Strafe and I had so much fun at the EO last year. And even though landing on the podium was certainly part of our fun, the larger part of it is traveling various parts of Europe and the chance to compete over there. I loved the atmosphere of the EO, it was serious, and crazy, but tons of fun, and it is so great to see all the different people and dogs with all the different handling styles and choices from all over the world. I am obviously hoping to return in 2014. To that end, I've added a competition onto our trip: the Border Collie Classic, another fairly large competition that is well-attended by "big name" competitors who run border collies in Europe. This year it happens to be in Slovakia, only a few short hours drive from the EO location in Hungary. So I entered it! Entry was online, and relatively easy, and my registration is already confirmed. I'm excited to add another fun European competition to our travels. I am planning to visit Vienna (also nearby, and probably the airport I'll come into if I can find a flight), along with Budapest and Bratislava between the competitions. Should be a great time!
I hope that part of Europe is as dog friendly as the parts of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands that we visited were. I just loved how easy it is to sit and eat with your dog by your side, not only were dogs "allowed", they were actually "welcome" and waiters often brought out bowls of water. Really nice and I wish the USA were more like that!
I have also decided that with all the other travel and competition I am doing, I just do not have time to worry about adding in UKI at this point. I will not give up USDAA because that was my first agility competition venue and still my favorite as far as course design and level of competition goes. I will not give up AKC because my main goals involve them, and I think they actually try to listen to their competitors as well as possible too. UKI sounds great in theory, but I don't think I have time to go to WAO, and therefore just don't want to add the time/money involved in qualifying for and attending the US Open. I'm a bit sad, since it might have been Kiba's last shot at a major national event (if she could measure under 17.5", which would be close), but I really don't like to have major events every single month for so much of the year. The dogs need periods of physical and mental rest just as much as I do. Traveling to Europe 3 times this year if all my hopes and plans work out perfectly, traveling to 2 National events plus Tryouts... that is a lot already! So no UKI for us this year, and likely not next year either but I won't write it off entirely!
I definitely enjoyed the first two WAO events and I was sad last year when Strafe was not selected for that team, I thought it would have been a great first international event for us as a team, but all ended up very well in the end since we won onto the EO team and did extremely well at that event.
So I am hoping at least some of my years going forward with Strafe will involve EO and AWC events, also hopefully some more future BCC trials or other fun European FCI-style events, and maybe another trip to Crufts or two, who knows! But that is a big menu of things for me. I love to travel but I also understand my own need for downtime. Ask any introvert - it can be stressful, even when it's fun! :)