Before flying off to Ermelo, The Netherlands, for this year’s World Agility Open (WAO) Championships, 1TDC was able to chat with USA Country Manager Jan Padgett about managing the team and traveling with canine companions.
Question: How long have you been the USA WAO country manager?
Jan’s answer: I started in the fall of 2015. I’ve managed the 2016, 2017, and 2018 events. I applied for the manager’s job and Mike (my husband) applied for the assistant coach position. We took over four years after the USA WAO team was created.
We became part of the management team for the UKI US Open for the last five years. This event is the tryouts to be selected as part of the USA WAO team to compete in the international competition.
Question: Your husband, Mike, is known as the “Dirt Dude.” How did this come about?
Jan’s answer: Mike is an engineer. He likes things to be right. The engineer in him will come out no matter what he works on. This name came about during Kona’s (our dog’s) injury. He determined that the dirt was not prepped correctly, which resulted in her severely tearing her psoas muscle. It was devastating, as she was slotted to be on the IFCS team that year. Mike became very particular about what surface he will let our dogs run on. He developed the ability to evaluate the turf and remediate it accordingly to be as safe as possible. He takes measurements of the depth, moisture content, etc. He also created different tools to roll and dig the dirt to improve the condition of the turf. He even takes samples of all the places we run. He knows his dirt!
Question: What’s your favorite part of being the country manager?
Jan’s answer: I really like managing the travel and hotels, finding places to go, letting team members know what they have to do when they are in the country.
Question: What’s your least favorite part of the job?
Jan’s answer: Fundraising. I hate asking people for money. The auctions have made this much easier for all of us. We could not do what we do without sponsors such as 1TDC, BrilliantK9, MAX 200, 4 Legged Flix, and Jackson Dog Sports, who have all really been there for us. We have had very generous support in terms of donations and people going crazy to purchase items to help us. We really appreciate everyone’s help.
Question: What countries have you traveled to with your dogs over the years?
Jan’s answer: I have been to Belgium, Spain, Italy (twice), France, and the Czech Republic.
Question: What was your best experience traveling with a dog?
Jan’s answer: I love Italy. The dogs were so welcome there. It was a great place to walk a dog. The dogs think it is Disney World because they’re welcome everywhere. They probably wonder why it’s not like this back home! The only exception in Italy was Venice due to the lack of grass.
Question: What was your worst experience traveling with a dog?
Jan’s answer: Our very first year with Kona, in an area with no grass. The town we stayed in was all cement. She literally went 24 hours without going to the bathroom. She is still nervous and pees multiple times at the airport now. This taught me a lesson with my puppy training to make sure I teach them about going when they are told to go.
Question: What sort of documentation do you have to provide for your pet when bringing them into a different country?
Jan’s answer: Luckily the USDA website is very useful. Just put the country you traveling in and it will tell you what you need. You need to have a health certificate from APHIS and it needs to be stamped by USDA veterinarians. It cannot just be your own vet, so you have to plan ahead. And this needs to be done no more than 10 days prior to arriving to the country.
Question: How far in advance do competitors start this process?
Jan’s answer: You have to make sure that your rabies shots are at least 21 days old, and then time the APHIS certification accordingly.
Question: What advice do you have on what helps make for a successful trip with a dog?
Jan’s answer: There’s a lot of planning with Mike and me. Mike is an engineer, which helps, but you also need to go with the flow so if things happen, you don’t freak out. Just do it differently. We’ve had food confiscated at the airport, for example.
Question: Do you recommend any products for traveling with a dog?
Jan’s answer: I like the Sturdi travel bags. They squish and fold where you need them to on a flight. Toys are up to your dog. As for supplements, we take our 1TDC and Glycogen, which is for energy recovery after runs. I make sure this is labeled so the airport knows what the product is.
Question: Do you bring food with you or pick up food in the place you are traveling to?
Jan’s answer: We always bring our own food. I don’t like to switch it. But sometimes regulations prevent us from doing that. I like to take Honest Kitchen as a raw, freeze-dried food.
Question: What does it take to raise your dog to the level of international competition?
Jan’s answer: You have to have the DREAM—something you desire more than a glass of wine. But you have to consider the training. That’s the hard part. Putting in the hours necessary will make the difference. And there is a bit of the luck of the draw. You put the work in and you have the right dog willing to work that hard with you.
Jan and Mike have enjoyed their time with the WAO and will miss being with the team in 2019.