Posted on 09/03/09 13 Comments

Thanks to all of you for warm wishes for Encore and I at the World Championships at the end of this month.  Yesterday Encore and I had a bit of a slower paced day as I prepared for camp starting today. I worked on some skills like her running vs stopped dogwalk as well as some handling understanding. Its great having Feature to work to trade off with Encore and at the same time Featchy gets to practice all the advanced work Encore is doing.

Feature & Encore relaxing.
Feature & Encore relaxing.

After some morning work all the dogs and I went for a walk around the field and ended the the day with a 30 minute swim (the dogs not me, not a big swimmer myself:)).

I try to keep this blog light hearted and primarily educational in nature but I am afraid today I have to bring a bit of sadness to it as well.  

I find it difficult to write about all of the training I am doing with Encore today when I have heard the tragic news that US World Team member Geri Hernandez lost her 5 year old dog “Focus” yesterday as she was training in preparation for their  own World Championship adventure. As far as I know, they were training in the cool of the morning and Focus, without warning, just passed away. I can’t begin to imagine what Geri must be going through right now.

Although I really don’t know Geri very well, I have always admires her wonderful team work and obvious mutual admiration she and Focus shared for each other. Geri

Geri & Focus

 certainly is one of the class acts in agility. Geri and Focus just missed the podium at last year’s FCI worlds coming in an impressive 4th place on their first outing at the worlds.

Say a prayer for Geri today, I know I will. Life is so short and an event like this one should make us all take account of all there is to be grateful for in our lives.

Today I am grateful to be part of the world of dog agility. We celebrate the victories and disappointments on the field together, and today we shall share in the great pain of loss within our community.  I know I speak for all of you when I say our hearts goes out to you  Geri.


  1. Tabetha says:
    Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 11:31pm

    I stumbled across this story and had to comment. I worked for Geri for 5 years, and remember when she brought focus home. She has love for all her dogs, but Focus was very special. She spent a lot of time with him, and they were always together. He really was a wonderful and beautiful dog. I left work a year prior to this after having a baby and injurying my back, so this news is new to me… Thank you for your post, I’m sure Geri appriciates everyones support. She is truely an amazing women, one I aspire to be like in my life. 🙂


  2. Judy says:
    Monday, September 7, 2009 at 4:36am

    Words are inadequate, my prayers are with Geri.


  3. Angela says:
    Friday, September 4, 2009 at 11:40am

    Thanks for sharing Susan, that is so sad. Agility is really more than a sport — love is defined by some as communicating and receiving — that’s what we do with our dogs…we love them.


  4. Mary M says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:18pm



  5. M Teresa Contreras says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:12pm

    My best wishes for Geri.


  6. Mary M says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 5:11pm

    My heart aches, I am so sorry for her loss…..I don’t have words beyond these.


  7. Trudie says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 3:12pm

    What a beautiful looking dog. Many sympathies for Geri.


  8. Kim Collins says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 1:23pm

    Thank you Susan for always keeping things in perspective. Reminding us of how to be better dogs trainers is always great, but reminding us of how to be derserving of our dogs and our families and friends love and friendship is more important.

    Geri is going to have some hard days ahead of her and I am sure she has many friends and family to support her, but knowing people like you are taking time out of your busy schedule to write something about Geri and Focus and how special a team they were is also going to remind her of all the people out there who never met her and Focus but who watched them on video’s or at FCI or USDAA Nats and thought they were an amazing team. I personally have loved watching Geri and Focus, I love how smooth they were, she isn’t frantic or pushy out there, she and Focus just seemed to connect in a very special way, much like you and your dogs do.

    So thank you for taking the time to keep it all in perspective for us.

    We wish you and Encore all the best at the FCI event, you always make us Canadians proud no matter what. And good thing Feature gets to practice the “advanced stuff” with Encore cause she will be there soon too i am sure!!



  9. Nat says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 1:03pm

    Oh my… Will definitely send prayers her way tonight. My Mika is almost 5 years old and I can’t even begin to imagine if this happened to her, so unexpectedly. Wow, what a shock….


  10. addictedtolabs says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 11:54am

    What a shock, They were just at our local trial two weeks ago. She is as you state a class act. At trials she is warm and friendly to everyone. I only recently found out she was a super star when I recognized her name on the running order..

    Time to hug my dogs..



  11. Sarah S says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 11:37am

    It is so very heartwrenching to hear about Focus– I’m sure that the trauma, sadness, and loss will be a very difficult thing for Geri to get through. I will keep her in my thoughts! Hopefully in time the lessons Focus taught her and the joy they shared together will outweigh the sadness of losing him so abruptly, at such a young age, and on the verge of a very exciting moment in their agility career.


  12. Kathy Smith says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 10:49am

    The unbelievable trauma that must go with this!! I lost a dog at 6 1/2… I had a two week window of warning, that was bad enough. My friend just had her 3 year old dog die unexpectedly in her arms earlier this year. My heart stops just thinkign about what Geri must feel as it was in the middle of practice!! I cannot think of anything so very shocking and heartbreaking as this!

    I just am soo sooo sad for her although I don’t know her at all….. Jeez..

    Kathy Smith


  13. denise says:
    Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 8:05am

    What a gorgeous dog! It’s always sad to lose a dog but it’s even more devastating when they are so young.


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