Ventress and owner Diana Dafoe from Lenore, competed in the European Open Agility, in Netherlands, July 25-28, during a record setting heat wave in Europe.
“This trip was a great experience, Ventress was an excellent traveller. I wish I could have been as relaxed as she was,” said Dafoe.
A miniature poodle, Ventress at 12.5 inches was in the small division in the four-day event that drew hundreds of dogs from around the world.
Some days, performance schedules had to be altered to run later in the evening and in the early mornings to avoid the extreme heat that reached 41C.
Single team competition saw Dafoe and Ventress finish near the bottom, but 52 of the 200 dogs were eliminated.
In another facet of competition, they finished 35th place. Dafoe said, “This was probably our best run of the event. I was very nervous but Ventress was great.” One of her teammates called their run “inspiring”, a comment that gave Dafoe a boost.
Dafoe describes the tough Saturday agility run. “The individual small jumping course was quite challenging… I got further behind as the course went.”
With Dafoe too far behind, she couldn’t signal her dog in time for each element of the course.
“Ventress was awesome again and tried to do what I asked her, but my information was way too late. We went off course which meant elimination. We were in good company as only 96 dogs out of 250 managed to complete the course.”
Dafoe and her partner Ed Hunter also made a holiday of the trip. Arriving in Amsterdam a few days early they explored the city with their dog and with a friend and her dog.
“We came across a pub/restaurant and asked if the dogs were allowed, and their answer was ‘of course’,” said Dafoe. They were also surprised that beer, water and pop were all the same price on the menu.
This was the first time that a Manitoba dog would qualify as part of the Canadian Kennel Club Agility Team, in itself an accomplishment. Although she saw no big wins, Dafoe returned from the EO recognizing that her breeding program and dog training were on track, and better understanding the challenges of competition at a world level.
“If I do this again, I think I need a better fitness training program for me,” she said. “I was very impressed with Ventress as she was happy, focused and listened so well, she traveled so well and had no confidence issues at all.”
Dafoe just might try out for another big competition. “I did go to a CKC trial in Moose Jaw on the long weekend, to keep my options open.”