Who’s a good boy? Midlothian dog wins national competition

Bill Spinks
Midlothian Mirror

Midlothian resident Dr. Maria Badamo’s love of dogs led her to become a veterinarian. Related to that was her calling to train canines to become the best they can be.

Badamo and her 4 1/2-year old four-legged partner, Kenobi, last month competed in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge national finals at the Purina Farms Event Center near St. Louis, and Kenobi won first place in Large Breed Agility and third in the 30 Weave event.

“We had a great time,” Badamo said. “Kenobi got to compete in three of the competitions, so it was a very busy weekend for us.”

The Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge competition will air on Dallas’ KXAS Channel 5 on Saturday, Nov. 14 at noon.

Kenobi, a Border Collie and the tallest competitor in the finals, competed in the 30-Weave, Dock Diving and Large Breed Agility events, with Badamo alongside him. Winning in Large Breed Agility was no easy feat for a boy Kenobi’s size.

Kenobi has already competed in multiple national competitions across many states and was on the U.S. World Team at the AKC European Open in 2019 in the Netherlands, where he made it to the finals. Kenobi was set to compete in another world event this year in Belgium, but it was postponed to May 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He’s been competing since he was 15 months old,” Badamo said. “I don’t think I can count the number of competitions.”

Badamo said she works with Kenobi once or twice a week. Because Kenobi already had a lot of foundation training in his first year and a half, training sessions don’t have to be as frequent as the levels increase, she said.

At this point, she said, Kenobi’s training is for speed, efficiency and coursework more than individual obstacles.

“Right now he pretty much knows his job,” Badamo said. “So everything is just keeping everything sharp. I probably train a lot less than I used to with him. But most of the time I’m training because I enjoy being out there having fun with my dog in my yard.”

Badamo said she and Kenobi usually don’t know the course’s layout until the day of the competition. Competitions typically allow teams to walk the course beforehand to see the layout and memorize it.

For agility, Kenobi typically trains in his backyard and they have all the equipment needed for that. He also goes to an instructor in Frisco regularly. But for dock diving, Badamo and Kenobi like to go to Dallas Air Dogs, a private outdoor facility and club in Midlothian.

More competitions are in the future for Kenobi, who’s a very good boy.

“Hopefully we get to go back to Purina again next year,” Badamo said. “Hopefully we get to go over in 2021 to represent USA again in Belgium. As things start to open up, we’ll be trying out for international teams and going to as many of those as long as we can. As long as he’s happy and healthy, and still young enough and at his peak.”