Spring Favourites

My monthly favourite posts have been not so monthly at the moment. Then I spotted a fabulous idea on OkGoAgility (I’ll talk about them more later) and they had swapped from monthly to seasonal favourite posts, so I am going … Continue reading

Running again & new workout clothing

I’ve been longing for a run for a while and have jealously been watching some of my friends progress through the NHS Couch to 5k program recently. I can’t believe it was 5 years ago when I did it. 5 … Continue reading

FitBark Dog Activity Montior

Okay… I’ll admit it… I succumbed to adverts! All over my facebook and instagram feed I kept seeing the ads for the FitBark popping up alongside the FitBit, with talk of how you can sync them together. I’ve had a Tractive … Continue reading

Exciting new changes to Kennel Club Agility

For a while now there have been calls and campaigns for a 4th height to be added to Kennel Club (KC) agility. To briefly explain, at the moment there are three jump heights in KC agility; Small, Medium & Large. … Continue reading

A cool coat for hot dogs

At the start of last summer I was offered a 2nd hand XL Ruffwear Swamp Cooler for sale. It was a bit big for Guinness but by chance a friend had a large one which was too small for her Labrador, thus forth … Continue reading

Crufts: The Agility Experience

Crufts is an exciting time of year for all dog owners and lovers. As a competitor it is the agility that really catches my eye. Ever since I was young I watched the agility on the TV and said, “I want to do that one day”. As I’ve got older and wiser I now start to notice the slips on the carpet, the lack of rubber and the bouncy seesaw, however lets not dwell on the bad.

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Shopping is a big part of Crufts. Toys, treats, equipment and clothing. You can buy any sort of toy at Crufts! Cage balls, tennis balls, fleece, stuffed animals, fur, you name it. My ideal agility toy is something on a bungee tug that is high value. Voila, I found a tennis ball on a bungee! Perfecto. There were a few stalls selling garden agility equipment, easy put together jumps, hoops, tunnels and weaves. They’re ideal for having a bit of fun with your dog which is the perfect way to introduce agility to pet dog owners.

Health equipment is also growing in popularity and promotion of health products and activities were seen throughout the show. Hydrotherapy, herbal supplements, tablets for joints, digestion, you name it and you can find something which “helps”. Plus peanuts, balance cushions and fitpaws!

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The DogBooksOnline.co.uk store left me quite confused! There was a huge choice of agility books to buy, including course diagrams and training exercises. I really didn’t know which to choose so I played it safe and left them all!

What really caught my eye was the Halequin Agility demo on the Eukanuba stall. I arrived just in time as a lovely lady with a great dane was demonstrating wobble cushions and the exercises to do on them with your dog. She talked about muscles and strengthening exercises and was really enthusiastic about keeping dogs fit. It was brilliant to see and I hope it wasn’t just me that thought so. It’s so enlightening to see more and more health and fitness demonstrations appearing.

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I challenge you to go away from Crufts without learning something new, no matter how knowledgeable you think you are! The Kennel Club have a big activities section with a little box full of people to answer your questions on agility, as well as free handouts. The activities ring also held some agility demonstrations throughout the day.

I was most interested to see Agility1st there! Set up by former KC International Team Coach, Steve Croxford, and current KC GB Team Manager, Mark Laker, Agility1st is a training and accreditation scheme for Agility instructors and coaches. It not only offers you a chance to be recognised and proven as an agility instructor it also offers you training and improvement opportunities! This is the first Agility specific dog training scheme that I have come across and I think it is a hugely positive step forward for agility! (Unfortunately I didn’t get chance to speak to them).

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Into the main arena and this is where the magic happens! I could sit in there all day (at least until the Group judging starts perhaps). There are plenty of big competitions held at Crufts and its one of the sought after goals for many agility careers. Novice, ABC, International and Championship classes allows for a wide variety of people to get their chance in the limelight.

I really enjoyed the courses this year (apart from a few contacts-into-nowhere) and they all ran fast and flowing! There seemed to be less slips and skids than I’ve seen before (maybe due to course design or the dogs being more prepared) and there was some tight competition! The crowd love the agility and there was one person behind me in particular that was squealing, gasping and whooping! I love hearing other people’s enthusiasm. My friends and I enjoying watching the decisions made by competitors, talking about what we would have done and discussing the different international handling styles and methods. Plus the best thing is you can go home and watch all again on youtube!

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Crufts is becoming more and more diverse and I feel that the attention is starting to creep away from the show dogs a little. Of course it will always be the biggest and most prestigious dog show in the World, however you can certainly enjoy a visit even if you have grubby farm collies at home and no interest in hairspray for dogs.

I went home full of ideas for my agility classes, motivation and inspiration to work on my own training and my purse was much lighter! A great weekend!

Sh*t Happens

Sh*t Happens and Dicky Bag is here to help us to deal with it!

The dicky bag is a fabric bag/case/pouch/thing with a zip opening that come in an array of sizes. It’s made of lovely neoprene and has a belt loop attachment and a clip on the back. The head of the bag unzips and opens like a mouth (Dicky Bag if you read this, you are missing out on a great design scheme!). Inside of mine I got a sealed air freshener disc (a great addition), some biodegradable poo bags that sport a daring and highly amusing slogan, and a small tub of hand sanitiser. I opted for a rugged camouflage colour instead of the floral pink or baby blue.

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The dicky bag is a great idea, instead of carrying your bag of poo you can carry a dicky bag containing your bag of poo. Much better for street cred! It removes the nasty smell coming from that bag in your hand plus you can store it in a rucksack, clip it to your belt or wear around your body with the shoulder strap.

For me it is too big to clip onto my belt as it bounces around annoyingly and I don’t fancy wearing one on a shoulder strap. However its real strength comes into play when you are out on a long walk with your rucksack! The long hikes I do that require a rucksack are normally routes that don’t have many bins. Regardless, I still believe in cleaning up after my dog and will pick up (even if I’m on top of a mountain, who wants to have a mountain hike spoilt by dog muck on your boots?!), but the prospect of stuffing a plastic bag of poo into my rucksack or carrying it in my hand is inconvenient at the least. Now I can clip the dicky bag onto the outside of my rucksack, where it can swing and bounce around all it likes without bothering me, or put it inside my bag. Hurrah! The thick, rugged design of the bag paired with the air freshener removes all smell, although I personally wouldn’t have it snuggling up next to my lunch.

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It’s also very useful on bike rides as a solution to dangling a full poo bag off your handlebars! Plus anyone who has travelled 5 minutes with a full poo bag in the car will know that the smell is overpowering! I’m not sure why that is, but wow! The dicky bag completely removes this issue.

This is all great but, confession time; I don’t use my dicky bag for my normal twice daily walks. I like to walk hands free and there is usually a bin within a mile, so I’d prefer to carry my bag of poo for a little while and remain hands free for the rest of the walk than carry the dicky bag for the whole walk.

It’s been over 12 months since I said I would write a review of the Dicky Bag and its due to not having a great deal of use that I haven’t written about it yet. But let’s not end on a downer.

HUGE credit is owed to Dicky Bag! They have not just made a really unique item that has a great purpose but they are also battling the nationwide problem of dog fouling and the campaigning, advertising and input I have seen from them so far is much-needed. They were one of the first (if not the first) to back new company Streetkleen when they stepped out of the blue with a daring “solution” to dog foul and their website offers good, sound dog training advice as well as fun competitions to keep dog owners engaged.

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I am sad to see that their online blog has not been updated since June 2013 (which is a particularly good article), and I really hope they continue to push forward in supporting and creating campaigns that can help to reduce the dog fouling issue!

Education is the key right now and the more the better. Overall Three Cheers to Dicky Bag!

Shrewsbury and Oswestry

So we bit the bullet and entered a Kennel Club Show. I consider this our first KC show, as although we did Adams in January it was inside without weaves, and we weren’t ready for it. So I’ve learnt from … Continue reading

Week 9! NHS Couch 2 5K! Finish Line!

Finished!

9 weeks of NHS training program and I am a runner!

This week is just as expected, 3 runs of 30 minutes.

I did the first run with the podcast, another with my own music using my watch and the final listening to the podcast again.

I haven’t found it easy. I’m not a super sexy, easy runner. But I did run for 30 minutes without stopping. Plus I always feel good when I finish. I struggle a little through the runs, sometimes I feel close to the edge of my ability .But I can always keep going and I can always finish!

It’s absolutely awesome! In 21 years of being fairly fit and active I have never been able to run for much more than a few minutes and now I am running 2 and a half, nearly 3 miles.

My pace is average, quite slow but good.

I’m going to make sure I go for a run at least once a week so I don’t lose fitness, but as long as I have time I will be running for 3 days a week and work to increase how far I go in 30 minutes.

For anyone considering doing this then I would say YES YES YES! Honestly I thought I’d never be a runner and even though I do lots of walking, climbing & play sports I have never ever been able to jog and this has got me jogging easily! For 30 whole minutes! When I started the podcasts 5 minutes of jogging seemed like a marathon but in a few weeks 5 minutes is nothing.

Everyone can be a runner with a little help from the NHS. Thank you so much!

Week 8! NHS Couch to 5K

I feel great!

28 minutes runs! Get in there!

Each run is still tough. It’s a struggle. But the after feeling is fantastic. Every time 60 seconds left I get rocket shoes and get up to a near sprint at the end.

I haven’t been doing these podcasts regularly. Things have gotten in the way. But I’ve been doing them and I’ve completed each one!

When telling my friend he said “Why didn’t you do 30 minutes!?”. I thought this myself, I could do another 2 minutes! It’s only 2 minutes! But that’s what comes next and only once Week 8 is finished.

I’m still amazed at the progress I have made. I started this not being able to run for 3 minutes. I never thought I’d be able to run for 28 minutes. My pace isn’t bad either. 11/12 minutes miles! That’s good. I use MapMyFitness phone app to record the section I am running to get stats about speed and calories.

It is very important to me that I keep running. I don’t want to lose this new fitness I have. I don’t want to give it up because I know I will quickly decrease to being unable to run for very long again. I shall keep this up after completing and I shall keep my new stamina. Not only that but I want to improve! I want to up my speed! Faster, harder, fitter!

Bring on Week 9! Stay tuned for the final of my NHS Couch to 5K Experience!

Week 5! NHS Couch to 5K

Wow! This week really steps it up! Week 5 is split into three podcasts, each run is different!

Every session starts and finishes with a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down walk.

Run 1: 5 minute run. 3 minute walk. 5 minutes run. 3 minute walk. 5 minute run.

Run 2: 8 minutes run. 5 minute walk. 8 minute run.

Run 3: 20 minutes run.

Gosh! Having just completed Run 3, doing 5 minute runs in Run 1 feels so long ago! It felt like such an achievement. Each session I started off with a little bit of dread, then finished with a great feeling of elation and achievement! It sounds and feels like crazy progress but it really works. The big one is run 3, running for 20 minutes! I started off sure that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but quickly pushed that thought away and kept telling myself I could. Laura said I could do it too and I believed her!

It’s all about pacing yourself. Which is easy by now! Plus I find breathing nice and easy too! For the first few weeks I was panting away sucking in and out breath. During week 4 and 5 I’ve been able to concentrate on slow breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I still breath in through my mouth sometimes and get a little out of breath but that’s fine.

I couldn’t believe it when I ran for 20 minutes tonight! The most I had done was 8 minutes and suddenly I’d done 20 minutes! The feeling is awesome. And it’s doo-able! Almost easy! When Laura told me there was 2 minutes left I started pushing faster and getting less tired, almost as if I’d hit a runners high! (If there is such a thing). I actually struggled less on my 20 minutes run than on my 8 minute runs. Wow. To think only 5 weeks ago I couldn’t really run for more than 2 minutes, and some people can’t even do that when they start this. Running with my dog outside in the fresh air is so beneficial as well, and it’s great for my dog! Although he finds it far easy than me being a Border Collie.

This plan really really works! And feels sooo good. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done so far.

Big Year for Crufts

This year has seen a significant change for Crufts and the Kennel Club. In 2008 a TV show “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was shown on BBC One, which exposed the health and welfare problems faced by pedigree dogs in the UK. … Continue reading

Week 3! NHS Couch to 5K

Well this week was interesting.

Usual 5 minute warm up walk while Laura explains this weeks program.

90 seconds jogging. 90 second walk. 3 minutes jogging! 3 minutes walk.
90 sec jog. 90 sec walk. 3 min jog. 3 min walk cool-down.

Ouch! 3 minutes jogging?! Bit of a step up. But it’s not bad at all! Not easy, but not bad. It’s really important to keep a nice pace. If you find your pace then you can keep running without getting tired. The 3 minute walk feels quite long so you are more than recovered.

My legs were certainly feeling it at the end. In a nice way. I benefit a lot from taking a bottle of water with me and my running bottle with a handle is lovely.

My second run of the week didn’t really go to plan; turned down a public footpath thinking it was a nice shortcut to the tracks but no.. Up and down hills, through long grass and cow pat! Not the best training route.

I am feeling a bit fitter so far. Let’s see what Week 4 is going to bring!

[FYI: It is not me in the photograph, unfortunately, I cannot stride that long. That is my boyfriend & my dog.]