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Friday, December 7 2012

Diary of the last few days

Well I haven't been very active in my blog over the last week due to a number of funny things. First I decided to get my Christmas Newsletter out and to do that,apart from writing it, I had to take pics of my dogs in Christmas Decorations and it rained for three days. I did manage to get some super pics of Fae on a colourful background which now appear on Facebook in my photo album which is fun, but the other dogs wouldn't sit inside. Finally I got a break in the weather on Thursday and rushed out into the garden, dressed up the dogs and got some shots, which also appear in my facebook album and chose one for my Newsletter.

So I then made tracks to Rose's place to complete the newsletter and drop in the photo. Now I might be pretty good at telling a tale or writing training stuff or writing reports, and I am better than average with a camera, I can train dogs as well, but my knowledge of computer stuff is next to zero. My friend Rose Johnston runs my website and facebook and puts everything to rights and organises my newsletter so I only have to push 'send'. Hey I am better than I was but I am still marginal when it comes to the whole sophisticated package. Over the last seven months the business of making my website work has been Rose's genius. Thank you so much Rose.

Of course I wouldn't have a website at all if it wasn't for Sandy Nasonte of Cox Web and design. She too is an absolute genius, and I think on occasions they both look at me as though I am from another planet. But hey I am an outside kinda girl, I love the hands on animal stuff and I try hard with the rest of it.

Anyway, while I was at Rose's place on Thursday doing the newsletter, there was a huge thunderstorm, lightening, sleet, wind rain in sheets for about an hour and a half. I had my dogs in the car parked outside Rose's gate and it was so wet I just had to leave them there. Becki-boo is a thunder freak and I knew she would be going nuts. Chan is a sensible boy and would probably be all right and Fae is scared of nothing. Finally the storm abated and I cancelled the evenings Flyball Competition on my cellphone to everyone as it was pretty obvious that the rain was going to linger. I was concerned for my Mother so I went into town and checked her out. She was fine. So I headed home.

As I was approaching Hamurana I noticed that there were a lot of funny looking trees with bits missing and there were huge amounts of branches and foliage on the roads and roadsides. It looked worse here than it did in town. I turned down into the Hamurana stretch of road that leads to home and a little way along was a small dog in the middle of the road. So I had to stop. Becki-boo was still panting and stressing in my truck so I thought the little thing had probably run from somewhere in the thunder. I set off with the little maltese something fluffy cross and started knocking on doors and finally found where he had come from.

His owners hadn't noticed he had gone because they had come home to the devastation of their back yard. They had a meter of water in the entire back yard, their fences were gone . and their trees were down. They had obviously been hit hard by something. So I set off to home with some trepidation. As I turned into Ward Road everything looked okay. There was a lot of foliage on the road, I looked across the road and could see that one of the superlarge poplars in Tetenbergs place had lost its top and most of it was on the road. I could hear chainsaws so I knew plenty of people had a big cleanup on their hands. All my animals and birds seemed to be all right . Some large chunks of my ornamental Japanese Maple, which is probably about 40 years old, were broken off and lying about. Our large Acacia in a central paddock has split in two and come down. Good firewood, it had a bit of a lean on it anyway, but all our fruit trees were okay. We had no power and that stayed off for about five hours. Dinner was a barbie anyway so no worries there. I plugged in my old Telecom phone and was able to reach people and tell them we were okay. As by now it was on the news that Hamurana had been hit by a Tornedo. I went out and settled my animals and noticed I was short of my two week old ducklings. Well they have obviously gone for good. No sign dead or alive. Don't know what became of them. Eight little bundles of fluff and two mothers. Bother. If I had been home I would have picked them up because they could not have withstood the power of that storm, but their mothers knew where the shelter was and how to get them there, so I am just puzzled. All 32 of the bigger ducklings were fine, no losses. All the tiny chickens and their mothers found shelter and were fine. The goats were a bit unnerved, but a bit of molasses on their hay and they were very happy. JoJo my mother goat and my yearling goat Camilla are due to kid very soon but they have not had any ill effects. The Donkey is fine. The Cow and her two calves was in the paddock where the tree fell down and they were having a lovely time munching on the tree foliage and the cows milk give was up on normal.

Our poor neighbours did not fare as well. The Elley's across the road have a fabulous garden which, only last week, had two busloads of garden tours, and it has been very hard hit. The Tetenbergs lost 8 trees including their mature walnut tree which was completely uprooted. Others up our street have their large oaks and maples shattered and lying across their driveways. Telephone lines were taken down by flying branches and all sorts of hutches and lean-to's ended up in funny places.

So just on Christmas we all hope that the storm thing is over and that we don't have to put up with any more drama on that front.

So that was my week. Hardly any dog training, lots of rain and I lost some of my precious babies. To put my life in perspective, the Phillipines were hit with a Tornedo on the same day and many thousands of people are lost and homeless, my heart goes out to them as the ongoing lives of those left behind will reflect the damage done on that single day, for ever. In New Zealand, further North three people lost their lives on a building site when the huge concrete slabs they were working adjacent to, were blown over onto them and many have lost their homes to the Tornedo there as well.

Can the world have just a little peace to reflect on the values of Christmas - please. S

Saturday, December 1 2012

Diary of the last two weeks

Oh dear the last two weeks have been a blur. First my computer has been down quite a bit doing funny things and not able to get to anywhere. Don't know if someone sent me something funny that caused it but anyway I disconnected everything and when I reconnected it is just fine. Whew.

The 16th of November was the first anniversary of the death of Piper my Pai. She was just twelve months old having been born on 1-11-10 and died on 16-11-11. She was run over by a truck on the road. Pai was the beginning of my wanting to help people train dogs. She had been at the SPCA rescue for a while. When she was taken in to the SPCA as a rescue from an appalling home, she became very sick and the people at the SPCA couldn't figure it out so they took her to a very expensive vet and he put her on a drip and told them she had meningitis. She had a long and slow recovery and there was something wrong with her brain. She had trouble making out what was happening around her and panicked quite a lot. I looked at her in the cage with three other puppies all bundles of fun and mischief, climbing over her and clambering to get out of the cage. She on the other hand huddled in a corner wetting herself and hoping the person coming into the cage wasn't someone coming to hurt her again. I couldn't bear it. I took her home as a foster from the SPCA initially. She was six months old, German Shepherd Kelpie. Not a mix I would normally find attractive, but she loved me and I loved her. Her eyes were just beautiful and she would lie in my arms and stare at me while I cuddled her.

However when things went wrong she ran under the hedge and at one point was there for three days. She had some sort of seizures and she did not like people one bit. She was terrified of everyone. My dogs loved her though. Chan the Sharpei cross in particular really adored her and he missed her badly when she died.

It was an odd and pathetic relationship with a dog who was unable to operate in any way normally. She was scared to piddle and poo and would store it until she could store it no longer and then it would come out in a stream of both from which she would run away and hide again under the hedge. My carpet has never been the same and I look fondly at the stains and go 'Oh Pai'.

While I had Pai a little Terrier that I liked belonging to Amy Knopers became pregnant. I jokingly said '"It is just as well I have Pai as I would like one of her pups" this was especially as the sire was a Border Terrier and I have always had a fondness for that breed, tough though they are. "Sorry Raewyn" Gus Knopers said "they are all spoken for" . I knew that Amy wanted one of the pups as her special dog, the others were to go and be trained as Kiwi Trackers and Rodent control for people working in Native Bird Recovery Programs around NZ. Well bless her heart, Spirit the Mother Dog had five baby girls. One more than they had homes for.

They were born on 1-11-11. Isn't that a magical date, and by the time I heard about the Pups, Pai had been run over. Weird I thought. Gus told me to get over and have a look at the pups, so I did and I chose a little flat coated pup, some of them had real wire coats. Her mother was Spirit so I wanted to call her Fairy Fae, or just Fae. She stood out to me in the brood box at three weeks as a really gorgeous little pup. Faerie being the Gaelic spelling of Fairy, and Border Terriers coming from the Scots border, I thought it was appropriate. On Christmas Eve last year Gus and Heddy and Amy and Kirsten delivered my perfect little terrier to me at home. It was my best Christmas ever, following as it did on the heels of the death of my precious baby Pai. For the past 20 years I have had rescue pups as my pets and workers and as Agility and Flygility dogs. All of them had been past their baby stages by the time I got them, and here was a real 7 and a half week old baby.

To me the whole episode was magical. Pai would never have been able to live a normal life, so I think she left me to give me Fae who is a delightful intelligent and wonderful little dog who lives on the paddocks and in the chicken and duck runs killing rats as fast as she can. Unfortunately she really likes chicken food, pellets, corn, bread, cafe leftovers, you name it she likes it. She actually takes bread out of the ducks beaks without hurting them. So she became Fae the Fat Fairy and she is still rather plump at twelve months old, a complete character and coming along beautifully with Agility and Flygility, loves all dogs, loves all people and works her little socks off with a smile on her face.

So over this last month I have reflected on my loss of Pai and stood on the roadside with the tears rolling down my face, and cuddled my twelve month old Fae, keeping her on a leash at all times after the fright I got twelve months ago. We have celebrated the first birthday of Fae and I write the blog Fae the Fat Fairy which entertains me and a lot of other people too. All the characters in the blog are real animals that we live with or know.

The Knoper family sent Fae a Birthday card and Fae sees her sister Bree almost every week at Agility Training. The dog thing has kind of taken over my life so I am going to lie back and be guided from above on it. I called my new business, Good Dog Training Te Kuri Pai. Kuri being Maori for Dog and Pai being Maori for Good. I have been blessed this last twelve months with a whole new regime of dog training as my job in life, behavior training rather than just training people to do Flygility or Agility. My guiding spirit Pai is there with me all the way making sure I understand the pain and difficulty that dogs have trying to live in a world filled with human beings and their daft lifestyles.

I think I am back on track now, I took my dogs to Eastern Bay of Plenty Agility Ribbon Trial last Sunday and Becki-boo who has not competed for five years and is seven years old now, came second in Starters small dogs. Last time she came 7th but that was overall without splits for the heights. Fae is too young to compete yet and it will be hysterical when she does as her legs are short and sort of shoot out sideways as she goes, but she is fast as and a happy little thing. So I am going to Cambridge Ribbon trial next week to see if I can actually beat the Schnauzer that beat Boo by 100th of a second - Yes. Not that I am competitive or anything,,,,,,


Tuesday, November 20 2012

Entertaining at Old Folks Home with Dogs

IMG_0504.jpgYesterday five people with six mini dogs went to Glenbrae Residential Care to put on a show for the residents there. It was quite a lot of work to get ready and rehearse the show for a couple of weeks so that we wouldn't look completely unprepared.

Some of our dogs in this group called 'Mini Magic' are quite old and have had a lot of experience in shows and others of us are just starting to train our pups to work at shows and tournaments.

I always talk a lot about 'new places' when we train. Whatever the dog does at home, or at it's usual training club, it may decide not to do when it is in a new place. There is a degree of emotional overload that happens and the dog gets stage fright, if you like. It forgets what it should know and bumbles around.

When you want your dog to perform at a new place, you need to get there well before time and let the dog have a good sniff of the place and maybe mark it with a piddle or something even worse. However it is better that it does this before the attempt at performance than during the performance. I also preach a thing called 'control' which is a set of exercises that allow the dog to know that the next thing that happens will be perhaps 'the Agility game'. In other words it is a preceeding piece of action that motivates the dog to continue into the next act comfortably.

So I got there early with Fae, let her sniff, tied her up did some control, probably not enough as I needed to set up the gear. Some dogs get crazy when they are overloaded, but Fae gets very slow and very quiet when she is unsure. So I learnt more about her. She actually did some hurdles and things in the agility, didn't want to do her ballet, wore her costume without complaint, did the flygility portion of the performance to her best ability and loved the race game. I wasn't unhappy with her performance as a 12 month old pup going into a funny new place. Her work with the elderly was exemplary, she put a gentle foot on many knees and reached up so that people could pat her. One old lady, said 'oh you dear little thing'. So I think she made her mark. However she did discover that all the flower pots had slug bait in them and tried desperately to get to it to eat the little blue lollies, so that was a bit disturbing. However, she is still alive and kicking so the little she did get obviously did no harm.

Our oldest dog at the performance was Bridie at nearly 11 years. She suffered from 'new place' quite a lot. She was good with her personal visits to each resident, didn't want to do her agility, did most of the flygility and loved the Racegame. Bridie didn't look as happy as she could have but she tried really hard. Bailey the foxterrier dressed as a clown also did her best. She thought there was probably food to be had somewhere so she checked that out, but she did all the exercises fairly well. Again it was the Agility portion of the show that she didn't like much and really didn't achieve.

Bootz the Shitzu-Poodle is a socially experienced 6 year old. I thought that Bootz was the most assured of the group, he worked as though he meant it. He wasn't distracted and he seriously put his best paw forward. Bootz won the Racegame portion of the entertainment and that was because of his relaxed non stressed demeanour. He was inspirational. The two German Spitz Coco and Zulu are just babies. Coco could have barked more than she did so I thought she handled it quite well. Coco was in the final of the Racegame but wanted to take Bootz out in the other lane, so Bootz, who kept on going was the winner. But Coco was very funny and very entertaining. Zulu is only 5 months old and he is just darling. He had a yap or two when his sister Coco yapped but he was just there to be cuddled by the residents and to show that he was beautiful and he did. I thought that Zulu was the dog that next best handled the pressure.

Anyway as a first gig it was great, it was colourful and it was entertaining. It only took half an hour but we figure that that was almost enough for most of the residents. We could do with two more dogs in the troupe that would fill it out to 45 minutes with the racegame draw. All the dogs did racegame best so we need to grow that, All the dogs enjoyed the Flygility section so we need to work on that a bit more. The trouble is the limited space which makes it hard to get the five meters from flybox to first fly hurdle which somewhat confused the dogs and their return runs were a bit messy, so we need to do some short work to get them going on this, and they all found the small tunnel unfamiliar and difficult so we have to work on that as well. The tricks portion of the entertainment was lacking, so we need to build up our tricks a lot.

We have not set out to be 'the perfect performing dogs' we set out to be colourful, fun, entertaining and use dogs that can be handled and touched by the residents. I think we are close to achieving this and we will have a look at our video and see if we can use it to market our Mini Magic a bit. We made a $20 koha for the club, better than nothing I guess, lets hope some of our other gigs are a little more generous...


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