European Open 2016 – Wednesday Update
Tuesday morning the team bus showed up at around 8am, and, by some miracle, the entire team, and our luggage and dogs, were loaded, and the bus was rolling shortly after 9am.
Frodo was a trooper, settling in nicely.
Our first stop was a couple of hours away, where we were scheduled to practice for two hours. Of course, a two hour practice for 32 dogs means just a few (3) minutes per dog. So, we had plenty of time to enjoy a bit of scenery, and watch our teammates practice.
After our practice, we all hopped on the bus again, and drove another hour to our hotel for the week. It’s a lovely hotel, with a lovely restaurant. It seems pretty welcoming to dogs, judging by some of the artwork on the walls.
Frodo barks when he’s left in the hotel room by himself, and…it seems as though he barks when left alone in a hotel room even when there’s another dog he knows. So, no alone time in the hotel room for Frodo. Luckily, he’s pretty good at hanging out underneath a restaurant table.
Also of note, at least to Frodo, is that our room has carpet on the floor. No more sneaking around like a panther or horribly awkward launches on to the bed from a slippery laminate floor.
After a team meeting where the specifics of how this weekend’s event would be run, and a lovely dinner with friends and fellow teammates, we headed to bed.
This morning, we made our way down to the breakfast room, and then to the bus at 8am, for the hour long bus ride back to yesterday’s practice site. The hotel really is full of interesting decorations..
Today’s practice was also two hours, so, again, just a few minutes per dog. Most of the handlers on the team are very cognizant of their dogs – the turf at the practice site is very nice, but for dogs not used to turf, can be a little abrasive on their feet. So between feet, wanting to make sure dogs that may be a bit travel weary are not overworked, and just a general sense of “we are where we are”, the few minutes per dog were plenty for most.
The team has been very well organized under Coach Ann Braue and Assistant Coach Mike Teh. The bus has been very nice – no rental car to worry about, no traffic or directions to worry about. I’m not much of a group person, to be honest; usually I like to go my own way and do my own thing. But it has been very nice to not have to worry about the details of the trip. Until last week, I honestly didn’t even know exactly where in France the European Open WAS. And it was kind of nice to not NEED to know.
It’s not all roses – yesterday, just a couple of hours from where we’re staying, as far as I can tell, a priest was murdered in the name of ISIS. There’s a lot of unrest in Europe at the moment, and so at least for me, there’s an element of gravitas. I’m not unaware of the privilege I enjoy, being able to bring a dog over to Europe for this competition. I’m well aware of all of the socioeconomic advantages that have allowed for me to be able to spend the not insignificant amount of money I’ve spent to come here, for three days of competition, that may amount to a big fat goose egg. It takes a special kind of crazy, a special kind of passion, to do this, and it’s not for the faint of heart. I’m not really sure what I personally can do to solve the world’s problems, but it seems at least being AWARE of my own privilege is a start.
OK, back to more lighthearted topics….
Now I’m back at the hotel, playing cards in the lobby with some team members and supporters, while we wait for our room to be cleaned. Next up is our official Team Dinner, and then, an early evening. Tomorrow, the vet check is early in the morning, followed by our official team practice – our first look at the competition site!