Feeling Olympic? CaniX could be the sport for you and your dogPosted on 09 Aug 2012
If you’ve been bitten by the Olympic bug and fancy taking up a new sport, CaniX could be for you. It’s a great activity for dog owners and you could soon be competing at events across the UK. But don’t just take it from us – take it from Blue Cross rescue dog and national CaniX champion Sasha. Editor Natasha Kleanthous chats to her owner Melanie Sheehan…
There’s possibly no better feeling than thundering across the British countryside as your two dogs run, ears pricked and eyes bright with joy, in front of you.
It’s an adrenaline rush that got Melanie Sheehan firmly in its grip back in 2011 and inspired her to become a CaniX runner.
But she never imagined that just a year later she would win a national title, along with her two rescue dogs Ice and Sasha.
What is CaniX?
CaniX is a cross country event where you run with dogs. They wear a special harness which is attached to the runner’s waist belt and people of all ages and fitness levels take part, along with dogs of all different breeds.
After travelling across the UK to compete in the event, Melanie’s 14-year-old daughter Nicole has now also been inspired to take part.
It’s a success story which has delighted us after a long search to find a forever home for Sasha.
A tough start for Sasha
Sasha had known disruption after disruption in her short life. By the age of three she had lived with three different families and was struggling to find her forever home.
A crossbreed, she is both a typical German shepherd and a husky, with a strong working instinct and bags of energy, so she needed an experienced and active home.
In the past, Sasha was hostile towards another dog and our behaviour team worked closely with her to understand what had caused this unusual reaction.
After a very careful and detailed assessment of Sasha, the team came to the conclusion that, in the right home, she would make a very loving pet.
Finding Sasha a home
Several weeks later, Sasha was finding life in kennels tough and we were all desperately hoping that we would get the call we’d been dreaming of.
So it was hard to contain our excitement when we heard from Melanie Sheehan and her partner Dan Steer.
Melanie was looking for a second dog to join her and Ice in CaniX, a sport which would be perfect for a working dog like Sasha.
Melanie loves huskies and Dan has a soft spot for German shepherds after growing up with them, so they were intrigued by Sasha.
An active home
Mel says: “We had been looking for the right companion for Ice for a while before I saw Sasha’s profile on the Blue Cross website.
“She just ticked all the boxes so Dan immediately phoned the Burford rehoming centre to find out more and arrange for us to meet her.”
They loved Sasha from the minute they met her but we also had to make sure that she would get on well with Ice.
After some curious sniffs, they were soon playing together. We arranged for them to meet a few times so they could get to know each other first and then Melanie and Dan decided that they wanted to give Sasha the home she’d been waiting for.
Introducing Sasha to CaniX
Two weeks after Melanie rehomed Sasha, she took her to her first CaniX race.
She says: “We came third in our category and I was chuffed to bits. I decided I would try to run as many races as possible in the next season and we certainly did that.
“Sasha absolutely loves CaniX. She just keeps going for as long as I ask her to, with the occasional look back at me to check that I’m okay.
“Not only have we now won the CaniX UK Championship in the extreme female category but Sasha also won first prize for the most improved rescue dog at our agility club.
“Apart from her obvious talent for the more physical dog-related activities, Sasha is such a joy to have as part of our family. She loves her cuddles and tends to lie along the length of me when I invite her up onto the bed for a cuddle!”
And it’s clear that while Sasha adores her whole family, she definitely has a soft spot for Melanie and is a bit of a mummy’s girl.
Melanie adds: “We are so incredibly proud of Sasha – she is such a sweetheart and we just couldn’t imagine life without her now.
“Ice and Sasha are inseparable and you can see how much they love each other’s company. As for the two of them as a running team – they couldn’t be more perfect!”
CaniX photo of Sasha and Ice in action (above) courtesy of Chillpics