Autumn walks in 2018

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We’ve been to a mix of old favourites and further-away places this past few months so I thought I’d do a round-up of some of the walks from September to November. If you’ve read my blog before, you might recognise some of the places.

SunningdaleΒ  We headed south to visit @HeatherAlex’s mum in September, and had some lovely weather.

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Glorious early morning sun at the golf club

It was quite warm, so we also went to Virginia Water a few times.

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I like splashing in the lake when it’s warm…

I got to do quite a lot of splashing on this visit. We met a film director who was trying out his new toy, a 360-degree camera, and he asked if he could film me (ME!!) playing in the water. I negotiated a very high fee (he had to throw lots of sticks for me) and you can see what it looks like here on YouTube. You can hover over the video, grab it and spin it – it’s VERY cool! (if you want to see me, and why wouldn’t you, I’m on at 2’15)

Bar Hill & Croy Hill We’ve been here quite a few times with different folks, but in October we went with Maxy and Eddie (and Clare) to walk round Bar and Croy Hills. There’s a description of the walk here, but sadly the Boathouse had closed just a few days before we went.

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On top of the hill!

The weather wasn’t great but the rain only really kicked in just before we got back to the car – it was so heavy that we got soaked very quickly! @HeatherAlex fell over on the way down the hill – I did my best not to chuckle πŸ˜€

Gartmorn Dam We’ve been to Gartmorn Dam once before, a l-o-o-o-ng time ago, but I don’t think I ever wrote about it. Time to put that right, as we now have some photos from an October trip with my good buddy Finzi.

It’s a beautiful place, and – just for once – it was a beautiful day without a rain cloud in sight!

 

 

Of course, there were lots of paddling opportunities for me and Finzi.

 

 

The people enjoyed it too, I think. I suspect we’ll be going back πŸ™‚

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Mugdock We go quite regularly to Mugdock Country Park, but we don’t often see this feller hanging around…

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A Halloween visitor to Mugdock?

Loch Ard At the weekends, we sometimes head a little further afield, and Loch Ard is one of my favourites – woods and water, what’s not to like?Β  There’s also several sculptures there (you can read about them in one of my Big Walk posts) and it was great to see that the eagle is back on its perch after some time away!

 

 

 

Falls of Clyde The falls aren’t always impressive as lots of the water is used to make electricity, but when we went in November, there was LOTS of water!

 

 

Polkemmet Country ParkΒ  This is a new park for us this year. It’s not very big but it’s handy if I need to have a walk before (or after) heading to our agility training near West Calder.

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Our map for the walk

On our second visit, I had a bit of an adventure. @HeatherAlex was chatting to one of her agility friends so I decided to go explore along the river. She got a bit worried when she couldn’t find me and I didn’t come back when she whistled. What she didn’t know at first was that I had managed to get across the river but wasn’t able to get back. There’s only one bridge and it was a fair way away from where I ended up. I was a bit anxious, I admit, as I wanted to get back and have some treats but the river was scary! Once she spotted me, she ran along her side of the river and called me to follow her down my side of the river, and we were doing very well till I got a bit stuck. I tried standing on a rock, but it was too scary…

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Nope, I can’t get across here… 😦

There was a happy ending, though, as we went back a bit to a slightly easier spot and I rock-hopped almost all the way across. She had to wade in the river to grab my collar and help me make the last jump, so it was a good thing that she had her wellies on!

All in all, a varied set of Autumn walks. Wonder where we’ll be going this winter?

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Out and about at Overtoun

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Every now and then, we try a new place to walk. New sniffs, new paths, new sights to see, and loads of new furries to chase with any luck!

This year, we’ve discovered a place called Overtoun House. We’ve not been in the house, but my goodness they have lots of places outside to walk and explore πŸ™‚

Just one thing to mention if anyone is thinking of going… There’s a bridge (called Overtoun Bridge, how original) by the house which goes over quite a deep wee gorge with a river. It’s nice enough to look at and there are good views from it, BUT… it has a VERY bad reputation for us dogs, because unaccountably quite a few have jumped from the bridge over the years and not all have lived to tell the tale 😦 You can read a bit about that here. Because of that, me and my friend Finzi aren’t let off the lead until we’re over the bridge and into the woods!

We’ve been twice now, once in the summer (July) and then again this month (November), but all of the photos are from our summer visit.

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Our map for the walk

First of all, walk past the house and over that bridge…

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It’s an impressive house…

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…and here’s the deadly bridge!

The bridge looks okay, doesn’t it? But we’re taking no chances, so it’s on the lead for both me and Finzi.

@HeatherAlex had a look over the bridge and it is definitely impressive (not sure what the cannon-like things are for) and it’s a big drop down to the water and rocks. But with all the trees and their leaves, there wasn’t much of a view. You could see a lot more when we went back this month, but she forgot to take a picture 😦

Once over the bridge and onto the path, we were allowed off the lead – yay!

Running free!

If you’ve read my story about our holiday this year, you’ll know I’m not a fan of wooden bridges with gaps where you can see all the way down to the river… Well, there was another one here, so I was a bit cautious…

Uh-oh, it’s one of those bridges….

…but Finzi leads the way, phew

Once over that dratted, slatted bridge (see what I did there??), it was time to explore. I love walks in woods by rivers – they are my very favourite kind of walk.

Ah, wandering by the river…

Me’n’Finzi love a paddle…

Finzi likes to go much deeper than me

…but even he drew the line at paddling in this!

Just to prove that I quite like most bridges…

See, this one is fine πŸ™‚

At the edge of the woods, there was a big gate, and then it was out onto the open ground. To the south, there’s the River Clyde and to the north there are the Lang Craigs.

To the south…

…and to the north

You can probably see that the weather is changing. Up to this point, it had been quite sunny and bright, but some bigger, blacker clouds were moving in. So we decided to have our snack stop before the rain started. We found an interesting bench for our stop. Not sure who (or what) left the footprints…

…but I’m checking for anything they might have left behind πŸ™‚

After the snack stop, things went downhill. And so did we. Because the rain started and it was so heavy that we had to shelter under a tree for a bit until the worst was over. We were VERY wet!

After the rain stopped, we headed on down towards the woods again. On the way, we found an open area with lots of interesting wood and stone sculptures. The first one was a seat. I *hate* it when I’m put on a seat and told to smile for the camera!!

Not looking…

Still not looking…

Oh all right then (wonkily)

Then we had a look at all the other sculptures…

A hollow log makes a great slide…

The stone cone has a hole in it…

I’m not chasing this one!

No idea what this one is!

Then it was back to the house and the car park.

Looking moody…

Despite being soaked, it was a great walk, so this month we went back and did the exact same walk. Only this time we could see more and it didn’t rain πŸ™‚

 

 

Adventures in Ardgartan – May 2018

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What d’you know? This year, we’ve actually had a holiday!

We didn’t go that far away, just an hour or so by car to a Forest Holidays site at Ardgartan. It’s set in a forest (of course!) by Loch Long and it is a beautiful place.

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The Forest Retreat

We went with our good friend, Ally, who’s been on a few holidays with us in the past, and we stayed in one of the cabins there. It was VERY nice…

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Our cabin for 5 days, with enclosed deck…

view from window

…and its own hot tub

The views from the site were lovely. Right by the loch, of course, and set in the Arrochar Alps, a quirky set of knarly hills. One of them is called The Cobbler, because it looks like a cobbler at his last.

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Evening walk with The Cobbler in view

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… and right beside the loch

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It’s fur friendly and I was even allowed in the cafe when it was their Quiz Night. It wasn’t just a place for people and dogs to stay, though. They had a hotel for bugs too!

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Even the bugs have a place to stay πŸ™‚

There was a forest-and-river walk right from the site, and that’s my very very favourite kind of walk, so that’s where me and @HeatherAlex went every day for our morning walk.

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at the river

Time for a refreshing slurp…

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It wasn’t just river and trees and bluebells though. We found some unexpected things there too…

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Someone’s built a shelter (so of course I went in it)

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…but this one was too tiny for me!

There were several ways to go in the woods, some paths went by the river, some were proper roads (with cars sometimes) and one went by the loch. I really liked the walk by the loch, but I did NOT like the bridge we had to cross at the end. It had gaps in it and was high up above the river and I could see through it under my paws! I lay down and even had to be carried a couple of times.

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The very scary bridge…

But I’m happy to say that I crossed it all by myself at a proper walking speed by the end of the week πŸ™‚

The weather was pretty good (dare I say, a bit TOO hot for a black dog like me at times), and we went off on walks every day.

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One day, we were going up The Cobbler path, but the plan was to cut across at a dam, with me paddling in the water if I wanted to, and then come back along the Cowal Way through the trees. But that was a VERY hot day. The path was hot. My paws were hot. I was hot. So I sat on my bottom (that was hot too) and refused to move.

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Sorry, I’m not walking today…

pathway home

…so we headed home to the cabin

Did I mention that the cabin had a hot tub? The people LOVED that (especially Ally, who was very sensible and did not come on that hot hot walk).

I wasn’t allowed in it. Which I didn’t mind (it would have been too hot!). What I minded was that the people had nibbles and fizz while lying in the tub, and I only got thrown an odd crumb or two.

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Dozing while waiting…

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…it was very boring once the nibbles were finished

The next day we went on a longer drive to visit two different forest walks. It was still quite warm but we were in the woods most of the time so it was not nearly as bad and I enjoyed that day a lot.

On the way, we went over a road pass called the “Rest and Be Thankful”.

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@HeatherAlex and her family visited here a long LONG time ago.

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A visit in the 1960s…

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…and in 2018

Our first walk was at Glenbranter. We were hoping to see the falls, but the path was closed as the bridge had been damaged, so we had to shorten this walk a bit.

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A walk in the trees…

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….and by the river

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…with an owl sitting patiently for us

On the way to our next walk, she couldn’t resist a photo of Loch Eck – well, it IS quite beautiful, so I don’t blame her.

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Our last walk of the holiday was at Puck’s Glen. We’d heard that this was a special place from a friend of @HeatherAlex, and he wasn’t wrong – it is very special. And cool – in every sense of the word!

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Another of those bridges…!

ItΒ  had waterfalls around every corner, as far as I could see.

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Lots of places for me to explore…

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This rock had trees growing all over it…

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It was a lovely walk to end our holiday. I think we will probably visit again!

 

 

A walk at the wind “farm”

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Back in April, we went (with our friends Morna & Finzi) to visit our nearest wind farm as there are lots of tracks there to walk on in between the windmills.

Now I have to be honest and say that @HeatherAlex is not a huge fan of so-called wind farms. In fact, she prefers to call them “wind factories” as she says they are more industrial than pastoral (I’m not sure about all these long words so I hope I’ve spelled them properly!). And that they are not always good for wild land or for wild birds, even if they do provide electricity for all sorts of things. So I have decided not to worry about all that*, but just to tell you about our walk instead.

It’s called Whitelee Windfarm and it’s south of Glasgow with views over the Clyde.

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A gen-yoo-ine windmill blade…it’s HUGE!

There are loads and LOADS of windmills everywhere you look…

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There are lots of tracks between them too

These windmills are very tall. And they are very noisy too – I wasn’t expecting that.

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You can see some of the tracks from the highest point, Blackwood Hill:

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And there’s a nice view of Arran too:

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After we’d been for our walk, we went for tea and cake at the cafe. We dogs are allowed in the outside seating area – good job it wasn’t raining (although it was a wee bit chilly, it has to be said).

There’s a picture frame for the windmills there too, which seemed a bit odd:

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Not sure why you need a picture frame??

Overall, it was good to go and explore it, but it wasn’t the best walk we’ve been on. The tracks are quite hard and not great for playing Fetch with my ball. And the ground in between the tracks is very rough and bumpy, and definitely not very suitable for smaller dogs like me to run around in. And when we went up the hill, I had to be on the lead in case I chased after the sheep there. So – all in all – I’m glad I got to see the big windmills (and have some crisps that fell on the ground at the cafe) but I’m not sure I’ll be barking to go back there any time soon. I prefer forests and rivers!

* If you are interested in what people think about wind factories, there’s lots on the internet (for example, from the John Muir Trust which argues for keeping them out of wild land so that it stays wild).

Summer strolls in 2017

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Time to catch up on some of my walks this past few months. I keep meaning to write about them as soon as I get home, but I usually end up zzzz’ing on the bed!

We’ve not been away for a proper holiday this year. Now that we’ve got Poggle, we’ve been to more agility shows with her and heading off again seems like a bit too much hard work. Maybe in the off-season…

But of course we have still been going for walks, visiting our local parks and some favourite spots. So here are some moments from the last few months.

We were at Mugdock recently and discovered that there’s a new village or two being built there. One of them is right by the castle…

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Not quite finished yet…

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Still needs a roof…

And there were some more going to be built, it seems…

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Bits for building

Seems it is all to do with building a set for a film about Robert the Bruce, including two villages and stables and stuff. It’s quite exciting to see it being built, even if they have closed off some of our paths. (They were not supposed to close them so we’ve written to the council about that, but so far they haven’t replied!)

Sad news from Pollok Park though. Some vandals set fire to the Pollok Beech and it has been very badly damaged. The park rangers aren’t sure that they will be able to save it 😦 I’d like to bite the ankles of those stupid vandals! #grrrrrr

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The remains of the Pollok Beech 😦

We go to Pollok several times a week, and we did (amazingly) have the occasional sunny day πŸ™‚

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Phew, it’s hot work chasing my ball!

I go for walks with my pals Murphy (round the corner) and Finzi (round a different corner). Me ‘n’ Murphy mostly go to Pollok Park cos he really really doesn’t like being driven in a car. He makes a LOT of noise! But Finzi doesn’t mind the car so we go to further away places, like the Loch Ard forest.

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There are a lots of steps on that hill!

In September, we took Poggle down south to visit @HeatherAlex’s family, partly because we needed to stay at a campsite for her sister’s Big Birthday (I’m not allowed to say how old she is, but it rhymes with “mixty” πŸ˜‰ )

One small snag with driving a motorhome is finding places where you can take her. Lots of our usual walking spots in Berkshire & Surrey have height restrictions at the parking entrances and so we couldn’t go there 😦  But I’m happy to say that The Lookout near Bracknell takes coaches so we fitted nicely in the coach parking area! The Lookout is set in Swinley Forest which is part of the Crown Estate.

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Poggle at the Lookout

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Walking the forest tracks

Our morning walks were on the nearby golf course and we didn’t have to drive there, which is nice. There are squirrels and deer there but no ducks, sadly.

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That deer needed to be chased, right?

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No ducks to bark at 😦

At the weekend, we headed a bit north for the birthday dinner and we stayed at a nice campsite, the Fir Tree Caravan Site near Banbury. They have a big field for walking us dogs and you can also head out into bigger walks, but we were only there one night so I didn’t get much chance to explore.

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Lovely evening – Poggle is the small grey blob behind the lake…

And – coming up to date – last week me ‘n’ Finzi headed over Stirling way to climb Lewis Hill at North Third reservoir. We had a lovely walk – I love walking through woods, and there’s a great view from the top of the hill. We were lucky to get there before the rain set in. Which it did. Very heavily!

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Shame you have to have rain to have a rainbow!

We did get very wet! But then it all cleared up and the sun came out, and we all dried off nicely.

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We were up there!

Well, we were drying off till us dogs decided to go for a paddle (me) and a swim (Finzi). Still, it was a lovely walk and we both slept all the way home!

That’s it for just now, hopefully I’ll persuade my typist to do a few more posts soon.

UPDATE: We went back to Mugdock today and the Castle Village is definitely taking shape:

Mind you, not all of them have back walls, just the front! And over the hill, there are more huts now:

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More huts and an enclosure…

UPDATE 2:

They’ve been busy at the Castle Village in Mugdock – filming starts soon!

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Agility with Poggle

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All last year, when we went to agility shows, we went for day trips. Most shows were at least an hour’s drive away. So that meant getting up REALLY early because the first classes are often around 8.15 or 8.30 and @HeatherAlex has to go walk the course before I get to run around it, and of course I have to have a toilet break before my run (cos if you “eliminate” – how posh – in the ring, you are eliminated from the class!).

This year, she decided that we would camp. I was thinking maybe a tent? I know she has one because she used to camp a lot when she was bagging the Munros. But I also wondered if she was a bit past that now, cos that was a long time ago! Turns out I was right. We have a tent on wheels!

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She’s called Poggle, and I’ve told you a bit about her before. Now we use Poggle to go to agility shows, and we can go a bit further afield now that we go on the Friday before the show starts (they’re mostly Saturdays and Sundays).

We never used to pay attention to the camping area, as we were always in day parking. It turns out that LOTS of people camp at agility shows. Way more than I realised.

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Look at all those people camping! This is at Scone in Perth.

We soon learned that you need more than a tent-on-wheels – you also need a garden πŸ™‚ Where else can I be let out to play or for my late night pee?? Ours is very nice and solid (that’s so I will bark less often at passing dogs – and there are LOTS of passing dogs – it doesn’t always work, mind you!).

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Poggle complete with garden πŸ™‚

It was very funny watching @HeatherAlex put it up for the first time at a show. She’d practiced in the garden, except our garden was too small for it so she gave up. Then she practiced with a friend who has the same fencing (and a larger garden). It all seemed straightforward, even if it did take a bit of time. There are lots of nails to hammer in and loopy bits to hold the fence on the posts.

But… at our first show with it, there was a bit of a breeze. And that was a different story completely. We had to get all four of the neighbour’s family to help hold it in place while the nails and loopy bits were sorted out. It was definitely time for BOL (Barking Out Loud) – the humans were laughing too! Good job it wasn’t raining…

We’ve got better at it now, I’m pleased to say. I say “we” because I am, of course, the supervisor while @HeatherAlex does the manual labour. At our last show, she put it up all by herself, even with a breeze πŸ™‚

I have to admit, I wasn’t too sure about what I’d think about Poggle and agility. I definitely don’t miss those early starts, especially as we sometimes had to do that twice in the one weekend. I have my own special seat with my old familiar car seat cover, fleece and seat belt harness. I’m allowed on the other seats and the bed when the fleece is there.

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We even have paw-printed vet bed as a carpet!

On the other hand, I really don’t like that nasty sparky gas thing used for cooking and I bark at that a lot. She’s started giving me treats to stop me barking – so now I bark for a bit and then stop to get the treats πŸ™‚

On the whole, you could say I’ve sort of got used to her, I think. There’s talk of us going for a longer trip in the autumn, so we will see how that works out and then I can report back!

 

 

Me’n’agility

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I can see I haven’t really written much about my agility adventures (I blame the typist) so by way of a catch-up…

We started going to training classes for fun and, I hear, to tire me out (nae chance!) in 2013. I really enjoyed it, even if I did get VERY dirty (it was in a horse arena full of dust and stuff).

The next year, we went to aΒ beginners’ class at a club (Gleniffer) which was outdoors so not as dirty (although the midges were vicious!). After that, we graduated to the intermediate class and then we were invited to join the club πŸ™‚

In 2015, we carried on training but @HeatherAlex was very nervous about actually entering competitions until finally I put my paw down and told her we needed to give it a go. So we entered one Kennel Club show and one fun show – we were pretty rubbish but it was good fun!

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At my one and only KC competition in 2015

Fnally, last year in 2016, we decided we’d give it a proper go and entered quite a few Kennel Club shows.

For those not familiar with agility, there are different organisations that run shows here in the UK but we’re registered with the Kennel Club (KC). I had to have a proper “KC name” so we came up with one that it turns out is quite hard to shout out at prizegivings (yep, we have won a few prizes). It’s “Clan Glengarry Twiglet”. Looks innocent enough, but try saying it quickly πŸ˜‰

To make things a bit fairer, you only compete against dogs who are roughly your size. I had to be measured and I’m a “Small” – most of us terriers are Smalls with a few Mediums. Whereas, for example, cocker spaniels seem to be mostly Mediums with a few Smalls.

At the moment, there are 7 grades in KC. Being new to agility, we started in Grade 1, aka “Elementary”. Experienced handlers have to start higher up the grading scheme to give newbies like us a fair chance! To move up a grade, you have to win an agility class or several jumping classes, which I started to do, but there’s a catch – it has to be a clear round (no knocked-over poles or mistakes in the weave or anything) and it has to be in the time that the judge has set as the course time. It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, as you can use another system on points for the lower grades, but we liked the “winning up” method! I did win a few rosettes but, for a while, I never quite managed to avoid having faults of one kind or another.

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My very first win – with faults – at Avon’s winter show

So it took us a while to move up to Grade 2, which is called “Starters”, though I do not know why since you don’t start there! The nice thing was, we won up to Grade 2 at our club’s summer show πŸ™‚

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Winning up to Grade 2 at Gleniffer’s summer show

When you win up, you don’t start competing at your new grade for 25 days – no idea why, but them’s the rules (which are here for anyone who is interested). It was a funny thing, but once we’d won up to Grade 2, I then had a stonking season and won up to each new grade at the first show we went to after the 25-day wait.

In case that sounds like I am boasting, I should add that for dogs competing at Small (and to an extent at Medium), it is WAY easier to move up the grades than it is for Large dogs. There are so many more Large dogs in classes – loads of Border Collies at every show. My classes might have anything from 4 dogs (yes, really) to 35 or 40 or so, where a Large class might have 180 or more! So there’s a lot more competition for the Large dogs to beat.

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Winning up to Grade 3 at Ayrshire show

By the end of the year, I’d won up to Grade 5. I was VERY proud of myself for that, even if it is easier for Smalls. I’d won lots of crystal glasses (no use to me) and even more trophies (no use to me either), but at one show I won loads of tuggy toys, so for once all the Christmas presents to the family dogs were actually from ME πŸ™‚

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All of my 2016 rosettes πŸ™‚

It really was a fab year, 2016, as it turned out I also won the Scottish Agility League class for Small dogs that started the year at Grade 1. And my club voted me the Best Small Dog of 2016 #proudears

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Scottish Agility League Small Grade 1 – the champ!

So that was my first proper year in agility… My next story will be about how much harder it has been in 2017, cos Grade 5 turned out to be a whole ‘nother ball game!

 

 

 

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