At the end of July Mum, Nanna Cadman and myself hopped in the van and left Cheshire to be part of Team GB at the European Open in France. Mum forgot Poppy and Paddy! I was an only child for the week so was looking forward to ruling the roost and hogging the bed.
First stop was an overnight at Dartford ready for a short trip to Kent to meet the coach the next morning. I was quite generous and allowed Mum about 1/3 of the bed.
The coach trip this year was like comparing nipping to Chester with driving to Orkney. An hour into France versus driving for hours to deepest darkest Germany. The hotel was lovely with the all important air-con, big bed for me, huge gardens to wander round and some feathery neighbours right outside the window which for some reason Mum wouldn’t let me play with. Meanie!
The first day was a day to get our bearings, take a trip to the venue, get measured (small – like it was ever going to be any different!) and have a play over some equipment. In Europe the jumps are slightly narrower with wings that aren’t so colourful and therefore easier to run into, lower dog walk so I run faster than Mum is used to, chain tyre which falls apart if you hit it and non slip tunnels which confused me as the whole bottom half of the tunnel is black. Mum says I should go to Specsavers. Not my fault I couldn’t tell where the black stops and the tunnel started!
Team day was the first day of competition. At the EOs small and mediums run in a combined team at the appropriate height for the dog. We were told we were running Team 10 and all teams would run consecutively with the jump heights moving up and down as appropriate for the height of the dog. Helpfully this changed as Mum was walking the agility course but nobody knew how many small dogs were in the 9 teams before us (could be anything between 0 and 4 dogs per team). Not exactly the easiest way to plan a warm up! Consequently we were ringside far too early and were drenched by the time we got to play. Not a dreadful run; we picked up 10 faults – Mum ballsed up once for 5R and I missed the dog walk. 1-1!!
Jumping in the afternoon and I have to confess I was bad! Mum was definitely indicating the weaves, both verbally and physically, but the tunnel was too tempting! I was not in good books… We made use of the facilities and went on a little walk to unwind. It didn’t really produce the desired effect as I may have found something delightfully stinky to roll in. Whatever it was it was suitably vile and Mum was horrified, especially as we were somewhat limited on facilities to clean up at the venue. She got her own back when we got back to the hotel and plonked me very unceremoniously in the massive bath and blasted me within an inch of my life with the shower. To be honest I don’t think I would ever have been allowed near her bed if she hadn’t so maybe it wasn’t a bad idea?
Individual jumping started the next morning off with yet another last minute change to the running orders. The original plan was for the smalls to be split into 4 rotations with me running 19th in the 2nd rotation. For reasons nobody understood we found out part way through the first rotation course walking that everything had changed and I was in fact running 3rd. In the first rotation. Eek!! You really expect that an event of such importance to be well run and both mentally and physically competitors and their dogs need every detail scrutinised so they are at the peak of their performance. We will never know if the outcome would have been different if we had been afforded that luxury. Suffice to say we had a big fat E as Mum was just in the wrong place constantly on the course.
By the afternoon we knew what was happening and the organisation didn’t change. We were clear, coming 34th out of 200 ish dogs, with over half of the entry being eliminated. Mum was very happy and felt that finally we had put in a run which was much more like our normal standard. We didn’t quite make it to the finals; just missing out.
Whilst the organisation left a lot to be desired, the standard of agility was AWESOME. Team GB had some cracking results and we are up there with the best in the World. The courses are a very different ‘flavour’ to those we typically see in the UK. Not a box or pin wheel in sight. Clever discrimination, flowing lines that allow a dog to stretch and contrary to popular belief not everything is ‘round the back’. It’s fun to run!!
I met lots of new friends, allowed Mum a bit of the bed and generally was the centre of attention all the time so I really enjoyed it.
Something strange happened on the way home though – Mum picked up another dog! I’m not sure how long she’s here for but it’s looking permanent…. but that’s another story…