Eli Beate Sæther and her dog Zelda were one of the favorite teams to win the Agility World Championships in Finland but due to an unknown disease in Norway, the national team could not go.
In the latest episode of our podcast «Unleashed», she is talking about how the dramatic days and how she dealt with the disappointment of not being able to compete.
It was a couple of weeks before the Agility World Championships (AWC) took place that the media exploded. AniCura wrote a short but quite frightening article about hemorrhagic gastroenteritis which affected several dogs, especially in Oslo. Many dogs were sick, some had died.
Worked with sick dogs
Eli Beate is a vet student and had practice in the animal clinic at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science these weeks. It went from being a completely normal small animal clinic to a clinic with strict infection zones, just accept dogs with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (bloody diarrhea)
- There was nothing wrong with the article, but it certainly scared many people. Consequently, the number of dogs with diarrhea visiting the clinic increased drastically, and we had to prioritize those. I was scared when thinking about how this could be contagious between dogs. Especially since I often brought Zelda to school, and my scrubs home for washing. After that, I left Zelda at home and made sure to wash my laundry before Zelda could even come close. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute gave clear messages that there is a potential risk that this may be contagious between dogs.
We may never know why
At the same time, Zelda and Eli Beate prepared as best they could for the Agility World Championship.
- As the days passed by, and more dogs came for treatment against hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, both mild and severe, my subconscious mind gradually understood that we could be banned from this year’s AWC. Especially when reading the words in the newspaper. The main argument why the Norwegian national team had to stay home wasn’t necessarily that it seemed so contagious between dogs, but rather that we could not explain the cause for this outbreak. The fact that we may never know what the cause is, make this justification even worse. There is almost always a higher amount of diarrhea in the late summer/autumn, and while this outbreak certainly is of a higher amount than normal, it’s still diarrhea.
Since Eli Beate is both a veterinary student and an agility competitor she stuck between a rock and a hard place.
- I respect and understand the fact that we could not go to this year’s AWC, because there’s always a risk for contagion between dogs. But after experiencing that there are minimal to no contagious events between the dogs in the clinic, nor to the dogs owned by the veterinarians and students at the clinic, this feels a little exaggerated. However, that’s life. And that’s media - they make money by selling outrageous headlines.
- I feel sorry for the dogs that have suffered
Even though Eli Beate could have won a gold medal at this year’s event, she does not feel sorry for herself. New opportunities will come for the young athlete, which has qualified for the AWC four times and been on the podium twice
- I feel sorry for the dogs that have suffered and for the owners that unfortunately lost their dog. I’m incredibly thankful for that Zelda is 100 percent healthy. It’s first when you treat severely sick dogs, that you appreciate having a healthy and happy dog. This is the most important prerequisite for every adventure that you can make together with your dog.
More hungry to compete than ever before
Eli Beate feels confident that she and Zelda could have created unforgettable memories together in Finland this year.
- Because of the circumstances, I’ve chosen to rather focus on those we’ve already made: Zelda and I have never had a higher percentage of neither completed or clean runs than this year. Also, the season peaked when we placed third in all three individual runs in the European Open in the Netherlands, in addition to winning team gold in the Nordic championship. Those memories will last a lifetime. One thing’s for certain: I’m more hungry to compete than ever before, and I’m ready to work my ass off for AWC in Tallinn 2020!