Posted Date: October 10, 2011
2011 Cynosport World Games judge Wim Bekendam chats with Deborah Davidsen Harpur.
Name: Wim Bekendam.
Hometown: A small village close to Amsterdam: Nieuw-Vennep in the Netherlands.
Occupation: I work as a civil servant in a tourist seaside place, officiating in estate management and geographical information issues.
Years active in agility: I started to train agility with our first dog, Bo who was a working sheepdog, in 1993. It took us seven years to joint the highest class in agility competition in Holland. Now I am one of the agility instructors of a dog school that has been nominated best for several years by the Federation for Dog sports in the Netherlands (FHN). In 2003 I started judging agility in Holland.
What breeds of dogs do you currently have and do they compete in agility?
My wife and I have had Border Collies ever since our first dog. Djingels is a 4½-year-old male dog, but due to some injuries he had to stop agility. It's better for him to use his working skills on retrieving for hunting activities. With Toyah, an almost 3-year-old female, we have entered agility competitions and also train sheep herding and the hunting practices.
Have you ever participated in the Cynosport games as a competitor?
No, I do not think my dogs and I can compete at this level yet, but we are working hard to do so. Bringing my dogs to these Games would be a great challenge.
Have you judged for the Cynosport Games in the past?
Last year I debuted at the Cynosport World Games.
Are you doing anything in particular to prepare for judging this year's Games?
Brushing up my knowledge of USDAA agility regulations, because they are slightly different from the Dutch rules I am used to. And, like last year, we make preparations for a vacation in the US in the weeks next to these Games.
Do you find that designing courses for cynosport is different than designing courses for a trial for a local or regional event?
Not really, I have not designed very different than the courses I set up in Holland for the top class in our competitions. That level of difficulty matched the skills of the competitors last year pretty good I think.
How would you describe your style of course design?
My courses mostly offer fluent lines for the dogs to run with distracting obstacles to lure them away from that track. Handlers should have the opportunity to use different handling techniques to run a clean course as fast or as save as they think they can.
If you could invent a new game to be played at Cynosport, what would it be and how would it be played?
Perhaps a game based on a pinball machine would be fun. The dog enters the game via a short course, using distance handling (like a ball shot into the game). Then you can score points on obstacles directed towards a finish (the ball runs downwards). After doing one of the jumps just before the finish back-to-back (representing the flippers) you are allowed to do obstacles in the opposite direction and then do obstacles returning towards the finish again. Additionally you can earn an extra start (ball) if a combination of obstacles at the finish is performed correctly.
What advice can you share with competitors who hope to come through with a clean run on one of your courses?
Use the competition to show all your practice skills and give your dogs the chance to really show off. Have fun and if it is not as successful as you hoped for, know that you cannot win them all.
Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1998. She currently handles 16 dogs of various breeds including Rat Terriers, All Americans, French Bull Dogs, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a Shetland Sheepdog, a Border Collie and more. She enjoys competing in USDAA agility and is the proud mom of USDAA roving reporter Rickie Roo. Her dogs are all proud canine ambassadors for the Active Care line of dog food by Breeder's Choice and for ilovedogs.com, tj.la, and ilovedogsdiamonds.com. You can learn more about Deborah and her dogs at pm2dogagility.com.
Photo courtesy of Jan-Paul van Es.