Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Where did the Time Go?

OK, so it's been quite some time.   Let's see how many words I can sum up the last few months in without it becoming too boring.  First there was nothing but rain, rain and more rain.  Agility training became almost non-existant for a few weeks and walking and running around for the kelpies was a bit minimal too, much to their disgust.   We spent quite a few weekends driving to Bendigo, around an hour or so north, on Sundays where it actually wasn't raining so much and the dogs could have a good walk around the lake without getting wet, poor precious Atilla.  Do I have the only working dog in the world who doosn't  like wet feet ?   (The jam donut van parked there on weekends was a bit of an attraction too, OK I admit it!  I'm not a donut fan in general but I do like a good hot jam one, anyway, I digress and get boring again.)
When will this rain ever end ?  What if the driveway floods and we can't go to agility trainng or Mum can't get out to go to work - yay !

Our yard was wet, slippery and muddy after all the rain.  Atilla wasn't  too keen on this and prefered to stay on the grassy strip near the fence where he could watch the sheep without getting dirty.

And after the rain finally stopped, he still hadn't moved.

Cruz, on the other hand, seemed to delight in the mud and the dirtier he got the happier he seemed to be about it.  50 shades of brown was a pretty apt description.

Mmmmmm - tastes good !
Cruz's favourite Winter area of the yard .......

But now all that rain is a distant memory and we are really hanging out for it to come back.  Summer hasn't been here that long and we've already had to buy one load of water.  When the dogs run around the yard together it's hard to see them for the dust.  My agility area is hard and dry and I'm not keen on doing too much jumping on it at the moment - especially with Atilla. 
At least I have clean dogs again.

Agility has finished up for the season.  Atilla had a great year with quite a number of Masters Q's and a handful of placings to boot.  After Portland, I made the decision to retire him from Masters runs.  He's still going around fine but I can see that he isn't quite as fast as he used to be - not that I care about that, but I would really like to be able to bring him out for a run every now and then and I think that  pushing him over 24 obstacles on tight, twisty courses will bring about the end of his career much quicker.  So I will still enter him in Open and Games occasionally but for Masters it's all over. 

I felt happy at the time that I was making the decision and in control, rather than have the decision forced on me, but I wasn't prepared for how emotional I actually felt on that last run .... and there were tears afterwards which surprised me.    Mainly because I can't believe how quickly it all seemed to be over.  I remember his first trial. and how I felt lining up and even little details like what I was wearing and the judges comments at the end after he blitzed the course and it really doesn't seem that long ago - and now all of a sudden I'm semi retiring him.  My lovely consistent boy who has given so much on agility courses and feels so comfortable to run and has defintely been my heart dog for the whole of this agility journey ...... what a basket case I will be when I have to stop running him entirely, this is bad enough.

Cruz has missed out on a lot of trialling last year - hopefully I can rectify that situation this year, especially now that I have made the decision to cut back with Atilla.  Cruz always seems so happy just coming out for a run with me or a walk or even a drive and doesn't go and stand at the gate to the agility area like Atilla and Ivy do, so when time is tight for training (and it has been a lot lately) he is the one who always misses out.  In fact I have hardly trained him at all over the last 12 months and it is surprising that he does as well as he does - use it or lose it is very true as he now has no start line or running A Frame contact whatsoever. Shameful on my part.  I have started working start line stays with him again and there does seem to be some distant memory in that fuzzy little brain so once I am happier with those, we will revisit his A Frame performance.  Because he sometimes tends to stress in a trial situation I have let him pretty much do whatever he wants over the past year - not a good move that's for sure.  And if I am honest about it, he really isn't any more stressed by me leading out a couple of jumps at a trial compared to running off the start line with him, I know it makes a difference to some dogs but I don't think it does to him.  So he's going to have to suck it up and put his big boy pants on and do things my way a bit more now - or at least reach a compromise with me anyway.  Taking off when he feels like it and using A Frames as diving boards just won't cut it any more.

My highlight of the past few months ?  Finally getting that little caravan that we have been thinking about for a bit - more country trials here we come.  We 'christened' it at Warrnambool and it slept 2 people and 3 dogs just fine.

Atilla's highlight of the past few months ?  Getting a bit of active service when the neighbour's sheep escaped and headed over to the next street - he enjoyed helping to bring them back a great deal.

Cruz's highlight of the past few months ?  The whole '50 shades of brown' period really did it for him.  Having a whole bed to himself in the caravan while the rest of us squashed onto the double bed would probably come close too.   Running very fast around the yard in big circles (in an obsessive Cruz kinda way) and stealing bones from the BC rank closely behind that.  So let's see if we can move agility a little bit higher up his obsession ladder this year.  Challenge on !

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