Sunday, 15 November 2015

Dogs, bicycles and smiles

Been a long time since I have blogged but it's not from a lack of material but rather a shift in my focus. With this in mind: as of January (or December) I am changing the theme images of this blog to include all my adventures. This will allow for dog posts, bush posts, photography adventures and more!

The last few weeks have had some good dog adventures! Firstly: a few weeks ago KD and I had a good and proper fight. He was not happy that I was walking and tried to stop me by walking slowly in front of me, sitting in front of me when I slowed down and running to the park gate when we came close to it. I was so irritated with him but it turned out that I should have listened to him. I had kidney stones and only felt the pain a day or so later. The weekend of my stones we had club competition at dog school and because I was flat, I only took Hayley. Big mistake - she was stubborn and didn't want to work!! Moral of the story: listen to your dog. They are wise.

Before that, I seemed to have had a rough patch with Hayley. Poor baby went down with hemorrhagic gastro and it was spotted by a friend at the park who saw she had a runny tummy. I rushed her to the vet who examined her and said I was fortunate to catch it so early. 12hrs later and I would have a furkid in hospital. She was given medication and a strict diet of chicken and rice. Poor KD was visibly stressed at her being ill and he even let her sleep in our bed. He would not leave her alone. This bug is not contagious but is insanely scary and I got insanely worried about her - she could hardly eat, clung to me more than normal and had no energy to even want a walk. She had just gotten over it and I took her to the park and I think that is where she caught normal gastro because within days of recovery, she was down with normal gastro!! Another week of sleeping in the bed and special diet and she pulled through. What I learnt out of those 2 weeks: watch your dogs when they do their business. It can tell you a lot about their health! And: pick up after them.

Fast forward past all the not to fun bits and the dogs settled and life moved on. A few weeks ago we had a fun day at dog school which involved an agility competition, tunneling competitions and obedience competitions. KD did all 3 and Hayley did just tunnels and obedience.

Agility was a different type to our norm and definitely not one set up for a human who needs a calculator!! We basically had an open course but the trick was we had to score 57 points. Each type of obstacle had a different number of points (eg hurdles = 1; a-frame = 3) and you had to work a course to get up to the 57 points. Just as we were about to start, there was a loud bang which upset KD. This had him bolt towards the car and unsettled him for the rest of the run despite my best efforts to calm him by ignoring the fact that there had been a sound. He ended up coming second in the small dog agility. Pretty impressive!!

The next event we signed up for was Tunnels. K did his first run and did pretty well but kept overshooting the tunnels because he kept misreading me - I was at the end of the tunnel as he was entering. He did around 34 seconds which I thought was ok. I then entered Hayley for the fun of it. Um... Ja. Madam decided the tunnels made for good shade and stopped towards the end of most of the tunnels for a break. Hayley is definitely NOT an agility or tunneling dog!!  I entered KD for a second run and he was a gem. He took nearly 5 seconds off his first run!!!!! He knew the order and ran to each tunnel in order and I am sure if we had done a third run, he may have taken more time off but... Off to obedience we went! (K ended up getting second in small dog tunnels - proud mommy!!!)

My normally great dog was not great in the ring. He was tired and grumpy and wanted out of the ring. This resulted in me reading him as such and faulterinf badly as a handler! Add to the fact that he hates playing fetch and we had a really bad first shot at an obedience competition. (The judge even told me after I ran Hayley that I should leave KD to agility as he is clearly not an obedience dog!!) Then came Hayley's turn and WOW!! She rocked it. She was at my side looking at me during heel work, she did a fetch (although she did try head for shade when she had her ball instead of return to me). Aside from the fetch issue and her mistaking wait for a stay, she impressed me and I was sure she had done well but sadly she had major handler issues and lost tones of points because of what I did. She has definitely improved over the last year and has shown herself to be my obedience dog whereas KD is my agility dog. 

Each dog seems to have their strength and its up to me in the new year to work on their strengths and help them enjoy the type of work they prefer. 

It's odd but recently I looked up at my wall of achievements and realized that although my cycling achievements were great for a short while, I missed out on possibly great times in other aspects of my life such as with KD. Learning curve out of that: keep balance. Don't focus on one aspect like work or cycling. Enjoy your life as a whole. 

A week after that was our silver canine good citizen test. The KUSA Canine Good Citizen program is aimed at encouraging dogs with good manners in the home and community and to encourage and stress responsible dog ownership. (For more info, please go to this link: I honestly did not think either of my dogs were ready and because I had been so busy, I had hardly trained. The big day came and my brother was on hand to assist with handling my dogs (my mom, aunt and uncle and sister-in-law also came but I think they got really bored). The first exercise was the "stay" and Hayley surprised me!! She went into a down and was rock solid!!! K on the other hand was not a happy camper and would not listen and I had to tether him. The other exercises went well and K was actually a bright spark with his road work! He walked calmly, sat at each turn and was a little ace. The recall exercise was another interesting one for us. K was not going to leave my side!! Hayley did her usual "lemme think about this" gimmick and stayed bum to the ground until she decided it was time and then she did a goofy jump and sprinted to me.

Next year we start in a new class at school. It's really sad to leave the class we have been in because both dogs have progressed so well and we have made good friends in our class. But: Hayley was a bright spark and as a result of her bringing her toy back to me, we now move up to the clever dog class. This is the first time we areovong up a class from her merit - normally we move thanks to KD. I am proud of how she has done in the last year and I know that it was only possible as a result of the time and effort I have put in with both dogs. 

If you want a well behaved dog: spend as much time as possible in training and bonding as you can!!

My life has not all been dog though. I am back on the bike. I had been running but due to some warnings about the impact on knees, I decided to rather refocus back to cycling. I have had a stop start come back and had to settle on a goal ride. I had set the Jock ride as my goal as its a bucket list item but then a good friend told me about another race. After much debate, I have settled on this mtb stage race which I will tell about once I have my entry. I will tell you that it's a great one!! This last week has been great for my energy levels and for my training although I have a long way to go before I am ready for my big ride. One thing I can promise is this: I am focussing on enjoyment and not on racing. 

The end of the year is now here and as work gets busy with one of my busiest seasons, I also find its time to reflect on the year that has past and look forward to a few days off in a few weeks time. It was a busy and extremely stressful year but was a good one. I have gained some good friends and had many memorable experiences. Stay safe all and have a great December.