My princesses

My photo
Sava Sara Brakada, AKA Xsara was born on 06-27-2004. She was raised in Kennel Brakada spending the first two months of her life on beautiful countryside Gorenjska (Slovenia) with her siblings and parents. As soon as she came to Ljubljana we started a puppy class, followed by an obedience class. She passed her B-bh exam with 96 points (instructor Agility EO winner Polona Bonač). We now continue with Rally-Obedience under Polona's supervision. Our biggest passion however is Agility. We started our first Agility class in October 2005 (club Agility Ilirija, instructor Silvia Trkman, two times agility world champion). When Silvia stopped teaching agility classes, we switched to Daša Zakotnik. We regularly participate in Agility trials in Slovenia and sometimes abroad. Xsara also loves to learn new dog tricks, you can see some of them in our videos. Her other passions include long walks, big meals and playing with dogs, specially her pyr shep sister Tani, her crazy agility pals and her sister Sena.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's Snow

We finally got our first REAL snow in Ljubljana, some of it actually stayed on the ground. It started snowing right on Christmas day, which was pretty. But the first agility-training-in-the-snow this year was even nicer! Since we can't film the skating video in the snow, I'm posting one of our runs today - and to prove you that we can run a little faster :) It was very slippery so I couldn't run as fast as Xsara, but I did my best.

We are going to the seaside for the New Year and we will stay there for a week. I will make the skating video there since they have no snow there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A New Challenge

Coming up soon: learning how to sk8 :)

I bought a skateboard today and we'll see how it goes, but I think she'll love it - she saw it for the first time and she just stepped on it like a pro! This time I decided to film every step of our progress and make a short video about teaching this trick. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Trial in Postojna - Video

I'm posting a video of our first run on Saturday. She was very slow, that's always the case when she's in heat. Also the carpets were really bad, it was hard to run on them. But we managed to get through this run without faults. The second run however ... also had many turns and it was just too difficult for us. As I said in the previous post, many other dogs had course problems as well: I checked out the results and apparently only 45 dogs qualified out of 180 competitors! I've never seen so few dogs qualify, it's kind of funny. Anyway - thanks to Petrca for the video!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Trial in Postojna

Yesterday's trial was kind of amusing since the courses were very difficult. There were many competitors but only a few dogs qualified. In our cathegory only two dogs qualified in the first run (Xsara was one of them) but both had off-courses in the second run. So in the end - nobody qualified. Other cathegories had similar problems, only a few teams managed to get through both courses. But it was fun to see all of our friends again and spend a day with them. It even started snowing again. We only have a sample of snow for now, but Xsara loves it anyway. It's great to see her having so much fun!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Right Legs Up!

We did it! Inspired by Silvia's two legged tricks we started learning them as well. It took us a couple of weeks to learn "right legs up", but we did it!

We can move on to the last one now, which is "diagonal legs up". We want to do it before the winter is over :)

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Big Decision

After three years of research, pro-con lists and discussions I finally decided to have Xsara spayed. Yesterday I talked to our vet and seems like January is the month (she's in heat now so we have to wait). It's one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make but I came to the conclusion it's best for her. If any of you have experiences in this field, it would be great if you would share them with us. Preferably happy stories but all information is welcome!

Another thing I wanted to say: as most of you know, the new DWB calendar is out! All DWB calendars are awesome, but I think this year they really outdid themselves. It includes many different dogs, most of them are our dear friends (and they were very sweet to think of us as well). To view the pages and order it simply click the following image:

It's for a good cause since ALL of the profit goes to doggy rescue!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Training Hounds

Can hounds be trained? You obviously know what my opinion is :) But many people believe they are too stubborn. I get a lot of mail from people all over the world who want to train their beagles but are told by trainers that it can't be done. It makes me very mad. Sure they can be trained, have patience! Since Xsara is my first dog I can't compare working with a beagle to other breeds but now that we know each other it's easy to work with her. It used to be hard in the beginning but we had talented people who helped us. We still had to do all of the actual work ourselves, but it was easier. So, my opinion is:
they can be trained, they are amazingly smart animals, you just need a different approach.
They won't work unless they want to so you need to convince them this is what they want. You need to reward them a lot and it's better if you don't do a lot of repetition because they get bored.

Otherwise not many news to report. Xsara is in heat again, she is unusually lazy during this period and doesn't have as much appetite as otherwise. I try to maintain the same level of activity with her but it's hard because she needs to be on leash on our walks. And she wants to cuddle all the time, which is really sweet.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Teaching Tricks

We are getting a lot of questions about teaching tricks, so I posted some indications in Xsara's Forum. If your dog knows any fun tricks, you can share them with us, we would love to read about them.
One of the most difficult things we had to learn (besides the destroying-things-is-NOT-good lesson) was how to play. Some dogs always love to play, you just show them a ball or start tugging and that's it. Xsara is not that kind. I had to intentionally teach her how to play (I used the food tube because she likes food). She's crazy about her yellow toy now and training is a lot easier this way. However some dogs might never get toy crazy and that's fine, they just need another type of motivation. But I guess the more ways you can get your dog's attention, the better.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Puppy Disaster

People always assume Xsara was an obedient puppy because she knows so many tricks now. To tell you the truth - she wasn't! She was destroying my things, listened to me only when she wanted to and she was making me crazy sometimes. The only reason why this behavior changed is TRAINING. She is teaching me so much about dogs, difficult dogs will do that to you. To show you what I mean, I created this funny album with some of her best artworks (I didn't make photos of all of them, mainly because at one point I stopped finding it funny). You can view it clicking on this button:

Seeing this photos anyone will agree I simply have to work with her if I want to live with her, and I love every second of our training. I really believe she needs this - she was bred for work and since I can't go hunting with her, the least I can do is work with her in a different way. And working with her is the best thing in my life. When I can see how she finally understood a new trick or finish a nice run with her, that's just the best feeling ever. It's as close to perfection as one can get!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

First Snow

First of all: we got our first blog award thanks to our new friend Momo. She says: "this award is presented to a successful blogger, one who can “be the blog” - making it their own, staying with it, interacting with the readers, and just plain having fun." Thank you so much, Momo! We want to pass it onto Jazz and Dixie, Randi, Pacco, and Million Dollar.

This morning we got our first snow of the year in Ljubljana. I'm not crazy about snow but Xsara loves it so much that I'm still happy when I see it outside. The snow is not visible on this picture from our morning walk, but it started snowing a lot more just now so it will definitely be more obvious on the next pictures. Since we couldn't go to Belgium we will at least manage to give Xsara a nice long walk in the snow.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good, Bad And In Between

Good news and bad news.
The good news is Xsara is one of the calendar girls for Slovenian Agility Calendar. You can view the entire calendar and order it on Agility Portal. I think that Andraz Cerar and Iztok Noc have done an amazing job, again! The calendar is just beautiful.
The bad news is we had to cancel the agility trial in Belgium (Kortrijk Euro Dog Show) because two of the girls we were supposed to go with got sick and have very high fever. We were really looking forward to it but health comes first. If the weather is nice we will use the weekend to go somewhere else instead.

Another thing I want to share - I just loved the tip of the month by Maureen deHaan in the latest issue of Clean Run: "When things go really bad and frustrating during a training session, stop and hug your dog. You can't hug your dog and be mad at the same time." Very nicely put and so very true - don't you agree?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

So Much To Do

We are working on a lot of things at the moment. First of all we are trying to improve our turns using Silvia Trkman's famous Cik&Cap method. You can read all about it on her very cool and educational website which can be found clicking here. We're still in the inital part of it because I don't want to rush her. I want her to be 100% sure what I want from her before I start including it in our agility training. I don't want her to be confused about anything - plus it wouldn't really help our training since the main goal is to improve times and you can't do that if the dog is unsure.
Other than that we are working on changing position from distance for our RO class. It's going very well - she can now go from lay down to sit, from sit to lay down and from sit to stand from about 10m to 15m away from me, which is quite good for two days of training it.
Of course we are also working on some new tricks but I'm not giving out anything - it will all be in Xsara's new video which I will hopefully manage to make very soon.
For those who haven't noticed I also posted Slovenian agility regulations in Xsara's Forum. Check it out if you are interested. That's it for today - have fun by

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Crazy Agility People

I remember the first time I thought we were becomming obsessed with agility. We had been training for a couple of months and my trainer Silvia Trkman told me I could come again on Saturday. "But Saturday is Christmas Eve ...". She gave me a very confused look: "That's OK, you can come next week then". And all I could think was - I would rather be here than anywhere else. I mean, I was gonna take Xsara for a walk anyway, what difference does it make. We usually go out of town for New Year but not Christmas, I'm never having people over for dinner since everybody knows I can't cook, and most of all "what else would I rather do on my day off"? I guess that Christmas Eve I officially became
The crazy agility person - and proud of it!

This Saturday we had no trials - the season is over and Winter Cup hasn't started yet. We're going to do some trials abroad and train a little more until this break lasts. Fortunately we have a lot to work on!

Thanks to Sandra for this photo.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Helping Železniki

A Slovenian region Železniki was recently badly damaged by a storm. On Saturday we had two canine events to raise money for these people. The first event was an agility trial and all the incomes went to the Canine Training Center of the region. They will buy new agility obstacles with the money. The other event was a Beagle Gathering (thanks to Boštjan for the photo) organised by our breeder who also lives in the damaged area. The money was raised to help one of the families who lost most of their belongings in the tragedy. It is always nice to help people and we are very glad that we could do so. Unfortunately both events were on the same day so we couldn't stay through the whole of them. But I was happy with one agility run (we had an off-course because of a very stupid mistake of mine, but the rest of the run was great) and it was nice to spend the afternoon with other beagle lovers. We are very proud to be a part of this dogs-loving community that is so willing to help the others! Again thanks to Petrca for the video!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Our First RO Trial

The first Rally-Obedience trial went surprisingly well. We lost most pts on the table since I wasn't confident Xsara would do it from 10 metres and I went closer. We also lost pts on other agility obstacles - the jump was the 1st exercise and Xsara thought this was an agi trial and wanted to run over it. Later on there was the exercise where the dog must heel while you are making circles. On every right turn the dog had the entrance into the tunnel right in front of the muzzle. My agi doggy wanted to go in so bad - she didn't but she kept looking in that direction. Other exercises went well - we gained 65/75 pts and finished on 8th place out of 21 dogs (but only 3pts after the dog that placed 2nd which is probably what we lost on the table). Meaning we passed the RO-I exam and are now allowed to compete. We both definitely prefer agility but it would be fun to do RO trials every now and then.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Xsara Is The National Champion

Xsara is National Champion of Slovenia in her class (A2/J2 M)!

Saturday was the final of National Championship. I was feeling very sick that day and I was handling her horribly. We had two off-courses, but we had enough advantage from previous trials to win the Championship anyway (only one dog could have beaten us for one point if she won but she also had off-course). Anyway, I still can't believe it, I am so proud of Xsara. She really is an amazing beagle and we are lucky enough to have amazing trainers in our club (Silvia Trkman, Polona Bonač and Daša Zakotnik). We still have a lot to work on but seems like we're on the right track.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Beagle Doggy Tricks part 2

We had no trials yesterday. It was kind of weird having so much free time. We decided to make a trip to the seaside and film the second part of Xsara's tricks. I thought it would be nice to do it before I go to Norway. So ... let me know what you think! We forgot to film some of the tricks so I guess we will have to include them the next time ...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eukanuba Cup 2007

Yesterday was the finale of Eukanuba Cup. I was on a concert in Italy the night before the trial and I came home at 6:30 A.M. At 8 A.M. we were already in Hrušica. I was barely walking but we still managed to have two clean runs with no points on time. But our timing was pretty bad (for obvious reasons) and we finished on 3rd place. We had some good results on other Eukanuba trials and had enough points to be 2nd for this set of trials. The other big set of trials in Slovenia is National Championship, which will end in October.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Agility in Ljubljana, 08.09.2007

This is the video of our second run (jumping) on Saturday's trial. Thanks to Petrca for the video!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Another Trial in Ljubljana

On Saturday we had a trial here in Ljubljana. The course was very weird, I made myself really dizzy running it but Xsara took it pretty well. I was happy because the contacts were done as I wanted and trained them. We had two clean runs and managed to run them fast enough with no points on time. We finished on 3rd place. I was incredibly happy with Xsara's performance. The main problem is in me - I know I should trust her more and run faster, just like we do on training. I'm working on it. Patience ...

We have the introduction meeting for Rally-O tonight, I just can't wait!

P.S.: The entire blog is now in English.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Trial Season Still Going On

Xsara was a very good girl on Saturday's trial. She placed 2nd. The courses were very difficult so I had to make a lot of crosses to cover the way to the wrong obstacle. This showed on our time but otherwise both runs were clean. The team run was a little worse but it didn't change the end result. She was also very good on training today, but she shocked me when one dog tried to attack her and she defended herself angrily. Naughty girl! Now she's laying in bed, all four paws in the air and happily snoring.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Back From Vacation

We are finally back after successfully passing my last exam on the faculty and now only a half of an easy project and the diploma separates me from becomming a journalist. Xsara was the main attraction on holidays. People even asked us if they could take pictures with her on the beach and her tricks were always accompanied by loud a applaus. But she was very happy to come back home. She doesn't really like the sea itself, she only went swimming a couple of times and she only did it to get a cookie. Otherwise she loved laying on the beach, going for walks and developped an infinite desire to catch and retrieve a ball or any other toy. Finally!

Unfortunately we weren't able to include this new talent in our performance on 4fun trial and agility training. I just couldn't concentrate. Even though I never check the combined results during the season I accidently came to know that we were in the lead for National Champioship (Our Sašo wrote it in a famous slovene canine magazine Moj Pes and of course I had to read it). Well, there are three more trials and the situation could change. But it doesn't really matter, as long as Xsara likes to work I'm happy. I can't wait for the trial tomorrow! I missed the trials so much over the summer that I built a course with legos. It even has the timing devices (alge timing). I'm not very talented for arts but I just love to be crafty!