Women have been well represented at all levels of IPO competition. Unfortunately, it is uncommon to see female IPO helpers. This is starting to change and we are recently seeing quality women helpers emerge across the country. One such talent is Jessica Vampola of Ramona, California. I caught up with Jessica while she was visiting the Greater Houston Schutzhund Club in Bayton, Texas and had the chance to photograph her performing helper work.
Jessica got her first GSD when she was only six and has had one as a companion ever since. While she loved doing obedience and activities with her dogs, she knew that there was more they could do together.
Jessica Vampola working Hold & Bark with Akula Zemli von der Kreisen, IPO1.
While working as a paramedic she would often be around K9 teams. In 2010, a K9 officer invited her to watch training and there she saw her first IPO team. She was awestruck and things would never be the same. IPO was her new passion.
She joined Aztec Schutzhund Club in the Southwestern Region and began her IPO journey that led to her earning IPO3 titles on two of her GSDs. She qualified for and will participate in this years GSD Nationals in Indianapolis, IN come November.
The escape with Akula. Fantastic grip and power.
While IPO training and competing is her passion, it wasn’t long before she developed curiosity about wearing the sleeve as a helper. Mostly motivated by a desire to better understand the dogs, but partly too because she enjoys the adrenaline. In her thirst to learn she attended helper seminars and helper colleges, and eventually earned USCA helper certification in 2015. She has served as helper in a number of trials. I was fortunate to be able to capture those skills in this collection of images.
Long bite with Akula.
Solid temperment and handsome: Akula von Kreisen, IPO1 enjoying work in the pressure phase.
Escape with Jason Meadows' Albus van Meerhout.
Building confidence in a promising young Albus.
Working grips with Albus.
Archive image: a 6 year old Jessica with her first love, a baby GSD named Heidi.
Jessica works out 6 days week so she can bring her best level of physical fitness to the trial field.
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the club members of The Greater Houston Schutzhund Club for allowing us to work Lee Hendrick's Akula and Jason Meadows' Albus for this photo session and for making us feel so welcome. Their graciousness can not be overstated.
This article is part of a series of biographies called IPO Profiles which is my hope of celebrating vibrant, unique and passionate dog sport enthusiasts that I have enjoyed meeting during my travels to photograph IPO and Conformation championships. If you enjoyed this blog, please feel free to leave a comment or like on the Facebook button at the top. Thank you for following. I hope to see you on the training field!
About the author
Brian Aghajani is a freelance photographer based in Houston. He began his fascination with dog sport in 2000, has titled three dogs to IPO3 and competed in a handful of national IPO championship. He is an official photographer for most National IGP/Mondioring competition including the USCA, GSDCA, AWDF, AWMA and USMRA as well as the WUSV World Championship. Follow him on facebook