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International Mix & Breed Championship Agility & ParAgility World  Championships

Under FCI rules, only pedigree dogs are able to compete in agility so in the year 2000, Petra Fuchs founded the International Mixed Breed Championships (IMCA) which was solely for crossbreed dogs. The first show was held in Italy as a standalone championship. The following year the show was held in the Czech Republic and, at this show, it was decided to also allow pedigree dogs to take part. Then in 2002, in Hungary, the ParAgility (PAWC) was introduced and joined forces with the IMCA to enable international dogs and handlers – both able bodied and those with disabilities - to take part in an international event.

Mandy and Darren at IMCA 2017
A Photizo Story

This was the second year Mandy Melville-Love with Keeva and Darren Stokes with Kruze had been chosen to represent their country as part of Team UK at the IMCA – PAWC World Championships. The venue was Tattendorf, a beautiful village in Austria, not far from Vienna. The temperature ranged from 34 – 36 degrees outside, but the competition was inside where it was even hotter - with no fans or air conditioning! Thankfully there was a river at the venue, so humans and dogs went for regular paddles.

Once again, the IMCA competition was very intense and hard fought with lots of challenging courses. Everyone had to push as hard as they could to be in with any chance of a podium place.

The first day was Individual Jumping where unfortunately Darren picked up an elimination and Keeva picked up 5 faults at the weaves. That night should have been the Nations Cup which Keeva was participating in but, due to the intense heat, unfortunately it was cancelled no doubt a sensible choice given how hot it was. Being a knock-out event, it would have been too much for dogs and handlers to cope with.

The second day was Team day, an event in which Darren and Kruze were entered. Darren ran first in Team Jumping, picking up 5 faults for a refusal. The rest of the team also picked up faults. In the afternoon, Darren ran first again and got marked a 5 for a missed contact on the A-frame, with the rest of the team sadly also collecting faults.  Nevertheless, the team finished 5th overall.

Day 3, the final day, was Individual Agility.  Keeva was lying 27th after Day 1 so they had nothing to lose but to just go for it.  It was a testing course with an incredible weave entry off the dog walk (pic below).

Mandy and Keeva ran clear but had a couple of wide turns which cost them and they ended up 10th in this round, meaning overall they came 15th.  Darren and Kruze picked up a fault, finishing 20th in this round and 36th overall,

With a little help from Photizo...
Since acquiring their first Photizo at Crufts, Mandy and Darren have witnessed its capacity as a powerful non-invasive device to deliver 'red light' therapy that heals injuries sustained. In fact, they liked it so much that they are now Ambassadors and resellers for Photizo and decided to take it to IMCA/PAWC for their dogs and any members of the team who might need it.

Prior to the event, Keeva had had to have a dew claw removed so Mandy used the Photizo each night to assist the healing of both the dew claw area and also the leg where Keeva had been shaved which was causing her some irritation.

Mandy said, 'We were glad to have our portable Photizo Light Therapy with us for the competition as Keeva and Kruze were running on astro turf which had quite a large loop pile, so the dogs were getting their claws caught. Also with the turns they were having to make, it meant lots of strain was put on their bodies. Having the Photizo with us meant that they had the confidence that if any of the dogs (or handlers) picked up an injury, we could instantly get a treatment on the area, reducing the risk of any long term damage.'

Each night after competition, Keeva and Kruze both received a treatment to their paws, shoulders, hocks, groin and back areas. The Photizo was also used by a couple of team members who were had gone to the event with an injury, so they topped up their medication with some light therapy.  Mandy also had a strained finger after team training which she used the Photizo on to help reduce the swelling.

The IMCA – PAWC event wasn’t that well known in the UK until Linda Croxford took over as Team Leader in 2016 and advertised for team members to apply to be on the team. It is now gaining more and more interest each year, with try outs taking place to gain a place on the team. 

IMCA – PAWC is a totally different event to any other international event, as it’s not just about able-bodied handlers. It also demonstrates how disability does not have to prevent you from enjoying the sport with your beloved companion.  The PAWC has 6 groups ranging from handlers who do not physically show any sign of disability but they have a medical condition, to those on four wheels and those who have to be carried by their guardian, but the guardian isn’t allowed to help the dog, it is all done by the handler – a truly emotional and inspirational event to watch, where you can hear a pin drop, followed by the intense applause and cheers at the end of the round is something to behold.

The event is run under FCI rules. IMCA can take small, medium and large dogs with 6 in each height category and PAWC has no limit to the amount of handlers the team can take, but they do need to be approved by the PAWC committee. 

In August 2018 the event will be held in the UK in Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) where, once again, it is expected to draw in around 18 different countries all competing to take home a medal and that World Champion title.

If you would like to be part of this event, please make contact with Linda Croxford who will be more than happy to tell you more about the event.