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Summer holidays and International Water Rescue camps in Estonia and Finland 2011

The summer holiday was planned to be as short as possible just because we had to leave Ruuti and her three puppies at home; they were too young to travel! Annina arrived from England Thursday night, we left early Friday morning to pick up Christina and Scout (K. Navigaattori) from Mons. On Friday we travelled from Brussels to Bautzen in Germany, a small little town on the German-Polish border. The 950km went quickly and we arrived to Bautzen in the early afternoon. It was a very pretty little village. 

Driving through Germany - Bautzen was a very pretty village

We had planned a 1250km trip for Saturday from Bautzen, Germany through Poland and Lithuania all the way to Ogre, Latvia. We left around 5am, thinking the trip would take roughly 17 hours (google maps directions!), but we ended up being on the road until 3am the next morning! It was a looong drive even though the roads were mostly in very good condition and we didn’t get stuck in any long roadworks or traffic jams. 

The roads were mostly in a good condition, but occasionally the tracks would be close to or over 10cm deep - A candy store sign??

One of the villagers on their Sunday walk.. with a cow! - On their traffic lights they had a counter going backwards to how long it’ll be until they change.

The Ogre hotel was great, though I would have wanted to stay there a bit longer. Waking up late (didn’t realize the clock was an hour ahead in Latvia!) was a nightmare, though we did manage to quickly wash two newfs and trim three newfs completely in just an hour and a half. We arrived at the show grounds just in time; we managed to relax for a few minutes before it was time to enter the ring. Scout won her class with Excellent and Certificate Quality, Vera became Exc 2 with CQ and Capri became Exc 1, CQ, Veteran CAC and Best of Breed Veteran. In the Best Female class Scout became second, Vera third and Capri the unofficial fifth! A great result for the “puppy”, mum and grandmum! 

Christina very happy, with Capri, Vera and Scout.
Vera, Scout and Capri eating the ice-cream.

It was a very hot day so we decided to leave early and head towards Karepa, Estonia and the Estonian week long waterwork camp. On the way we stopped to reward the dogs with ice-cream; it was Scout’s first time ever getting some. At first she didn’t really know what to do with it, but quickly she learned that it was indeed edible cold white stuff :-D ! 

On our way to Karepa (400km) we stopped to eat and went to buy a small speaker for Christina’s iPod (finally!). We arrived Sunday evening to the watercamp location. 

On our way to Estonia, four cars side by side on a road that would normally fit two, or three..

The camp went by quickly and it was great to participate and especially work and help with the instructors. I was working with Karel Mennes in the water, so from our dogs only Scout was participating with her owner. 

The gorgeous beach -
Capri’s beach holiday.

Capri and Vera got to swim and practice in between and after the official trainings, which worked out well. Especially Capri took it as a great beach holiday; sleeping in the sun by the car all day long! 

Vera’s evening turn: taking us out as far as we dare..  …and then swimming back together (that’s around a few hundred meters).

Vera also got to get on the big boat, go for a ride on it and then jump with me.. A Huge big leap! Well done Vera - And I’m happy.

The waves during the first few days were HUGE, but Scout wasn’t slowed down by them at all. She didn’t mind getting her nose wet and she knew instinctively how to count the waves and use the currents to her advantage.

A big wave - Though occasionally Christina miscalculated the waves when they were going in together… 

…and the this is what happened (inside the wave) - Scout didn’t mind though, she was always up for MORE PLAY.

Fun fun fun - And always eager to go

Even if it was just for a normal victim. - They did some boat exercises too, but unfortunately they were too far away to take pictures.

Some of the less experienced dogs had problems going into the water (partly because the owners did not know how to count the waves), and the puppy class was moved to land trainings for one of the trainings. Land training in waterwork is very important, so it was good practice for the dogs, and great for the owners. 

Scout was placed in C-class for the trainings, but after her turn, she decided to continue to the land trainings.. always so eager to go.. (exercise: fetch from the boat)

But she also listens well -
Scout taking the hand

Wednesday night Karel held a first-aid/CPR seminar, and of course Capri was used as the example dog ;-). Capri liked the attention, so she didn’t mind the blowing into the nose part too much. 

There’s not much to tell about the trainings; they were pretty much what we normally train i.e. one victim, two victims, multiple victims, dead victim (take hand) as one of the victims, boat exercises (starting from boat/ending to boat/working with the boat in water as one of the objects), take a line/other object, going out to do the exercises WITH the dog or sending him alone etc.

And pulling by the hand - Looks chaotic, but really isn’t as everyone knows who’s supposed to save who

Scout’s first time saving a person from the boat.. about to jump (missed the jump picture!!)  .. And heading straight to the victim without hesitation! Perfect!

We tried to vary the exercises and keep a good pace with multiple dogs in the water at the same time, so that we were able to do around 10/15 exercises with every dog with good long distances per 1.5 hours training time. The day was split into two 1.5 hour sessions per group, with in total 4 shifts, so that we would be working with two groups a total 3 hours in the morning (1.5 hours each) and 3 hours in the afternoon (1.5 hours each). The groups consisted of around 4 dogs, which was a great group size. 

Like mum, like daughter.. both of them just as crazy..  -  Scout shaking

The week went by quickly. On the last day we held a demo for the kids.

Mio, Capri (with Karel) and Vera (Bettina) saving three victims - Capri would of course do it perfectly, following me and Vera back to the shore

On our way to Viljandi after the waterwork camp we saw 42 storks on ONE field.

We had entered the three dogs to a show in Viljandi on the Saturday after the camp (as it was “on the way to Finland”, only a four-hour trip away per side from the route). On Friday we drove to Viljandi and washed Capri and Scout in the evening. Vera we did completely in the morning as our turn in the ring wasn’t until around midday. The show place was only a five-minute drive away, which was great as we could stay at the hotel for as long as possible, keeping the dogs as cool as possible (it was a very hot day and we didn’t have our tent to put up on at the show grounds). 

The show went amazingly well. Everyone won their classes with Excellent and Certificate Quality, Scout became the Best of Breed with a Certificate (CAC), Vera was second best female and Capri was third best female with Veteran CAC and Best of Breed Veteran. In the big ring Scout amazed us all placing Best of Group 2 from around twenty other Best of Breeds!! Well done!! 

Capri in the big ring

Scout in the big ring.

After the show we drove to Tallinn to take the ferry to Finland (Helsinki). The ferry only took just under two hours, allowing us to 
leave the dogs in the car for the trip. We were in Helsinki by midnight, at our summer cottage a few hours later.

On Sunday we had planned a trip to Lappeenranta, a city close to the Russian border. There was an agility event where we were to pick up Christina’s new Watercubs training vest. On the way we saw a sign for “sand castles”. Of course we had to investigate it a bit further and it was definitely worth t. The sand castles were amazing! 

One of the sand castles  -  Christina and Scout having a little fun – putting their heads through the head-holes

On our way back we went to see the camp grounds again and make sure that everything was ok. The place at Taavetti was just like we remembered, which was definitely great. 

The pretty little Scout very attentive

On Monday we decided to go to the nature park for a walk. We took Scout and Vera with us, just so that we could go for a longer and brisker walk. 

Scout and Christina, Vera at the front: -
Scout on her escape trip (small dot Scout, bigger dot Christina and Bettina’s head)

An hour of hiking (a quarter of the way planned) and Scout and Vera found water. That’s great as they were able to cool down. The only problem was that Scout was too hot, she wanted to cool down, and decided to start swimming, swimming, swimming away from us. Nothing would get her attention and she was going further and further. Shoes, shirt and trousers off and Christina was ready to swim after her. Scout ended up swimming around 400 meters until Christina managed to get her attention and they returned to shore (another 50 meters). Scout wasn’t tired, but Christina was (understandably) not so enthusiastic to continue so we returned back to the car and back home.

Scout and Vera on our way back

Tuesday morning was full of shopping, planning and list making getting ready for the weekend’s camp. In the afternoon we participated at the Kaakon Kahlaajat waterwork trainings held by our friends. Scout was the only dog to swim this time too as there were quite a few dogs at the trainings, and getting an extra three dogs (Capri, Vera, Ruuti) would have lengthened their trainings quite a bit. We had a great evening talking to our friends and getting to know what they’d been up to the past year. 
Wednesday and Thursday were full of further planning until it was time to go to Helsinki airport to pick up Karel Mennes and Jan Counotte-DeVree. Karel is a professional lifeguard trainer and Jan an official Belgian waterwork judge. Both of them work with us regularly at our waterwork trainings, Karel being the founder and main trainer and Jan one of the founding members of the IWRDA. Jan was in Finland for the second time, the first time being two years ago participating at our camp as one of the main instructors. 
The waterwork weekend started on Friday with a level test and land trainings. While half of the group were doing land trainings with Annina and Christina, the other half was graded on a few simple exercises to determine which group they should be at for the rest of the weekend. The exercises were: retrieve a dummy, save a person, a boat exercise and swim with handler. These exercises would show us at which level the dog was at, and how ready was the owner to enter the water. We ended up having two A groups (beginners), two B groups (intermediate) and two C groups (advanced), with 3-4 dogs in each group. Karel and Bettina trained together with one group (Karel would do the general trainings, whereas Bettina would take one dog and hander to the side to explain or teach in more detail, or go over things the dogs didn’t know how to do, or needed more practice with) and Markus with Jan (with Annina). Teija and Yrjo were there for Saturday for the third training place. The timetable for Saturday and Sunday was like in Estonia: 1.5 hours of training in the morning and 1.5 hours in the afternoon for every group. During the evenings we had seminars. On Friday about waterwork training (Bettina) and Saturday first-aid for dogs (Karel).

The very serious first-aid seminar, thanks to Christina and Jan. You can see Markus wearing our camp T-shirt - Mugs we had for the camp

The water exercises were very similar to those we normally train, and to those we did in Estonia. We kept the trainings as varied as possible with the minimum or basic equipment to allow the participants to learn more exercises they could do on their own at home. It was important to teach the participants to use their voice (clear (loud) commands and real good praises) and make them understand that being in the water IS a part of waterwork, not just standing on the shore. We had six extra wetsuits, six extra waterwork harnesses and three extra lifejackets, and they were in use during all the trainings; FANTASTIC. We were extremely surprised (and glad) that people actually entered the water this year and really used our advice during the trainings. It was a completely different atmosphere compared to two years ago. We were impressed  

Scout taking a surfboard to a victim - Scout about to save two victims

Scout pulling a boat all the way to the shore - Dogs waiting to go to their owners in water

The nice beaches we were able to get for the camp - The first time any of the dogs did saving two victims with the owner

Reading the comments and seeing the dogs improve a huge lot during the few days we were there, I think everyone learned A LOT of new things to incorporate into their own trainings. The weekend definitely was a HUGE success.

Sunday evening we were going to have a Doggy Olympics game relating to waterwork, but unfortunately most of the participants had to leave early, so we ended up not having the game. It would have been great, but we really would have needed at least half of the participants to go through with it. It’s a shame they had to leave early! 

After the camp on Sunday we headed back to our summer cottage. Jan, Karel and Markus went fishing, and to everyone’s surprise Markus actually caught a good-sized pike! He earned 10 euros for that bet, and another 10e for letting it go. Jan was feeling sorry for the fish ;-). 

Going fishing: Jan says: “We are the Vikings – we bring food..!” - The pike (Scout is wondering whether she should go after it or not)

Monday morning we left for the airport and the ferry terminal, leaving Karel and Jan at the airport, the rest of us heading to the terminal to catch the ferry to Sweden. The ferry left around 5PM from Helsinki, getting us to Stockholm at 9AM. The ferry ride went quickly as we were tired and just fell asleep straight away. Once again we realized how important the “kakka”-command is as Capri and Vera were able to quickly relieve themselves in the designated spot on the deck, but Scout (who didn’t know the command) wouldn’t relieve herself during the whole of the ferry ride! Luckily it was only a short ferry over. 

Bettina and Christina with the dogs (Vera, Scout and Capri) on the deck - Everyone just loooooved Scout

Playing “find Christina” on the ferry

Tuesday morning we took Annina to the Stockholm airport (she needed to be at work on Wednesday in England and this was the only way for her to get there on time), and then headed down south towards Brussels. It was a loooooong drive because of the low speed limit due to Christina’s new trailor. 

We slept just under 4 hours in Germany, getting us to Christina’s house around midday on Wednesday. An hour later I was finally at home with Capri and Vera, getting to see Ruuti, the puppies… and one of the puppies’ new owners. We had seen Rolli’s owners during our waterwork camp already, but now it was time for Rolli to go home. The summer holidays were over!

(c) Salmelin