Somehow EO is always an event which is sort of extreme. It's either raining cats and dogs or burning hot, the organisation of such a huge event is usually a bit messy and normally someone is complaining about it, there is usually not enough toilets / showers etc. One thing I learnt from my numerous EOs experiences as well as after AWC in Lievin (quite close to the place where EO was held this year) was to expect the worst and then maybe be nicely surprised when it's not as bad as you predicted.
Ok, maybe one thing I didn't foresee was that the surface in the rings would be so bad that even the judges were falling down (the small final judge was really quick to get up and put his hat back on though) and at least three people were seriously injured on the first day.
But thankfully some weather gods had mercy and apart from the light drizzle on the first day the weather was actually perfect, which definetely limited the number of injuries - I can't even imagine what would become with the crappy parcours after a bit more rain.
This EO was the first one on which the official measuring procedures were introduced, which I think is awesome - as much as I don't like the current height division, I would like people to stick to the rules - sort of dura lex sed lex thing.
Oh, one little thing though - I asked for Brego to be measured and the official commision that also measures dogs for AWC were the only judges who ever managed to measure Brego medium after he was 12 months old... that was until they realised that he is not on medium list and that would cause a bit of nuisance if they put him in another category that he was entered into. Then he suddenly started being just over 43 cm. The only thing I can write about it is that I know for a fact that Brego is 44 cm at the withers - I measured him myself and several other judges did as well and he can stand really well for the measurement, so there's no doubt about it.
I was worried that because of horrid camping prices the social aspect of EO would be somehow ruined, as most people chose to stay in hotels instead, but first of all, due to excellent organisation the event lasted from early morning hours till late evening (lots of time for chats with friends) and second most people actually chose the same hotel as we did :). Thirdly, the awesome French people were selling really cheap a decent pink wine which somehow also fostered communication.
We had a family gathering as four of Brava's puppies were competing and Babou the Father with his owners came to cheer them up. So here's a family photo: Babou the father, Babou Junior (a girl :P), Neo, Zookie the Winner, Brego and Mummy Brava :).
I was extremely lucky with this litter and can't say how happy I am with them - they are AWESOME dogs and I don't just mean the fact that they compete at EO or actually that one of them won EO (but I'm going to brag about it just a couple of times in this blog post so it really sinks in with my dear readers), but how nice, well-balanced family dogs they are as well. They are everything I had hoped for.
Speaking about the social aspect of EO, I can give you one advice. If you have any problems with meeting new people or starting up a conversation or you're a socially awkward weirdo as I am, get a working cocker spaniel puppy. It literally took me two hours to walk from one end of the field to another when I had Mojo with me. She's a freaking social magnet - everybody wants to say hi to her, everybody wants to pet her and since in general agility folks are nice people, they actually include the wocker puppy owner in the conversation ;). Among one of the nicest encounters we've had was that with Goia, who is closely related to Mojo (her mother is half sister of Mojo's mother - both out of Wonky). The girls were really quite similar in structure, expression and funny longer hair along the spine (some ridgeback genes :P).
You might actually wonder why I ponder on social aspects of EO instead of bragging on my runs, well, here's the thing - I had great team runs with Brava and three awesome runs with Brego, who really was fantastic and even qualified for the large final, but in general either I was just a tiny tiny bit too relaxed about everything (maybe the pink wine consumed had something to do with it) or luck wasn't really on our side - with Brava I blew both individual qualifying runs, so I didn't get into the final for the first time ever since she started competitng on EO and with Brego I messed up the final run, which is a pity, since it was an awesome course and really Brego's type of course as well. Still, we had fun and Brego gained some crowd applause with his neverending enthusiasm :). I love this dog - he always gives his all, he's always ready, always happy, always doing his best :). He's a true joy to run with.
Photo: Jukka Pätynen / Koirakuvat.fi
Photo: Jukka Pätynen / Koirakuvat.fi
But it was a real pleasure to watch "my" puppies run - Babou junior and Zookie qualified to the finals, Zookie did it by actually winning the medium agility run <3. Watching medium finals was therefore really exciting and I can't remember ever being so nervous with my own runs :). Babou had a cracking run and then got eliminated on the last jump... but then Zookie ran clean and WON the EO 2016!!!! I was extremely happy and proud and crying out of joy and the Austrian team was so nice as to allow me to go for victory run with Laura :). It was such a moving gesture, thank you :).
Watching the large finals was really exciting - as I said, it was an awesome course from Alex Beitl and we saw many great performances. Svetlana Tumanova's was definetely one to remember, and the Polish crowd I was standing with used all the bad Polish words as it is our way to express amazement, envy and wonder. One word in particular was really popular during those 39-something seconds.This was an example of amazing dog training - the course was like 500 m long (I'm exaggerating, but it felt like it when running it) and this handler WALKED maybe 50 m on it, handling from a distance with great precision. And the dog still had one of the best times!!! It was sort of "ok, everything I believed in in agility is not necessarily true" and "I'm never gonna be that kind of trainer"moment. Than we watched Tereza Kralova's run, which was sort of opposite - not in terms of dog's training, because obviously Say is an excellently trained dog as well, but in terms of perfect, timely, fast handling - and then it was time for "I can't ever run that well" kind of moment :P. I guess most of people felt like there were stuck somewhere in between those two opposites, feeling lousy and incompetent and sort of "oh, the hell with stupid agility thing".
Then of course I recovered and decided to come up with a perfect plan to become just as one of them. But since I couldn't really decide which one would be easier, I sort of settled for a perfect plan to become better version of trainer and handler I can be, so hopefully you will witness my transformation into perfect agility machine in next couple of months, starting next Monday.
Or Monday after that.
For now, you can enjoy watching my not-yet-perfect self with my awesome dogs:
That actually was an elimination... but looks so smooth, doesn't it? :P
And two of Brego's jumpings with really good times :)
Oh, and have I mentioned that Zookie, puppy of Brava, actually WON EO 2016? ;).