Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Is All About Having Fun

Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge is All About Having Fun

“Are you ready?” shouted breeder-owner-handler Laurel Behnke to the rearing-to-go 4-year-old red brindle and white male Whippet, “Sounders.”

Hitting a bumper three times on the edge of a 40-foot-long wooden stage, Behnke was stirring excitement, teasing the cues that prompt her diving dog to get ready to charge into the 45-foot-long, 3 ½-foot-deep pool. As her teammate Sydney Gersich released hold of the muscular, power-driven dog, Sounders exploded like a cannonball, gaining momentum as he ran down the stage, soaring through the air and splashing into the pool.  

Not once, not twice, but three times, Behnke and the amazing Sounders set world records at the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge (IDC) National Finals in September at Purina Farms. Competing for the first time in Diving Dog, an event where each dog gets two jumps, Sounders jumped 34 feet, 11 inches on the first jump, and 35 feet, 9 inches on the second jump — a whopping 2 feet beyond the record of 33 feet, 10 inches.

Sounders, who was dog No. 27, then outjumped the 27-foot Fetch It record — going 27 feet, 6 inches. A sport similar to Diving Dog, Fetch It involves jumping from the stage to catch or knock down a bumper hanging 4 feet above the water.

The trek to Purina Farms to compete in the IDC National Finals is a ritual for many families and their canine athletes. Some have participated for many years and enjoy the reunion as much as the competition. At this year’s 22nd annual event, there were 65 competitors in Diving Dog, Fetch It, Small and Large Dog Agility, Jack Russell Hurdle Racing, 30-Weave Up-And-Back Racing, Freestyle Flying Disc, and Flyball.

“It is great to see the love and bond the owners have with their dogs and the support the competitors share with one another,” says Jim Allen, Purina Pro Plan Marketing Manager. “We call it the Incredible Dog Challenge because these dogs really are incredible athletes. The event is becoming more and more competitive with the offspring of former competitors now competing.” 

“We believe that the IDC really brings to life the nutritional foundation of Purina Pro Plan — Nutrition That Performs,” Allen says. “Every year these star canine athletes take this event to a new level. It’s exciting.” 

An invitational event that attracts the top dogs in their respective sports, IDC also holds open qualifiers the day before the event in Diving Dog, Fetch It and Freestyle Flying Disc. The IDC is one of the longest-running dog-focused programs on television.

In 2020, the Central Regional IDC will be held May 15-16 at the Texas Motor Speedway during the Ducks Unlimited Expo, and the Western Regional will be July 17-18 in Huntington Beach, California. The National Finals will be at Purina Farms Sept. 25-26. To learn more about IDC, go to www.incredibledogchallenge.com and click on the Channel Finder button to learn when and where an IDC program will air.

IDC has something for all dog lovers. The action-packed sports are thrilling to watch. If you think your dog might enjoy catching a disc, running an agility course or leaping into a pool after a bumper, come along. Your dog could be the next IDC superstar.