowman sitting in front of the fire

willow tree full of lid up lantern

during our window shopping, we saw these:copper shoes!!!

Golden dog, he reminded me so much of Scout

Now, some puppies news ...

Migeul took the puppies and most of her adult shelties to Bruges to meet up with us on Saturday afternoon. Between us (Miguel, Colin and I), we took the five puppies and two shelties for a walk in Bruges. We forgot how busy it would be on Saturday but it was very good to get the puppies out and social. You can imagine all the attention the puppies get while we walked then around the sqaures and markets.

The puppy wagon. This is one amazing puppies carrier. I want one for Christmas!!!

puppies inside the wagon, that is handsome Ice (Iceman Of The Five Colors) looking up

Ike (Icarus Of The Five Colors) and Sipzie

introducing horse to Sipzie

On Sunday, we travel in Miguel's motorhome to a training school, about an hour away from his house. It is amazing to see some Belgian training their dogs. In the training school, they have their own pub/club house where they sells beers, drinks and food in the warm. They also fenced up a few different areas so people can train their dogs in different aspects. Colin has taken some photos of the training fields/areas but I am not going to include in this post, as it is getting such a long post with all the photos.

All the puppies are well socialised. They have been out and about since they are 3 weeks old. Sipzie and her brothers and sister are not afraid of anything, anyone can handle them. They also met other dogs at the training school and nothing put them off. All the five puppies are great tuggers too, boy! didn't they all have sharp teeth and sharp claws? They like to tug on my fleece sleeve and we have a good game of tug and you guess it. They win and I lost!!

puppies, puppies ...

how can I leave my dear little miss in Belgium!!! Surely this English rules need changing!!

I have to include this photo of Chiqi (ICQ Of The Five Colors), she is the other girl in that litter. She is very cheeky.

these are Miguel's shelties pack, left to right: Visi (England import), Ypra (Sipzie's mum), Jaimy, baby Idgy (England import) and Boyd (England import) and the beautiful bi-blue in front of Ypra is Jaimy's daughter Aily.