On Easter Sunday, Zip, Brandon and I boarded a plane headed for Girona, Spain to compete at the IFCS Continental Championships of Europe for Team USA. Zip has had a lengthy road to recovery after his injured hip so we were thrilled to have been chosen to represent the USA at this event. Our team consisted of 10 of the best dog and handler teams in the country. Many of whom I was proud to call my friends and the others who I was looking forward to getting to know. We were also lucky enough to have our awesome coach Dave Grubel leading us and Dr. Sandy Ziemski as our team vet and physical therapist.
We arrived a day and a half early in order to be able to sight see a bit in Barcelona. The first thing I noticed is that Barcelona is an incredibly dog friendly city. Dogs are everywhere and are welcome anyplace. We had gotten some good advice from friends as to what to see while in Barcelona so we had lots to do. Being able to see the amazing architecture by Antoni Gaudi was breathtaking. My favorite place however was the waterfront. The White family was able to experience the Mediterranean for the first time together. In addition to sightseeing we also experienced lots of the outstanding cuisine that Barcelona had to offer.
Tuesday afternoon we had our first team practice. Coach Dave was able to arrange two practices at the venue on the equipment we would be using at the event. This was extremely helpful as some of the equipment used was quite a bit different than what we were used to a home. Some of the tunnels that were used were clear on the top so the dog was able to see the handler. It proved to be a bit distracting to the dog and dogs seemed to be a bit slower going through the tunnels. Also the tire was all white, not what we are used to seeing. It was nice to have a couple of opportunities for the dogs to get a good look and these things. Zip did great at practice, giving me some nice dogwalk and A-frame performances. The footing was ok, consisting of a rough sandy mixture. This roughness would prove to cause some issues for our dogs as the weekend progressed.
Thursday was check in and a warm up class. The warm up class was a Grand Prix class. Zip ran this great but did miss his dogwalk contact. I was very happy with the rest of the run so I hoped that the dogwalk performance was a fluke and he had gotten it out of his system. 🙂
Friday we had Biathlon Jumping, Team Agility and Snooker. The Biathlon division would consist of two classes over the course of the weekend and there would be cumulative placements for this. There is also an individual all around division consisting of four rounds of agility throughout the weekend (jumping, standard, Snooker and Gamblers) and there would be cumulative placements for this as well. In addition to the individual awards there would also be a team division which would consist of a three dog team, two rounds of agility plus the relay. Coach Dave assigned our teams. I was teamed up with Tracy Hirsch and Silver(BC) and Greg Fontaine and Spice(BC). I was thrilled! We had a super strong team!!
Zip had a great Biathlon Jumping round, and finished in 3rd place with a Bronze medal and on the podium! Team Agility went great as well! Zip nailed his dogwalk contact and had a great run. We ended up with a Bronze and third place in this class as well!! Snooker was definitely a challenge. The high pointed obstacles were time consuming and the team decided not to try for all sevens. There simply was not enough time. I opted for a seven, a six, and a five and Zip put in a stellar run!! It was good enough for the Silver medal!! What a day we had!! So very proud of Zippy!!
Saturday was a full day of classes. We had Team Jumping, Gamblers, Steeplechase and Team relay. Zip’s feet were beginning to show some wear after running on this surface for 3 days. I opted to scratch from Steeplechase as this class did not count toward any team or individual divisions. We started the morning with Team Jumping. Zip put in another great run and we ended up in sixth place. The Gamblers class was nothing like I had ever seen before, the toy dog division had 50 seconds in our opening!! For those not familiar with Gamblers, we typically can have 25-30 seconds allowed in our opening. 50 seconds would feel like an eternity!! Needless to say we covered almost each obstacle twice in our opening. The gamble was a jump to a green tunnel, over another jump and then over the finish jump which was past the first gamble obstacle. Toy dogs only had 15 seconds to complete the gamble, not a lot of time to cover a lot of yardage. Unfortunately I had a disconnect from Zip after the first obstacle, he did manage to find the green tunnel but then I was not where I wanted to be to cue the next jump so he came in towards me and took an off course tunnel. Only one toy dog was able to complete the gamble so luckily we had accumulated enough opening points for a 4th place finish. Unfortunately our team encountered some bad luck. Silver was injured at the practice jump right before Gamblers. We discussed as a team and opted to scratch from the team relay. A total bummer for the team but we all were most worried about Silver, hoping she would feel better by tomorrow.
Sunday, our final day of competition! Zip and I had our final run in the Biathlon. At this point I was not sure where we stood in the Individual All Around but I knew I was in third place going into my second round of Biathlon. I was really hoping we would get one cumulative medal so I knew I had to make this round count! The opening sequence of Biathlon Agility was not ideal for us. It was a jump to a 180. Zip can decelerate so quickly and my lack of movement into the 180 can end up costing us a refusal and it almost did in this case. Luckily after that little bobble the rest of the course ran great!! We ended up with a Bronze in the second round of Biathlon and after the scores were tallied, a Bronze in the overall Biathlon!! I was beyond thrilled!! So very proud of my boy!! After Biathlon was over the Individual All Around scores were being tallied. You could have blown me over with a feather when Dave told me Zip and I ended up with the Bronze medal in the Individual All Around too!! I couldn’t believe it! I was so proud of Zip! I came into the event hoping for one of the two cumulative medals, I was over the moon that we received a medal in both!! I have already extensively gushed all over Facebook about how proud and blessed I am to have such a wonderful competitor and friend in Zip but I think he deserves me to say it again here. The little stray from the shelter has proven once again that great things do come in small packages!!
My wonderful teammates and husband were nice enough to tape most of my runs. Here they are!! Enjoy!!
The entire week in Girona was filled with great memories I will treasure forever. Our team was amazing and everyone put in extraordinary runs. I was so proud to be a part of such a team. GO TEAM USA!!