Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still Growing...

Getting Ready...
Members of the ICC Canine Display Team will be pleased to read that the number of photos in the ICC Dogs & Events set is still growing!

I'm now adding the more generic photos that were taken during the events. Forgive me if they are not as endearing as the more personal 'portrait style' photos, but that's just the nature of things and I'm afraid that I am much more of the 'arty-farty' type when it comes to photography.
Christina and Ruach
Again, there are still loads more to wade through so bear with me. As before, if there are any you would like me to email to you in full size, please do just ask via email: young.maz@googlemail

I'll keep adding a few more each day until I've added all the decent ones, or until I've dropped dead from exhaustion. :)

There are some photos that need the names of dog and/or handler filling in. If you are able to tell me who they are, please do let me know.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Alas, no Teal'c

Teal'c and Me (Photo by Lucy)
Firstly, I must say a thank you to Lucy for allowing me to use her photo of Teal'c and me that she took at Belton. Please do drop by her blog and see what her super-smart dogs are up to. Between you and me, I am thinking of stealing her dog, Trent, for my own selfish trick needs.

As readers will know from a previous entry, I was going to be home-boarding Teal'c the Rotweiller for a few days from tomorrow. Alas, I received a call today to say that she has suspected kennel-cough. Aside from the risk this could pose to Ellie if we took her in, we also have Jan's Mum staying with us from tonight, who has a compromised immune system, through her cancer treatment. Ergo, there's no viable way that we could home-board her. I'm gutted. I've been looking forward to home-boarding her for months now!

I really hope that she gets well soon. She's in my top three dogs that I just love to death.

Now I need to dedicate some time to Ellie. She's been a little neglected over the past couple of days, due to me processing videos and photos and decorating the spare bedroom. Next time, I'm training Ellie to do the painting!

Belton Videos are Done...

Phew, the rough uncut videos from Belton are off my camcorder and on YouTube at last. I've looked at that much video and that many photos my head is spinning.

The videos on YouTube are obviously of a much lower quality than what they were recorded in. This is for two reasons: 1. YouTube limits the maximum size and duration of each video, and 2. YouTube compresses each video as it is uploaded in order to save bandwidth costs. It is this that chiefly reduces the image quality.

However, fear not, I am working on a solution. Bear with me. I won't reveal it just yet as it many not even work yet!

In the meantime, I hope everyone gets at least a glimpse of themself in at least one of the videos. I tried to feature as many people and as many dogs as possible!

Back to editing photos for me...

I've added all the videos below so that they are in one handy spot...

Main Display Event

Puppy Socialising

Advanced Canine Obedience

Gail & Kez (Heelwork to Music)

Tricks Display

Christina and Team Encore

Belton Horse Trials - Christina and Team Encore

Final video showing Christina's routines and the final encore from the full team. Can I take a break now? :)


Belton Horse Trials - Canine Tricks Display

Members of the Icthus Canine Display Team perform some simple tricks for the crowds at Belton International Horse Trials, 2009.

Notice how my own dog, Ellie, moves much more slowly than the others? She's built for comfort, not speed. :)


Belton Horse Trials - Gail and Kez Heelwork to Music Routine

Gail and Kez, from the Icthus Canine Centre Display Team, perform a heelwork to music routine for the spectators at the Belton International Horse Trials, 2009.


Belton Horse Trials - Advanced Canine Obedience Routine

Here is the rough-draft video of the Advanced Canine Obedience held by our training centre, Icthus Canine Centre, at Belton International Horse Trials.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Belton: Puppy Socialising Video

Here is the rough-draft video of the Puppy Socialising demonstration held by our training centre, Icthus Canine Centre, at Belton International Horse Trials.


First of the Belton Videos

I've managed to edit a rough draft of the main canine display event that we took part in at Belton International Horse Trials. This is the first video. There are three or four others to follow, showing the puppy socialising, heelwork-to-music, etc.

Ellie is in there, though I've tried not to make it all about Ellie!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Belton Trials are Over...

We made it through the Belton Horse Trials without any real problems. A couple of the routines went a little wrong for one or two of the dogs, but not enough to spoil anything for the spectators. Overall, it went really well. I've got thirty minutes of fantastic video footage to get through and edit. Watch out for that in the next couple of days.

I have to say that I've loved every second of the last three days. What was there for me not to love? I was surrounded by a plethora of the most gorgeous dogs (especially Teal'cy, the Rotweiller who I am boarding next week), met some exceptionally nice people who were very patient with while I shoved my camera in their faces, and the weather was hot and sunny. In terms of photographs, it wasn't ideal taking photos in the midday sun, but I can't complain at all.
For the last day, I made a special effort to try to focus on the dog owners and the dogs, as opposed to just the dogs.

I hope that those who I captured will forgive me for my sometimes glaring errors, but I do hope that you are at least somewhat pleased with the final result, and that I've managed to do you and your canine friend(s) some justice.

Of course, I will always wish that I'd done x, y, or z a little better, but that's the artist in me.
Lucy and Ash II
I've lost count of the number of photos that I have to wade through and upload to my Flickr pages, but I took over a thousand. (Obviously, only the best few will see the light of day in the end.)

Ellie seemed to enjoy the outings and it also seems to have cured her of her fear of horses. Hey, if anything was going to solve it, I'd have put my money on it being her attending the Belton International Horse Trials.

You can view a slideshow of the dog photos, or view them individually.

Again, bear in mind that I'm still working my way through them all and so the set will grow each day for a while.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Think I Died...

Give me a dog for a day and I'm likely to dribble excitedly in its company. Give me a camera and I'm liable to talk complete gibberish for hours at a time. Give me dogs AND a camera and I'm like a puppy that has just discovered that a toilet rolls rip when it sinks its teeth into it...

Yesterday was the first day with Ellie as part of the ICC Canine Display Team at Belton International Horse Trials. She, like all the other dogs that formed part of the team, behaved perfectly well, and performed her part of the routine as expected. Come the day and come the hour, all dogs did remarkably well.
Teal'c II
However, I have a confession to make... The event took second place for me after the sheer love of being armed with a camera and enough dogs to keep me snapping pictures all day long. I was so spoilt for choice that I returned home with a staggering 350 images on my camera. After throwing out the obvious poor ones, I'm still left with 180, and that was just from Friday. I then took another 100+ on Saturday, though I took quite a few of the horses and some from Woodland Waters, where we visited on the way home. Lord help me, I still have Sunday to go yet!
It's going to take me quite a few days to filter through the images, though I do have a few already in my Flickr album. I have created a dedicated ICC Dogs and Events set of images so that people can find their respective dogs more easily. You can also view them in a larger format slideshow, which I think is preferable.

Please bear with me. I'm adding images as and when I go through them. I'm adding the individual dog images first, then the photos taken during the routines. Also bear in mind that I don't have the email addresses of individuals from ICC, so if you happen to know someone else, please do point them to the album too, as they may well want to see their photos too.

If anyone is able to help me put names to any of the dogs (and handlers) shown in any of the photos, that would be great. I hate leaving my photos without proper titles. You can contact me at if you can name any of the dogs. You just need to provide the current title number (example: DSCF7761) and the names of those shown in the corresponding photo.

It was great to meet so many 'dog people' at the event on Friday and Saturday, and I look forward to seeing them all again for the final day, tomorrow. There are so many talented dogs...
Incidentally, the Rottweiler (Teal'cy) featured in the photo above is the one who is coming to stay with me for a week next week. I shall be like a child in a sweetie-shop! I so love that dog! She's like a big gentle bear and it's just my favourite breed.

And finally, the images shown online are a lower-resolution and much smaller size than I have on my computer. I have to do this in order to reduce upload times and enhance download speeds, etc. If anyone would like an original full-size and hi-resolution copy of any pictures shown in the album, please do let me know and I shall e-mail you an original copy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a Week...

There's been a smell of cheap chicken wings and gristle-filled sausages wafting through the streets of Grantham lately. It must be quite a refreshing change for the local dogs. After months of walking along the pavements with their noses pressed to the cold concrete pavements (presumably to help avoid walking into one of the many 'puppy puddings' that seems to be increasingly prevalent lately) they are now each adopting a more snooty pose, as they stick their noses in the air, as though fitted with the latest canine must-have, the Sausage Positioning System.

This, of course, can only mean one thing - barbeque weather has fallen upon us. I know this because not only are the dogs walking along while constantly looking towards the clouds, but because, as I write this, I am fighting the urge to itch my shoulders, back, arms and legs. Yes, as predictably as a Brit heading straight for a British pub once he lands on a Spanish runway, in my desperate attempts to appear like a Moroccan labourer, I have overdosed on sunbathing.

Because of the sun we're eperiencing at the moment and because I'd rather not stay as red as an embarrassed lobster in a Soho shop window for the next week or two, I've taken to walking Ellie only in the cooler mornings and evenings. Much nicer and much more relaxing. Well, you would think so wouldn't you...

We live quite close to where Virgin release their air-balloons. People apparently pay Virgin good money so that they can see what they see every day but from a different angle. I'm actually thinking of planting a tall tree in my garden and inviting people to do pay me to climb it, but I digress...

The other evening I was walking Ellie. All was right with the world. Ellie was cheerfully chasing the ball through the long grass of the fields, the cooling breeze was massaging my shoulders and arms, and I was my pointing my camera at the spectacle of the overhead balloon that was gently sailing through the air. Mr Disney himself would have struggled to improve the moment. All was right with the world until the balloon wafted directly overhead and filled with gas at the same time. Have you heard the noise it makes? No? Neither had Ellie. She scarpered and I had memories of last year, when she almost ran home after hearing her first crow-scarer.

After finally coming back to me, she then ran up to every person she saw, begging them to shield her from the overhead ogre (which had actually left us some time ago).

The next evening was not quite so pleasant. I have a very firm belief that when I walk Ellie, or any of the home-boarding dogs that I take on, my responsiblity starts and ends with the dog I am walking. I am not there to take charge of other dogs, use my dog as a plaything for their dog, or to share my time with their dog. In the case of home-boarded dogs, I am paid to spend time with them and I take that very seriously. Nobody pays me to not focus on their dog when walking. I may say hello to people on my way around the fields, but that is generally it. I prefer to focus on my dog(s) and keep them out of trouble. So far, it has worked very well for me.

A few nights ago I was walking Ellie along the local fields. They are farm fields and go on for miles. We were happily playing ball when suddenly I felt a German Shepherd Dog around my legs. The owner, a Polish woman who I have encountered before when her GSD kept perstering Ellie, seemed to make no attempt to do anything. I continued to walk as I always do. (Again, I will not alter my plans for another dog and dog owner.) A few minutes later, I turned around, ready to show my disgust at the dog-owner, to find that she had vanished. Just walked off. The GSD pestered us for at least ten minutes along quite a distance. By this time, I had believed that the owner had left her dog and I was beginning to formulate my plan for an exit. How was I going to get both dogs to my house with only one leash for a start? I just knew that I couldn't leave it alone in a field.

After about fifteen minutes I saw a dot on the horizon. The owner had finally made an appearance. I watched as the GSD went running back to her. Was she delighted to be reuinited with her dog? Was she pleased that, despite everything, her dog went back to her in the end? If she was either of these things, she hid it very well. I was forced to watch from the distance as she forced the dog to the ground, beat it twice with her hand, and then whipped it with the leash several times. It stunned me that I could hear the dog yelping from the mammoth distance that was between me and them. To be honest, I wish she had never returned and that I'd taken the dog home with me...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Belton Horse Trials Update...

Further to my previous entry, regarding Ellie being in the canine display team at Belton Horse Trials, here are the times for the display.

Friday 24 April at 12:30

Sunday 26 April at 12:30

Please note that there is also a display on Saturday, but we will not be taking part in that one.

Ticket details can be found on the official website.

Going by the information that I have received, look for the James Wellbeloved stand and we won't be far away! I'll be the one clicking my camera like a mad-man. Here's hoping that all goes well on the day...

Hope to see you there...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ellie Helps to Combat the Global Recession...

During a global recession, everyone, including the dog, needs to do their bit to help save money.

Here, Ellie does her bit by putting aside some coins. You know, for a rainy day...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Book Review: My Llife With George, by Judith Summers

There is always a fine balance to be struck when writing a good 'dog book'. It's too easy to write exclusively about the dog and fail to allow the reader to appreciate the entire context of the story.

This title avoids that trap by carefully weaving between the author's personal life - in particular the men who she attempts to integrate into the life she shares with her son, Joshua, and her troubled Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, George.

For me, there is no doubt that the author is responsible for many of her dog's personality issues, but no more so than the thousands of similar dog-owners who, rightly or wrongly, treat their dogs in the same anthropormophic manner as she treats George. However, in terms of the physical ailments and accidents that George suffers, that is just bad luck - something which runs throughout the story in many different ways.

The story provides a fascinating glimpse into a life where the dog is king, and where all subjects must ultimately bend to the king's will. It will make you laugh, it may even irritate you at times and perhaps, when dealing with the issues of the loss of a loved one, make you sad, but there is no doubt that, one way or another, it will leave a lasting impression on you, if only to leave you fretting at not having adequate pet-insurance cover. A fascinating read!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ellie at Belton Horse Trials

I am pleased to be able to confirm that Ellie will be attending the Belton International Horse Trials this year, as part of a canine display team. We will be there on two dates: 24 and 26 of April.

The synchronised routine was practised for the first time last night and includes around thirty or so dogs and their handlers. The actual routine is only three and a half minutes long. However, there are then agility, heelwork-to-music, and trick displays. I heard a whisper that Ellie will also be taking part in the tricks section, but I haven't had that officially confirmed as yet.

Jan will be doing the handling on the day as, believe it or not, I'm quite the wallflower when it comes to publicity. So I shall be team photographer and videographer. That, I can do! :)

Thankfully, she's coming out of the phantom pregnancy. The only time she was a little unlike her usual self was when expected to weave between all the dogs. I'm sure that will calm down over the new few days, as her hormones return to normal.

So, if you happen to be a reader of this blog (and I know there are several who choose not to comment), happen to live in the UK, and are able to get to the Belton Horse Trials, we'd love to finally meet you!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Review: A Home for Rose

This is the second Jon Katz title that I have read. The first, A Dog Year, left me quite unimpressed. With that in mind, I wasn't expecting to enjoy A Home for Rose.

During the first three chapters, I felt the familiar disappointment, that I had felt in Jon's previous work, creeping up on me once more. I decided to stick with it regardless. I am so glad that I did.

Like digging for gold, there's a some hard grinding to get out of the way before you get to the real valuable material, but once there, the rewards are rich.

I loved the detail he gave throughout the book, particularly when referring to his new farm, Bedlam Farm, a place which I'm sure many of us Border Collie owners dream about in our sleep.

Jon purchases a farm so that he can give his dogs the life he always promised himself that he would give them, and let them herd sheep as they were intended to do. Little did he realise the work involved in maintaining a farm (complete with donkeys, sheep and three dogs) and surviving the harsh country winters.

The story is as much about Jon as it is about his beloved dogs. It's about Jon learning to accept help from new friends and neighbours, learning the real meaning of bonds (both canine and human), it's about him learning the harsh realities of living within a farm environment, and about making tough decisions, as he is forced to do with one of his dogs, Homer.

I really enjoyed the book (past chapter three) and was quite sad to get to the end. Defintely a book to curl up on the sofa and relax with. Just let Jon do the work of painting the pictures for you. Great book!

Have the tissues ready around chapter seven!

An Inspiring Video

Thanks go to Owner of Storm Glory and Rascally Jack for pointing me to this particular video. It shows a Border Collie going through around fifty different tricks.

I really loved the suitcase one! Enjoy...