We had to admit it, after hearing about it for probably the third or fourth time . . . we had no idea what IPO was. I think even after it was explained to us, we were still looking it up online to figure out what this thing was. I contacted a few local clubs but didn’t get very far especially if I mentioned the words ‘can we bring cameras?’ I’d seen a video with a petite young lady doing some of the most remarkable things I’d ever seen done with a dog and she was in Brisbane! I had to talk to her. She had her dogs doing things I’d only dream of and she would be a wonderful addition to our GSD story.
Sharonika agreed to meet with us and even be interview for the documentary. We couldn’t believe our luck. This was difficult to acquire but we’d come to understand the politics surrounding the sport soon after.
Then Jason and I were invited to attend the IPO Helpers Training Seminar held by the WGSDCA in Brisbane by president Sanne Pederson and Director of Helpers, Jay Balakrishnan. Our hopes were to go deeper into the world of IPO for a closer look behind the scenes for those wanting to become certified handlers to assist in their respective clubs and to make the acquaintance of the clubs’ members. We were more than impressed working with Sheronika and some members from her club and now during our two-day visit we had become won over entirely. The dedication and camaraderie between its members was something we’d not seen at this level of competition and we had the pleasure of meeting Metro Dogsport President and Australia’s first SV certified judge, Reg Worth.
That evening we observed a trial where several dogs and handlers competed for higher levels after years of preparation and with participants traveling interstate to the event. One of the highlights of our weekend was to see such a strong bond and connection between the dogs, their handlers and their stunning performances.
The standards of training upheld by the clubs were tough and nerves were affected for those competing and training, but we came to quickly understand the necessity for this high level of judging and scoring when it came to Australia’s reputation nationally and its participation at the WUSV World Championships. Both dogs and handlers would be more than prepared to compete at this level of precision and at some points perfection with the expertise, support, and knowledge of such judges behind them.
Our experience with this group showed us the professionalism, the dedication, the enthusiasm and the bond between the competitors and their dogs who dedicate so much time, effort and expense on attending and assisting to become competitors. These people are great ambassadors for the sport and we found everyone involved to be highly passionate and motivated leaving us with a much richer experience and an eagerness to know more.