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.
It is surprising with all the turmoil this year has brought to realise it is October already.
By this time of the year we previously would have had a full season of agility shows, including the Junior and Adult European Open competitions; our social media feeds are currently full of pictures from previous year’s world championships too.
All the hard work both from organisers and competitors wasted due to a virus; it still seems so unreal and just unbelievable.
Doing things differently
We had planned to do some different things this year anyway, but agility would still have featured especially for Chic as she is just Grade 2 and has a long way to go.
I mentioned doing a Summer and now Winter league in small groups which is working well for my customers – developing the youngsters and keeping the more experienced going.
It’s interesting to see that there have been some Covid friendly KC shows with classes capped at 50. As they are not local to us, I’m not sure how it all works, but it is good to see that show organisers are committed to keeping agility competitions going.
Competition is good for motivation
For many just doing agility is fun enough, but that element of competition and knowing you and your dog are achieving, is good for motivation.
For those unable to get to these shows and missing the agility social fix, it’s just a case of knuckling down and finding a way through until something like a normal service can be resumed.
We have had a varied month of looking at new dog activities, walking up mountains and canoeing/kayaking.
We also sadly lost Torro as despite our positive words, he was not able to get better and we had that awful decision to make. Sometimes being positive isn’t enough and life can’t always be perfect. For whatever reason it was decided that dogs wouldn’t live as long as humans, it is something that every dog owner has to face up to. It never gets easier but the heartbreak of losing them is a small price to pay for the life we share with them.
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.
The intention for this month’s blog was to write about how the competitive nature of people can influence their attitude to risk. Many agility competitors believe they are not competitive by nature, the truth is that humans are intrinsically competitive which is why we as a species are always striving for better. What that better means overall is a wide debate that will go on and on – but not in this blog.
So back to competition and agility
It is good to see that agility groups and clubs up and down the country are now running training within Covid-19 guidelines, however the usual KC competitions are not scheduled for any time soon. For some (myself included) this completely changes the dynamics of training.
To help people maintain some kind of focus I’ve run a Summer league which was appreciated. Due to that success I am also running a winter league which has drawn a few more clients out of their self-imposed isolation. We will take a look at that further next month.
More pressing matters arose for us today
Our old dog Torro had a vestibular last night. Most dog owners who have had old dogs will have encountered this at one time or another. Years ago it was talked about as being similar to us having a stroke and the effects are the same. The outcome is also varied with some dogs making a great recovery. Fingers crossed that is the case for Torro. He has a strong heart and determined mind.
The difference Covid-19 made to what is already a distressing experience was emotionally draining. The thought of not being able to go into the vets with our dog or be with him in worst case scenario was indescribable. On top of that, it was at the on-call vets instead of our own familiar vet. However, the vet nurses and vets were amazing. Although we had to let them take him in, we were completely reassured by their behaviour and compassion that he was in the best care.
Luckily, he is home with us and we’ll be giving him extra care for the next 24 hours or so.
I’m sure there are so many stories like this and worse all over the world with people not being with their loved ones in their greatest need. It is an awful virus to take that away from us.
Hats off to those in the caring professions who have to deal with this daily
Thank you all for your dedication and mostly thank you for stepping up and adapting your processes whilst maintaining all your caring skills. Once again evidence that human nature will strive to do the best.
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.
So, although most races are still postponed, Maddi has just spent the week with Vicki Pullin at her amazing summer camp. Learning new skills, like bikejor technique, caring for the dogs, fitness tests and water activities.
She has had the most amazing time and can’t wait for the season to start, she’s so hooked on bikejor she’s also going to enter for the junior school age bikejor at the British Championship.
Arctic Quest and training with Vickie Pullin
Vicki Pullin’s summer camp is an amazing opportunity for kids to come and stay for 5 days working and living the sled dog life with multi-time British Champion and International sled dog racer Vickie Pullin and her amazing team of dogs, along with some fantastic Staff.
This jam packed week of adventures included running dogs, caring for dogs, cuddles with dogs – all things sled dogs! Arctic Quest work with kids that one day dream of becoming world champions in the sport and other kids who just love to hug a Husky, we have something for everyone – to top of the dog activities we also include a lot of land based activities, team building and water sports.
Like many other agility competitors our dogs have been brought up to love training and competing.
As lockdown eases, we are carefully able to resume weekly training and training days etc. Some COVID friendly competitions have even been run and I’ve done a Summer League with my own customers just to keep up training with an end purpose.
Personally, I have used this down time to also take a look at other dog sports for new challenges.
All the different activities I have researched have one thing in common – awards and/or titles. This is the focus we use to motivate us and give us something to aim for.
So, what about a COVID K9 programme incorporating all the skills our dogs have had to develop recently?
Aim – to enjoy daily moments of living with your canine.
Pictures of dog sleeping,
Dog posing for yet another photo
Dog being taken for yet another walk with each member of the house as they go outside for a break/ daily exercise.
Aim – to show how adaptable your dog is.
Dog settled for several hours in order to watch another box set/classic film.
No barking when someone comes to the door as nobody ever comes in,
Dog playing with hose whilst you are finding something in the garden shed (which tbh you didn’t even know existed),
Dog not bothered by furniture being moved around/decorating etc.
Lockdown Agility Dog
Aim – to show how obsessive we can be.
Dog enjoying ‘going back to basics’ on all training as they have time and they will now be able to get it perfect with handler sat down and using verbal commands only.
Dogs completing a 20-obstacle course in the garden avoiding the shed (which is now filled with garden agility equipment and actual gardening stuff), the new wildlife pond and bee attracting flower bed and still nailing that weave entry.
Outside the House Dog
Aim – to display any old dogs can learn new tricks.
Dog can at last walk on a loose lead (after all no rings to pull to, no exciting training to get to and no room for off lead zoomies), lead is obviously only 2m maximum.
Without instruction the dog automatically sits by your side when they see someone new, a new dog, someone on a bike or someone on a horse.
*New Outside the House Dog July 2020 – dog does not freak out when it sees you with a face mask on.
Easing of Lockdown Dog
Aim – no idea frankly as rules get a bit hazy.
Dog does not bark once whilst, yet another driver takes a photo of you receiving home improvement/ gardening/ bike accessories deliveries or dog barks continuously for the whole 10 minutes.
Dog wags tail furiously from a suitable social distance and does not leap all over their trainer that they had always leapt on since puppy class.
Dog can recall off other dogs, bikes and horses most of which have gone back to pre-lockdown activities never to be seen again.
Good Pub Dog – evidenced by dog relaxing in pub.
Character Pub Dog – evidenced by dog winning over all staff and being given any leftovers.
Think about what great skill/character trait your dog has displayed this year that they should be honoured with.
Whatever your dog would win an award for, there is no doubt that their unfailing companionship is priceless in these times.