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We both now have our French agility licence for 2005 and Coco is a catégory C dog (over 47cm), a standard I suppose is the UK equivalent, though we also have a catégory D which is for the extra large, heavy breeds too. Catégory C fences are 60cm with a 50 cm table.

Last weekend, our agility club in France, Le Club d’Éducation Canine de St Gaudens hosted a selection round of the Grand Prix de France (GPdF) agility competition on behalf of the Federation Canine Pyrénées-Gascogne. The competition was only open to dogs qualified for the GPdF and 3ème degré (advanced) dogs. I was lucky enough to be involved with the event as official timekeeper (!!!) and also collecting results from the judge to give to the stewards and official record keepers.

In France they do not have classes like “allsorts” or “special” classes for beginners so when you enter a competition it’s all or nothing. The difference between a 1ere degré course and a 2ème/3ème degré course is the number of pieces of touch point equipment (“les zones” – minimum of 3 in a 1ère degree and 4 in the others), the length (in meters) and difficulty. The course this weekend was a 3ème degré course.

This is where it gets exciting! In these GPdF and selection competitions, a dog and handler who have never competed before are invited by the judge to take part. Guess what? Coco and I were nominated by our club to be “the one” in our category of agility! The name for a dog who is allowed to do this is a “chien en blanc”. Our instructor (the only other one in our club who had actually qualified to take part) told me to do it “for the pleasure of working with your dog”, . For fun, in other words. The judge announced that there was “chien en blanc” and we made our way into the ring (thankfully, fenced off with metal barriers). A lady, waiting to compete after me said “Ce n’est pas un chien en blanc, c’est un chien en chocolat!” It’s not a white dog it’s a chocolate dog!

Well, the minute I took Coco’s collar off she was off, saying hello to everyone in a typical labbie fashion, thankfully not crossing the start line so, we were okay. After a couple of minutes we were off. Much to my amazement we only missed one obstacle (no 4 which happened to be a triple), had a bit of a jitter into the weaves but did them perfectly once she got going, knocked down one jump – no 8 - (one we had to jump twice but was up and in place for our second jump) and took one wrong turning (whoops straight onto the see–saw instead of into the tunnel for the second time – no 16 - but came back and recovered after prompting by the judge LOL!). There was even a table in the course and she jumped straight up and waited until we were told we could continue! Of course we would have been eliminated in a proper competition but I’m happy to say that once we got going she actually looked like she’d been trained to do it, unlike poor Milly who only managed a maximum of 4 obstacles in the correct order, ever! What a great experience!
 

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Well done it must have been a great experience for you and Coco,and congratulations on doing the table the first time in a competion,i always think that's a hard one to do when you are faced with an audience for the first time .

Looking forward to hearing all about your next competion

margaret
 
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