I can’t believe this time last week we were unpacking the car at the Travelodge in Dagenham!
Bracken had been dropped off for a long weekend at our ‘furiends’ Amanda and Nick who run the FABULOUS Pondycott Home Boarding (click to head to their page) and the new car was all packed full of treats, collars, leads, shoes, bowls, food and everything else we might need for a jam packed weekend away competing with Isla and Jelli.
We had picked up our new car – the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV the week before and within 24 hours we had our PAWSOME new TransK9 box fitted perfectly in the back. It honestly is so comforting knowing our dogs are safe when travelling and we wouldn’t want to compromise that by using any other box or crate!
This blog is all about our experience at Discover Dogs from start to finish so I really hope you enjoy!
Friday – Arrived at the Travelodge, checked in and unpacked the hooman clothes with two spaniels being their usual helpful self and moving shoes from one side of the room to another, not necessarily in pairs and not necessarily to the same part of the room! Deposited spaniels onto a chair to contain their antics to find they have then rearranged themselves to the bed….. (sorry Travelodge!)
Once unpacked and the girls fed, we headed out to dinner for a de-stress and relax after a 3 hour slog to London from home. Back to the hotel by 9pm for an early night ready for Isla’s time to shine in the ring!
Saturday – The alarm went off at 5.30am – cue a rather enthusiastic wake up call from Jelli who seems to think this means jumping on peoples heads is acceptable! The nerves have started to hit a little now but a strong coffee and some rescue remedy is the go to answer!
Back in the car for the 20 minute ride the the Excel Centre and time to make sure I have EVERYTHING I need. Collars, leads, ring clips, food, bowls, crate, blanket – the list is endless!
I will state now how grateful I am to Matt who was nothing but supportive during the whole weekend! He helped load up the trolley and dogs, drop me as close to the doors of the Excel as possible and then went to park and make his own way in to the venue. Not having to drag the trolley, crate and dogs through hoards of people made the initial set up so much less stressful!
I should thank the Kennel Club too for their understanding to my situation. Qualifying two dogs for two different events on two different days is exciting but stressful. Initially being told we could only take the dog that had qualified in on the day they needed was less than helpful BUT after a quick chat they were amazing and said both dogs could enter the venue on both days with no problems at all!
So Saturday was obedience, not the first thing you associate with a spaniel but Isla had qualified at Exeter Open Obedience Show back in May so we had earnt our place on the famous green carpet. Unfortunately the carpet was clearly VERY interesting so there was a little too much sniffing going on during the heel work however she made up for it on her other exercises and finished 12th place overall. 23 dogs had qualified for for Saturdays finals so finishing in the middle of the pack was a pretty big achievement and gives us more determination to qualify three years on the trot and get to Discover Dogs in 2020!
After the show finished on Saturday we had to negotiate the London Underground back to our hotel. We travel to London frequently and I wont apologise for saying everyone on the tube always looks so miserable! Isla and Jelli made sure this wouldn’t be the case however and despite a VERY full tube from the Excel on the District Line, Jelli had most of the journey sat on one commuters lap whilst Isla had convinced another to crouch down on the floor and rub her tummy! Eventually the carriage emptied so we all had a seat and space for the exciting purchases made at the show!
They say money doesn’t buy happiness BUT it buys dogs and the dogs definitely made people happy! A few line changes and a quick photo opportunity at the most dog friendly stop and we were back at the hotel for a quick shower, change and back out to dinner!
Sunday – The day I was most nervous about. The day I have spent the last 3 months training and preparing for!
The Kennel Club Agility Starters Final!
We arrived back at the Excel centre at 8am and settled both girls down on their bench again – we were allowed thirty minutes to practice in the main ring before they built the course. The ring looked enormous and rather daunting!
Four jumps of varying sizes were assembled and suddenly the troops descended – all handlers running in the Starters Cup Final and the Large ABC Novice Semi Finals entered the ring with their dogs for last minute preparation and practice. That was 44 dogs and handlers off lead all trying to jump and practise turns and start line waits.
I was a little worried how Jelli may react given she has never been in this type of environment or situation before but she coped amazingly well, looked keen and focused and showed no signs of stress or anxiety!
10am came around really quickly, we had been shown the course plan about an hour before so I had learnt the course on paper but walking it for real threw up a few challenges and little traps that weren’t evident beforehand – a little tweak of my plan and we were ready to run!
The jumping phase was first – this comprises of jumps, tunnels and weaves but no contact equipment. Usually run much faster than an agility course which means more speed and more chance of making mistakes!
CLEAR ROUND! Jelli was an absolute pro and zoomed around the course with no faults and finished in second place – just 1.7 seconds off first place and a huge 5.6 seconds faster than third! As we left the ring we received a lovely finalist rosette and then got called back in to be awarded our second place ribbon! Roll on the Agility Round!
The afternoon passed in a blur and before we knew it the agility course was ready for walking! Again we had been given the course on paper beforehand but when we came to walk the last few jumps were different! A slight moment of panic when several of us realised and had to re-learn a totally different ending to the course but I was confident after the Jumping Round that we could get round without being eliminated!
Disappointingly Jelli came out of the corner tunnel a little quickly and overshot the weave entry getting us 5 faults – we managed the rest of the course with no issues – a few wide turns but that will improve with experience and time.
We finished the Agility phase in second place (another lovely rosette awarded) and had to stay in the main ring as they announced the overall winners – WE CAME SECOND!!!!!
We were awarded yet another coveted Kennel Club emblazoned rosette and a very heavy glass trophy! A final lap around the course and we were finished!
I am so proud of Jelli and all that she has achieved in such a short space of time – we hadn’t entered a KC show until May of this year and less than 6 months later she places second in the Starters Cup!
We hope you enjoyed our account of Discover Dogs – if you are thinking about trying something new with your dog like agility or obedience stop thinking and find yourself a club! Both activities are such good fun and we have made some great friends along the way!
I do need to say a huge thank-you to Abi at Bristol and Bath Agility, Trans K9 Dog Transit Boxes, Forthglade Natural Pet Food, Pupmalup Clothing, Woozelbears Hydrotherapy and Anna Richards Veterinary Physiotherapist – without your continued support Jelli and Isla wouldn’t be in the peak condition they are and we wouldn’t be as safe as we are when on the road!
Please enjoy these wonderful photos of our day taken by the very talented Yulia from Four Little Paws!
Did you go to Discover Dogs? Or do you do agility or obedience already? We would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below!