DESPITE the end of the year still being a few weeks away, 2019 is already shaping up to be a great year for a local woman and her furry friend.
Samantha Wainwright and her mixed breed, Brandi, are preparing to compete in the International Federation of Cynological Sports (IFCS) Agility World Championships that will take place in Hellendoorn in the Netherlands in April next year.
The dynamic duo had a rough start to their relationship, but are now closer even than the best of friends.
Wainwright, an import controller for a shipping company, found Brandi wandering near the Port Elizabeth International Airport nine years ago when she was just a puppy, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
“She was a cute puppy but oh, was she busy and naughty! We attended puppy school and even tried our hand at some obedience training,” Wainwright said.
About a year later, Wainwright attended an agility show, realised it looked like fun and decided to try it herself.
They were off to a slow start, but once Brandi got the hang of it, she was unstoppable.
“Our very first lesson didn’t go as planned. I unhooked Brandi from her leash and she ran off, leaving me standing there red faced and wondering if I had made the right decision.
“The next week was slightly better; she only ran off after 20 seconds of having her leash removed. The following week I took her leash off and Brandi stood looking at me, saying, ‘I am ready for this,’ and so our agility career started,” said Wainwright, an avid animal lover with five other dogs and two cats.
The past eight years have been quite successful for them. Brandi is a triple champion, a non-contact grand champion and the Reserve SA Agility champion for 2018.
“But more than just results on paper, Brandi and I are such good buddies. She loves a run on the beach, swimming and chasing the border collies with a tennis ball.
“At home she becomes a meek and mild little dog always keen to cuddle and those winter months are spent under the duvet.”
With Brandi already nine years old, this is their last chance to travel and compete internationally and they almost worked their tails off to get selected.
“We needed to attend a minimum of four shows during the year around the country and then the top five dogs in each height category were selected based on the number of points accumulated at the shows,” Wainwright explained.
Their biggest challenge now, however, is raising the funds to get to the IFCS Agility World Champs. Wainwright estimates it will take about R60 000 to make the trip and she’s already got a fundraising campaign up and running.
She created the Getting Brandi to the Netherlands Facebook page where most of the competitions and raffles are posted.
Along the way she also keeps other less fortunate furry friends in mind. There is currently a raffle open and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the Animal Welfare Society.
They will also host a burger evening at Bru Bar in Heugh Road on December 18 and have asked patrons to bring along food donations for the animals of Domestic Animal Care.
To give the fundraising efforts a boost, Back a Buddy have set up a campaign where anyone can make a donation and Wainwright is planning a trivia evening and a bingo evening for January.
“As Brandi is already nine years old, we will continue jumping for a year or two and she will then go on retirement and just continue enjoying beach walks and living the good life.”
Anyone interested in giving Brandi and Samantha a shot at the IFCS Agility World Champs next year can visit the Getting Brandi to the Netherlands Facebook page or make a donation to the Back a Buddy fund at www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/getting-brandi-to-the-netherlands.