The Incredible Dog Challenge

Meet Five Southern California Teams Competing in this Challenge Anabel Dflux

About the Competition

There are few events as exciting as the summertime Purina® Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge®. The Incredible Dog Challenge (fondly referred to as the IDC, for short) is a spectacular event in which dogs from all over the country compete in an event they’ve been invited to participate in, ranging from freestyle flying disc and 30 weave poles to diving dog and agility. Purina® Pro Plan® has provided incredible canine athletes and their human partners with a platform to showcase their amazing abilities for more than 20 years.

Although spectators are usually allowed—and the event always draws a large crowd—this year’s Western Regional competition will be closed to spectators due to COVID regulations. To help you feel like you’re part of the action, we caught up with several lucky invitees who will be participating in this July’s big competition. Meet some of the teams that make up this year’s Western Regional lineup of IDC competitors.

Kirby and Sora

Q&A

WHAT SPORT ARE YOU COMPETING IN AT THE PURINA INCREDIBLE DOG CHALLENGE WESTERN REGIONAL? My border collie Sora and I are coming in Freestyle Flying Disc. It’s a 2-minute choreographed disc trick routine to music.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS SPORT? I originally got into disc in 2006 with my border collie Sketch. We were training in agility and the facility offered a frisbee class. We joined in, as Sketch was already catching a floppy disc, but he soon transferred to the plastic competition-approved discs and the rest was history! We started out just tossing the disc to him, but then we started training cool tricks for freestyle, like flips, jumping over me, jumping off my back to catch the disc, kicking the disc off my foot to a catch, and tons more. I’ve been playing and training ever since. Sora is my seventh disc dog.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE SPORT TO TRAIN? I really love the routine-building part of disc dogs. We start with a few handfuls of tricks and throws. Then we put them together in a way that shows off the dog’s skills and talents. It’s super fun to figure out what works well together.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ASPIRING TO HAVE THEIR DOG INVITED TO A FUTURE PURINA IDC EVENT? Get very good in your sport. Try to do well in big events from other competition organizations to get noticed. (For disc, other organizations include Ashley Whippet Invitational, Skyhoundz, UFO World Cup, and USDDN.) And make friends! They often ask around for recommendations on who to invite. The more people that know you, the more chances you’ll have to get recommended. They love to have new, up-and-coming, strong competitors! If you have a unique story, they love to share that as well. In disc, you may have a slightly easier time getting invited, as they typically have a qualifying event (open to the public) the day before to get a couple more players to add to their invited players group. (This is not the case during COVID, but normally, there is a qualifier for disc.) If you can show up to the qualifier, play great, and qualify, that’s a way to get in!

Kaela & Jeter

Q&A

WHAT SPORT ARE YOU COMPETING IN AT THE PURINA INCREDIBLE DOG CHALLENGE WESTERN REGIONAL? We are competing in the small dog agility competition at the Incredible Dog Challenge!

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS SPORT? We got started in agility when Jeter was 8 months old. We started taking an agility class, and we loved it from the start! Agility is very deceiving, in that it looks much easier than it actually is. It’s not for the faint of heart, and certainly not an easy sport to pick up quickly. You have to make a commitment to train, and spend hours and hours working and building a solid bond with your dog. It’s not easy, but when it all comes together and clicks, it is the most incredible feeling!

We wouldn’t be here without the help and guidance of our amazing trainer Kate Moureaux. She is an extraordinary trainer and good friend. We would not be competing at the Incredible Dog Challenge if it weren’t for her. Her knowledge and expertise is vast, and we can’t thank her enough for everything she has done and continues to do for us.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE SPORT TO TRAIN? One of my favorite aspects of agility to train is perfecting the various handling techniques needed throughout the course. I need to be able to show Jeter the safest and fastest routes throughout the courses. Jeter relies solely on me, and I don’t want to disappoint him. He puts his whole heart into every run, and I want to be able to match his effort and intensity.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ASPIRING TO HAVE THEIR DOG INVITED TO A FUTURE PURINA IDC EVENT? My advice to someone aspiring to be invited to compete at IDC is to put in the hard work, and do as much as you can to build and maintain an amazing relationship. I am so grateful to Jeter for everything he has taught and continues to teach me. He pushes me to be the best I can be, and I hope I have the opportunity to make him proud.

Amber & Miley

Q&A

WHAT SPORT ARE YOU COMPETING IN AT THE PURINA INCREDIBLE DOG CHALLENGE WESTERN REGIONAL? I will be competing with 5-year-old Miley the sheltie in small dog agility and 30 weave poles up and back.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS SPORT? When I was a teenager (25 years ago), a new neighbor moved in, and she taught agility classes in her backyard. I remember peeking through the fence for months, watching, before I finally asked if I could join a class with my Doberman. I was hooked.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE SPORT TO TRAIN? I love the challenge of agility. Every course is different, and figuring out the best plan for the course is fun—it’s a puzzle to me. And I love puzzles. I also like training different types of dogs from terriers and toy breeds to herding dogs … they all have their different personalities and challenges to train. And when you figure out that teamwork, it’s amazing.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ASPIRING TO HAVE THEIR DOG INVITED TO A FUTURE PURINA IDC EVENT? My advice to others wanting to participate at the IDC is go to all events you can with a good attitude—be positive with your dog and be proud of the work you’ve put in. But it’s all about the attitude, so it’d better be a good one! The IDC is probably one of my favorite events to attend, compete at, and watch. Seeing all the different types of dogs and the different sports is amazing. And we’re all there just to have fun with our dogs.

Leslie & Champion

Q&A

WHAT SPORT ARE YOU COMPETING IN AT THE PURINA INCREDIBLE DOG CHALLENGE WESTERN REGIONAL? We are competing in large dog agility and the 30 weave pole challenge.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS SPORT? Having lunch with a friend 16 years ago—she introduced me, and we’ve been hooked ever since! My first agility dog was Angel the springer spaniel.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE SPORT TO TRAIN? Working together as a unit. Feeling connected as we run a course. Enjoying the technical aspects of the courses.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ASPIRING TO HAVE THEIR DOG INVITED TO A FUTURE PURINA IDC EVENT? Committing to be the best partner for your dog. Supporting and encouraging your canine partner!

Eva & Zunika

PHOTO: BECKY WONG
PHOTO: BECKY WONG»

Q&A

WHAT SPORT ARE YOU COMPETING IN AT THE PURINA INCREDIBLE DOG CHALLENGE WESTERN REGIONAL? We have been invited to compete in the disc dog challenge.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS SPORT? While watching an Alpo Disc Dog competition for the first time 25 years ago when we lived in Seattle, my husband said, “That is what I want to do.” Fast forward a few years, and we got a dog who loved playing with the disc. The Alpo Competition was in town again, but that weekend my husband was climbing Mount Rainier. I decided to take my dog and a cassette tape to the event, but when I got there I chickened out. Then two very kind older ladies came along and convinced me to enter, assuring me that “it’s just for fun.” We entered the novice level and ended up taking 3rd place! And after that success, there was no looking back.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF THE SPORT TO TRAIN? I love spending time with my dogs, helping them follow their passion. I am training my baby dog now, and I enjoy figuring out how to show off what she does best. Zunika is a 2-year-old border collie. Each dog has the tricks they do best. Zunika loves to run fast and do flips. Those are opposite tricks, so I have to figure out how to combine them in the routine.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ASPIRING TO HAVE THEIR DOG INVITED TO A FUTURE PURINA IDC EVENT? Put together a fun and exciting routine. Incorporate a variety of throws and tricks. Compete in a lot of competitions (which, of course, has been impossible the last 12 months) to help with nervousness. Once you’re there, enjoy the moment and have fun with your dog … it shows.

So, how will these participants do? Keep rooting for your favorite dog teams, and we’ll give you all the results at petcompanionmagazine.com!

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