Tag - flyball - Dog Handling

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Wednesday, August 7 2013

CLUB CORNER - A Personal Story

Testimony of a Journey

Hi, my name is Hilary Quemby and I am relatively new to sharing my life with dogs (commonly known as dog ownership).

Jess came into my life 5 years ago. Blue Heelers are amazing dogs. So intelligent that they learn what you want very quickly but this also means that they soon work out how to push the boundaries and they find sneaky ways to get their own way. Jess has always been and still is a challenge for me. Blue heelers are a breed that nip and if she gets over excited she will give me a play nip. I know what she is doing but I do not trust her around small children who may be frightened by this behaviour. Dog sports have been great in helping me work out what to do about this and other blue heeler issues.

Having mentioned one major challenge with a blue heeler - there are many lovely benefits too. Jess is fiercely loyal to me and very loving. I love sharing my life with her and I get the feeling she feels the same about me. I also love sharing my life with Jay, my heading dog.

Jay came into my life when she was one and a half years old - very scared and traumatized, nervous and very hyper. Desperate to please but too scared to get close. A sneeze would scare her into a cowering wreck behind the sofa. She had been a farm dog who didn’t quite make it. She had spent the last 6 months on her own with nothing to do and nothing to play with. Her life changed dramatically when she came to live with me, both our lives were enriched immensely.

So I found myself with 2 working breed dogs and a small back yard. If we were going to live in harmony I was going to have to find things for them to do and learn. Exercising them every day is imperative, but these dogs (dare I suggest all dogs) need more than just exercise. They need to think and feel they are doing a useful task and being a valued member of the pack.

This is where ‘dogs play’ came in and saved the day for me.

To get my dogs to do stuff I knew we all needed to understand obedience rules. But I wasn’t sure learning to order my dogs around in a controlled manner was what I was looking for, it sounded like boring school to me.  I wanted to have fun.

Agility and Flygility proved to be the answer for me. And guess what - we learnt the rules too but had fun doing it.

Training Jay has and continues to be virtually opposite to training with Jess. Jess is laid back, confident and likes to think about what is being asked of her and get it right. Jay is massively over nervous/hyper and rushes around wildly barking “Am I doing it right? Am I? What’s next? Hurry up Mum” - often getting things wrong but enjoying trying to work with me and enjoying going very, very fast. One dog needs slowing down the other needs speeding up. Raewyn’s experience means that she can adapt the training to all types of dogs AND people. Often I find it is me that needs the training first so I can then learn to understand and work with my dogs.

There have been times when I have been frustrated and times when I have been elated, but all the time I have been building a stronger and stronger bond with my dogs.

They are no longer dogs in my eyes. Training has brought them so much closer than that. We are friends. They are fur children. Yes, I have to remember I am the pack leader and enforce that. But over all  - the more time we spend together, the more we learn to work together the better it feels.

The other major benefit I have enjoyed is the growing companionship with other people training their dogs at the club. This is so wonderful especially at show times when we all band together to support and help each other.

So if you have a dog and you think you may like to offer your dog and yourself a bit more challenge, an opportunity to grow and bond and have fun.....why not come along and test it out?

Each week is different so give it a good few weeks to see if it is right for you. Raewyn is a wonderful teacher with so much knowledge, experience and patience. She offers it all to us virtually for free. The class prices are beyond reasonable. Whatever you decide I am wishing you happiness with you and your fur friend. Hilary___Jay__640x480_.jpg

All the best, Hilary

Thursday, March 7 2013

The end of Summer Flyball tonight.

Since daylight savings kicked in at the beginning of October and with the exception of two weeks over Christmas New Year, we have had Summer Flyball on Thursday nights from 6p.m till 8p.m. We started with a raw bunch of 16 dogs and retained 12 for the whole season. Those who had done Flygility formed the Senior division and all the rest were Juniors.

We set out to teach the dogs to race against each other. The gear is minimal four fly hurdles in each lane, one box at the appropriate end. No catch nets not centre cloth. Why did I choose to do this. Well I watch dogs being unable to regroup back to the flyhurdle when they muff the ball at Flygility and I figured that if a dog knocks the ball all over town they need a good opportunity to get back on track. This has worked well with all the dogs orientating back over the first fly hurdle very well. Without a centre cloth the dogs had to learn that there was a dog running just over there and get on with it. Most of them have got that idea going as well. We started out running the lanes 20 meters apart and now we are back to about 8or 9 meters.

Flyball is actually faster than Flygility even when you put the bends it so it has given our good competitive dogs fitness and speed by keeping it simple. We can put the weaves in and sometimes the tunnel and make it complex, but no Agility hurdles are in Flyball. We can run teams with Flyball and we can do single lane work when the numbers are low because it rained or it is just one of those weeks where everybody is very busy.

One of the great upshots of this regular eventing is how good everyone gets at box loading, timing runs, starting and judging and keeping the results board up to date. At the start of the season everyone was shy but now everyone just pitches in which is just terrific.

But what actually made the nights was the sausage sizzle. The whole flyball night is a fundraiser for the Club and succeeds in raising about $800 per summer season (this is our third). We light up the barbie at about 5.30, cook the sausages and onions and put them in a casserole dish on the back burner and everyone comes along and helps themselves to bread sauce onions and sausage. It helps us to get through that 6 till 8 p.m. bracket where everyone is a little bit peckish. Sometimes someone brings biscuits. Like tonight, chocky ones as a treat.

The outstanding dogs, who win or score well take home another one of those purple ribbons. Purple ribbon rewards will be handed out at the AGM in early April. We have all won a few over the season for one reason or another. It is a great fun night and the dogs have progressed hugely from the start of the season. We are very lucky to have dogs of a high calibre in this group as it makes the juniors push for higher standards of training. Judy Casey and Tui are a joy to have at the top of the class as they are also ranked 2nd in NZ for Nala Flygility. But Chris Hutchings Boston and my Chan don't let Tui get away with much. One of the challenges is the 100% catch rate from the ball box. 10 out of 10 balls gives you a nice reduction in your overall times for the night, so everyone tries to get 100% Judy and Chris have risen to the challenge and the some of the juniors such as Maddy and Bella are knocking on the door with regular 70 and 80%. Janina's J and Poppy are both capable of 95 to 100%. My point is that the ball catch is the difference between winning a round and losing a round.

All in all it has been an outstanding season and we will now concentrate on bringing all these happy Flyballers up to NALA Flygility standard over the winter. They are all up for the challenge.

My heart felt thanks to Chris Hutchings for taking over the barbecue and buying the goodies. It is extremely hard to do this kind of fund raising on one's own. It has been a team effort this year and I am truly grateful for that. Bring on the next summer flyball, I have dreamt up some new challenges for the next season. Thank you to all who participated..


Wednesday, February 20 2013

Moving the Dog Club

For the last four years we have had a dog training club running from the Rail Park in Ngongotaha. For many and various reasons the Rail Trust and the District Council did not like us being there. When we first moved there we had 19 dogs and about 14 handlers. Now we have close to 40 handlers and about 50 dogs in various stages of development and playing various games. This growth caused huge anst to the Rotorua District Council because we did not have Resource Consent to train dogs in the middle of the Ngongotaha Township. Either in panic or out of some form of pique the Rail Trust decided to rip up the Memorandum of Understanding they had with us, while claiming we owned back 'rent' and did not pay for 'events' that they thought we were holding. Basically I think they were worried about us being there without Resource Consent. There was nothing in the Rail Trust Consent to allow Dog Training so it may not have been in their best interests that we were there.

Every month without fail we paid the Rail Trust the contents of our 'koha' box. We asked every person coming onto the grounds for training to make a gift to our money box and this was paid to the Rail Trust. We never paid 'rent' as such as we understood their lease to the crown specifically disallowed subletting by the Trust. So anyway we needed to find a new home. I came up with several ideas most of which fell short of reality. For example, the Rotorua District Council had no intention of letting a dog training outfit set up on any of their many rural and suburban reserves. So it was a matter of finding private land again, that the Club could afford.

The Stock Car Club at Paradise Valley was one of my suggestions. On first look this does not seem like a very exciting venue, however, they have allowed us to park our Shipping Container of gear in a prominent corner, we have water at a tap - right there. They are happy to help up get power back on to our container so we can make a cuppa and heat the soup in winter and turn the light on on dull days, but best of all they want to help us get a night flood light so that we can do evening training through the winter months. This is just awesome. What is good about the stock car grounds is that it is mostly a huge parking lot in grass and dirt. We couldn't hurt it if we tried. Everyone can drive right to the ringside to train their dogs. They can work their dogs out of their cars. The dogs are comfie, we are comfie as we can sit in our cars to take five and eat our lunch or whatever. Wonderful. The toilets are more than adequate. Tonight the 20th February 2013 we had our first training night for Agility at the new grounds. It was absolutely spectacular. The scenery is just gorgeous, the peace and quiet are superb, the space is just massive. Training was fantastic, what else can I say. It looks like we have a great future ahead of us at this venue. It isn't cheap for a small group. $250 per month, so we have to beef up our funding arrangements. We have made the Koha from the old venue into a compulsory $2 green fee payable once a week. If you train twice a week it is just $2. So far our calculations are holding up and we will make the grade with this. The big issue is wet days no training days, so we have to have a couple of fundraiser things every month just to help us feel secure. We will continue with Flyball which makes about $25 per week after expenses and we may hold a raffle or two each month. Just little things that make $50 here and $50 there.. When we needed money at the start of the Club 7 years ago, we used to cater brilliant morning teas and charge $2 for a cuppa and whatever yummy morning tea things were brought in by Club members. This was very popular so we might need to re-institute some of these things.

As the Club Trainer I am very relieved that we have found a home. The biggest thanks goes to Christine Hutchings who has moved and shaken this whole fiasco. She has applied herself to the limit. Her committment to the Club is just the greatest. She sets a brilliant example and if the new Committee get on board Chris' enthusiasm then we will truly have a Club that is going places. The Resource Consent from the District Council was not the easiest to obtain and it cost us something short of $900. Which truly is a lot of money for a small club to pay for the right to train dogs at a country venue where the land owners and the neighbours had agreed that we were suitable tenants. We did wonder what the District Council had on its mind, charging this kind of money to a community organisation, in particular an organisation that takes responsibility for training some of the district's difficult dogs and acts as a support group for all dog owners in the Rotorua District whether they are members or not. In particular we have had a number of 'hard to train' rehomes from the Rotorua District Council Pound. But to Chris for her perseverence in the face of a quite negative set of circumstances, I can but say thank you again from the bottom of my heart. If she had not done the hard yards to get us moved, I doubt the Club would have survived.

So here's to the future of Dog Sports Rotorua. A truly alternative style dog training organisation without ties to the NZ Kennel Club, with a place for every dog and assistance for all dog owners. It is Flyball night tomorrow night. The first one at the new venue. I just can't wait. It truly excites me to be the games organisor for Dog Sports. See you all there...


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