VIDEO: Utah dog trainer drawn to protection trials in Langley

A relatively new sport was unveiled in town this weekend with an inaugural K9-handler competition.

A relatively new obedience and protection sport for dogs and handlers – which started in the states earlier this century – is growing worldwide, with clubs through the U.S., India, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, and now in Vancouver.

While it’s “huge” on the East Coast – and especially in the U.S., it’s new to B.C., Tamara Whittaker, director for the Vancouver PSA club explained on the competition field in South Langley Sunday.

“This weekend was the first trial in B.C. and we were lucky enough to have one of the founders of PSA – Jerry Bradshaw – come out from North Carolina to judge,” she said.

The three-day competition was held at Pacific Northwest Kennel, on 0 Avenue.

“[The sport] was created so that civilian handlers could compete with their dogs in a similar training venue as police dogs,” Whittaker explained, noting the competition consists of obedience and protection portions.

The regional organization started up in January 2016, said Whittaker, who helped found the Vancouver group.

“Mike Wilson and I were working in the security industry as K9 handlers when we started talking about bringing PSA to B.C.,” she said.

They reached out to a club in Ontario, held their first workshop last spring – again in Langley – and have already grown from four to 13 dog-handler teams.

“It was a huge success and people began to come out to practices. After that the team was formed.”

As for events, they practice year round and are open to new members joining, Whittaker said, explaining that the plan is to host at least one PSA-sanctioned event per year and fundraisers leading up to the main event.

This was the main event.

Still being a fledgling sport in B.C., there were only 10 dog-and-handler teams competing in this weekend’s West Coast Clash PSA Trial. Most of the competitors were from the Vancouver area. But they did have teams travel from California, Toronto, and Utah.

For Salt Lake City’s Max Chardack, he chose to bring his two dogs, two-year-old Booker and 16-month-old Kaya to B.C. to test their progress.

Chardack, 27, is a professional dog trainer who put his two German shepherds out on the field testing their obedience and protection abilities.

Instead of traveling out east, where most of the big-name trainers are located, he said it was easier and more inviting for him to take part in this new trial in B.C.

Dog-and-handler teams, he explained, must pass a high level of obedience in order to move on to protection segment of the competition.

“The sport is extremely difficult since scenarios change and you don’t really know what you will encounter at trial,” Whittaker explained.

Chardack didn’t get through to the protection segment with Booker, but he did received a score of 87.5 out of 100 on obedience.

Meanwhile, Chardack’s younger pup, Kaya, did pass in the protection trials and received her entry level protection certification.

“Something new and cool can happen at the end of a leash any time I have my dogs out,” he said, part way through Sunday’s trials.

“It’s always interesting to see what we can do with them and how far we can take them…” he added. “For me, it’s a test of the dog.”

When all was said and done this weekend, Chardack finished first overall in his Level 1 division, and hopes to be back for the local competition again in years to come.

On that note, Whittaker said another trial is already in the works for next year, and once again it’s expected to be held at the South Langley facility.

For more information about the Vancouver-based organization, people can go online to psak9.org or vancouverpsa.com.

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