First of all, I think there should be new FCI rule that EO has to be organized next to a swimming pool 😊. Actually the whole place in Salice Terme was perfect: the rings were even and with good grass, there were lots of trees around them, so one could wait in shadow for their turn, there was a small river nearby to cool the dogs – and the swimming pool for humans as well, and then lots of restaurants nearby to hang out in the evenings. My next request would be that whenever there is some big agility event, the Italians should take care of the food and especially bring the lemon ice cream.
The swimming pool and the food were sort of enough to make this EO good, even though of course there were some organizational fuck-ups, like for instance initially they didn’t think it would be necessary to provide any toilets for the campers’ camp (they said it’s campers… so people have it… but didn’t think that a/ even if you do have a toilet in your camper, you still need to empty is somewhere b/ most people are really not so keen on using them in above 30 degrees temperatures, considering they are sleeping right next to it in a space of a few square meters). Eventually we got some portable toilets, but then no one thought it was necessary to clean them regularly :P so they became UNUSABLE pretty soon. The other sanitary facilities were not much better I would say…
There were some problems which occur in pretty much every EO I’ve ever attended like some mistakes in the results, problems with changing your running order if you ran with more than one dog and so on, but nothing really serious, so I actually think contrary to what lots of people feared, the organizers did a great job (although after France last year pretty much everything would have been better :P). I also really liked the courses and mostly the judging as well. And the speaker was the best ever, I don’t think I will ever be able to get rid of my new Italian accent when English speaking (Get out of the ringE, pleaSE!).
I’m pretty happy with my runs, even though Brava seemed to have a bit of bad luck with an odd knocked bar and two really weird refusals. We managed to qualify for both team and individual finals (from 5th place in jumping, so pretty cool). Brego was also really good, this time his handler was not and twice I forgot to use any command, causing us elimination. I’m really proud of Brava’s team final run and quite happy with myself for it. The team finals look a bit overbearing and I had my moment of panic about whether I would be able to even remember the sequence among so many obstacles and for a moment doubted if I can leave Brava at the startline when the other dog would be running, but then I realized, well, it’s actually no different than any other run, except the timing is a bit more tight (you need to start immediately after the previous dog finishes and the judge whistles, because the time is still going). So I just led out as I would do in any other run and waited patiently for the judge to whistle, everything worked perfectly and I think it was actually my best run in this EO. I’m not a big fun of the team finals formula, but it was sure fun to run it for the first time ever – maybe we’ll do it better as a team next time, if we ever get the chance.
In the individual medium final Brava was the only dog that turned so tightly on the jump number 3 that she missed the long jump after, so we got a refusal and lost tons of time, then managed to somehow continue with pretty decent second part of the course. But I had another reason for joy this year as Zookie and Laura finished third place, winning another podium in EO final year after year. They are a great team and Zookie is maturing and getting faster and more consistent (she also won agility team run in the individual ranking and won a medal in individual jumping) – I’m really proud of them <3.
Roman and Evo had three clean runs and pretty decent times, so it looks like Evo is getting back in shape and actually runs better and better on every competition.
Of course, meeting lots of friends from different countries is another awesome thing about EO and it was great to see our friends from Norway, Spain, Luxembourg, Austria, Great Britain and Slovenia and spend some time with them. We’re on our way for short vacation in Slovenia and then B.A.S.E. – pyrshep competition in Germany, where we’ll meet some more of the best people in the world.
Speaking of which – I used to think about agility people as some sort of family – of course not everybody loves everybody, but so far, agility competitions, even the huge ones, were really safe and it was absolutely customary that people left their possessions pretty much anywhere, cars were left open, dogs in crates unattended and so on. Well, that weekend at least two cars were broken into and one of Polish competitors was robbed, losing a backpack containing her wallet, mobile phone, all the documents, car keys, dog’s passports… Can you imagine being left in a foreign country without anything, without an option to go home with your car (the other set of keys was left at closed home back in Poland, so someone would have to break into it to get them and then ship it to Italy)? It turned out someone was trying to withdraw the money from the credit card the very same evening… Fortunately the next day at least the backpack with car keys and dog’s documents was returned, which solved the biggest problem, but she still needs to go to the embassy to get some kinds of temporary documents and so on. That is just such a mean and evil thing to do to somebody and we suspect it was not an entirely random crime, but that it was actually one of the “dog people” that did it (especially that the dog’s documents were returned) and that makes me so sad, like it’s some kind of end of an era…
And another not so pleasant thing, I don’t really even know how to tackle it properly… and of course it’s my subjective feeling, but it’s also something that didn’t start of this EO, but much earlier.
I watched Werner Goltz congratulating Laura Reinhalter, who “pushed him out of the podium” as he was third and ended on fourth place after her run and I saw that he was genuinely happy for her success and for the best teams to win and I thought that was fantastic and this is the true sportsmanship and something we should look up to. But I missed a little bit of that in our Polish team. We had some successes this year – for the first time ever we qualified for the team finals in all three height categories (we didn’t do particularly well in either of them, but I really think the team final is such a peculiar run that it’s kinda difficult to rock it the first time you do it), we had three medium dogs in the individual finals (Iwona Kalisz and Pepe qualified from 13th place in agility run, Magda Domańska with Mora from 10th place in jumping and me with Brava from the 5th) and we had “best of the country” dogs in small (Basia Członkowska with Łata) and large (Magda Ziółkowska with Mawr) categories that both ran very nice clean runs in the finals (and Magda ended up on 10th place in large, which I think is awesome result). So I would say there was something to celebrate and to be proud of. Yes, we did have really good dogs especially in large category that didn’t qualify for the finals and I can understand the disappointment of knowing you have a great dog and than not getting a chance to fight for the highest podium, but still… It’s not even sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, it’s just sometimes you don’t win and that’s it, we all have bad days, bad runs or sometimes a bit of bad luck. At the same time someone else might be having a run of their life, that bit of luck in just the ideal moment, and we should be there to celebrate it with them and congratulate them. I don’t think we had a team at this EO, I think we had a bunch of individuals with their own plans and agendas. We weren't there for each other. Some of us didn't even come for the closing ceremony and I don't mean the people who actually turned up and then had to run save their tents / campers as the storm was coming. Something is not right and I think we should all work to change it.