Flying High with Chiqui
Interview with Joy Mercier.
It was so exciting to hear about Joy Mercier’s trip to the Netherlands for her first International competition. She graciously allowed me to pick her brain on everything from preparation for flying with her dog, Chiquita, to how she felt about the competition. Because she has so much valuable information to share, I decided to split it up into 2 parts. Read the following first portion of the followup discussion with Joy Mercier to find out about her adventure at the IFCS WAC (International Federation of Cynological Sports World Agility Championship).
This is third in a series of 3 parts. Read Part I, Read Part III
Interview Questions & Answers
Hi Joy, what kind of preparation went into transporting yourself and Chiqui across the world?
The most important thing I had to do right away was start my passport application, and make sure Chiqui’s rabies would be up-to-date during the competition dates. I also had to get an international health exam and complete the European Union form (for importing a pet dog). The form then had to be endorsed by my state’s USDA APHIS office.
How did Chiqui handle the trip?
Fantastic! She is a much better traveler than I am. The only thing that surprised me was how tired she was once she got to the hotel. After all, she had just slept on the plane for 9 hours!
What challenges did you face during the trip to the Netherlands?
The biggest challenge was the prevalence of Dutch in print (e.g., signs). In particular, it was really hard to find English menus at restaurants, so ordering food was often a challenge. The Italian restaurants presented the most amusing conundrum: the titles of the dishes were in Italian and the descriptions were in Dutch… neither was very helpful for us! But we survived with the help of Google, explanations from the servers, and bold guessing.
Do you have any memorable moments during your outbound trip?
When I first walked into the airplane, I was surprised to realize that there were multiple floors/levels. In fact, the plane was so big, the flight attendants had to give you directions so you could find your seat! Also, I was surprised to discover that the in-flight meal actually tasted good. I’m not sure if that was a “long flight thing” or a “European airline thing”. Either way, I’ll take it!
When you arrived, did you have any recuperation time for yourself and Chiqui?
Most definitely. I left Houston early afternoon on Saturday and arrived mid-morning on Sunday in Schipol. Even though I had slept on the plane, I was very tired. However, “power nap” is not in my vocabulary. The goal was to stay awake all day and go to bed no earlier than 8:00 pm. A few of us had arrived on Sunday morning, and it was REALLY hard to stay awake that long. In fact, some people didn’t make it and were in bed at 5:00 pm. But the people who had arrived the day before were really helpful. They kept us busy and reminded us how important it was to stay awake for the first day. “Toughing it out” that first day helped my body to adjust to local time pretty quickly. By Wednesday (first day of competition), I was in “Holland time”.
Did you have time to enjoy any tourist activities, or was it straight to business? If so, what did you enjoy the most?
There wasn’t much extra time for those of us who arrived Sunday morning, but we did get to drive to Amsterdam on Monday. We walked around, bought some souvenirs for friends back home, and rode the tour boat up and down the canals. It was a pretty low-key sight-seeing day, which was all we had energy for anyways (we were still very jet-lagged). But it was a good way for us to be forced into the local time zone, and there was no way to accidentally fall asleep with the crazy bicycles zooming around.
Flying High with Chiqui will continue in a few days!
I know it’s just a taste of what you really want to know. In a few days I’ll post the competition questions with links to videos to recap Joy and Chiquita’s most amazing moments!
We are so proud of Joy’s accomplishment! Stay tuned for part III of our interview with Joy Mercier discussing her adventure at the 2016 IFCS World Agility Championship.