Fed up, must keep weight off ankle, foot elevated, …..I feel a blog coming on !!!.
I start by asking, when I have clambered all over the French Countryside, over mud, gravel and rocks, the size of THIS,
how you can you nearly break your ankle walking down a flat, hazard free road ?. Well you can, and my first experience of nearly breaking something, in 53 years of life on this planet is that it is, 1)Bloody painful, and, 2) is really expensive if you have not already gained your Carte Vitale, which I haven’t. Still, claiming on my E111, the process of seeing the Doctor, (23 Euros), having seven X-rays (Free !!!) and getting a prescription (212 Euros, gasp !!!!) was a remarkably quick and simple one, even if it left my Bank Manager gasping. I will be jogging down to my nearest Social Security Office to enrol and get my Carte Vitale, and the compulsory health insurance, as soon as I am able. But at the moment I am stranded on my settee. The dogs are not impressed, but I have already started planning the “moves” I can teach Boq, from a garden chair strategically placed outside, after all, I did WANT distance control, trouble is, my OH can already see me eyeing the door for escape, guess I will have to wait until he goes out shopping, or send him on some other ruse. Mwahhhhhh.
So my blog today is about one of my favourite subjects, and I make no apologies, as, having only just started to get excited about the prospects in the New Year, I now have had water tipped on my little parade, so, to cheer myself up,yes, I am talking about AGILITY . You see, I actually MADE it to a show before my little catastrophe, albeit not in a competitive capacity, but I did go and watch, so I could relay my findings.
Now you already know the problems I have encountered with my local fellow enthusiasts. ie:they appear to be in a handling timewarp from the early 90’s, but this apart, they are a jolly bunch and every bit as competitive as you and I, so I thought I would see what was what.
The Cani’zazes Club of Cognac’s November show (see what they have done with that – their logo is a little Ninja Dog in a Brandy Glass) was at an Equestrian Centre at Broussac, just outside Cognac, about an hour from my cottage. About 5 people I know were going, and much like our shows, the “kick off” was at 8.00am. I decided to trundle along at 10.30am (well I wasn’t running a dog) to get an idea of the setup. This was a National Competition, open to all, so I imagined the place would be heaving with people, so imagine my surprise when I rolled into the Car Park at 10.30 only to find that the vehicular “contents” of the Car Park looked like the line up at a local Community Centre, not a “dog wagon” in sight !!. In fact, upon a tour of the aforementioned Car Park , cunningly disguised as a walk with Boq, who I took, so I wouldn’t blow my cover….(I didn’t take Stitch, as he would have got too excited and couldn’t have run, so it wasn’t fair) I found my own car was the only one with a crate, or dog guard, of any description. I chuckled to myself at the amount of really flash motors, BMWs and Mercs, with dogs lounging on their back seats. Upon further investigation I found that the Motorhomes, housing the folk from further field, were secreted around the back. This looked more like what I’m used to……….that’s if what I was used to seeing amounted to less than 10, hardly a huge turnout.!
Anyway,having replaced Boq in the car, I decided to go for a quick recce, and locate the toilets, (always an exciting prospect in France, as you never know if it’s Unisex, or a hole in the ground,… the ones on this occasion were separate and very modern) and also the Hot Food Facilities (let’s face it, a Bacon Butty is a MUST on a cold November Show day) The interior of the canteen, looked like a lot of the UKA events I have had the privilege(!) of attending, and was full of,awards ,Officials, and Laptops, being feverishly typed on. Heaven knows why everyone seemed so busy, I had seen the size of the entry on the blackboards outside the restaurant. Total entry: 70 and 7 Juniors !!! The food looked “good enough to eat” and reasonably priced, indeed you could “book” a repas ahead of time at twelve euros a head. I however had taken my usual agility lunch, Sandwiches, crisps, chocolate, biscuits, flask and a Red Bull for the drive home. Guess I am going to have to “continental” this up in the future……..
Now from what I gather, if you have Pedigree dog you get more runs, less with rejects like Stitch and to enter you have to 1) belong to a club 2) have your Carte de Base, obtainable by passing a test with your Club, checking your ability to compete, and also your dogs’ temperament. Having received your Carte de Base, you then receive an Annual Certificate issued by the French Governing body, the CNEAC.,then you are “good to go” …..for your Club and region, but as far as I can see,NOT as an individual. Will be checking on this as I go, don’t quote me on it, as I have yet to see the system in action. I have tried to find out at what level my grade seven,(with 65 wins to his name), will come in ?? but as of yet they seems undecided, so I will go where I’m told, it seems only polite, their country, their rules and all that !!!
So the show in action, what did I see.?? Well it wasn’t what I saw, but more like what I HEARD. Apparently “double handling” AKA outside assistance, has not yet been disallowed by our French contingent, heckling and giving folk a “head up” to a broken wait is common practice, indeed the Judge in our ring was kitted up like Madonna, and both hand signaled and commentated on the dog in his ring himself !. Unreal !!.
The courses, as far as I could see,seemed the same sort of thing for all, heights, FOUR, although I wouldn’t have to worry about Stitch making Medium (B) here….it’s 47 cms not 43. The fourth height (D) is for HUGE dogs, Great Danes and the like. Lunchtime, 1 hour, and a complete standstill in both rings, bang on 12. A relief to me as I’d imagined they would take the same TWO hours they do in the shops everyday. I couldn't get over what a family affair it all seemed to be, most competitors brought their husband,or wife, children and Grandparents, all easily identified by their completely inappropriate attire. Each dog seemed to have a “team” behind them, more “grooms” than I have ever seen at any of our events.
At lunchtime, those that didn't go to the canteen, set up “Club” tables in the Car Park and drank wine and ate picnics, even though it was about -2 with the windchill that day !!! Nobody seemed to be on their own……..well, expect me…I was throwing a ball for Boq in the exercise area, being made very aware nobody else used it for the whole hour……..side note: sings ”All by myself” in a plaintiff voice, little “Guillaume no mates”
Once I finished lunch, I watched another hour of competition, and then made my way back to a warm fire, and a hearty stew, so what was my summary of Agility “the French way” ?
I attach a copy of the Schedule, and a couple of photos (above) to complete the picture, so you can get the feel. also the results from the show are at:
For the really curious please take a look at the size of the classes and the overall performances. You need 3 “Excellents” by three different Judges to go up a degree(Grade)…so if they insist in putting Stitch in at 1 degree (that will make me popular !!) I guess I will find out how quickly this might happen. Watch this space bearing in mind this was a big show!!
If I apply the same two hour driving radius I used to apply in the UK, (in my early years….coz let’s face it I would go anywhere for a fix in the latter years, lol)and if my club allows me, (that just sounds weird) I could do twenty shows next year, not including our Clubs OWN show, which I have been told you are not allowed to compete in as you are expected to help. Aaaaaah !!!. But enough to keep this old biddy happy I think you’ll agree, IF and that’s a BIG “if”, I enjoy it. As you may not be aware, I don’t actually like UKA shows(just my humble opinion guys), I much prefer Kennel Club, so if the French show’s are a more like UKA I might find it hard to really enjoy. We’ll see. I will still have my August Holiday in Grande-Bretagne to look forward to. I will have to compete for France at the KCI Festival, though, as my dogs live there one presumes….that’s ok, I fancy a bit of Outside Assistance, now and then.
So on to news outside of Agility,..... who said that ???
Two of the things that typify Frenchness that have been lacking at Le Tardis are: a proper post box and a left hand drive car,these things have been rectified this last week.
When we were cutting up wood for the wood burner the other day,imagine our surprise when Mr "La Postes' " head appeared over the gate waving a rather crumpled packet. He explained in French(no surprise there) that he was somewhat struggling with our postbox. You see, as initially we had this cottage as a residence secondaire,(holiday home) we never bothered to put up a French Box and opted for a small letterbox,this allowed delivery of small letters(a rarity as all our bills went to England),and kept out "PUB" (leaflets and junk mail) Job done.
Now we live here its a different prospect,and French Boxes have a skeleton key,which the postman can use to open all the boxes, and leave small parcels.
Voila our new box.....sad the things that excite you !!
And the car……. I’m sorry to have to part with my Doblo, I have had it since Lesley had her Transit, and therefore could fit all our dogs in it, allowing me for the first time since my discovery of the sport to have a normal car……with crates of course. Six years on it remains a brilliant workhorse,has sailed through every MOT and done lots of holiday runs up and down to Le Tardis. I love it….so why the change ??? Well the biggest problem, obviously, is having the steering next to the kerb. This can be easily managed with two in the car, as the person on the left can do the job of the driver(if you trust them) when overtaking but if you are in the car on your own and get behind a “Convoi exceptionnel” ie: a combine harvester, you try sticking your nose out far enough to actually SEE whats coming the other way….cannot be done, not safely. On my way to the show the other day I spent 7 kilometres behind one at 18 miles per hour. That was enough to have me looking on forecourts by the following weekend.
At first I was very very tempted to go back to a dog wagon, I saw a smashing 6 seater Citreon Jumpy(a tarted up Dispatch) which was the Modern Fiat Scudo shape, in my price range, good mileage, but could I get it in my gateway easily ???? When I had my Pick-up truck here back in the day, I could get it in, but it was a right pain in the derriere, I spent most of my time leaving it at the end of the road, so something held me back. The garage was closed on Sunday,you do get the impression out here sometimes that no one is actually trying to sell anything. What huge dealership do YOU know that closes from 12-2 daily and stays closed on a Sunday ??? Exactly !
So we did the tour of the other garages in Angouleme while they were closed, and found two Doblo’s that appealed to my other half at the Fiat,Lancia,and Alfa Romeo garage. He also fell in love with a couple of red Alfa’s but you couldn’t have got any dogs in them.
With these to think about we went home to mull it over. I still wanted the Jumpy(old habits die hard) and my OH wanted the Doblo, so on Monday morning we went back down to test drive them both. Trouble was, the Jumpy had gone,sold not an hour hence, and as a big believer in fate I knew what this meant so……….. welcome our new Doblo.
Picking it up on the 11th December,although now,ironically,I won't be driving it until after my ankle heals
It makes sense really as I have to admit I am very happy with the one I have,if it weren't for the fact the is was RHD I wouldn't be parting with it and I daresay I would have kept it til the bitter end but hey ho this one has a few "new" bits,rear sensors and cruise control, I will be bringing the other one back in February to find a new home,I will shed a few tears doubtlessly, so if you know anyone whose looking.........
Well I'm off to watch some trashy daytime T.V.