Plus one

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It’s been a while since my last post…  There have been some other demands on my time, the nicest of which is our new young pup, Sparky. Here she is with the rest of the gang enjoying the marshy banks of the River Adur.

If you’d like to get better acquainted with Sparky, please check out my new blog ‘Sparky Barky’

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Votes, please!

It’s been a while since I started this blog. I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts and photos and hearing the feedback that people have given me in return. I hope it has given you as much pleasure as it has given me.

My Dad, who is one of my regular readers, recently suggested that I try entering my photos in an online competition, so I thought I might have a go at the Kennel Club Dog Photographer of the Year contest.

I’d love to know what you think, so please take a moment to have a look at the images shown here (click on any image for a larger view) and let my know which ones are your favourites.

Fingers crossed… here we go!

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Stormy weather

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The forecast is certainly gloomy… and I’m not talking about the weather. Today is budget day and the outlook is not good.

Unemployment figures are up, growth forecasts are down. The rich get richer, while the poor shoulder the burden and the country hurtles towards a triple-dip recession.

Meanwhile, George Osborne is ploughing on regardless with his austerity measures, despite growing public conviction that austerity is harming, rather than healing the economy.

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When I could bear to listen to the rolling news coverage no longer, the dogs and I headed out to forget our budget blues over at Devil’s Dyke.

Nothing raises the spirits like the company of happy hounds. So, while the country runs to rack and ruin, there’s still one pleasure that Osbourne hasn’t found a means of taxing yet, and that’s where you’ll find me; outside, enjoying the fresh air, in the Great British countryside.

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Snow joke

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Really, this is going too far now.

When the weather man predicted snow this week, I felt pretty confident that Brighton would be exempt. I mean… the rest of the South East maybe, but not here.

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We Brightonians nestle cosily between the Channel and the hills of the South Downs, which gives us our own little microclimate. Or so I thought.

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I was still in denial when a light powder began to fall on Monday. “It’ll never settle,” I thought. On Tuesday, I awoke to find the snow still falling and the van buried up to it’s knees! But, by midday, the sun was blazing and most of the snow was gone.

Never have the effects of climate change been more apparent. It’s no joke. But at least the dogs are having a good time!

hungarian puli, pumi, dogs, snow

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All I need…

It’s been a funny old week, full of ups and downs.

I started the week by succumbing to a bug that has been doing the rounds. Then on Thursday, I bumped someone’s car and got into an altercation that didn’t end too agreeably. But I was deeply touched by the support and love shown by friends and my wonderful husband.

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I can dwell of misfortunes, sometimes, but Friday was such a beautiful spring day that everything fell into perspective.

When the doggies and I arrived at Devil’s Dyke for our walk, we found the car park full and the grassy area by the pub filled with the brightly coloured chutes of paragliders. The air was electric. It felt as if we had stumbled upon an airborne carnival.

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The dogs were clearly feeling it too, as they delighted me with their antics, running and leaping and just generally enjoying the sun on their backs and the rarified mountain air.

When we got back to the car, I found that the lyrics of a song had infiltrated my brain. It was the Hollies’s “The air that I breathe.”

Never a truer word.

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Fond farewell

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The year may not be new any more, but it’s never too late to take stock.

A lot has happened since my last post… a landmark birthday, Christmas, the untimely death of a lovely friend, new year, new hobbies, new pastimes, new friends…. always something going on. So let’s rewind and take a moment.

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The first time I met Caroline, I had just run a beautiful clear round with Poppy at an agility competition. Caroline was waiting for me at the finish line. She and Barney had also run a super clear, but she wanted to congratulate us on our achievement. “What teamwork…” I remember her saying.

Caroline and I waited together while the last of the mediums ran the course, to see if we had won a place. Poppy and I took first place that day; Caroline and Barney took second. It was perhaps the only time we ever beat them, but the genuine interest that Caroline always showed in the progress of her competitors won her a place in all of our hearts.

In the months that followed, Caroline and Barney went from strength to strength. Their rise through the grades was rapid and well earned. But after a while, I noticed that each run seemed to take more and more out of her. It was then that Caroline told me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I think agility gave Caroline something other than her illness to focus on. She continued to compete throughout her treatments… continued to climb the ranks… continued to show great generosity of spirit and concern for her friends and fellow competitors.

In the summer of 2012, Caroline and Barney qualified to compete at Crufts the following year, but it was not meant to be. On the 29th December 2012, she passed away in the arms of her loving husband Steve. There is no rhyme or reason. Sometimes life just sucks.

Caroline was a beautiful woman in every way and her life was cut cruelly short. The last few times I saw her were at various shows and competitions. I knew the cancer was back, but I always seemed to be rushing to run one or other of my dogs before my class closed. I just didn’t believe that the end was so near.

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In retrospect, I think this is the way that Caroline would have wanted it. No long drawn out goodbyes, just a “How did your run go? Are you winning? Ah well… better luck next time.”

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My friendship with Caroline has taught me this… none of us knows how long we have got, so let’s all strive to achieve what Caroline had. Value those we love. Make time for the things we love doing. Nothing else really matters.

RIP Caroline. It was an honour to know you. I will remember your spirit of adventure and competition always and just hope that as my own agility career progresses, I will show similar support and inspiration to those who follow me.

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Poppy’s Christmas Stocking Request

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“Maybe Christmas,” she thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”
Dr Seuss

But Santa, I wondered… perhaps we could help?
I could sing Christmas carols with my high pitched yelp?
Oh, that’s not to your liking, then maybe… one day
My friend Twinkle and I could help pull your sleigh.

It’s such a big job, I don’t want to mess up
So I might need some training to be a good pup.
I’ve made up a list of some things that we’ll need…
Just a few modest items that I hope you’ll heed:

Clix agility weave poles and jump so we’ll fly
And, please… two Vivid collars to light up the sky.
And to make it complete, so we’re easy to see
We’ll need high vis dog jackets by Flectalon please.

When our work has been done and the presents delivered
We’ll have Orijen Regional Red for our dinner.
But Santa said “Poppy, I have to say no,
So to GJW Titmuss I think you should go.”

This post was written as an entry to the GJW Titmuss Blogger Challenge. If we win, Poppy and Twinkle will get £200 worth of goodies in their Christmas stocking, so here’s hoping…

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