Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hey Mach, let's go to Europe!

Leading into this EO was much different than last year. Already having another EO under our belts helped me prepare for this one. We've actually done very little competing, and our training sessions aren't intensive what so ever. I was so relaxed going into it, and I think that's why we were so successful. What didn't change, though, is the amount of support from dog and non dog friends alike. I can train as hard as I want to, but without all of your support, I couldn't make it to where I have without you. So, a big big thank you to all of you beautiful people. :)

Our travelling weekend started off with a drive down to Salisbury to run in two standard runs before our flight out of Moncton the next morning. He ran the way I wanted him to run, and even though there was a little disappointment with the inconsistent ruling on what to do when there is no time, I was happy he got his standard even though he officially didn't. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you have to win again another day. ;) (Also, a big congrats to Tony & Blaze who earned their Lifetime that happy I was there to see it :))

Next was an early morning flight to Toronto to meet up with Andre and Ben, and our lovely hostess Laura, who really kicks a lot of ass. It was a lot of sleeping, and lounging for the most part of the weekend, but we did go for a nice hike in some beautiful tall trees before our next flight from Toronto to Munich. Travelling with us is never a dull moment. This time, however, it wasn't necessarily Mom and I that made it a party. I'll save that heck of a story for Andre to tell. He'll maybe blog about it in a year or so. P.S it sucked, but my advice is to check how long your passport has to be valid for before entering certain countries.

After sprinting to our flight, and being the last ones on the plane, not getting seats together, and asking a reluctant German man to switch because it was my "first time flying" (when will they stop believing us??), Mom and I were set to jet! There was free liquor AND tilting screens! BEST DAY EVER (oh my goodness, so many belly laughs).

Due to Andre's misadventures of not getting on the plane, and the car rental being in his name, Mom and I were a bit stressed about how we were going to get across Europe if they wouldn't give us the van. In the end, it was no problem to switch it into Mom's name, but the problem was that the van was a standard (oh, this is after Mom thought she didn't pack her drivers license, me thinking I had to drive across Europe, and the company trying to give us a 9 passenger bus). Long story short, Mom hasn't driven a standard in 30 years, so you can imagine her face when she had to drive on the autobahn to an unknown location, of unknown people, through streets that are wide enough for maybe one cow, up a steep driveway, and park it next to a very fancy Beamer. After stalling it 6 times just getting out of the parking garage, burning up the clutch, getting lost, and many muttered "I'm going to kill Andre"'s later, we made it to Siegsdorf, Germany to Sissi's parents farm!

Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with us, and it was pouring rain and freezing cold. We had planned on going hiking in the Alps, since the mountains are literally in their backyard, but you couldn't even see them it was so cloudy. We decided to go see a castle instead, but accidentally laid down and fell asleep for three hours. We ended up just going for a short walk, and met some cows along the way. We called it an early night, since our books were falling out of our hands while reading because we were falling asleep.

4:30am came too quickly, and then we were off again to Vienna to pick up Andre from the airport. Austria is beautiful. I wanted to spend years there. The mountains are stunning, and I likely said "oh my gosh, I could cry" at least a hundred times. I never actually cried, but it *could* have happened.

Andre got into the driver's seat, and we took the M7 to Budapest. We were going to enjoy Europe whether or not it was raining, dammit! There was the birth of our band "Jaegah" (Jeri, Andre, Erin, Germany, Austria, Hungary...we are SO creative) by our rendition of All of Me by John Legend, confusing vignette stands, and hotels named after spices. We got off the seamless highway and made our way into Budapest where the roads were less than stellar. But the buildings...the buildings are stunning. We tried flagging down someone who could speak English to point us in the direction of an Italian restaurant. There I used my genetic prowess while the cook made my first meal in Hungary, then we buzzed Kiss' apartment, scared the crap out of an old lady while we lurked around the door, and went temple hunting.

The temple was nice and all, but then we looked across the river and there she was. The parliament building. Mach was so excited about it, he jumped up onto a ledge where there was pretty much a story drop to the ground.  Good grief, this dog! What is it about Europe and thinking he can fly?! After talking to a homeless guy that wasn't a homeless guy to help with parking, Mom and I walked over to the parliament building to snap a few photos. I was thoroughly impressed by the side of the building, and was satisfied with just looking at that, but then we walked around the side and saw the entire thing. Maybe it's because I haven't seen a lot of really big, beautiful buildings at an age where I could really appreciate them, but I was absolutely blown away by it. Please, go to Budapest.

Mom then got involved in the changing of the guards, and I almost got hit by a tram. But I continued my obsession with their doors, and made sure to take photos of basically every single one. We had telepathic moments about "gelatooo", then on the drive to Kaposvar, Jaegah was reborn during our performance of "Oranges". To us, this was a definite highlight, but I'm not sure it'll make much sense or even be funny to anyone else. Long story short, Mom fell for the classic "If you say 'oranges' slowly, it sounds like 'gullible'" joke, and Andre made fun of me for how I said "bulk upload" when I was talking about my desperate struggle to find wifi and upload instagrams. So, when this techno song came on the radio, we made a remix with "oranges", "gelato", and "bulk upload", and it was freaking amazing.

Then there was a slew of imaginary things. For example, imaginary speed limits, imaginary Real stores, and imaginary hotels, with imaginary entrances. I don't know about you, but from what I hear Candi Chandelier and Hungarian Butterfly had a great first night in Hungary.

There was a part of me that had sort of forgotten why we were there, so the unofficial practice was good for me to get back in the game, and the official practice really got me in gear. I felt so ready and excited to get going!

The event itself I think was a success. The lower jump heights made me so happy, the footing was great, and despite the huge number of competitors from all of the world, it was very relaxing. Canada was squeezed into a small tent, and the heat was unlike any heat I've ever experienced. There was no escaping it, except for when we all had a wet tshirt contest, but most countries just decided to take their shirts off completely. Who can? Canada Cannot. ;)

All in all, I think Canada *can* and did! We really showed those Germans that we are contenders on the international stage. A definite highlight was seeing multiple Canadian flags up on the podium on the toughest course known to man kind. I was so proud that Canada was represented well in the finals, and I think we all went away from the event with a bit more Canadian pride than when we showed up. I know I certainly did.

As for Mach....well, I fell in love with that boy even more. I feel like I say that every day, but it's true. The entire trip he was amazing. He travelled so well, didn't seem to be stressed at all, and was on fire the entire event. The first day were the team events, and since I was so excited to get going, I released him way too soon from his startline and got too far behind for my blind cross at #3. Even with the refusal, I loved that run! After waiting another 6 hours on top of the 3 hours we just did, we ran Team Standard. I didn't think it was a hard course, but it was certainly fun! The tough turn from the ascending double into the weave poles got us, where he completely demolished the jump, but again, I loved that run! I was so proud of our first day. Even though our team G=MC² didn't fair well in the scores, I loved our fist bumps before our runs, and I think we were all happy with our day!

photo by Vince Maidens

We arrived the next morning five minutes before having to walk the course for our individual runs. Sigh, always last minute! The courses were much more difficult than the day before, and overall, were much harder than the year before. It has been said by many people that the large individual agility course was the toughest one they have ever run in a competition. The stats on that course were that 200/380 were eliminated, and after discussing it with some team mates, we noted that it wasn't just in one point on course, but everywhere had the potential for mistakes big or small to earn you that E. Canada was up first to run this course, and after knowing how many dogs it ate up, I'm so proud of how many clean runs we had on it. Although Mach and I weren't clean on that run, we didn't get eliminated and I'm calling that a success!

photo by Anna Skaja

Of course the last run is my most favourite run ever. I had pictured us running it clean in my head so many times, like I do for every course, but this one felt like it was going to be it! Even though he broke his startline (yes, I'm going to work on that...) and I had to change my plan on the fly, he was so responsive, and nailed that weave entry! In the end, I think we only placed 51st, but out of 380, I can't complain about it! There are so many incredible dogs out there, and I'm so glad I had the chance to run against them. Very happy to end our second EO with such a stellar run.

{Watch our video montage here!}

photo by Becky Evans

We drove through the night back to Siegsdorf to sleep for two hours, then up again bright and early to make it to the airport. Only a momentary mishap with us being on standby for our flight, even though we were three hours early, and then not being seated together....again! We are queens of switching seats at this point though. A relatively uneventful flight back, then it was the sprint to find Terminal 3...where the heck is Terminal 3?! Mom and I had a 6 hour layover until our flight, so we rushed Andre off to his, then Mach showed off all his cool tricks for people. Our flight back to Moncton was the only time I've ever wished for a middle seat..... ;)

I'm really glad the EO was in Hungary this year, because I don't think I would have ever gone there on my own. Even if it is a poor country, it is still quite beautiful. I think I will always have the urge to travel, and to see the world, but you'd have a lot of convincing to do to get me to live anywhere but Canada...because who can?! Canada can! Eh! Eh! Eh!

One last thank you goes out to my parents, especially my mama. She is hands down the most supportive person I have in my life, and none of these amazing experiences would be possible without her. She has been there every step of the way, and I'm so thankful that I can call her my best friend. Hats off to you, mama. Love ya! Until the next European adventure! :)


  1. What a fantastic adventure!! You did wonderful at the event!. Way to go Erin! You made Canada Proud! <3

  2. this is great Erin!!!! What an adventure you guys had!!!! Would love to see the rest of your pics and hear all about your trip xo much love Amanda Weaver