European Open 2016 and meeting KNoxx

To sum up the European Open (EO) it was the most challenging competition ever! I was very excited about going to the EO with both dogs but the organisation of the competition were lacking professionalism, which greatly impacted us.

The competition was held at the Parc d’Olhain in Houdain, France, which were based on top of a hill and we had to park our cars at the bottom of the hill and either walk one kilometer uphill to the venue or take the shuttle bus. The turf was hard and uneven and I have never seen so many competitors fall before resulting in even the ambulance were shuttling!

My traveling plans changed as Vini started in heat a month earlier than expected. My original plan was to meet KNoxx (Gambling Man of Shamrock Field) after the EO, but seemed that Vini wanted to meet her boyfriend earlier 😉 The progesterone test showed that Vini was to be mated in end of the week – but to be sure, I also had a progesterone test taken in France to the price of 10€ , but I was handed the blood sample and was to deliver it at a clinic myself (and test costed 17€). The test showed Vini was to be mated on Friday, so I decided to run both dogs for the team competition and then drive to Belgium in the afternoon to meet KNoxx.

KNoxx - Gambling Man of Shamrock Field

KNoxx – Gambling Man of Shamrock Field

I arrived early at the venue Friday morning as the starting lists were not shared and we had to walk both courses in the morning. It turned out that I had to start in the first group with both Vini and Sookie but in different rings – literally starting at the same time with both dogs (the lack of organisation and planning) and Sookie was to run the agility course and Vini the jumpers course I decided to run with Sookie first and then Vini. I was told that I should come as quickly as possible to the jumpers ring after running with Sookie. This mess stressed me and I ended up being eliminated with Sookie. I ran to get Vini and when I arrived to the jumpers ring, I was then told I could not start because I was too late lot of arguing forth and back, and finally I was allowed to run – but then I wasn’t as they had wrongly registered a result on Vini. I had to get our team captain to resolve this error and then finally I was allowed to run – and had to run immediately. Well, all the annoyance of the situation I didn’t get to brush off so I managed to run the course with a couple of faults.

In the afternoon I drove to Belgium to meet KNoxx. Vini was very excited to meet KNoxx – and contrary they tried to mate, but with no success. I drove back to France and arrived at the hotel at 1 AM. I had to get up at 5:45 AM as again there was no starting lists nor information on when the course walk would be. When I arrived at the venue, the organisation had printed one set of the starting lists and had hung them on a wall – imagine 400 competitors trying to see what their starting number was!

I was Vini and KNoxx didn’t mate the evening before, I decided to run with Vini too. There were no speakers at the ring nor any starting lists wherefore you had to approach the caller to get to know who was in the ring. Lots of people were standing around the caller trying to find out when they were to run – lots of people equals lots of dogs! Usually not a problem, but when having a dog in heat, it’s not fun when the male owners were not paying attention to what their dogs were doing. There were no starting queue line nor any restrictions for non-competitors in the starting area. A few dogs before me, a Japanese competitor was running – and suddenly many Japanese people were standing in the starting area with their dogs (one was even lunging at the dog that were to start next) cheering for their fellow countryman. Chaos!

The courses were fun and challenging, but I lost focus due to all the chaos in the starting area and due to I felt that I didn’t have a proper grip and was slipping at times (changing shoes in the next run didn’t help). Ambulance had picked up several competitors who had fell and got injured (broken legs and arms), so we knew that falling on the hard surface would likely cause a severe injury

After my runs I drove to Belgium again to meet KNoxx. This time they mated – on a biking track next to a railroad track. Guess they wanted the world to know

I was back at the hotel at 1 AM again but decided to sleep longer the next day as I wasn’t to run. I didn’t stay to watch the individual finals as I decided to drive back to Belgium one more time to mate Vini for the second time. KNoxx and Vini mated again I decided to drive home afterwards – being completely exhausted I thought I could manage a couple of hours drive and then find a hotel. But the caffeine kept me going and I arrived home at 3 AM – sound and safe

The odds of an successful trailing didn’t improve by having a dog in heat, but if the same French organisation is to plan the EO next time it is in held in France, I will reconsider going!