WOW, what a weekend…. finally back in the lanes after the horrific time that has been the Covid-19 pandemic. As a team, we were very excited to be able to host the first indoor UKFL event since March 2020, offering a stepping stone back to full racing with a singles and pre-cadet only event.
Setup took a degree longer than normal as we were all a touch rusty, but the lanes were signed off on Saturday (and Sunday) morning as being perfect, and the ring looked fantastic!
Saturday saw us competing in the singles divisions with Kylo, Poppy, Bailey, Bishop, Taggle, Lennie & Dizzy, as well as Rowlf, Zebulan, Weaver and Finnick playing on pre-cadets again the super reliable Ruby & Oscar. It was Kylo’s debut into competitive flyball racing and to say Ellen was a tad nervous might be the understatement of the Millennium, but he absolutely nailed it, posting himself a time of 3.64s over this full height of 10″ and placing him joint 3rd in the UKFL singles ranking. Our other singles dogs on Saturday were all solid racing dogs that were there for a bit of fun and to see how our training was paying off and they all nailed their sessions. Bishop is currently ranked as the top Labrador in the UKFL singles list… let’s see if he can hold onto this glory til the end of the year! The PC dogs are obviously slightly used to the barn as they train there every week, but adding the lights, banner, barriers and noise changes things a lot for them, but they all took it in their strides and worked hard, progressing throughout the day.
Sunday was our slightly more crazy day with Hope, Tristan, Quest, Zola, Coda, Jake, Indi, Marley, Lord and Whisky all in singles as well as Khaos in a PC slot. That includes a lot of dogs to debut into their competitive flyball careers! Hope, Coda, Marley & Whisky showed their reliable natures taking 1st, 1st, 1st and 2nd in their respective divisions. We deceived to go NFC with Zola to enable us to introduce him to the hype of a competition whilst still reminding him of his good form and giving us the time to wok on his reward system… he only ran out once and didn’t chase a single ball in the other lane! Quest competed in the morning and showed us she is right on that cusp of going out into open, posting a new PB of 3.89s. However, racing her brother in the afternoon blew her head and so we made the call to go NFC with her as well and correct the issues before they become too ingrained. That left Tristan to win the division…. but he didn’t just do that… he posted a new PB of 3.95s becoming the 10th dog that we have trained to run sub-4s.
Also making their competitive flyball debuts were both Jake and Lord, both handled by Mark. Jake’s first run, and with a 0.03 early he posted a 4.14 on the clock… ie a line to line time of 4.17s, for an 8″ cocker a few months off his 2nd birthday at his first comp…. needless to say, Mark was a touch ecstatic, LOL! A spot of interference in the afternoon saw Jake struggle to a degree but he was quickly fixed and ended up 2nd in his division with the current UKFL Cocker Spaniel singles time for 2021. Finally, we have Indi… after debuting him a couple of years ago, Indi worked out it was MUCH faster to run down the side of the jumps. We did fix this issue literally as we hit the first lockdown so we weren’t sure how ingrained the fix was. However, his handler worked her socks off through all the lockdowns. He ran again this weekend and for the first time we didn’t have to even think about whether he might or might not complete, but instead we could work on pushing him to race and build in a better reward system.
Khaos also came to play in PC on Sunday, working amazingly well with dogs barking all around her. We progressed her from chute work through to taking a ball of the mini-chute from a distance, quite some progression in a day, and she didn’t exit the ring once to find those barking dogs!
Paw camp 2021 was held over the Whitsun bank holiday weekend at the end of may, after having been postponed from the early bank holiday weekend (#thankscovid). To be honest, it was still very early in the dogs’ training post lockdown 59,379,095, but each dog, in true Cambs style, got tailored training with a degree of pushing.
Arriving Friday night, remembering how to set the caravans up, then the event shelter, was a challenge. Prior to paw camp the whole team had performed lateral flow tests and everybody was negative, so we felt comfortable to be around each other no Friday night was spent socialising in the event shelter.
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny…. summer had finally arrived… just as we head back indoors! Blooming typical. First things first, let’s see how these dogs had faired over the last 5+ months of lockdown and next to no training, so it was onto the scales for all and a quick check up on their current weights compared to last August. To be fair, the majority of dogs were about the same, a few had gained but nothing major and a few had lost as their owners had wanted them to! We also elected to measure all the dogs using the backup of our team sponsors in Paw Elements. This way, we have a starting point before we start to up their training and could inadvertently unbalance the dogs. We were also looking for anybody that already had muscle unbalance to make sure we supported them correctly.
We had 7 divisions of dogs racing at our Covid-safe in-house event, with dogs seeded primarily from Paw Camp 2020, ranging between 3.62s and 5.63s, plus 6 PC slots. Half the team raced in the morning and the other half this afternoon, giving the PM racers the edge of knowing times to beat. The scores on the doors were…
Well done to our divisional winners!