When I got my second Cockapoo (Basil) I made up my mind that I would have to learn to groom the boys myself. Although it was a decision based mainly on cost, it was also an opportunity to try and achieve the 'look' I like best, balancing practicality with the shaggy character of Cockapoos.

I have attended the One Day Grooming Course, Pampered Pooch ( Merrist Wood College, nr Guildford, Surrey)  twice, once with Rufus and once with Basil. I took Rufus back in October 2011. The course covered brushing out and dematting, washing, drying, clipping, scissoring and finishing (ears, feet, toenails etc). It was an intense day running from 10am until 4pm. There were 8 of us on the course and we all worked at our own pace with the tutor taking us individually on to the next stages.

I was pleased with the result and more than anything I felt confident to be able to have a go at home. I'm never so keen on the 'I've just been to the groomers' look but I've got years ahead of me to experiment!

A few weeks ago I had Rufus back on the table for a second time since doing the course. I am very fortunate at home as we have a downstairs wetroom which was adapted for my disabled son. It works a treat for grooming the dogs and rinsing them down after muddy walks!

Rufus sitting ready on the table. I adore this look but his coat was becoming very high maintenance.
A thorough wash before cutting is important as a dirty coat will blunt scissors and clipper blades. Rufus loves a wash........not!
How bouffant! A clean and dry Rufus awaits the clippers!
Finished at last!
We were taught to start with a complete brush through to get rid of any matts,starting with paws and working up.
Clippers will not run through a wet coat so if clipping on the same day as washing then a blaster/dryer is invaluable. The dryer is also useful in showing up missed matts as it blows the coat sections apart.
Rufus is having a clip using a number 6 comb attachment.
The whole process took me about five hours. I take my hat off to groomers. It is only really when you do it yourself that you really appreciate the work that goes into a full groom. I'm sure I'll get quicker....at least I hope so!
The agility club I belong to is MAD! Millbrook Agility Dogs. Each winter, during the quiet season of agility competitions,  our club, which has 300 members, runs a Winter League consisting of four competitions held between November and February. There are three categories: Never Competed (never entered a Kennel Club or UK Agility Competition), Grades 1-2 and Grades 3-7. Each competition consists of  2 courses: Agility and Jumping. Points are awarded from 200 (first place) down to 0 (elimination), and the person with the most points at the end of the four league competitions gets a free 10 week agility course (one class per week). Rufus and I are in the Never Competed category and at 20" high Rufus jumps large height. At the point of entering the fourth Winter League we were joint 7th on the leader board having achieved a first and second place in previous events. There was everything to play for!

Rufus adores agility. However, recently his excitement level has been going through the roof, so much so that his 'wait' at the start of courses has become non-existent. This is something I seriously need to work on as you will see in the first video. His lack of  a wait meant we had to start together and as Rufus came out of the tunnel he took a right turn instead of going on ahead.....meanwhile I was several metres behind! Here I am calming him at the start whilst waiting for the nod from the judge.

The last photo cracks me up. We had finished the course on the jump shown in the bottom left corner but Rufus was off for another round! The result was elimination in the agility round but we really enjoyed running the course. Here are two videos of the rounds we did. First the agility round:
Next the jumping round. This was a very frustrating round as we were going clear right until the last jump which Rufus missed! A refusal! It is interesting to note that I chose to switch sides after I had sent Rufus into the tunnel. It's a valid move but not the best to use with an inexperienced dog (and handler!) as when Rufus exited the tunnel he immediately turned to his right to find me resulting in a time wasting circle!
We left this competition without any rosettes but with an enthusiasm and determination to carry on training hard!

STOP PRESS! The Winter League results are now through. On the leader board we came 2nd in the Never Competed category and 7th over all (145 competitors). I'm one happy Bunny!
So why start a blog? Have I not enough things to fill my day? In a word, yes........... so the housework will have to go 'by the bye'! Simples!

This blog, I hope, will serve about three purposes.

1. It is an account of the lives of my two boys, Rufus and Basil. A keepsake or living memory box. I hope to be able to look back over time and really see the progress we have all made.

2.  I plan to set goals and training projects. In doing so in a public blog I am making myself accountable to anyone who wishes to follow our progress. "My name's Karen and I'm going to train my dogs to........"!

3.  In the same way that I have picked up tips from following friends' blogs, I hope that our journey may inspire others to take on little training projects or have a go at grooming. Alternatively you may just wish to sit back and enjoy!

I am a dog owner. I am not a professional groomer nor am I a professional dog trainer. This is a journey of discovery, training and grooming. There will inevitably be lows along the way but I truly hope there will be highs too. This blog website is a work in progress and as I am not particularly technically gifted it may take me a while to get to grips with how everything works. Bear with me and do pop back regularly.

It's a wonderful life .......It's a Cockapoo Life!