Unique partnership

2007-11-14 00:00

For Clermont resident Maneza Zukulu and his dogs, the forthcoming World of Dogs, Cats and Pets Exhibition, which takes place in Durban from November 16 to 18, promises an opportunity to better their positioning in the competitive arena of dog athletics.

Originally from a rural homestead in Bizana in the Eastern Cape, Zukulu arrived in Durban in 1996 to further his education and seek employment. In 2000 he joined a New Germany security company, Securiquip, as a guard and showed an interest in dog handling.

“Zukulu wanted to try dog handling. This entails training a security guard to work with a guard dog and then guard sites for clients,” says Hilary Redmond, co-owner of the company. “He was soon matched up with Steffie, a German Shepherd that we got from the SPCA, and in 2003 he started working with her and training her.

“An opportunity for people to learn dog jumping came along and we took a number of our dog handlers to dog trainers Kay Sargent and Anne Holder to see what it entailed. Zukulu took to it immediately.

“My shift was from 6 pm to 6 am every day and on Saturday afternoons I used to take Steffie for training,” says Zukulu. “Dog athletics trainer Holder helped to train Steffie and I really enjoyed the training. We had great fun.

”Zukulu began competing in shows in 2005 and now two years later Steffie is in the top grade of all three dog athletic disciplines: dog jumping, non-contact agiity and contact agility.

Dog jumping requires the dog handler to take the dog in the best possible time around a series of jumps in a set order and agility is an obstacle course that may include weaving poles, tunnels, see-saws and jumps.

“Zukulu has shown extraordinary talent and his passion for the sport is evident,” says Redmond.

“I used to spend my spare time watching soccer,” says Zukulu, “now you will find me training and competing in competitions over the weekends.”

His enthusiasm has rubbed off on his sister Khanyile, who also works with the company. Khanyile has started training a Border collie, Bayley-K, for competitions.

Zukulu has his sights set high and aims to compete in the international arena. For him to do so, he has obtained a pure-bred Malinois named Phogojoe who is being trained with this goal in mind.

“Steffie needs to get three qualification certificates to be able to compete internationally. She has one already, so we should be able to go to the nationals next year. Then if I qualify, I will be able to compete in an international competition that takes place in Cape Town later next year,” says Zukulu.

The competitive arena offers only accolades and a sense of achievement for participants so Zukulu was pleasantly surprised when Royal Canin offered to sponsor food for Steffie and Phogojoe.

At the World of Dogs, Cats and Pets Exhibition next week, Zukulu will be competing in the KwaZulu-Natal

Championships with Steffie and in three dog athletics events with Steffie and a German Shepherd cross Malinois named Reds.

The show, which takes place at the Durban Exhibition Centre, also features various arena events, show dogs and cats, birds, fish, snakes, reptiles and other extraordinary pets.

Tickets are R40 for adults, R20 for children under 12 and pensioners and can be booked through Computicket or at the gate.

• For more information, go to www.dogscats.co.za or phone 031 765 4286.

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