Long overdue update – Sweden

I’m still in Sweden, and will be here til the day after my birthday, which is this Sunday. I’ve put off writing about my adventures, because frankly, the break from Facebook, blogging, and the Online Classroom have been very nice, and very necessary.  I know that having taken such a break I will be better prepared to serve my students when September rolls around. Also, this country just seems so magical. Sitting in front of a computer brings all of that magic back to reality…

The Seminar

First, the seminar that I taught for three days for Jenny Damm.  There were people from Japan, Norway, France, Sweden, Denmark, and USA (if you count me) in attendance. Truly an international seminar! The mornings were spent training running contacts from the ground up, and I must say, the participants did quite well.  I was pleased with the progress that the dogs and handlers made in just three days, particularly given that the dogs had to learn mechanical skills as well as the handlers, with a new behavior. In the afternoon, we did handling.  I was nervous at first – what could I possibly have to offer these people, who compete on these awesome European courses all the time?! Well, it went pretty well, I was able to challenge almost everybody there, and hopefully everybody came away with at least one new way of looking at one thing that will help them in the future. All in all, it was a great seminar, I’m sure not because of any spectacular ability on my part to instruct, but because the students were all wonderful, each and every one of them. And of course Jenny had the whole thing masterfully organized 🙂 Definitely a lot for me to take away to think on for when I can host such things at my own place (hear that, Jenny? Get ready! :)).

In the evening of the last day, some of Jenny’s friends from Croatia showed up, and I must say, they were all my kind of people.  Lots and lots of belly laughs.  And, a gorgeous dinner on a gorgeous porch with a gorgeous sunset…just heaven.

Much laughing, much time in the sunshine, good agility, good students, good hiking, good food, good swimming…I think I could disappear in to this life. All the farm houses in Sweden are red; perhaps it is an omen that our new house is also red? I don’t hold much stock in such things, but I do know that I’ll look at that red paint a little differently when I get home.

European Open

On Thursday, I headed down toward Kristianstad to meet up with the EO USA team, for some practice, and then headed to the show site to pitch my tent. Yes, tent camping again. Even though it did rain a bit one day, it was pretty minimal, and I was prepared, and I must say, I am looking forward to tent camping again NEXT year in Belgium.  It’s just such a nice experience, and a great way to meet people, chit chat, share a beer, and really get immersed in the event.

And, just to prove that you don’t have to have a fancy hotel room to do well at an International Event, Solar and I made it to the finals based on our 19th place in Individual Jumpers (19th! That’s half again as good as last year!!), and in the finals, we came in FIFTH!! I was thrilled, just thrilled.  It was a run to be proud of. No ribbon, no trophy, no recognition even, hardly any cheers from the crowd, who I’m sure weren’t happy to see a USA person do well (or maybe they were just tired, it was pretty late!)…but darned if I wasn’t proud of that run as though we’d gotten first place. It wasn’t an easy course, for sure, but Solar and I were completely engaged with one another, and the teamwork just tasted so GOOD. Thanks to whoever it was that pointed their camera at the LiveStream 🙂

When the event was over, I was sad to leave my new friends, but also, I felt richer for having MADE new friends, and for the experience. And after all, I got to leave the show site with the best dog ever 🙂

Solar and I headed up to Stockholm, where it was my intention to check in to a hotel for the night before continuing up to Borlange for Chicken Camp.  But, finding a hotel room with a dog when you don’t have reservations is tricky, and plus, the traffic freaked me out. I wanted to be back on Jenny’s farm, or out in a field somewhere, anywhere but this busy traffic in the big city! Panic! Stockholm looked beautiful, but I think I’ll visit it again when David can drive. I wimped out and found a beautiful campground with a lake, just five minutes outside the city. For $20 I got camping with wifi, and for $10 I did my laundry – and since wifi and laundry were my two reasons for a hotel, all my needs were met, AND Solar got to do more swimming.

The campground was packed, and it was really relaxing to sit outside and catch up on emails a little bit.  Our house is near the end of escrow, so there is a lot to keep up on – that is the only thing I’m making a priority to stay on top of while I’m here, the rest…well…for now, it can wait 🙂

The next morning, I packed up my tent, and Solar and I went for a hike, and Solar for a swim…

And then, we headed up to Borlange, a few hours north of Stockholm. Chicken Camp V – Teaching Operant Conditioning. Would I forget everything I had learned previously? Would it come back? Would it be worth it? Well, I’m still in the middle of Chicken Camp, and no, I didn’t forget everything I learned. Yes, it is worth it. This camp in particular is a good one – it benefits not only me, but all of my current and future students as well. The scenery is beautiful, my partner, from Portugal, is wonderful, and I am learning a lot. I will be sad to come home, but again, feeling richer for all the experiences – walking in the sun, clicker training my chickens, eating good food with good people…And, I am also looking forward to coming home, because despite the nerve wracking prospect of moving, it is happening, the house is nearly ours, we are nearly Oregonians again. I am looking forward to it. Thank goodness I have such an amazing husband, who is dealing with most of this on his end, at home. I wish he was here to more adequately document all of this in pictures; I just have my iPhone. But maybe it’s better that way, to keep most of it to myself, most of it in my mind, to make of it what I want to make of it, to remember it as magical, personal…mine own experience.

It’s not over yet – three more days to go, and the last day, Sunday, is my birthday.  It will be a fitting end to an amazing trip that has turned out to be all I had hoped and expected it to be, and more.