Thursday, 1 January 2015

Finishing on a high.....and starting on a high...

Zev and Christine - Olympia Medium KC Stakes 2014
After our Autumn break in October, where we switched off from the agility and had some R&R, the plan was to ease back into training in November. However Zev, suffered his first ever attack of pancreatitis. The dramatic quickness of how fast his health deteriorated was scary. Thankfully swift veterinary intervention, modern medicine plus Zev's and mine determination he recovered, with just one small set back. In short, I have learnt caring skills I have never needed previously. It was a real shock to the system. In a year of having to say goodbye to our beloved Nuts it was a massive downer.
But as always we focus on looking forward.
Marc & the guys and gals - Christmas 2014

 In December I got a phone call, from the organizer of the KC Agility at Olympia - Medium Day,  Zev and I were one of the handlers being called up. I knew he was fit enough as I had worked to maintained that.  Our original qualifying run was paw-perfect, however as agility goes despite this, we were just outside the places, which is the way it can go. We were the only Sheltie in in the Olympia medium event. As always we just have to go out and run our best and as the sporting expression goes "It ain't over 'til it's over" by Yogi Berra
At Olympia on the Medium day we achieved a 5th in the jumping and a 4th in the agility. In many ways I felt like I had won, with Zev just being Zev, his recovery, the fact that he had only returned to agility just two weeks before, his enthusiasm, his and mine's performance, how we handled the whole event. 
I remained composed and calm even with running first in the evening final, I worked every obstacle and maintained handler focus. Sure there is one turn I felt that could have been improved but heck at the beginning of November I did not know what the future held for Zev far less to have the joy of running him again. To run him in front of such a great crowd  I was on a high and Zev had a brilliant time too. A friend said we will always be an excitable team the difference is I am learning to control it and channel it more consistently. A wise friend indeed and very true.

As always for Christmas and New Year we have lighted candles and remembered the loved ones no longer by our side to celebrate many good memories and the fact that we were fortunate enough to have had them with us for part of our journey, however briefly that has been.

That said we finished 2014 on a here's to looking forward to 2015 and making the plans, ambitions and dreams for that year and beyond a reality. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

All or nothing......

Marc and Bigs - EOs 2014
It has been a year of highs and lows and it has not even finished yet. The EO and FCI worlds with Agility Team GB came and went in a blur. The cramming it all in approach to life has possibly reached saturation point in the Wingate-Wynne household, it has been manic in a good way. The hardest part was and continues to be the lost of Nuts from our lives. In the darkest hours I find myself waking up to feel sometimes the wet tears that have fallen in sleep, time as always moves on. life goes on but in a weirdest way it also feels that it is dragging and a bit remote.

3rd Ticket Win - Aug 14 - Christine & Zev

The high of achieving Zev's Agility Champion Title. The Agility Net - Champions Listing really brings it home how hard it is to achieve this agility dream of the championship title. 

Little Bear is challenged in size both vertically and horizontally, compact he certainly is. So far he has been slowly entered into the competitive agility world and has had two wins at KC and one at UKA in jumping classes. Each time he has rewarded me with great attention and determination. I have now started to teach him the a-frame this week and hopefully at some point he will make his full agility debut. He endears himself to many and for me his determination and attitude, and how he is for me just as ‘sweet as pie’ with a brilliantly cute cheeky element means he has it all.

Bear & Christine - Sept 14
Wings and Raz have aged as you would start to be expect as the approach their 12 birthday, things are more difficult for Raz with his sight loss, but we continue to try and do our best. Wings grows sweeter each year and is it amazing to think the behavioral problems she had when we took her on and how we turned that around. It was looking back both foolhardy I guess and a leap of faith. Ultimately it worked and she has had many happy and contented years.  It is all that you can do. Marc with Bigs, picked up 3 reserve CC's, qualified crufts singles and team, and with Dixie also achieved a reserved, so so many successes all round.

With Mr Britannia at FCI 2014 

Agility Team GB was challenging, tough and good. A real mixture of emotions and a helpful influence on some factors we had been working on, At a time when many people may be easing up in their lives we are heading in the opposite direction and ‘ramping’ it up.

One of the Italian Agility Team at the EO’s had a brilliant slogan – ‘all or nothing’, that is certainly inspirational and that is how we feel now it is all or nothing…..

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Agility Dreams.....Agility Champion OBay Tiz Wild

Its peculiar you know, in my last post on the 4th August, I talked of agility dreams and goals, of making them real and pushing for more. At KCI, the premier show of the agility summer season, we had two off courses, a beautiful run in the Olympia semis, that unfortunately was not quick enough against other competitors and in the British Open, we again had a beautiful run but Zev, uncharacteristically had a pole down. In competition this is incredibly rare. 

I was wondering when all the improvements I had made to our fitness, technical skills and team work was gonna start to pay off. I focused on my processes despite the season being really in many respects our worse season ever on paper, In my heart and even my rational mind, I know we have improved and I needed to stick to the journey I had set us on. It would have been all to easy to quit and go back to tried and tested methods and not stick to the new processes I was working on.

I needed a boost very much. The process of working towards Zev's agility title had become harder than I though it would be. I was beginning to doubt myself, even with the prestige of being on Agility Team GB. Too many times there was 'if only' scenarios this year, the competition has gotten tougher and I wondered would all our improvements would ever be enough?

The day of the Welsh Kennel Club Championship Agility Test arrived. I focused on my mental game, kept reminding myself of my processes that I was working on and how to handle the courses for both me and Zev. We were clear in the agility and jumping qualifying rounds. Our placements meant that we would run the final run - last but one. I gave up running my dearest Bear to concentrate on Zev, as their runs were too close together. I need to be fully focused on Zev. On to the start line I knew I needed the run of our life and told myself to concentrate on the processes. Another clear it was an excellent run but would it be good enough???? There is so many factors to this and to my total jubilation we won. This  was this was our 3rd Ticket win aka Challenge Certificate, an agility dream come true. Zev would now have the title of Agility Champion.

Marc has put together the following 2 mini movies made with imovie. The first is a celebration trailer and the second movie shows our runs.

The first time I watched tears welled up and I thought of so many things such as that my beloved Nuts was not around to see this happen, that me and Zev had done it, how lucky was I that Bernadette and Dennis Bay had entrusted me with one of their precious sheltie puppies.  How lucky am I that my resilience 'kicked in' and I kept on going and working at the processes and Team GB pointed me in that direction...

Sometimes Agility Dreams Do Come True..........

Monday, 4 August 2014

The European Open - Agility...its hot, hot, hot....

Christine & Marc W-Ws and Zev and Mister Big
The European Open - Agility - Taszar,  Hungary

What a trip - epic coach journey and then the heat and sunshine, hot, hot and hot running in 30 degrees.  

The courses were fabulous, tough, clever and unforgiving. For me they felt gladiatorial in a  very good way, and even though I got Zev e'd they were e's that I did not feel ashamed of. As our performance has improved, so has Europe and it is catch up all over again. 

Marc and Mister Big made the final and how my heart soars watching this tiny poodle run. I also luv the expression from the judges, indicating their thoughts of technical performance, empathy and sympathy depending how the course is run, it is really excellent and sporting. The jumps and poles were Smart-99 and they are so clever in design and demand that the dog jumps very cleanly, adding an additional technical skill factor, making the agility even more exciting. so many things to enjoy and reminded why agility as a sport is so darn great. Someone made this real nice video as a celebration :)

Marc and Mister Big in Action - EO 2014

The winners fantastic performances from both the handlers and dogs. The courses were inspiring to watch and they are so exhilarating to run.  Course design and judging is a tough role, and lucky for agility sport, there are people with such a talent for this.

There is no doubt we all miss Nuts like mad, at times we are all a little lost. The focus on this event has helped deal with this as much as one can. Returning home without out him to greet us, toughsville :(

There is randomness of thoughts and focus for me, developing and improving our training for both parts of the partnership. Striving for dreams and goals, making them real and pushing for more. 

The new management team for Agility Team GB, are really bringing the sport performance aspects and a strong foundation has been set to build upon.

Now to prepare for the FCI Agility World Championships only 6 weeks away.....

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

In grief how do we deal with the lost....

Christine and her guys - Winter 2012
This is a an indulgent post, but I did not know how to write a 'normal' life post so soon. My thoughts are on grief, usually a topic to be avoided, it is at the very least uncomfortable and difficult.

In grief how do we deal with the lost?...As unique as our relationships are, our ways of processing grief are too..  For me I knew if I stopped doing stuff I would not start again.  I had to carry on and get out as the truth was I hated home without Nuts, but also wanted to be there as he luv'd the garden so. For others solace heals, but for me at that point I needed to be out and about distracted with 'busyness'. A classic and stereotypical response.

At Arley Hall with my guys 2010
Burial and cremation, I always thought I had that sorted in my mind with what I was comfortable with for my guys at the wretched time.  For them to be cremated, to scatter their ashes on their favorite walk and plant a special plant in their memory.  Cry a lot and heal a little as time goes by.

This all changed with Nuts, when on that trip of no return, he came back with me. I could not bare the thought of being separated for a moment or that he would be alone whilst going to be cremated. A new path, a new way, I was not sure I would cope with a garden burial, but at that point I knew there was no alternative. Marc was away that night so there was me and the guys sitting with Nuts a wake of silent tears, nose nuzzles and hugs. Little Bear who was so faithful and true to Nuts could not comprehend what was happening with his buddy. It was heartbreaking watching the still and sleeping body, growing cooler and stiffer by the hour and Bears distress in his incomprehension.

The dawn of burial day came, and we all looked so very lost and adrift in our own mini worlds of grief. Nuts was buried with his blankets and toys and his collar, I had planned to keep his collar as a treasured memento, and in my thoughts I realised and said to Marc, 'he needs it, he always liked his collar on'. So that's what we did, all the family with us as we did this. How we did it I don't know, I guess you just do.

A beautiful summer eve - 2008
The emptiness of Nuts being gone, remains like the nothingness in the Never Ending Story. On one way life has so much to offer but it co-exists with the nothingness, a weird mix.

I have processed grief more differently, I think the last 2 years or so I have cried so much when each time it looked like we might lose him and then he valiantly rallied. His strength, his will, so when he went the finality was raw for me in anger and frustration and silent tears as I could do no more and nor could he.

What made him so special, so many things. But grief is our own journey that we travel, most of it hidden and unseen. I share this as the taboo of death means that we steer away from this uncomfortable subject and then it seems forgotten, whilst it rages on the inside. In grief we deal with the loss and life goes on.....

I am left with knowing it was my good fortune to have truly loved in my life and that Nuts was and will be forever loved and loved forever.....