Monday, June 4, 2012

WAO Belgium 2012

After finishing our tour of Europe it was time to head up to Aberdeen in Scotland to meet Laura and her dog Cody who was to be my competition dog for the World Agility Open.  It was pretty exciting now that the time had finally arrived and I was really hanging out to get back into agility.  I was certainly starting to really miss my own dogs.

Laura and her sister Pauline were awesome.  I just can't thank them enough.  They couldn't do enough for Colin and I while we were in Scotland and absolutely bent over backwards.  Cody stayed with us at our hotel so I could spend as much time as possible getting to know him.  He was such a happy little chappy and other than being food obsessed was a delight to have around.

We did attempt a trial in Scotland the weekend before WAO however we were a bit unfortunate with the weather which caused the trial to be cancelled by lunchtime.  The wind was so strong that a full size marquee was picked up and flung across the trial ground!  So in the end I was only able to get one agility run in with Cody.  That went pretty well.  He did an off course tunnel and he was somewhat over enthusiastic on his contacts but he was more than happy to run with me.   Over the next couple of days we got in as much training as we could and by the time we needed to head to Belgium we were starting to get a pretty good handle on each other.

All the Scottish team drove through the Euro Tunnel and down to Belgium but Colin and I decided to fly to Brussels via London as it seemed a long way to drive on unfamiliar roads and in a hire car.  Once we landed in Brussels we picked a hire car up from the airport.  Driving in mainland Europe was definitely not one of my most favourite memories.  The car was a manual and everything is on the opposite side.  Changing gear with your right hand just does not seem normal when it's always been the other way around!  Driving on the wrong side of the road just added insult to injury really.  There was more than one occasion when I had to yell "get on the other side of the road"...

Unfortunately Cody and I had no success at the event.  I think the occasion might have been a bit much for Cody to handle without having his real mum with him.  He certainly got better with every run that we had together but not enough for us to manage a clear round.  I can't pretend that I wasn't disappointed that things didn't go well for us.  The Friday was really hard as it seemed that nothing I did helped to make things better.  There was certainly a part of me that wanted to scream "if only you could see me with my own dog".  But by Saturday I just changed my perspective on it and I determined that I should just make the most of being at an international agility event and enjoy watching some of the best dog and handlers in the world strut their stuff.  I was also pretty proud of the Aussie team and it was thrilling to be able to applaud some fantastic runs by them all.

One of the best things about being able to go to an international event is to really see the difference between over there and agility back in Australia.  I've been watching World Champ events on DVD and internet live streams for years but there is no comparison between actually sitting there watching it live.  There were a couple of things that really stood out in the difference between us firstly being how hard they run with their dogs.  I look at video's of me running Sonic and I think that I'm running as fast as I can, but that aint running!  Some of the women I saw were not even vaguely built to run fast but they  were flying around those courses making sure they were in front of their extremely fast dogs.  It was incredibly inspirational to me and I've started running again myself in an attempt to get fit so I'm able to run a lot faster than I can now.  The second thing that stood out to me was the sheer intensity of the dogs.  It's hard to explain but it's just different than what I see here.  The dogs are just so highly driven, they aren't just running agility, they are breathing agility.  We have lots of really nice agility dogs here in Perth but there are probably only two dogs that I've ever seen that I would consider to have that much drive to do agility. It was just thrilling to watch. All of it has just given me so much inspiration to be better and push the limits in both dog training and handling.  Quite a few people there had brought young puppies with them to the event and what I found interesting was that not one of them was screaming and carrying on.  They were all just happy easy going puppies.  Not what I expected at all.

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