‘Oh no here we go again’ I read recently about lockdown 2. It was followed up by various views about the coronavirus pandemic, Britain’s attempt to bring it under control and the response from different people.
‘Here we go again’ – an opportunity to try again, build on the past? Or, ‘Oh no, not that again’, more bad things. It reminds me of that well known quote by unknown – who by the way has written some great quotes:
‘Whether a glass is half full or half empty depends on the attitude of the person looking at it.’
So where’s this blog going? We can look upon lockdown 2 as a miserable, boring and negative time that’s making me feel like my glass is definitely half empty and I could selfishly ignore all the experts advice and think of my short-term social life. Or, I could see this as an opportunity to try something new, benefit from the precious time given back to do something for the long-term and possibly save lives and help society get back on its feet.
I’m going to be using this time to increase my writing, something I really enjoy and something I’ll have time for now my other commitments and energy-sapping activities through the summer have levelled off (a bit).
I plan to make the most of the increased evening and weekend time available by writing my blog more regularly, setting myself a lockdown challenge (more of that later) and topping up my coaching skills.
Another lockdown 2 comment I recently heard was, ‘it’s not what you could do, it’s what you should do’. Particularly important as the country tries to control this devastating pandemic.
Stay safe everyone and continue looking for positive opportunities
We have had 4 training sessions this week, conditions have been very wet and on the warm side and humidity has been on the high side. Humidity is one of our main factors in deciding if we train or not, as it does affect the dogs’ performance, speed stamina and recovery. In my experience the hounds suffer more with high humidity than the Huskies do.
We trained Wednesday am, Thursday pm and Saturday and Sunday mornings. Gonzo and Dexter covered 24km over the 4 sessions. Two were speed sessions and 2 steady sessions, Diamond, Granite, Akiera and Sapphire covered 20k – again a mix of speed and steady sessions.
At the weekend we had visitors training with us and a total of 21 dogs there, which had the teams hyped up and we focused on passing and speed work and had two good sessions in muddy testing conditions.
Each blog, we are going to do a biopic of one of the dogs, starting with Akiera who in January 2011 was our first husky. We naively purchased her over the internet, not really knowing what we were doing and joined in with people who were training Huskies locally and progressed from there.
She has always enjoyed running but is famous for not being fully focused and would much rather have a good nose at what’s going on round about her, while running at full speed, which leads to some interesting moments on the trail.
Even on Thursday evening’s session, chasing a rabbit into the trees resulted in me rolling about the trail in darkness. She has over the years had numerous wins and places as part of a 3 dog team with Kiera and Sapphire and at nearly 10 years old still loves her running, but most of all loves her roll about in the mud when she finishes her training.
She was the start of the amazing adventure we have had and will always be very special to us.
Due to the current restrictions it looks unlikely SUCO Sled Dogs will have any further races in 2020. We have decided to set up a weekly blog to keep you updated on the teams training, nutrition and what’s all going on with them.
Last weekend we all had a trip away to Aviemore with the dogs staying in the van loads of new bedding in for them. We arrived in the Friday and after hydration and toilets and lots of attention on the stakeout line we ran Gonzo and Dexter round the Glenmore trail 4.2 miles at a steady pace and walked Cupar, Diamond, Granite, Akiera, Sapphire and Kiera in Glenmore forest around the stunning loch Morlich. The dogs were then on the stake out for the rest of the day getting loads of attention before feeding more walks and bedding down for the night.
We were up bright and early to walk and hydrate the dogs before running them back at Glenmore. Gonzo ran biker with me and we did a fast run recording a time of 11.58 for a hilly trail, we then ran Dexter and Cupar bikejor round the trail at a good steady pace, Diamond and Granite ran together bikejor along with Akiera and Sapphire around a shorter 3mile trail all having good runs. We then set up camp at loch morlich for the rest of the day.
Sunday was more of the same Gonzo recording a time of 11.59 showing great consistency in his 3rd run in 3 days all the other dogs had good runs again showing a good level of fitness and another day camped out at loch morlich while I paddle boarded. Monday we walked the dogs a final time round Glenmore forest before heading back home, Monday and Tue are rest days for all the dogs, we will be back out training on Wed morning at our regular training grounds.
The dogs are all fed on CSJ perf 30 twice per day and are the following weight and get the amount of CSJ Perf 30 at each feed all bowls filled up with cold water to ensure they are hydrated Billy no mates are added to all feeds to keep ticks at bay, , bowls of water are always available for them.
Gonzo weight 29.8k 2.5 metric cups at each feed
Dexter 23.7k 1.5 metric cups at each feed
Cupar 21.2k 1.25 metric cups at each feed
Diamond 17.3k 1 metric cup at each feed
Granite 18.5k 1 metric cup at each feed
Akiera 18.4k 1 metric cup at each feed
Sapphire 17.6k 1 metric cup at each feed
Dogs are all handled daily to check condition and how they feel and meals adjusted accordingly.
The hounds stay in the house and the Huskies have kennels and a run outside but are in the house daily for cuddles.
We are currently training 4 times per week with no racing imminent it is general conditioning, some hill and speed work and working on commands.
Hi, just wanted to say a big thank you for sending the samples for Fergus to try.
All 3 went down well, one so quickly that it instantly came back up! In the end we decided on the CP27 puppy as it had the added glucosamine (he’s had problems with lameness after a run).
At nearly 9 months old, Fergus has gone from being a dog who turned his nose up at breakfast and grazed all day, sometimes not finishing his dinner until 10pm to a dog who actively looks for his breakfast and polishes it off in one go. He also sits in front of the cupboard from about 3pm looking for his dinner.
Just a quick message to say a huge thank you for sponsoring our team of rescue sled dogs last season, we were over the moon to have this opportunity from you. The suggestion of using CSJ Xtra too has also ensured that Nero held weight fantastically all season and we have recommended this to several other mushers.
Although covid scuppered a few plans we still managed to do incredibly well and held our own against the Eurohounds and racing line Nordic breeds too. Below are some of our highlights from the season:
2019/2020 1st Place Champion at Newnham Bark for bikejor – This was with Nero our rescue Welsh Sheepdog
2019/2020 1st Place Champion at NATB for 2 dog bikejor – Kai and Nero
Tri Dog (Annual Dog Triathlon) 3rd Place – Kai
NATB 4 Dog Open (although we only ran 3 dogs) 2nd Place – Kai, Nero and our new rescue Nala
As well as some other podium placings…
This was Nala’s first season running so hopefully more to come from her this year. In addition to this was Kai’s first season racing again after 12 months off having knee surgery. The key is that all our rescue dogs train at their own pace and build confidence so they can enjoy the sport. Therefore, we hope that all 3 of our team will continue to develop and be even more competitive in 2020/2021 and earning a UK ranking this year with BSSF.
We also have some long distance canicross events planned including a half marathon next month, TDM a multi day race in the French Alps and a 4 day ultra event in the Brecon Beacons in 2021.
We have had race tops, coats, and a logo on our van representing your company (although just purchased a new van so would need to get a new van decal). You can also check out our story highlights on Instagram where we have saved our CSJ featured stories as well as regular mentions on our team Facebook too.
Ffermio – S4C’s weekly flagship farming and rural affairs programme is bringing to you a new short series celebrating the unique bond between shepherd and sheepdog and the art of sheepdog trialling.
‘Ffermio: Treialon y Cwn’ is a Telesgop production for S4C.
There are 3 special programmes which will begin this evening – Monday August 24th at 9.00pm on S4C and then weekly in the same slot up to, and including Monday September 7th.
As there are sadly no official sheepdog trial events being held this year, Ffermio has brought together 6 of Wales’ most talented youngsters to showcase the art of sheepdog trialling on a special course designed by Meirion Owen:
Following all Welsh government Covid-19 guidelines, Ffermio has created 3 programmes which see the youngsters go head to head on Meirion’s course, in a way which not only shows their skills, but highlights the special bond with their dogs as well as their love of sheepdog trialling.
The programmes will also feature the stories of some of Wales’ biggest names in the world of sheepdog breeding, training and trialling including Aled Owen and Gwynfor Owen, and the competition will have insightful commentary from Wales’ captain for next year’s World Trials – Dewi Jenkins.
‘Ffermio: Treialon y Cwn’ is an exciting new competition brought to you by the team behind S4C’s flagship farming and countryside programme ‘Ffermio’. Over the course of three episodes, 6 of Wales’ most talented young sheepdog handlers will take part in a challenging sheepdog trial with a course unlike anything you’ve seen before!
The programmes will also explore the special bond between a shepherd and his dog as well as asking some of the country’s top breeders: ‘What makes a good sheepdog?’. There will be the opportunity to get to know other breeds working on Welsh farms and to meet other working dogs, like those fighting crime on the front line with Dyfed Powys Police.
‘Ffermio’ presenter Alun Elidyr is thrilled to be fronting the programme: “As a hill farmer, sheepdogs are an important part of my life, I simply couldn’t farm where I live without them. It’s great therefore to be celebrating these incredible dogs and their handlers by putting them through their paces on a sheepdog trial course that’s going to really test their skills.”
Commentating on the trials alongside Alun will be world renowned sheepdog breeder Dewi Jenkins from Talybont near Aberystwyth: “We’re incredibly lucky in Wales not only to be breeding some of the best sheepdogs there are, but also to have some the best young talent when it comes to sheepdog trials. I’m incredibly excited to be part of ‘Ffermio; Treialon y Cwn’ and can’t wait to see how the 6 contestants tackle a course that’s very different to what we usually see.”
The course has been designed and built by Meirion Owen, famous as the owner of the ‘Quack Pack’ display team. Meirion usually spends his time visiting shows across the country and running corporate events with his team of collies and Indian Runner ducks. With all the events he had planned to attend this summer having been cancelled, he was delighted not only to work with the ‘Ffermio’ team to arrange the trials, but also to host the competition on his land in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire.
Explaining a little about the course he said: “It has some of the elements of traditional sheepdog trials but there will also be obstacles that neither the sheepdog handlers nor the sheep will be expecting! We’re introducing things like a bridge and a water obstacle and it’s going to be interesting to see what these young but experienced handlers make of it all. It’s certainly going to be compulsive viewing.”
‘Ffermio’ is one of S4C’s longest running series having been broadcast since 1997 and the programmes particular focus on farming and rural affairs consistently draws some of the channel’s biggest audiences. ‘Ffermio: Treialon y Cwn’ will combine the series producer’s expertise on bringing you the stories that celebrate Wales’ farming and rural communities, with an electrifying competition, that is ‘must watch’ TV.
Tune into ‘Ffermio: Treialon y Cwn’ on S4C every Monday at 9.00pm from August the 24th through until Monday September the 7th.
Although in Welsh, the programmes will have English subtitles and S4C is available outside Wales on Freesat 120 and Sky 134 as well as BBC iPlayer.
There is a very high standard of competition over a different style course than the usual.
Life is strange at the moment isn’t it? We live in a peaceful world (mostly) with people who love to spend time with their dogs. For us particularly, that involves training our dogs to be great at agility. With no shows to attend for the foreseeable future, we’ve taken the opportunity to establish and enjoy more relaxing routines and weekends.
Our dogs have been brought up to utilise their energy and enjoy regular training. They’re fed high-quality food to enhance their performance and maintain tip-top fitness. With no shows or training classes to attend, like many agility competitors we’ve scaled down the agility training.
In our household we currently have four border collies and a terrier-cross and they love learning and being active. They’re on a training programme of: learning how to just chill-out and relax around the house and garden; learning how to loose-lead walk and practicing social distancing around the extra people, bikes and horses we meet on our usual walks.
The Border Collies and Pikachu’s all love working, and although running round an agility course is the most fun in our house, anything that involves figuring out what we want them to do is fun too.
We’ve started using other activities to channel their mental and physical energy. These include:
Waiting in their beds patiently while their dinner is being prepared.
Waiting at doors & gateways until they get called individually.
Waiting for their turn to fetch their toy (Torro (old boy) doesn’t get this and gets 3 x as much exercise whilst we are doing this with the others). And Pikachu was a bit snooty of joining in, but now has her own toy which nobody else can have.
Doing sit, down, stand or a left / right turn before or on the way to their toy.
Loose-lead walking – in the past the main time they were on a lead was on the way to the agility ring and no one was interested in doing that calmly. J
Walking and balancing on logs.
They play most of these games all together, which challenges them further and its intriguing how they learn as a pack members and as individuals.
As we come out of lock down and small training classes are restart, it’s noticeable how some partnerships have definitely got tighter with this extra time we’ve been spending at home with our dogs. We’re going to keep up some of the fun training we’ve been doing as we all enjoy it.
We hope you and your dogs are keeping safe and well.
There’s an unusual family history behind CSJ – the British natural dog food, herbs and treats company – and it’s now on YouTube.
In a fascinating 2 minute watch the pictorial story unfolds of Ceri Rundle’s and her late father H. Glyn Jones’s background in working sheepdogs and huge success in trialling and breeding their world renowned Border Collies.
Packed with old photos of Ceri and her dad though the ages with their dogs – and even one of her shepherdess Great-Grandmother – we also see the dazzling breadth of top winners who swear by CSJ in canine activities from sled-dogs to agility dogs whilst not forgetting ‘the little dog next door’.
In its own quirky and engaging way the video illustrates why CSJ has been so successful over the last 20 years and become probably the best loved pet-food in the UK … developed by dog people … for dog people!
You’re chopping and sautéing, working on your favorite dish, while your dog or cat sits at your feet, looking up at you with those pleading eyes. You know that they would enjoy it if you cooked for them as well, but should you really toss out the kibble and cans and pick up your knives and skillet instead?
Cooking for our pets can be very appealing for those of us who have time to do it; however, there is no evidence to support claims that home-prepared diets are healthier than commercial diets. Despite what you may have read, very few pets actually need to be fed a home-cooked diet because of health reasons and an improperly prepared home-cooked diet can seriously harm your pet’s health, especially for a growing kitten or puppy.
Many pet owners are surprised to find out that cooking for a pet isn’t necessarily as simple as cooking for their human family. Whereas all commercial pet foods must legally meet or exceed certain amounts of nutrients to be marketed as “complete and balanced foods”, studies have shown that the vast majority of recipes that pet owners design for their pets, or obtain from magazines, books, or the internet are deficient in one or more essential nutrients. A big problem is that these inadequate levels of nutrients may not be evident for weeks or even years in adult animals, until the pet has a serious health problem that may not be easily reversed.
Unfortunately, as veterinary nutritionists, we often see the sad stories – the puppies that are brought to our hospital emergency room with broken bones and seizures due to inadequate nutrients and the adult cats with severe heart disease and blindness because of taurine deficiency. While occasional home-cooked meals for adult pets on special occasions (holidays, birthdays) in healthy pets are unlikely to cause any health issues other than potentially an upset stomach (as long as foods toxic to dogs and cats are avoided), more care is needed to make a diet that a pet will be eating on a daily basis if these kind of tragedies are to be prevented.
There are literally hundreds of sources of recipes for home-made pet food on websites and in magazines and books and some of these sources are much more reputable than others. The best pet food recipes will include very precise amounts of specific ingredients (e.g. 100 grams of boneless, skinless, baked chicken breast and 45 grams of baked, mashed sweet potato vs “1 cup of chicken or fish or pork and 1 cup of cooked vegetables”), and will include added sources of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and essential fatty acids. While a “whole foods” approach where every nutrient comes from food, not supplements is appealing, it is nearly impossible to meet all of a pet’s nutrient needs without adding concentrated supplements. Supplementing a pet diet is not as simple as taking a trip to the local pet supply store, though.
Most vitamin and mineral supplements marketed for pets are not sufficient to bring the nutrients in a home-cooked diet up to the levels to meet pet requirements, so specific veterinary supplements or multiple human supplements (potentially as many as 7-9 different products, depending on the diet ingredients) are typically needed to ensure that all essential nutrients are included in appropriate amounts. The amount of each nutrient needed depends on both the diet ingredients and also on the specific pet.
If you’d like to try cooking for your pet, the best way to ensure that your pet’s diet is meeting all of his nutritional needs is to obtain your recipe from the pet equivalent of a registered dietician – a veterinarian with board certification in veterinary nutrition (www.acvn.org) or with a PhD in animal nutrition and experience formulating pet diets. These individuals will use computer software to put together the right mix of ingredients and supplements to produce a diet that will provide for a pet’s nutritional needs. If your pet has health problems, it is even more important that you seek qualified assistance from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
Once you get a good recipe, it’s your job to follow it exactly – seemingly benign substitutions such as swapping one meat for another can dramatically alter the nutrients and calories provided by the diet. Not making changes to a recipe may be harder than it seems – we recently surveyed our clients who had purchased home-cooked diet recipes from us over the past few years. Greater than 80% of pet owners had made changes to their recipes, either minor or major, without consulting us and many of these changes had the potential to lead to inadequate or excessive nutrients in the diet.
In summary, home-cooked diets can be healthy, if time-consuming, options for feeding our pets, but they should not be undertaken lightly. They should not be fed to growing kittens or puppies or pregnant or nursing animals. The best way to ensure that your pet’s home-cooked diet is healthy is to obtain a recipe from a veterinary nutritionist and follow it to-the-letter.
Cailin R Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN References:
Larsen JA, Parks EM, Heinze CR, et al. Evaluation of recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;240:532-538.
Heinze CR, Gomez FC, Freeman LM. Assessment of commercial diets and recipes for home-prepared diets recommended for dogs with cancer. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;241:1453-1460.
Stockman J, Fascetti AJ, Kass PH, et al. Evaluation of recipes of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;242:1500-1505.
Johnson LN, Linder DE, Heinze CR, Freeman LM. Evaluation of owner experiences and adherence to home-cooked diet recipes for dogs. J Small Anim Pract 2016;57:23-27.
We’re still in lockdown, the world is still coming to terms with covid-19, and life still goes on as people adjust to the situation.
Over the last month or so I’ve been asked to share coping strategies that might help people while they’re working remotely, feeling isolated and are concerned about what our new normal might look like. I thought I’d share a few with the CSJ readers.
My sports psychology research and learning has led me down some interesting paths over the years. One common thread I hear from many experts is ‘turn obstacles into opportunities’. And even though this phrase was around long before the coronavirus, it still applies.
For me this means, I could mope around at home longing to get out, socialise, travel and be free to wander. Or I could accept that the situation is the right one for everyone and turn this into an opportunity to get stuck into projects and activities that I never normally get a chance to do. There are lots of new opportunities out there at the moment, we just have to look for them.
Control the controllables
‘Control the controllables’ is another well-used tip. There is little point worrying and wasting precious energy on things we cannot control e.g. when is lockdown going to be eased, when are canine competitions going to restart. We can be mindful of these things, but we cannot control them. We’re better off putting energy into things we can control. Like:
What can I do to maintain my physical and mental health and fitness;?
How can I offer support to family, the community and friends?
Controlling how much/little news and social media I absorb
Focusing on contrallables helps to build resilience, confidence and self-esteem, which are good traits to have in these times.
Don’t let the external affect the internal
My third ‘top tip’ this month is ‘don’t let the external affect the internal’. Start by writing down your key values and beliefs (if you haven’t already). Revisit them and think about how they influence your life and your decisions. Don’t let external influences distract you away from these values and try not to let external pressures sway you. Maintain a growth mind set and live to your values.
Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow.