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Starring Amp and Switch...

Lisa Jordan first competed in the ParaAgility World Championships in 2018 (?) when it was held in the UK. She absolutely loved that the experience and went on to win Gold and Silver in Spain with her collies Dec and Switch. Sadly lockdown mean that PAWC never happened and so it was lovely to catch up with friends and familiar faces in Italy.  Her are some excerpts from her n'er to be forgotten personal diary...

Here is my day to day account of my most amazing adventure in Italy competing in Para World Champs with the Team UK IMCA.

Thursday, 11th August

I collect the Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for pet travel.

Tuesday, 16th August

I set alarm set for 2:25am to arrive in Whitstable at 5am to meet the coach. Dog crates are already secured in place after the coach company removed a line of seats.

The first leg of the journey via Euro Tunnel Le Shuttle. Dogs' AHC paperwork (passports) checked and then human passports. We are good to go.

After a few comfort breaks during the long drive, we arrive in the evening for our stop over in beautiful Beaune (France).

Wednesday, 17th August

After an early breakfast on Wednesday, it's back onto the coach for the second leg of the long journey, traveling through the beautiful wine-country countryside to Italy via Tunnel du Frejus, so many tolls to go through. On one toll, the coach window got stuck open causing us a slight delay.

We then did a little detour to purchase raw dog food, only to find the shop closed. Then when we finally knew we were so close the the hotel, a sign said no buses.

A short trip around the roundabout to the nearest fuel station whilst calls were made to the hotel asking how and where do we park the coach to unload, to find out it was an old sign. This cost us the vital drivers hours, so forced to do an unscheduled stop for half hour to allow driving time again.

The hotel is great with a beautiful large park just across the road. We all unload the luggage and go to check out our rooms for a much needed zzzz.

Thursday, 18th August

Today is a crazy day.

We arrive in a thunder storm. Hard to find where to park a huge coach. Set up our soft crates in kennel area. We are lucky to find a lovely shaded barn area with open side, allowing a nice breeze after the storm. 

  • 13:16- 14:16 - vet checks
     

  • 14:49-15:55pm - Practice training sessions. This has to be calculated, worked out in dog sizes to maximise the time allowed. Jumping and weaves is on one side, contacts the other side. Sadly, this is when we find out the surface isn't very nice for the dogs. Thankfully the Judges agree to change their course plans to accommodate the surface.

Then some down time with our dogs before the Opening Ceremony.

  • 16:30 Judges meeting

  • 17:00 Team leaders meeting

  • 18:00 Opening Ceremony

  • 20:00 Gala dinner

Driver's shift hours mean we have to leave before the end of the dinner, to give him the rest time before early start next day.

Friday, 19th August

This is the first day of competition.

My first run is with Switch, my Intermediate Collie. It's a Jumping class judged by A. Jorge Pires. Sadly, a slip at the weaves means we pick up a 5r.

 Result

  • Switch = Silver

My Large dog Amp's run is next with only four dogs between. I have zero time to get into mindset of how Amp runs. I am still trying to catch my breath after my previous run. He struggles on the surface to start with. I just couldn't turn him. I lose him to an off-course tunnel (E), but the experience was good for both of us.

I'm really grateful to the organisers who agree to change my running order to give me more room between my dogs on Saturday and Sunday classes. 

Saturday, 20th August

We arrive at the venue 7am. It's Teams day.

First for PAWC is an Agility course, designed by the lovely Becci Hodson (UK)

With Switch, I decide to take him easy around the course, allowing him to float on his turns rather than try to turn tightly. Amp is now a little more experienced on the surface. Both pull out a clear round.

Starcoast Switch AW/S and Firetouch Supa Hi Voltage AW/S       Results

  • Amp = Gold

  • Switch = Silver

It has gone midnight and we are still at the venue with some teams yet to run.

We arrive back at the hotel nearer 1am with another early start Sunday. Adrenaline plays a big part keeping us all going. 

Sunday, 21st August

Today it's another Jumping course for PAWC competitors.

Switch pulls out another great clear, but Amp just slips at the weaves for 5 faults.

        Results

  • Switch = Gold

  • Amp = Bronze

Sunday evening is overall presentations and the closing ceremony, plus passing the flag over to next year's hosting country.

We had a few UK podium places including my own. I am an emotional wreck to find out Switch had got overall World Champion. Each time I am lucky enough to step up onto the podium is something else. Singing to the national anthem is just an amazing experience. I'm incredibly grateful and humbled to be part of TeamUK.

Aftermath
But the adventure does not end there. We leave our overnight stay early in hope that we can get an earlier train, and we arrive in plenty of time. We go through pet reception without any issues and are all booked in when we hear the news tjat there is a train is stuck in the Tunnel. Initially they they tell us it will be a four hour delay, but the time just keeps increasing.

We are all exhausted but the dogs are all brilliant. We feed them in the evening and settle down. As time goes by we start to worry about worming times.

It is all a bit of a blur, but by now I am suffering with a kidney stone. A couple of times, I ask Euro Tunnel staff to help us get across, but it is 12 hours until we are able to board in the small hours of the next day.

At Whitstable, we all unload our things including our fixed crates and set off for home.

With hindsight, I should have tried to take a nap but somewhere on the way, I hit a kerb and knacker my tyre and wheel. Lesson learnt. At least the dogs are okay. I wait for another hour for recovery and am told that the spare wheel isn't fit to drive on.

I am lucky that the lovely owner of the house whose drive I pulled into does a ring round and finds out there is a garage five minutes down the road where they can fit a new tyre. 300 later I drive home with my hazards on.

Once there, I unload the dogs and van and grab a couple of hours sleep only to wake up in pain. My friend takes me to A&E where I am admitted and stay overnight on a drip and morphine. Don't get home until 3pm the next day.

It's still not sunk in - six runs, five medals and World Champion. I want my Cloud 9 feeling to last forever, but it burst with all the drama on the way home. Nevertheless, I am still looking forward to next year but without the horrendous journey home.

To find out more on how to join us on this emotional rollercoaster that I for one don't want to ever get off, contact Linda Croxford.

Author credit...
Lisa Jordan started the agility game in 1987 and has seen lost of improvement in training methods, equipment and course design since then.

She proudly runs her own club K.I.S. Dog Training and is an Agility Club Approved instructor and Kennel Club judge. She also teaches hoopers and CHW core handling online.

She suffers from three bulging discs in the lumbar region at L3/4.

Over the years she has shared her life with lots of different breeds including a Springer Spaniel, German Shepherd, Belgian Shepherd, Lowchen and a Beardie X Old English Sheepdog. She also has a Working Cocker who came from the RSPCA having been seized in a puppy farm haul.

First published 4th September 2022

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