Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

New Year, New Snow.

Yep, winter's here again.

It’s been ages since we’ve updated the blog, largely because there’s not been a huge amount of activity or events to report. Phoenix’ season was on the long side, which put her and us out of action for more than a month, but was otherwise completely uneventful, with no real changes either physically or emotionally.  She still seems a little hormonal (at least judging by the reactions of some other dogs) but is otherwise back to business…which lately has been the business of romping through the snow and wading through the icy river whilst balancing giant sticks/logs/entire-small-trees in her muzzle, (all clever stuff, and certainly good for building neck muscles) as the landscape is once again transformed into a winter wonderland.

Ever ambitious.

No log is too big for our gal!

Another new-ishly developed Phoenix hobby is taking the biggest & chunkiest of her beef knuckle bones with her on our hour-long morning walks. These often involve fording the river a few times and going in and out of various woods, but the bone is carried merrily along throughout, with occasional stop-offs for a good old gnaw.


But when the last log has been hauled out of the river, and the last vole has been fruitlessly chased down it’s burrow, there’s still nothing that Phoenix likes more than a good old snuggle on the sofa….


It's a dog's life.

03/01/2010 at 15:18 2 comments

Seasons Greetings.

We went to the Bridgewater & District Canine Society show this last Sunday and, although Phoenix stacked nicely and moved like a dream, when the judge came to do his examination she decided she didn’t want to be handled at all, especially from behind, which lead us to think (and several onlookers to comment) that she was probably coming into season.

This was confirmed the next day she was noticeably swollen, and then yesterday, just 8 days short of her 1st birthday, she “officially” started her season, the first of her litter to do so. So far she’s completely unaffected, maybe a tad more clingy (even more clingy!) than usual, but she’s in no discomfort, is full of energy, and it’s just business as usual as far as she’s concerned, so hopefully all will pass smoothly!

Actually she’s managed to time it pretty much perfectly – the clever girl! – and we’ll only miss one last local show that’d she’d booked into as a puppy before taking a well-earned rest for most of the winter.

What's all the fuss?

What's all the fuss?

04/11/2009 at 11:03 1 comment

Special Guest Appearance.

Todays special guest star on the Phoenix blog is Tulip, our calico coloured British Shorthair foundling cat-of-uncertain-origin…



Tulip wandered into our lives a good while back when, as a pregnant  & starving teenage runaway, she was attempting to survive on bony frogs in our London back yard. In no time at all she had birthed her 3 kittens on the bed (at 2AM ) and decided that, since the food was considerably easier to come by indoors,  this was the place to raise her urchin waif family.

Now, many years and some 200-odd miles further on, Tulip has a pretty serene existence where all her concerns revolve around sleeping/eating/getting tickles – all skills in which she displays considerable mastery – together with the slaughter of untold hundreds of short-tailed field voles.  She has recently taken to elbowing Phoenix away from her dog food at any and every opportunity and clearly has some form of internal clock which allows her to be pre-stationed at the dog bowl for Phoenix’ every meal.

She and Phoenix have a remarkably amicable relationship and have even taken to curling up on the sofa near one another on occasion. As anyone who gives housespace to one of these beasties must surely be aware, cats are continually plotting to overthrow us all, and invariably “run things” in any household. Although Tulip is very much the understudy (to our other cat, Midge) we are still convinced that she will outlive us all and will one day be found feasting upon our remains…

24/09/2009 at 19:45 Leave a comment

Phoenix the Firebird.

Phoenix at nine months old and glowing copper in the sun.Crow Point - 9 months Old 2Crow Point - 9 months Old 1

Crow Point - 9 months Old 3

21/08/2009 at 20:38 Leave a comment

The Shows Must Go On.

Over the past 13 days we’ve been to 5 separate, and extremely differing shows with Phoenix. We’ve had some disappointments, some extraordinary success and have learned a huge amount about how best to show and make the most of our time in the ring.

What follows in this megapost are some impressions of each show in ascending order of how-well-we-showed, peppered with photos of differing quality:

Minehead Open Show

Way back on July 29th we all woke to torrential rain plus the news that all the local rivers were set to break their banks in general end-of-the-world-is-nigh type conditions. What better day, then, to head out to the Dunster Country Fair and associated Minehead Canine Society Show?

Upon arrival we found foot deep mud, a team of tractors towing vehicles into and out of the showground and wet-weather show tents that were flooded, hugely overcrowded and rapidly turning into quagmires of mud. Tim and Phoenix gamely trudged through said mud to do some practicing, but as time wore on Phoenix became increasingly frustrated and bored by the conditions and the lack of space.

When we finally hit the ring – virtually at the very end of the show – we gave a rather lacklustre performance and Phoenix made it clear that she’d really rather be somewhere else right about now.  We managed to get a best Puppy Not Seperately Classified and then went on to get 4th best Gundog Puppy. The judge told us later that Phoenix had “rather thrown it away” in that Gundog Puppy Group, but under those conditions  we were just happy when the whole thing was over and we could slide-and-spin back out of the mud and off into the still-torrential rain.

Bournemouth Champ Show

Bournemouth - first stack.

Bournemouth - first stack.

In total contrast Aug 8th was one of the few hot sunny days of the summer. Remembering back to her very first show back in the baking heat of May we realised that Phoenix would not show well if she was hot, so we kept her in the cool shade of an unused marquee and also kept damping her down with cold water. The previous breed over-ran by several hours and by the time we did get to the ring, despite our efforts at cooling, Phoenix was very sleepy and floppy. She stood nicely, but her gaiting was perfunctory and pretty unenthusiastic…not much Phoenix *sparkle* on view in the ring today and we were awarded 3rd Best Junior Bitch.

Bournemouth - the examination.

Bournemouth - the examination.

We’ve spent lots of time trying to calm Phoenix down at shows so that she can focus once in the ring, but it’s clear that she now “gets” the whole show hullabaloo and the future priority instead must be on allowing her to show off, rather than rein in, her personality.

Bournemouth - final stack.

Bournemouth - final stack.

National Gundog Championship
August 1st saw us head off to a drizzly Three Counties Showground, and an impeccably organised show. Sadly the superb outdoor rings were rendered out of bounds by the weather, and the dogs were instead judged in the giant hanger-cum-warehouses at the venue.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog.

Puppy Bitch Class at Nat Gundog...we're in the middle!

Conditions for humans were hot and noisy, but Phoenix seemed very chipper, and, since everything ran to time, there was minimal waiting time and we hit the ring with Phoenix pretty fresh. She stood as asked and gaited OK, though dertainly not at her optimum full pace. We were in HWV Puppy Bitch class and managed to score a 2nd place, beaten only by an older and more mature dog on her final outing as a puppy.

The judges critique read:

“substantial puppy, yet to grow into herself. Good coat developing, balanced head, correct eye shape, very nice neck, strong boned forelegs, strong pasterns, good length & shape of ribs, correct loin, well muscled croup & 1 thigh, she will be able to hold herself together on the move when she matures.”

This was an extremely enjoyable and sociable show where we met many HWV friends, old and new. Much fun was had!

North Devon Open Show
The closest showground venue to our home also turned out to be the undoubted highlight of our short show career so far! In ideal, bright, breezy and fairly cool conditions we were awarded 1st Junior AVNSC Gundog – an achievement since Phoenix is only 8 months old and the class was for dogs up to 18 months – as well as best AVSNC Gundog Puppy.

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Junior at North Devon Show.

Then, almost immediately, we were up against all the other Gundog best-of-breed puppies and, to our complete delight, managed to win 1st Gundog puppy as well – our first 1st, following the two Gundog Puppy Group 2’s at Liskeard & Dorset.  The judge was Dr. Monica Boggia-Black – one of the most senior dog judges in the country, and a multiple Crufts judge. She came up to Tim and said of Phoenix: “you’ve got a real star there!” – cue big smiles!

Being Awarded 1st in Junior Class at North Devon Show.

Being Awarded 1st Gundog Puppy at North Devon Show.

We didn’t have time to catch our breath though, and were immediately whisked off to the Best Puppy In Show ring where Tim & Phoenix, representing the Gundog Group, were up against the top puppy from each of the Terrier, Hound, Pastoral, Working, Utility & Toy groups.

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Gundog Puppy Group 1, 2 & 3 at North Devon Show

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show at North Devon Show.

Lined up for Best Puppy in Show.

The ring was hugely expanded and, for the first time since Liskeard, Phoenix  gaited really beautifully, at full fast pace with her huge stride in full evidence. Judging was very quick and decisive and we were utterly thrilled to be awarded 2nd Best Puppy in Show, an incredible achievement at only the 7th ever show for either Tim or Phoenix. We also believe that, at just 8 months, Phoenix may well be the youngest HWV ever to have been awarded such a high placing at an all-group Open show in the UK.

The judges critique read:

Very pleasing head and eye, good shoulder placement and nice front and feet. Excellent mover. Best Gundog Puppy. Res BIS Puppy.

We’re so immensely proud of our little gal and all she’s managed to achieve in just 6 1/2 months since she came to live with us in Devon … and it’s now official – she truly is a real star!!

08/08/2009 at 23:29 4 comments

A.D.D. hits Show Ring Horror.

Ringcraft pre-stack positioning.

Ringcraft pre-stack positioning.

First proper ringcraft session for Phoenix under Judge Glenys Sykes of Daraquist English Setters. Phoenix was typically excited and indeed excitable in the midst of twenty-odd other dogs.  She was highly praised for her spirit (!),  although a little more control would certainly have made the evening less like a wrestling match and more like a dream walk in the ring…

still, everyone was extremely complimentary (at least to our faces) and hopefully Tim’s handling skills will slowly improve alongside Phoenix’s concentration.

Ringcraft examination (not Glenys!)

Ringcraft examination.

There were lots of really nice people at the session and we met some of the heavy hitters in the gundog show world .

Phoenix’s status as an only dog at home seem to mark her out as being notably more “animated” than any other puppies present, all of whom came from multi-dog households. Once again, all we can do is persist with her canine socialisation programme, and hope that we can get her as focused in the ring as she is at home.

11/02/2009 at 15:41 Leave a comment

It’s OK the Washing Machine’s Safe.

Puppy Gurus Logo.

Puppy Gurus Logo.

The first Puppy Gurus training session. This was for human companions only. We left Phoenix on her own for two hours which is the longest she’s ever been left so far. We’d been building up periods of isolation from a couple of minutes up to about half an hour. We’d heard tales of dogs left alone destroying sofas and gnawing washing machines in half so were unsure what to expect.

In the event, she slept through the whole period and was just waking up when we got back and starting to tuck into a chicken wing.

Tracey gave out a lot of info, which has to be read and will be tested next week.  Nobody mentioned homework…

19/01/2009 at 19:34 Leave a comment

No Madam, She is NOT Brown…

First Rays of Sunshine.

First Rays of Sunshine.

Nobody has guessed correctly what breed Phoenix is. At the vets they volunteered Rhodesian Ridgeback or Italian Spinone AND they asked if they could put her colour down as “BROWN”!!!!! Tim became quite agitated,  so affronted was he… 🙂 Needless to say, we corrected them: it’s Russet (as featured in the breed description).

19/01/2009 at 19:25 Leave a comment

Gotta love those ears!

Love those Ears!

Love those Ears!

First ride in New Sling.

First ride in New Sling.

Did we mention the baby sling? Well, it came a few days ago, and today we took Phoenix out to our nearest town, Torrington, as part of her socialisation programme. Phoenix can’t go on the ground until her second set of injections have taken effect.

Not many people around, the wind was strong and she found this a little disconcerting – ears a-flapping. We met a labrador and human friend, after checking his vaccinations were in order, they had a brief interaction which went well for everyone.

Today was also the day Phoenix discovered the joy of empty plastic milk bottles. Despite an array of expensive designer dog toys, she prefers to hurtle around with an  old milk container in her mouth. This must be a variation on the “kid prefers the cardboard box to the toy inside” routine.

11/01/2009 at 17:21 Leave a comment

Car Frolics.

Phoenix, Indi and Annabel

Phoenix, Indi and Annabel

Phoenix met Meg, our neighbour’s border collie as well as Eric (our nearest neighbour and Meg’s human companion). Tim took Phoenix out in the car for  four very short runs to desensitise her, this, combined with nibbly treats, led to a calmer and more accepting attitude, Phoenix has started to associate the car with good, rather than bad things.

08/01/2009 at 14:33 Leave a comment

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