I need to post more often …

We have been quiet recently and that is always a sign that there are struggles. The reason for starting this blog was to allow an outlet and a safe way to express my thoughts and feelings so I need to use it more and not be afraid of backlash, others’ opinions or appearing stupid/like a bad dog owner. I know it helps me to write things down so I need to continue to do so.

So the big news at the moment? We have enlisted the help of a behaviourist. Not because we have a particularly troublesome dog currently but because we could end up with a troublesome dog and we are trying to be responsible and do everything to help him be as well rounded as possible.

I have kind of been avoiding talking to people about it as I am afraid of judgement and I am also struggling with some of the things we are trying to do with him and the changes it will mean in our lives. I will do a separate post on this in the coming days as I do need to put my feelings down about the situation.

There are lots of positives though, one of which is that Kubo and Soda seem to be becoming quite attached to each other. It started with Soda taking a liking to Kubo’s bed and just hanging out in there. When it came to actual bed time, Kubo would get in with him and Soda would still not move. He had to be forcibly removed!

Soda joins Kubo in his bed
‘Mum, what’s this doing here?’

This has now evolved into Kubo trying to snuggle up with Soda when he is on a mat or lying on the floor. I’m not sure the cat is 100% impressed but he puts up with it. It’s been kind of cute seeing Kubo take a chew and finding Soda just to lay near him and eat. He hasn’t become as enamoured with Cally yet but they put up with each other more and more and she has begum to start head-butting him. He also gives her a lick now and then but it’s hard to see her appreciating his big slobbery tongue!

Kubo is also still really enjoying Flyball and I am actually enjoying going too.  The only thing I am worried about is that so far I have always attended with Dave but if I go this week, I will need to take Kubo on my own. As an anxious person this scares me a little. Everyone seems to have struck up good friendships (granted most people have obviously known each other for ages!) and I do sometimes struggle to interact until I know people. But to get to know people I have to interact … what a catch 22! The other scary part for me is the driving in and out of the venue. For obvious reasons, I can’t take a dog in the 2-seater on such a long journey but I have witnessed Dave struggle to get the van in and out of the gates  – it only just fits! I am a confident driver but knowing me, I will panic, misjudge and end up scraping the van. It really is a tight fit and I do find it challenging to judge that vehicle anyway. I would then certainly be in the bad books and out of pocket. I could probably message and ask them to open the second gate but it has never been open before and I don’t want to cause problems and be that difficult person who can’t drive her own vehicle. Equally I don’t want Kubo to suffer and not go to training …

I am being a total worrier at the moment!!

He also really enjoys agility which we haven’t managed to get to for the last 2 weeks (bank holiday and misc commitment) but we will definitely be back next week.

Agility first jump
And we’re off!

I am starting to get the hang of it a bit more however I still struggle to automatically know my left and right with quick instruction while trying to direct Kubo to the correct jump. I also seem to forget the ability to count when I am in the middle of the ring looking for the number of where to go next! I’m sure it will come with practise, though.

This week we will be taking a long drive to go camping in Cornwall. Kubo came with us last year when he was very young but it will be his first time camping since so we are hoping for the best!

I am trying really hard to stop being such a worrier and I will post again very soon with our experience of seeing a behaviourist and everything that comes with it!

Arianna x

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Flyball Session No. 2 and Flyball Help!

OK, so actually last night we did Flyball session no. 3 at a different club again however I have not posted about our second experience so I thought I would …

I was sad after our first Flyball experience that Kubo couldn’t make the training again for at least a month so we found another local group and went along to one of their training sessions.

We had a completely different experience to the first group we were in. First and foremost, the training was outside. This was quite nice as it was a pleasant morning, though I could imagine that in the cold and wet it wouldn’t be as great! Since I suffer with Raynaud’s, I can really struggle in cold, outdoor situations. This club had been running for a shorter time so had less people (although I understand it just happened to be a quiet week anyway) and only one run set up. We were the first to arrive which was really nice as I had some time to chat to the Captain. She had a van and as we pulled up in the car (we weren’t in our big yellow van this time!) we were greeted with lots of barking – this seems to be becoming the norm! She had a lot of dogs with her, from memory about sixteen – and to think I still struggle to live with one – but they did all wait in the vehicle.

border collie in t5 transporter
Kubo likes the driver’s seat

The people were equally as nice and potentially because the group was smaller, or maybe just because it was a new group so the members hadn’t been there too long, I found it easier to talk to people. It may have even been, I suppose, that I had already been to a Flyball session before, so I was not a totally ignorant newbie!

Rather than the runs being on mats, the jumps were set out over grass with fencing around to keep the starters on track. I really thought Kubo wouldn’t like this at first but he had no issue at all. As we had done at the previous class, we practised Kubo running back to me (but without me running alongside) and he was perfectly happy to do so. He still hates being held though, apparently!

Very soon we moved on to me letting him go to get the ball and coming back to me which he did really well. We started one jump away and then moved back bit by bit. Each time he stayed pretty focussed (apart from once when he went tearing off out of the fence to find his Dad!) and always dropped the ball for me. Admittedly, I did remember his tuggy rope and he loved the play reward since he was so psyched up from the fun he was having. I did struggle to get him to let go of the tug a few times, which is actually unusual for him.

When we had a break, he was allowed to socialise a bit which was really nice for him and something we didn’t really get a chance to do before. Since we were in a large field, we could stand near enough to the run for us to be able to watch but without Kubo disturbing the training dogs. We did put him in the car a couple of times so I could watch a bit closer and Dave learnt how to load the box. It was nice for him to get some hands on experience and to be able to understand a bit more about what was going on, especially as I always handle Kubo and he tends to have to watch. Although it probably sounds really stupid, I didn’t know how the box worked and it was nice to see the ‘real’ Flyball dogs in action!

border collie laying in grass

On Kubo’s next turn, he had to work quite a bit harder. The box was involved. We had established that he was left pawed which sounds about right; he often put his left foot forward first. I’m pretty sure I have heard somewhere that male cats tend to be left pawed and female ones right? I could be totally wrong and I don’t know if this even applies to dogs, but it may do. We learnt to teach him box turns (I think that’s what it’s called) and he is slowly starting to get it.

Now, after joining another Flyball training session, I have even more questions than before. If anyone can help, please do:

  1. What does competing entail? Do I pay? Are there prizes? I have looked around but it all seems so unclear to me!
  2. Why are there two Flyball clubs in the UK? Is one better? Should I join both?
  3. Can I train with more than one group? If not, how do I choose?
  4. Can I compete with more than one team? If not, how do I choose?
  5. Do I have to keep my dog in a crate/car when not running?
  6. What is a good speed?
  7. What happens if a dog knocks a jump?
  8. Are competitions done on mats or other surface?
  9. Should I teach my dog to turn both ways?
  10. Where can I get a decent fleece tug? I have looked online but I can’t tell the quality.

There are so many other things I am unsure or nervous of! I know I could ask one of the Captains but I don’t feel I can ask them about joining multiple clubs. What if that’s a big no-no taboo and super rude? – I don’t want to offend anyone straightaway! Or maybe it’s perfectly fine to train with different groups and lots of people do it.

At the end of the session, once we had all helped pack up, all the dogs in the van were let loose and it was so much fun watching border collies, lurchers and other breeds tearing across the field and playing together. Kubo was put in his place by a male who continuously tried to hump him and so keep seeking help and hiding by any human he could. I must admit, I really don’t like it when other dogs do this to him but I suppose there’s nothing really that can be done. This was the point we felt it was probably time to leave and save him the embarrassment!

dog birthday cake

Happy Birthday, Kubo!

Yesterday was Kubo’s first birthday and like any member of the family, he was a little spoiled on his day …

I’m pretty sure he had a wonderful time with long visits to the park with both me and Dave and agility in the evening. We had a cake from Twinky’s Pet Bakery which he adored – it was quite funny watching him trying to figure out how to eat cake though! He did lots of licking it before finally getting his teeth involved. We didn’t go mad with toys as he has so many already but a new Frisbee and ball was part of his stash.

Although he was clearly in no way impressed by it, I also commissioned local artist Queen of h’Arts who painting a gorgeous portrait of both Kubo and the cats. Do check her out on Facebook and Instagram – I highly recommend her and she does work internationally.

So many happy returns to our troublesome monster and we are looking forward to all the fun and adventures the next year is sure to hold! Including a road trip to France with him … what could possibly go wrong …

PS: visit my discounts page for some deals and freebies on Twinky’s Pet Bakery

border collie portrait
Clearly excited by this gift!