Monday, December 28, 2015

Gift of Love

I was going to let Beckett and Keltic write their Christmas post but after I made the video I decided it would be done by me.

 For the last few years every time I decorate my tree I think of my Mum and Dad. The song by Rita MacNeil, Gift of Love makes me think of Christmases past and all that they did for us kids. The song sometimes bring tears to my eyes. My Mum and Dad didn't have loads of money but Christmas was always special.  There were always plenty of presents, candy and lots of good food. I don't know where my mother found the time to do the baking she did, I find it hard to make just a couple of things. I'm sure there were many late nights getting ready for Christmas day.

Our tree was always special, Dad would bring it in and get the lights put on it. Then we all helped to decorate it. Some of the ornaments from when we were children are still being used by my sisters. I have some ornaments that my parents gave to me on my tree and I now have some that I gave to them as well. The two stained glass birds that you will see in the video; the cardinal says "To Dad with Love" and the chickadee says "To a Special Mom".  When we were young, the last thing to be put on the tree was tinsel; it made the tree just glisten with the lights.

My Dad is gone now and my Mum lives in a nursing home, sadly she's slipping away from us too. But as it says in the song they will always be a candle in my life.

Christmas, for me,  is still special though, because of those memories from childhood but even now having family and friends to make new memories with helps keep it a special holiday. I hope your Christmas was special and that the New Year will be happy and prosperous.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Do You Hear What I hear?

Beckett and Keltic think they might have heard something on the roof. It's a little early yet but it won't be long now. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Last Trial of 2015

On the weekend of 5 and 6 Dec, we went to our last agility trial of 2015.  I hoped that we would end on a good note and the boys didn't let me down. Beckett went three for four and in his first run a Masters Standard, he only had five faults. Our second run was a Steeplechase, our favourite since there are no refusals. Beckett went clean and it was his 35th Steeplechase Q. We're closing in on Expert Silver; for that title you need 50 qualifying scores. Next up was a Masters Snooker, you might remember Beckett took and off-course jump in our last Snooker before we had enough points to Q. This time he made me work for our Q. I had planned to do obstacle 7 three times. We got through it twice and then Beckett knocked a bar on 7A; I knew to get enough points we now had to try to do all four reds. So we headed for the back red (the one not marked with a 1) and then the teeter, then the last red jump and obstacle 3. We then started the close, the buzzer for time went after the we had just finished the teeter, the judge's whistle would have gone as soon as we tried 7A anyway. I wasn't sure we had enough points so I had to go add them up, we did.

Masters Snooker

Our last run was very late, I almost thought about going home, I had Keltic entered in the first event the next morning and it's over an hour's drive but we stayed and I was glad I did. Beckett got another Q, he was only one of two dogs to Q this Master Standard.  It wasn't pretty but we'll take it. I had to front cross Beckett after he came out of the chute to get him to the back side of the jump, then another front cross to get on the correct side and then another front cross to make the weave entry better for him. There's probably some fancy international move I could have done rather than 3, rather late, front crosses but it worked. The rest of the run was sweet.  The Q gives Beckett 19 Master Standard Q's. He needs 6 more for his Expert Silver Standard and for his Silver Award of Merit.

Masters Standard
We got home rather late. I fed the dogs, got everything ready for the next morning, had peanut-butter on toast for supper and went to bed. Keltic's first event was at 8:30 am so we had to get up early to drive back down to the trial venue so we were up early. Keltic's first event was an Advanced Standard, he wouldn't weave and unfortunately the judge had two sets of six weaves so we spent a lot of time just trying to do those two obstacles. We had the most faults of all the dogs in the class. This club now has do-over runs for the Standard events. The runs don't count for Q's but for $5, you can go in and run the course again with toys and clickers so I went in again with Keltic. He still had a hard time with the weaves but was much better. Keltic's next run was an Advanced Gamblers, we had a very nice opening, Keltic got 37 points without even doing a mini gamble. The Gamble was a tunnel, then a jump set up like a serpentine, out to another jump (as the distance obstacle, then wrap back to the first jump. Keltic did the first two obstacles nicely but then wouldn't go to the distance jump; in the end he did though and we finished the main gamble, well over time but he did it!

Advanced Snooker
 Our last run was an Advanced Snooker. I planned an ambitious course so that we wouldn't have to do the weaves. We did red, then teeter, red then obstacle 6, another red then obstacle 6 and then the last red and obstacle 6 again before cutting across to start the close with the tire, obstacle 2. With this opening we only had to get through the first three obstacles of the close to get our Q. We got through the opening just fine except that twice Keltic went by obstacle 6C so I had to put him over it and wrap back (combination obstacles are usually multi-directional in the opening).  Keltic came across to the tire without jumping on me or grabbing at my pant legs and we started the close, a tire and two tunnels were all that we needed; Keltic nailed them. The buzzer hadn't gone when we finished obstacle 4 so I gave the weaves another shot, again Keltic missed the entry. We know what we're working on this winter. The judges whistle went and we ran for the finish line to stop the time.  A Q for Keltic, his third Advanced Snooker Q so now he moves to Masters in that event. Keltic has yet to run a Masters event but since now he's qualified to run Masters in two events he may just get that chance in 2016.

So it was a wonderful way to finish 2015, four Q's. Even the weather couldn't have been better, with no snow and sunny skies, we  played Frisbee outside and Keltic got to run and socialize with other Shelties. Beckett just wants the Frisbee. We got home at a decent time, I fed the dogs, showered and went to my sister's home for dinner; that's always nice not to have to cook. And I got my first Christmas gift, some trees for my Christmas Village.

Already looking forward to the 2016 agility year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Sudden Loss

Before it's old news I wanted to write a blog post about a loss that our agility community suffered this past week. I didn't really know him so I don't have any details but this week Adrian Rooyakkers passed away suddenly.
For those of you that follow my blog, you've seen me write posts about the Canada Cup. The Canada Cup is hosted by Adrian and his family at their kennel in Ariss, Ontario. Royakkers Kennel is an agility heaven; large open space, a pond, outdoor ring, an indoor ring with artificial turf, just a wonderful place to go and compete. For me, the Canada Cup is likely as close to an international competition as I will ever see. The courses are always challenging and fast. 

Adrian was also a great agility handler and trainer. When he ran his dogs he looked as if he was running in slow motion, he never had to race his dog but always seemed to be in the right position. He was a World team member for both the AAC and CKC World teams. I'm not sure that the link will work but it is for a video where Adrian directed his dog around the course with verbals alone. The videographer called them the Lazy Handler videos, there are about 4 that they made just to show it wasn't just dumb luck.

I'm not sure there will be a Canada Cup next summer now. I had made the decision not to go as you have to jump your regular jump height and I have put both Beckett and Keltic down to 10". But now if there is another Canada Cup, we'll go and give it all we have in way of  honour to a great agility handler and sportsman.

The last link is to Beckett's Grand Prix finals run from this year's Canada Cup with Adrian as the judge.