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..... 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Nuts - Forever Loved, Loved Forever...

Nuts & Christine
How do you say goodbye, when you think there is one more ray of hope but Nuts said not. Nuts said it was time to go and the day I dreaded came. When all avenues are exhausted and modern medicine has run out of solutions. When Nuts no longer had the strength to fight. How do you deal with the light, hope and fight being gone? Nuts my beautiful guy who took me on a a journey to create dreams and sow ambitions that I could not believe I could have.  I was so fortunate with the connections he created and how he was with me.  He was steadfast, he was loyal, he was my main man and rock.

He was my Lassie, Pongo and Bolt all in one.   He enjoyed the ride with me and we had such brilliant times, and I could not have been prouder to have walked by his side.

Two songs that some him up to me are 'You are my first, my last, my everything' by Barry White and' Nobody does it better' by Carly Simon. And Marc said it was also 'Me and my Shadow' by Frank Sinatra. And that is so true.

No song goes with his passing, the melody of the February song helps to calm me, as we had no fight left and how I wish he did so that we could have another precious day.  I could wish it a thousand times and there I was nothing I could do to stop the ravages of time increasing its relentless and tenacious grip. How I wish my Nuts was forever young and by my side.

How I wish I could say he was 15. How I wish he would be at the door when I return from the EOs and the Worlds, I so wanted to tell him all about Zev's and I adventures. So many wishes but as the February song, one day we will be together again and I never wanted to let him down, but as he lost the strength to fight and I did not know how to help him fight, he was saying it was his time. I guess our time is our time...I just hope he understood when for the thousandth time I told him, how special, loved and perfect he is.


Forever Nuts. Forever loved, loved forever.....

12/02/00 to 28/05/14

Monday, 12 May 2014

European Open & FCI Worlds - Here we come :):):)

Doing the Double - Lansdown - Crufts Singles - 2013
Every so often in life that are just what you hoped and worked damm hard for. Almost two weeks ago we got the news that not only Marc and Mister Big had made the team for the EO - Hungary and the FCI World Championship but Me and Zev had too.

The excitement has been immense. With Marc and Big, they have been before to the Worlds both WAO and FCI events and achieved so much, but for me and Zev, it has been a while coming. The first year we tried out, we were no way ready, we had not even run a champ class I don't think it was the year of null points. The second year I had exams on tryout date, the third year we made reserve for the EO and no team was going to the Worlds as it was in too complicated and costly being in South Africa. I was so so frustrated. This year, Zev was 6 and I felt if we did not do it this year then it was unlikely we would. 
The KC press release explains all. It was an incredibly tough weekend with 7 runs in all including a team event. The courses by Italian judge, Paolo Meroni, reminded us of why we find agility so exhilarating - technically demanding and swift for speed, this was indeed agility courses at their best. The squad and team selection process is managed by Mark Laker and his thoughts on team selection can be found at his blog.

The challenge with agility now as the standard and demands of agility are growing all the time, it really means having to put in the grunt work to achieve it. Agility is becoming so much more like other sports, quite rightly with the physio and fitness for both handler and canine partner, the skill sets, the mental toughness or focus required. Some have the good fortune to be naturally talented, like Marc who can just run, he does not have to work at it, I have to do two sessions a week specifically focus on running and running dynamics to achieve what he can just do. That is not to say Marc does not look after his fitness, but it just comes more naturally and with far less effort.  But despite this additional pressure we think ultimately it will be good for agility as a sport and good for us.

It all feels very surreal and totally brilliant so say your representing your country in a sport that really consumes our life in so many positive ways is for me a dream come true. Marc would I dare say is pleased ;)

So here we come :):):) .....this should be one heck of a ride...........

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bear's Agility Journey Commences in earnest :)

Since Christmas I have started to let Bear learn more agility equipment and the main focus has been poles (weaves) see-saw and the RC concept.  As he is so tiny I was a little daunted, but we thought we needed to start and see where this takes us.  The video shows some snippets of the sessions we have had with the dog-walk.

The 'good decision' approach I use has enabled Bear to have a good attitude and interest in his learning as well as enjoy doing stuff with me. He is getting stronger with his game play as I endeavor to balance the food and toy rewards so that they strengthened his 'up for it' attitude and motivation for agility. Ultimately I think dogs have their own preferences and it is up to us to tap in to what that is rather than dictate what we perceive to be rewarding.  Learning is so hooked up with preferences, styles, relevance, motivation and connection. It has been a great and rewarding experience for me teaching a youngster of my own again, after-all there is a 5 year gap between Zev and Bear.

As Bear starts to grow up it will be interesting to see how his character grows and develops, as he now is truly into his growing up in terms of his character and working out what makes his world work for him, as any mammal would do that lives in a group. Experience tells me you don't really know what your partnership may be until you get passed as I call it the 'terrible oneis!', but really it not terrible just highly amusing and interesting watching him work out how his world works :)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Kinda happy....kinda bummed...

Christine & Nuts
Nuts has made it to 14, and the wonderment that we had got to that milestone is tempered by the Vets confirmation that he has lymphoma.

There is no more fight left for us to overcome, there is no tablet, diet or physio that can fix it. My ambivalence to birthdays grows as to me they are a marker of time that is lost, that death is coming sooner. The pleasure that others seem to gain from this annual date event is at times quite lost on me. Or as a friend said to me 'everyday is your dog's birthday', which is a compliment indeed.

There is no treatment, that will give Nuts additional time. As always I will continue to ensure on daily basis that we do some of his favourite things.

I cannot believe as I look at him, that at some point this year our journey together will be at an end. We have defied so many odds, perhaps we will manage it again. ..

As I type this posting he lays at my side, as always so close. I reviewed all the blog postings that mention Nuts and they show that he has so brought so much to my life and what adventures we have had together.

The relationships and opportunities we have in life are remarkable and so often taken for granted...sometimes we know straight away when its extra special...I knew with Nuts and I have never lost the marvel of how special our relationship is.


So I kinda happy and kinda bummed.........but just so thankful that Nuts is still by my side.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Grunt Work....

It crazy and it hard, when your dog grows old and with Nuts it has been a huge learning curve because he is the first dog, that I have been bless to have a bit longer time with. It is a blessing but it is also a lot of grunt work and sometimes. I worry am I being kind or am I being unfair? But as with most things in life you have to rely on 'your gut' feeling or intuition. I can watch for any physical tell tale signs, to see how he is feeling. I know him that well, from the tiniest crinkle in his ear to a tightening of the lips, to just how 'he seems'. Is his quality of life good enough? I like to think so and certainly hope so.

One of the best inventions I have some across and in many ways its simplicity itself (as brilliant ideas so often are) to help Nuts and me in our quest to maintain his strength in his muscles so that he can enjoy his 'bimbles' around, join in the fun and remain included.  It is the Active Balance Ultimate Wobble Board designed by Maria Johnston of Active

The video shows a little session at the weekend, everyday we to a different exercise programme, the sessions are very short and sweet.
In the video you can see his him give his paw it has taken 6 months of physio to get him to be able to do this. I can confess my eyes were 'moist' when that happened. When we first started the cavalletti Nuts could not do it and now he is now stepping though and able to complete the exercise.  Another benefit is being able to take Nuts for short walk, when for many months this could not happen.
It is all vital part of rebuilding and hopefully maintaining some co-ordination and awareness of his body. It has improved the messages going from his cerebrum to his muscles as the neurotransmitters learnt a new pathway or make reconnections. Having tuition with Maria really gave me the confidence to carry out the programme.
All these little improvements mean so much. In reality sure there is somethings Nuts cannot do, like the stairs. But we have learnt to lift his body so that it is safe for us and him. So I guess that it is why it is the grunt work, but really I guess it is more a labour of love....