The Team goes to Switzerland
IMCA / PAWC 2010 lived up to everybody’s expectations. There was a high class entry from several countries and a warm welcome and friendship for lesser mortals such as the little band of British handlers and their dogs who braved the trip. The courses were challenging but do-able courses and the organisation was first-class. The venue was superb with a cafe-bar and clean, modern toilets. Who could ask for more? For Team Leader Richard Partridge it was a dream...
The judge blew his whistle and waved his arm. The course was ours. I quickly glanced round the course as a last reminder and went to the line with my dog.
Murphy sat on the line quivering with excitement. I gave him his wait command and strode away confidently. Stopping, I half turned and released him. He was away like a rocket, clear over the first jump, up and over the seesaw - nice contact - release and away for the next jump straight ahead. Call him left, keep it crisp so he does not take the off course jump temptingly in sight on his turn. Running back parallel with the start run, over No 4, long jump then the tyre. Help him a bit with this. It’s the horrible continental type, simply a motor cycle tyre hung on chains. Right command and reverse turn. Call him to me over the back of the next jump, followed by a collapsible tunnel.
Next obstacle coming up is the pipe tunnel to the left under the A frame, make sure he takes the tunnel and not the scale, phew, out of the tunnel, round the jump to take it from behind. Quick flick to straighten him and up onto the A frame, run round the tunnel, firm wait command, the excitement is mounting, no room for errors. Over to the left, another jump from the back, but who said the courses would be easy? Come right back round with a nice tight turn, clean jump and on towards the dog walk with a full length straight pipe tunnel under it. The beep tells me Murph has a good up contact, I have to take my eye off him to run all the way round the tunnel, yell a touch command, there’s the beep, good dog. Leave him on the contact for a split second to get into position for the next obstacle, this time a wall. Release the dog, set him up on the run and over he goes. Curve him to the weaves.
I run past and put in a blind cross at the end, pick up the dog and send him round the next jump and followed by the tunnel under the dog walk. See my dog committed and cross behind to pick him up out of the tunnel and send him out over the next jump, no 17. Now a straight run to the curved pipe tunnel, the one under the A frame, where I run round the A frame to pick the dog up for the next to last, over he goes, don’t relax, keep focussed, the end is in sight. The crowd holds it’s breath. In utter silence Murphy hurtles to the last jump, still clear, feels fast. He gathers and drops his back, ready to spring. Then...
The time is 7 o’clock and here is the News.
What the ????????? Realisation comes over me. I wake up. The radio alarm has brought me back to reality.
The course was real. The theory was correct. The fact is we made a couple of errors in our run, resulting in three refusals which equate to an 'E' but what the heck. We were running in a true International competition against the best handlers and dogs in Europe and beyond.
The venue in Fraschels, Switzerland was a purpose-built dog training hall as big as the larger indoor schools which we use for training but with Astroturf flooring. Add to this an outdoor training / competition area about five acres directly adjacent which we used for camping, and we were delighted.
The countries that participated this year included:
Sadly the British team was somewhat depleted. Sue Drew’s dog Harry developed kennel cough during their pre-competition visit to Italy and had to scratch while Kim ran headlong into DEFRA's intransigence with one of her dog's (existing) passport.
However, I waved the flag with Murphy and Smokey. Sue Drakeley had Lexie and Mollie, her two Cairns, and Dianne Maylam joined the charge with Max (collie) and Fudge (Kelpie x WSD) all in IMCA. David Maylam had entered PAWC with his Tervueren x WSD called Jess. As expected we did not set the score sheet alight, but each of us came away truly satisfied that we had exceeded our expectations and feeling fairly satisfied with our performances.
The star of the UK team was David in Paragility. In the final Agility class, his dog went like a rocket. Unfortunately she got ahead of David and headed for an off course A-frame. Dave called her quickly and she turned, but in the turn, a foot touched the obstacle resulting in an 'E.' The crown let out a great anguished groan and cheered the pair all the way to the end, at which point the noise practically took the roof off!
Next year IMCA – PAWC will be held on the first weekend in September in Holland. Although in the UK this competition does not receive the status of some other internationals, I urge anybody who wants to experience the unique thrill of high level international competition to make contact to be included in next year’s team. There are a maximum of 15 dogs permitted from each country. At present, we have far fewer that this so entry can be by invitation. I am confident that we will soon reach a point where we need qualifiers which will inevitably reduce the chances for lower grade but keen handlers to participate.
This event is featured quite extensively on You Tube. Put in IMCA Fraschels or PAWC Fraschels for Paragility.