I was happy and proud when Corinne Médauer (Team France member in 2010, 2011 and 2012) asked me if I would come to France and teach HTM and Freestyle. I did not hesitate to accept the invitaten.
I left home Friday morning to take my dogs to the dog sitters before continuing to the airport. The surprise of the day was when I found out, that something had gone wrong with the flight booking. The ticket was registered, but I had not been booked on the flight! Whoops! Luckily there were still empty seats on the plane, so all was sorted and departure as planned! Phew!
I was met by Corinne, her husbond Steve and her friend Etienne in the airport. They took me for a lovely dinner. Time flew and I was soon in my hotel ready for bed.
Saturday morning – wow, what a beautiful day! Sunny and warm. Corinne took me to the dog club and I met all the handlers. One had the cutest little Chuhuahua puppy. It was adorable and so brave around the bigger dogs and all the people, but I was oh so worried that someone would step on it or it would getinjured in some other way. It really was so tiny!
We started the day by talking about calming signals, motivation, heelwork and anti-bark training. Everybody were keen to learn and it was a pleasure to teach.
After a lunch break with a fabulous table with all sorts of different salats and other dishes (toooo much food – so hard to chose) we continued with the Prop Challenge. How many different moves and how many original moves can you think of using a newspaper as a prop? The handler with the best idea won a bag of chocolates!
Next chocolate challenge was ‘Who has the best musical interpretation of ‘In These Shoes’ and ‘The Canon galop’. Luckily it was the handlers’ votes that decided the winners of these two challenges. Everyone did really well, so it would have been hard for me to choose!
In the middle of the day a huge (HUGE!!!) herd of cows came running past the training field!!! Good distration for the dogs – but most did choose to stop training and watch them rather than work thought it… a fair choice I think 😀
We finished the day by working on getting moves that we have on body cues on to verbal cues.
After the training Corinne invited everyone for a drink and some snacks to celebrate the French Team’s success at the World Championship. In addition to Thierry Thomas’ 2 individual victories, the team also won a Bronze Medal in HTM. I was honoured to be allowed to celebrate with them and to share their happiness and pride. What a great way to finish a good day out with the dogs.
After the celebration Arlette and her beautiful Pyrenean Sheepdog showed us their new routine to music from a musical about The French Revolution. It was good – I especially loved a move, where the dog played a drum! So cute! We got some new ideas for her choreography and for some new moves. I hope hope hope (!!!!!) Arlette will consider trying out for the French team for next years championships. Her little dog is so good and she is a great handler. They would do well for France.
In the evening all the handlers went out for dinner in a local restaurant. They served some pizza like dish which is special for this part of France. Nice evening surrounded by positive and happy people.
Sunday morning… The weather was not quite what it had been the day before… Heavy rain and I even heard thunder and saw some lightening. Mmmm… not what I had hoped for when I agreed to teach outdoors!!!!!
Luckily Corinne is the kind of person, who thinks of everything! In less than half and hour she had sorted a key to a barn like building that we could use for the day. Phew! It was really good and I think you could even have an ok competition in there if needed…
In the morning we worked on heelwork, distance work, working behind the handler and working independently of the handler’s body language. Everyone worked really hard. I really enjoyed teaching this group as they were so open minded to new ideas and thoughs. They asked questions and were willing to give it all a go.
The weather improved during the day and we could have lunch back at the club. One again a magnificent meal was waiting for us! Corinne and I did not have much time for lunch though… we needed to prepare 9 of the handlers for their role in the ‘Musical Interpretation Game’ we were going to play after lunch. I will not even try to explain the rules here – it is complicated! I will just say that we all laughed a lot and it was an eye opener as to how important good musical interpretation is. Again there was chocolates for the winner, but the game sort of developed into a team work exercise, to they had to share the chocolates :-D.
It had started to rain again, but we were back in the barn, so it was ok.
We finished the day with The Linking Game and ideas on how to cheat the judges and hide your mistakes ;-).
When the seminar was officially ended, there were some handlers, that wanted me to look at their routines, so we spent another couple of hours working with their dogs and their ideas. I was tired when we were done, but it had been fun.
Corinne took me out for pizza in the evening and Oh yes, I slept well when I got to bed 🙂
There are things we do very differently – everyone here seems to use the ‘double click’. I have never been keen on that idea, but I have found it interesting to see how it works for some of the handlers here. Also the way we reward our dogs seems very different. I think I put a lot more thought into it. How and when to reward is a huge part of my training strategy. The handlers I have seen work their dogs here, seems to put more emphasis on other parts of their training. Everytime I teach a group of people, I learn something from them, which is why it is great to get to work with different people. I grow from it and hopefully they do too.
Thank you to Corinne for inviting me and for looking after me so well and to all of the handlers for making me feel so welcome. You are a great group. Keep up the good work!
By Emmy Simonsen, Denmark