Everyone has a cute dream for when they ‘grow up’. For most, these dreams stay in the clouds because at some point in time we’re told they’re unrealistic. If everyone believed their dreams were unrealistic, this world would be a very different place. Those of us who chose to believe in our dreams, set a plan into action, turned our dreams into goals, and goals into successes. So sitting in my small, uncomfortable seat on flight 133 to Munich, I decided my dreams had far surpassed goals and Karli and I were headed straight for success.
My mom and I met up with some friends at the airport and had a lovely, uneventful trip to Salzburg, Austria where we spent the night and did a little – before heading off to our final destination, Taszar, Hungary. Salzburg was a beautiful town and the birthplace to Mozart, I was easily amazed with the parking arrangements, we drove into what looked like a cave, really we parked in the side of a mountain. There were street vendors, musicians, water wheels, trolleys, carriages pulled by beautiful horses, and the rare Starbucks. Salzburg was beautiful, but I didn’t come for the beauty, I came for the action.
Once we arrived at Puchner Castle (yes, we stayed in a castle/theme park) I was exploring, swimming, and agilitating non-stop. The rooms were the full Hungarian experience! My mom and I roomed together and we were practically roommates. Small, cot-like beds, very small rooms, a vanity mirror, an air conditioner, and a real key. Not one of the typical, plastic, US hotel keys. A real key one a key chain that you could hear jingle in your pocket. The best part was, we had our very own bathroom. Not your typical bed and breakfast. Each day we could come back, change into bathing suits, and relax in a variety of spas and swimming pools. There were at least 5 different spas and several swimming pools, inside and out. The best part was taking the dogs through the theme park after hours. Again, not your typical theme park. There were no rides or games. Just old building, some farm animals, and the occasional guillotine. With all of these cool accessories, I met and became friends with the majority of the team. That may have been the best part of the trip. I loved getting to know some of the best agility competitors the United States has to offer. Between relaxing in the spas and exploring the theme parks, the team made of up people from all across the United States slowly become a close-knit group of friends. For this, we have to thank the fabulous Team Coach, Ann Braue and the Team Photographer Lisa Jack. Clear back at team practice, Lisa and Ann had different activities to help bring our team together and the trip to Hungary solidified that.
Now, the real reason we all went to Hungary, the 2014 European Open! What an event it was. I was absolutely starstruck for the majority of the weekend. I couldn’t believe I shared a walk-through with Janita and Jaako. Lisa Frick stood next to me. Jenny Damm said good morning. I joked with some of the members of the Great Britain team. It was like someone placed me in the Hollywood of agility. After watching some of my favorite handlers run, whether they had a terrible run or nailed a course, I realized I belonged there. I worked just as hard as everyone else. Karli and I, as inexperienced as we are, we deserved to run at the European Open. Even though we left the event with four eliminations we were not the worst ones there, we didn’t have the worst runs of all the dogs, and I didn’t have to throw myself on the ground and have a temper tantrum. My little Karli, the jaws of the family, Toothless Wonder, Snappy McGee, she didn’t try to bite me once and I totally deserved it. Every mistake we made was 100% my fault. (Let’s be honest, Karli should really have hit that weave entry but…. nobody is perfect!) It made me realize that my backyard training doesn’t really cut it, but it didn’t do too bad either. So for next year, run faster, train harder, and bark just a little bit louder.
The time I spent in Europe and the people I met are absolutely priceless. Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have it any other way, E’s and all. Look where agility has taken me, an 18-year-old high school graduate. Look where Karli, my small and mighty, has taken me.
There are so many more places to go.