Paw Blacks impress in Aussie competition

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014
timaru dog agility lucinda robertson kayla
JOHN BISSET/Fairfax NZ

IN SYNC: Lucinda Robertson with her agility dog Kayla after returning from the Australian National Championships in Brisbane.

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Two Timaru dog handlers and their dogs were part of the New Zealand Paw Blacks that scooped several Australian national agility titles in Brisbane.

Lucinda Robertson with her black labrador-cross Kayla and Natasha Coulter with her bichon Jonty were part of the Kiwi team that surprised many at the event.

During the eight-day competition, the six handlers and nine dogs took part in agility, jumps, tunnels and open classes in which the dogs competed without their handlers being able to enter a certain area.

Coulter said it was "like show jumping for dogs".

The team said that to finish second overall against all of the states of Australia, which also included some events New Zealand did not compete in, was a major achievement.

Dogs can be involved in the sport from the age of 3 and can compete for the best part of a decade. Competing in Australia is the highest level possible a dog and its handler can take part in together because of strict quarantine regulations that hamper travel to world championship events.

All the dogs will go back to training as they head into their own nationals in Gore in October.

Robertson admitted she was a "newbie" to the sport but said she was fortunate to have found it in Timaru and go on her first competitive overseas trip.

Coulter has been a regular overseas competitor for many years. "It's really fostered a passion for me."

While the dogs are well trained for competition, Robertson and Coulter said it did not make them any more obedient around the house

A good agility dog needed to love food and toys. Having a big heart with an honest nature also helped.

"You can tell if they are timid or unsure of things, but the more you train them and the more shows you do, the more confidence they pick up.

Kayla had been competing for three years and Robertson said that to be a good handler you needed patience. "Sometimes it's about building their confidence as well as yours," Robertson said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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