Para Agility - Bruno, Eric & Sun
17 Feb 2011
I saw video of blind agility handler Bruno Menoncelle with his Belgian Tervuren Sun on YouTube and was captivated. From poking around and translating French web sites it appears Bruno and Sun were competing at a high level in agility in France. Then a work accident left Bruno completely blind. He has since learned to run agility again with a guide to help him on course. He uses walk throughs with his guide, and magnetic obstacle models arranged on a board of the course sequence to help visualize the course before running. Sun runs with bells on her(?) collar, and on some videos it sounds like the contact zones may have electronic sensors that beep when the dog hits them.
There are a number of videos of Bruno and Sun with his friend Eric or his wife helping guide Bruno through the courses. You can see Bruno’s joy at meeting the challenge of the course and he shares it with his friend and his dog.
What I find most interesting are the levels of teamwork going on: Bruno and Eric have cues that they use to help Bruno stay on course and aware of what Sun is doing. Bruno and Sun have their cues, more familiar to sighted agility handlers. Both teams have to execute crosses, turns and accelerate and decelerate. All three teammates are doing an exceptional job. Here is a link to all their videos on YouTube.
Here is one video where I noticed Bruno and Eric even walk in step as they leave the line. You can also see how Bruno drives to where he needs to go and Eric is providing guidance; not “handling” Bruno. I can only imagine the amount of work all three teammates put in to compete together at this level. I also like how Bruno is so happy celebrating with both of his teammates.
Here’s the Google translation of Bruno’s wife’s blog of his experiences at the 2010 Para Agility World Championships.
Here is more information on Para Agility there are local groups in a number of European countries. These handlers with disabilities have tremendous abilities too.