It seems hard to believe that little Basil is now a year old. Time for a little photo story of his first year I think.....

Basil was born on 4th June 2011. He was one of a litter of 10 pups born to beautiful Molly. There was a huge range of colours in her litter: Black, chocolate, blonde, black and white parti, chocolate and white parti and chocolate roan.
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Basil has a solo cuddle with mummy Molly.
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A stunning range of colours. I love the blonde half way down on the right hand side. Looks just like a little lamb!
In June 2011, just as Rufus turned two years old, we put a deposit down with Jukee Doodles for a second Cockapoo. Given the popularity of JD's pups we wanted to get in high on the list for a Spring/Summer 2012 puppy. I believe we were second on the list and delighted that we really would have the choice of pretty much any puppy we wanted. Towards the end of July Jukee Doodles posted photographs of the remaining available puppies on their website. The top photograph was of a stunning black and white boy. 'Bumble' was going to be a JD "keeper" as they loved everything about this puppy - colour and character and as a result he had not been out for the selection days. At the last minute JD decided to release him for sale. I was on the phone immediately.  We met Basil (Bumble) on the way up to our holiday in the Lake District at 9 weeks old and collected him on our way home at 10 weeks old!
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This photo was taken of Basil at 9 weeks old when we dropped in to Jukee Doodles to meet him and confirm our purchase. I think we took about three seconds to confirm!
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This photo really shows Basil's glorious colour. He is black and white parti with loads of ticking. I adored the white tip on his left ear which has now pretty much disappeared.
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At 10 weeks old we picked up Basil on our way back from holiday.
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One very relaxed pup!
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Fun in the park.
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Did someone say rain? Finding a use for Zoe Greyhound.
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Basil finally got Rufus to accept him after just two and a half days.
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Basil does have his own bed but does like to share with Rufus whenever possible!
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Chair too small for two? Of course not!
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I give Basil his first clip at 9 months old.
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Basil decides to trim his own right ear! I never found any hair so he must have swallowed it!
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Happy First Birthday my gorgeous boy!
 
 
Well I've done it! I've actually competed in a proper agility competition at last!

The moons were in alignment this weekend with my disabled son in respite care and my two teenagers occupied and Gareth away on tour. So, with just me and the dogs and a UKA competition just an hour's drive away it was a no-brainer!

I just took part in two UKA competitions at Mapledurham : Beginners Agility and Beginners Steeplechase.

I had Rufus officially measured whilst I was there too as UK Agility have an extra height category. They have Toy (Small), Midi (Medium), Standard (between Medium and Large) and Maxi (Large). Most people I spoke to thought Rufus might be Standard height rather than large. He had been measured Large for the Kennel Club. The maximum height for Standard jumps is 500mm. Rufus measured 497mm!! That converts to 19.56" so a fraction shorter than I had been claiming (20").

Beginners Agility
His 'wait' at the start was non existent - naughty boy! and I have probably set back my training of him by a good 8 weeks by letting him continue on but I really wanted to see what we could achieve. We did get a big E (elimination) as he back jumped a jump instead of coming around it. It was entirely my fault and if that hadn't have happened we'd have gone clear with a possibility of a placement . Please check out his weaves and his constant checking back to get direction ......I was sooooooo proud of him!
Beginners Steeplechase

Steeplechase courses are made up of jumps and rigid tunnels and so are ideal for people starting out without sound contacts or weaves!

Rufus's reluctance to wait on this one really cracks me up when I watch it! Watch me move when I realise he's broken his wait! It was really important to get a wait on this one as the second jump was a right turn and not straight down the enticing row of jumps straight ahead! However, having jumped the first jump he waited for direction for the next jump! We got 5 faults on this one (I think! ) as I didn't turn him soon enough for a left turn and he circled the jump before jumping it and then continuing clear.
I absolutely loved every minute of it. Can't wait until the next competition now!
 
 
When we first brought Rufus home at 8 weeks old we put him on Hill's Science Plan kibble as the puppy pack we received from the vet contained a small bag and we were enticed by the money off vouchers contained within! We found it an expensive food but I was determined that my puppy would be brought up on what I thought at the time was the very best! I spent quite a lot of time searching the internet for the best prices and was always first in the line on 'offer' days. I will admit that I had not done much research prior to Rufus coming home and my perception of raw feeding was that it was probably a bit 'hippy' and completely out of our price range.

Rufus had never been a brilliant eater and there were many occasions when I was having to hand feed him - such is the paranoia of a first time puppy owner! When Rufus was about 18 months old I began reading on dog forums about raw feeding. I borrowed a few books and bought a few others and it wasn't long before I was absolutely convinced that raw food was the very best and most natural diet for my dogs.

Having convinced myself and my husband that it really was the direction to follow I set about finding a raw food supplier. The first supplier I looked at was Natural Instinct  www.naturalinstinct.com This is probably the company that offers the most convenient ready meal - defrost and spoon into bowl - simple! Everything is calculated offering the optimum percentages of meat, bone, vegetables, fruit and nutrients. The food arrives frozen in clean white tubs packed into polystyrene boxes. The presentation and packaging is impressive.......but at a cost. With three dogs to feed (I also own a retired Greyhound) I really needed to find a cheaper alternative.

A friend introduced me to a supplier based in Staffordshire. www.landywoods.co.uk
Landywoods are one of the cheapest suppliers of raw food that I have found in the country. They sell a good variety of minced meats, bones and carcasses. It really is a no frills company but if that helps to keep the price down then I'm happy.

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The meat arrives frozen in cardboard trays of 20 x 1lb (454g) bags. My order this month consisted of chicken with veg, lamb with veg and meat & tripe.
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The individual bags are usually an indication of what is contained in them but not always! The cardboard trays are marked using marker pen: CV is chicken with veg.
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The contents of each cardboard tray fit comfortably into a standard sized freezer drawer.
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This freezer drawer is from a large fridge freezer which we have in our 'store' at home and is dedicated for dog food - although becomes a very handy overflow fridge at times!
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Each of my drawers has a different 'flavour' food in it. Rufus was helping me put the meat away this morning!
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The cardboard trays can be a little messy but I have two willing helpers who are only too pleased to help clean them up before I put them in the recycling bin!
The bones and chicken wings and carcasses that arrive from Landywoods are packed in clear plastic sacks. I have found these impossible to get into the drawers in my freezer but would probably be fine in a chest freezer. The marrow bones and meaty lamb bones are relatively easy to separate using a hammer and chisel, but in my experience I have found the chicken carcasses and wings frozen together so solidly that I have not been able to separate them without them splintering. As a result I just get my chicken wings from my local supermarket and I am looking for a local butcher to supply me with chicken carcasses.
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Chicken wings from supermarkets are reasonably priced and are generally supplied fresh in cartons of approx 1kg
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I bag up the chicken wings into daily portions and then freeze them. My dogs have approx 100g of chicken wings each for their breakfast.
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Each evening I take out enough food for a day to defrost in the dog fridge. I always have two day's worth in the fridge. I defrost the meat in ice cream containers as the bags are just folded over at the ends and there is often an amount of raw meaty juice once thawed!
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This is the meat & tripe mix. The meat has a great consistency and is not as 'paste like' as some I have come across.
Basil is an averagely sized Cockapoo at 10.5kg. I feed him approx 320g of food which is 3% of his bodyweight. He has 100g of chicken wings for breakfast and half a pack (227g) of Landywood meat with veg for tea. It costs me 45p a day to feed him or £3.15 per week. Obviously there are treats and bones a couple of times a week on top but I have found the raw diet to be incredibly economical whilst at the same time being the healthiest, most natural diet I could ever offer. A win win situation! My dogs adore their food. They dance up and down the kitchen whilst I lay out their bowls and spend at least half an hour following their meal (which takes seconds to demolish) licking out each other's bowls and cleaning each other's muzzles!

More often than not I make up a vegetable gloop to add to my dogs' meat at meal times. There is an amount of veg in the meat selections I order from Landywoods but I like to give them a little extra..........the subject of another blog entry.

 
 
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.

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Before
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After
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!

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Rufus sitting ready on the table. I adore this look but his coat was becoming very high maintenance.
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A thorough wash before cutting is important as a dirty coat will blunt scissors and clipper blades. Rufus loves a wash........not!
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How bouffant! A clean and dry Rufus awaits the clippers!
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Finished at last!
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We were taught to start with a complete brush through to get rid of any matts,starting with paws and working up.
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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.
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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!

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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!

Woof!