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!

autocruise accent van

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.

campsite

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!).

van and windbreak

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.

Twig on the bed

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!

 

 

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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!

2015-08-29 09.10.05

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.

rosette & trophy

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™‚

results sheet

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.

rosette & trophy

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™‚

rosette hanger

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

rosette & trophy

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!