The Westerner

Underdog to take on world’s best

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Source: Lee Oliver

Kate Bartels, with her dog Mia, will compete at the world championships for dog handling.

Kate Bartels, with her dog Mia, will compete at the world championships for dog handling.

Kate Bartels and her Australian teammates will be the underdogs heading into the world championships for dog handling in Texas next month.

The 18-year-old is the youngest member of the 12-person Australian team, and one of four members of the Brendale-based Pine Agility Dog Sports Club who will represent their country in Fort Worth.

The competition will see handlers direct a dog through a course featuring obstacles such as hurdles, tunnels, jumps and weave poles, by using verbal instructions and hand signals.

Bartels finished in the top half of her field at the last IFCS World Agility Championships held in England in 2010, her debut event representing Australia.

“I came 11th so I was really happy with that,” she said.

“Hopefully I can improve on that but it depends on what dog I get.”

Quarantine restrictions means that the Aussies competing abroad can’t take their own dog to the competition. Instead they are paired with local canines.

“He was the first male dog that I ever really trained… and I found him to be a bit more dominant and different to my dogs,” Bartels said of her canine teammate in England two years ago.

“That was a bit different and certainly different breeds have different temperaments.”

Bartels, who began dog agility when she was 10, said her experience in England had given her “a better understanding of how to use my week before (the competition) to bond with my dog”.

The Eatons Hill resident said she had new goals for her trip to the USA.

“It’s not necessarily about winning – it’s good to win and to place is nice – but just to get a clear round is as nice as getting on the podium,” Bartels said.

“Last time I really wanted to win but representing Australia is more important than winning.”

Bartels, who works for Guide Dogs Queensland, said the USA was one of the hot spots for dog agility, with competitions televised.

“You can make a living being a dog trainer and there’s more money involved in America, and they’re very competitive,” she said.

Pine Agility Dog Sports Club members Damian Noud, Amin Awad and Billie O’Connor will also compete in Texas, where Russia, Canada and the United States are expected to be the teams to beat.

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