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.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Busy Like A Really Busy Bee

Seems like there's never a dull moment around here. We had another pretty eventful weekend, and I have photos to prove it! Let's start with Friday, when our beloved car had her service (of course my car is a "she"), leaving us immobile for the entire day. You can imagine how happy we were when a friend invited us to Šmarna gora, a small hill here in Ljubljana. Unfortunately our car wasn't done in time for our RO class, so we practiced some new tricks at home and went to bed early before the Saturday's trial.

The first trial for Eukanuba cup 2008 was in Gornja Radgona, about two hours from Ljubljana. There were many Hungarian and Austrian teams, since it's close(r) to the borders. Our first run was bad, but it was a clean run. In the second run, however, we got many faults. Since the courses were very difficult many teams were disqualified and we still finished on 2nd place, but that's no excuse for my poor handling. Xsara did great, and as soon as I start to trust her more, our trial performance will have a lot better chance.

I hope my ring nerves calm down by June, because I entered us into IABC (International All Breed's Cup), which will be held in Hungary. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing, but I think it will be a lot of fun. There will be great judges, many runs and many different breeds, so I'm already looking forward to it.

Most of our agility buddies went to a trial in Croatia on Sunday, so we rediscovered the joy of having to work on Sundays. Unable to attend the trial, we went hiking to the spring of Kamniška Bistrica. It would have been great to go to the trial, but this was a good substitute. Here are some of my favourite photos of this trip - you can click on a photo for better quality:

Thanks to Alja and Chappi for our photos from the trial! Alja also took this cute picture of Xsara on Saturday:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beagle's Stuff

Unfortunately, our agility class on Monday was cancelled because of the storm, but it stopped raining by the evening so we didn't have to cancel the Rally-Obedience class. We decided we would be doing courses on Mondays and new things on Fridays. Xsara did horrible at first, she refused to heel and acted as she had never done any obedience in her life, but after a while she became her normal self again and worked very well for the rest of the class. I guess it's just "beagle's stuff" - I think she is very reliable for a beagle, but sometimes she has to remind me that she is a beagle, and I believe it's best to deal with this issue with a lot of patience.

We had agility training today, and she did quite well. You can see how sad she was while she had to wait for her turn. She knocked one bar and analyzing the video I think I probably made her turn left too quickly, while she was still in the air. The rest of the training was quite OK, I think our running-in-the-mornings is starting to pay off, which makes me extremely happy (but I still have to work on MY running a lot!). I'm posting two videos of our runs - the quality sucks, but you can see the dog and most of the obstacles, which I guess is the point :) Unfortunately you can't see the weaves, but the entrance was very difficult, so she did a really good job finding it right away. You will notice I was out of breath - in my defense I have to say that we had to move all of the obstacles (including the contacts) to the other part of the ring before our class. And they were heavy. Thanks to Simona for filming us.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forester's Valley

We were discovering the beauties of our country a little further yesterday. We went to Logarska dolina in Solčavsko. There was still some snow in the valley and a lot of it on the mountains. We could see some snowslides higher up. The weather was perfect all the way, so we really enjoyed roaming around the woods and streams. I was surprised to see how well Xsara behaved being in the woods off-leash. She was constantly paying attention to me and even when I saw that she scented a trail, her recall was absolutely perfect.

We went from the valley to waterfall Rinka. It was funny to see how many people drove there instead of walking, I just don't understand them. They don't know how much they have missed. But that was actually good news for us because we hardly met any people on the footpath - in fact, we only met one couple who gave up half-way to the waterfall and returned to the valley. So Xsara could remain off-leash for the entire time.

We decided we will go hiking somewhere higher for our next trip - this time we only had half-day off because I had to go to work afterwards. I already have so many ideas for the next weekend without trials - which will be in June, by the way :) Hopefully we will find a way to do it sooner. In the meantime, we will continue with little trips that can be equally fantastic.

Anyway, as a result, Xsara was happy and tired, so she just crawled in her bed (and transferred to my bed when the lights went off). We have agility and RO today but the weather-people say we will have storms in the afternoon so it's possible our classes could be cancelled. If that happens, we will have to find something else to do. Any ideas?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Xsara's Little Sister

Having two beagles is SOOOOO difficult (for further explanation, see the photo). Unfortunately, we only had Sena for two days, then her human baby-sister got a fever - her people decided to stay at home and they wanted their dog back. I didn't expect her to go home so soon so I didn't make any photos of our walks (I was too busy trying to have both of them under control so I could only photograph them when they were too tired to jump around).

I decided I will try working with Sena and see how it goes. She is very different from Xsara, so I will have to discover a different approach for her, but I think it will be an interesting experience. She is way more shy and kind of insecure so it takes her quite some time to respond sometimes, but she is so happy when she gets it right that it's funny to watch her. I think it would be really good for her to "get it right" on a regular basis and see how her self-esteem rises.

Xsara behaved well with another dog in her house - but then again, Sena is her BFF and sister (from the same pack) so I still don't know how she would adjust to another dog in the house. For now, I'm hoping for the best and when the time is right, we will see.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Trial Videos

Here are the videos of our runs on Saturday - thanks to Petra who is always so kind to film us.

First run (Agility):

Second run (Jumping):

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Veni, Vidi ... Succeedy

The first trial since January went incredibly well. Both our runs were clean and fast enough to bring us the first place in A2/J2 cathegory. The course was very muddy and slippery so I almost fell a couple of times, but I was happy with my handling - I think my directions were clear even on the tricky spots and Xsara was able to understand them on time. I have the video of our first run but it's very poor quality. I hope I will get a higher quality version and post it this week, otherwise I will just post the one I have. Anyway, I am very happy with how the trial went and with Xsara's performance - in addition the weathermen were wrong again and we had almost no rain all day, it was actually sunny most of the time. All in all, this was probably one of my favorite trials so far.

The day ended with another exciting news. We will get to doggy-sit Xsara's sister Sena this week (and in May, too). Her people even said I can try taking her to agility and if she will work with me maybe compete with her, too. Now, that would really be fun!

I'm also posting a photo of a new trick - this is not the "secret" trick I was talking about before, but I think it looks pretty cool. I haven't named it yet, but I will probably call it "get in the bowl" if I don't get any better ideas (I always add the verbal cue in the last step of teaching a trick). The "secret" trick is taking a little longer because we have a lot of other work now (with advanced RO class, agility and regular ground-work), but it's coming, I promise!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Training Video

I haven't posted any new agility videos in a while, so ... This is one of our runs yesterday, when we were training. Remember Xsara is a barker, so you might want to have the volume on your PC low before viewing the video :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Family Matters

The last trial-free weekend is over. We enjoyed having free weekends for a while and visit so many beautiful places that we never have the time to visit, but we really miss trials and friends, so we are looking forward to Saturday.

This weekend we visited Xsara's doggy family. First we went to see her breeder and both parents - the photo was taken from the car on our way there so it's not the best quality, but on the right you can see the village where Xsara was born. The breeder is always so happy to see her and Xsara likes going there, too. I think we are really lucky to have a breeder who cares about her pups so much, and she is always very glad to help us with advice so I enjoy chatting with her. She organizes one or two reunions every year but we often can't attend them because we have trials on weekends. The next reunion will be in June, and the trial will be quite near by, so we will try to attend both events if it will be possible.

Then, the following day, we went for a walk with Luna and Xsara's sister and BFF Sena. We met a lot of other beagles, including Snoopy who is their borther from the same pack. It was nice to see them running around together for over three hours. Sena will be staying with us for one week in May, and I'm so excited - I doubt we will give her back easily :)

On Sunday we attended the first Frisbee 4Fun trial in Slovenia. Of course, we were just cheerleading for our friends, and not participating. I never knew what dog-frisbee looked like and have a much better idea now. It seems like a lot of fun (I particularly liked the freestyle acts), but I'm not really sure Xsara would enjoy fetching frisbees. Maybe we will try it out and see how it goes. We, however, have so many other things right now that it's hard to find time for everything - we are starting our RO II class today, by the way.

I'm posting the video of Xsara's friend Bode and his mom Manca who organized the whole event. Bode was quite tired because they had two days long frisbee seminar before the trial, but he still did great - specially considering this sport is so new in Slovenia. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

TV Star

A little update on our jogging: until yesterday I kept trying off leash. And what happened yesterday? There were no other people or animals that I could see and our jogging route is far from any traffic, so I tried running ahead to see if she would follow me. Maybe the fun was in me chasing her and she would follow if I didn't do that. Well, yes - she followed, but only after rolling in something so disgusting until she smelled so bad that I had to bathe her twice. I think this was probably her April Fool's joke for me :)

So I decided to give the "leash-around-my-belt" a try. We tried it for the first time today, and we'll see how it goes. Since she doesn't have the running ahead of me in agility fully learned, we now jog on leash in one direction, and return sprinting with the ball (like before). This exercise is going really well, so I'm starting to include turns and changes of direction. I would, for example, run full speed until she was at least a couple of steps ahead of me, then say "left" or "right" and throw the ball in that direction. I really try to move my shoulders as well as my arms when I throw the ball, because this way my body language is more apparent to her (I don't want her to overthink it, I want her to just run, run, run). I'm definitely seeing progress, and I hope we will be able to get advantage of this on course.

And an exciting news: a lady with a golden retriever we occasionally meet on our walks told me today that she saw Xsara on TV again. They filmed her during the charity run for Repkov Sklad we attended (the journalist saw us doing cop-cop and asked if they could film it). You can see the TV show here - Xsara is on 12:56 for about ten seconds.