I am sitting at the airport Monday morning waiting to board our plane back home. Our 2nd FCI Championship experience is over. I will post some of my runs later but unfortunately I haven’t been able to see my last run as it was accidentally not recorded with my camera. No medals to come home but many lessons and a lot of new European (and South African) friends.

Encore was fabulous all weekend. I am so proud of her and her skills. The courses were extremely challenging and I enjoyed running each of them. Team Standard was not for the faint of heart, I believe there were 59 eliminations out of 102 dogs that ran. Definitely one to set up at home for all of you out there. The challenge that got many of us (the tunnel under the A Frame) taught me something important.

I will now learn to look for blind spots for my dog. I realize my dog went into the tunnel because that is all she saw. My body blocked her vision of the correct obstacle so in hind sight, for that reason I should have used a threadle arm to take her away from that off course tunnel.

My handling of that sequence was timely and correct but the poor dog just guessed because she couldn’t see another route.

It is my thinking that dogs get in a rhythm on agility courses; one stride next obstacle, possibly two strides next obstacle. When we run a class like snookers or gamblers there is much more barking from dogs because we have lost the rhythm for them. That is my thinking anyway.

Team picture at the venue in Dornbirn

Our team picture at the beautiful venue in Dornbirn, Austria (I am wearing my new South Africa coat).

Our large dog team ended up 12th overall even with 2 E’s in the 6 rounds, so that
shows how tough the courses were. Kudos to my teammate Tiffany Salmon who for the second year in a row posted two clean runs for our Canadian big dog team. It will be a crushing blow to our team if Tiffany follows through with her thoughts of not re-applying for next year’s FCI team.

Encore and I where sitting in a good position after individual jumpers, only a couple tenths out of first place and standard, her strongest class, coming next.

To be completely honest I felt I couldn’t lose. Going to the line I wasn’t the least bit nervous, only excited with the expectancy of success. No one was more surprise than me when Encore knocked her first bar of the weekend on the 5th obstacle of my final run. My only regret of the weekend was that I let up my handling after the bar fell. I should have run out the rest of the class with intent, for Encore’s sake.

People have asked me how long it takes to “get over” a disappointment like that. To come that close at winning a world championship but then having to walk away empty handed. Honestly, I was over it as I walked off the course. It is a game I play with my dog and it ends when the run is over. I have no 5 minute rule or even a 5 second one. You can approach me right afterward. I slept like a baby last night with no second thoughts or regrets.

I have been blessed with so much in my life. I can’t see how can any single failure or success could possibly alter any of that. When I run at big events I often will write a word or the first letter of multiple words on my hand. The words I choose come to me as I sit quietly the day before the event. This  weekend the letters I wrote were “GLF.”  G for gratitude for which I always feel in abundance, L for the love I have for my dog and “F” for Geri’s Focus, which helps to keep all of this in perspective.

Today I am grateful for my amazing dog Encore, I truly am blessed.