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Advice from an Agility Dog Super Hero

Posted on 09/20/12 37 Comments

If someone would have told me 10 years ago that my “gotta-live-life-on-the-edge” red Border Collie Buzz would live to be 16 years old, I would have seriously doubted their logic.

I mean, don’t most kamikaze pilots have a shortened life expectancy?

What a blessing Buzz has been. As a youngster Buzz never held back. It was all or nothing, in or out of the agility ring.  Truly the mold was broken when Buzz was born September 20th, 1996.

Today we celebrate Buzzy’s 16th birthday, but Buzz is celebrating birthday number 5,840 because he has always lived his life as if “every day was his birthday!”

I wrote about many of the lessons Buzz taught me in my book, “Shaping Success.” Here it is 16 years later and many of the games Buzz and I shared are still being taught, not just here at Say Yes but in dog training schools all over the world. Through Buzzy, I have been given the experience to help dog owners in all walks of life overcome their own frustrations when trying to apply positive dog training to a dog who just doesn’t fit anyone’s description of a model subject.

I think I could write another book about Buzz’s antics after his competition career. Buzz was retired from agility at the age of just 9 years old. His body was broken, but I think it would have been that way even if he had never stepped foot in a ring. He brought many of his injuries on himself, making impetuous decisions that didn’t fair out in his favor. Like the time at Nancy Gyes’ home in San Jose when he jumped a hedge row that covered the edge of a cliff (that I didn’t know was there and Nancy had no way of knowing any sort of dog would think of jumping something when he couldn’t see what was on the other side). Buzz survived without an obvious scratch, but I am sure it was those types of escapades that wore Buzz’s body down rather than any sport activity.

When I sat down trying to think of what I should write today, I decided to let Buzz share with you a list of his top ten things he would want the world to know if he was going to sit at a computer to write (which he wouldn’t as he is much more a “take a dictation, would ya”  kind of guy).

Buzz’s Top Ten List of Ways to Live a Full & Happy Life!

  1. You are never too old to stop what you are doing and drop to the ground to give your back a good rub. They say yoga can extend life, Buzz is testing out the theory in his own way.
  2. Barking while rolling should never be considered gauche. Never hide your joy; wear it like a badge on your fur so all will know who you are and what you love most of all.
  3. As you age, if on occasion you accidentally slip and fall, immediately roll over to your back as if you meant to hit the ground for another one of those afore mentioned back rubs. Be the victor of your life, not the victim.
  4. Anytime you fail at anything in life, just bark. More failing= more barking. Barking tells the world, you don’t give a [email protected]*t, failing just means you are one step closer to getting what you really want. Never give up. Never ever give up; amazing cookies could always be just one more really loud bark away.
  5. Ripping up mouthfuls of turf from the lawn should be considered a form of fitness. It is a second cousin to loud barking and a great way to relieve anxiety while continuing to stretch your neck and back. (It is something Buzz did at the start line in agility and still does on our daily walks with the dogs.)
  6. If you accidentally bite someone’s hand as they go to pat your head (because you thought they were handing over a cookie), just keep biting them . . . that way they will think you are just completely batty. All of life’s little slip ups can be overcome with comedic improvisation and a chronic lack of self awareness.
  7. Swimming is nirvana. Never stop, floatation devices can make you look cool at any age. ‘Nuff said . . . other than the only thing better than swimming is barking while swimming . . . it is all about expressing the joy.
  8. Your most captive audience can be found on a toilet. The best conversations and ear rubs can be had if you take your naps in a bathroom.
  9. If you see a set of stairs, take them. It doesn’t matter what your age or how difficult the climb is; you will never know how good the spoils are at the top of the mountain unless you are willing to suck it up and make the climb upwards. (Buzzy climbs the stairs into my office or down to the lower level of the house at least twice a day . . . I think it is his own personal training regime.)
  10. You can still be cool and have lots of valuable lessons to share at any age. Never stop sharing and don’t ever discount what someone else can contribute to your life just because they may be “old.”
Today we shall have a small get together with friends celebrating Buzz’s big milestone. Here is a clip from Buzzy’s early birthday party last week. As is often the case with Buzz, it was a party of one. But does this boy know how to party; warm water, jets and dog toys.

Happy birthday my boy Buzz a.k.a “Cedar High On Emotion,” and he still is just that. I just know there are more birthdays to come.
Today I am grateful for Buzz . . . ‘nuff said. xoxo


  1. Randy says:
    Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 4:44pm

    Great Post!! Loving The Dogs : )


  2. Nicholas Redd says:
    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 3:28pm

    Love the BLUE eyes of that one puppy. However that doggy with the OVERLY long tongue gave me the ‘willies’ … Great post!


  3. DSMBC says:
    Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 11:47pm

    Great post!


  4. Arlyn Sigeti-Lucken says:
    Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 12:40pm

    Buzzy and my Moe were the same age. I remember him well. Glad to hear he is doing fine. Happy Birthday Buzzy!


  5. Meg says:
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 3:37pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz! Thanks to you and all of your endearing qualities—you snapped Susan into line and she now knows what to teach us who are still foundering.
    Here’s to many more birthdays!!! 🙂


  6. Barb Stanek says:
    Friday, September 21, 2012 at 2:56pm

    Thank you, Buzz and staff, for the great laughs today! You’re the best! Happy birthday!


  7. Christine says:
    Friday, September 21, 2012 at 9:10am

    Happy Birthda and many more to come and fun every day.
    My two retrievers also enjoyed swimming in their jackets or with noodles until the last days. Aeida would add to your stair rule if your front is too heavy simply sit down and sail down the stairs. If you are heared you might get a lift next time.:o)
    My big teach also was 16 at the beginning of this year,so 1996 was a year for great teachers to be born.
    Keep on.


  8. Carol Morgan says:
    Friday, September 21, 2012 at 8:53am

    Happy Birthday Buzz-Boy!


  9. Shelley says:
    Friday, September 21, 2012 at 7:25am

    Happy Birthday Buzz Boy! Thankyou for all that has been created because of you. You are a real star!


  10. Teri says:
    Friday, September 21, 2012 at 12:42am

    Happy Birthday Buzz! Thanks for being such a good book subject in Shaping Success


  11. Melisse Fowler says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 11:27pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz! You are in such great shape & still barking your joy. I love it…….don’t stop!


  12. Debra Jones says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 11:02pm

    Oh, Buzzy may you have many more birthdays! What an inspiration you are to me. “Shaping A Success” was one of the best books ever. When ever I get down on myself, I think of what Susan and you went through to become two champions. I’m so glad I found your Trainer!


  13. Jane Harding says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:30pm

    Oh my gosh,, that face with that huge tongue.. reminds me of my Razzie. only she can’t stay still enough for hugs.. but jump on me.. oh yeah!
    Happy b’day BUZZ…. you are great!


  14. Ruth says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 7:50pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz!

    You are an inspiration and thanks so much Susan for sharing the journey with us. Shaping Success is a great lesson in how to create brilliant relationships with high drive dogs without stifling their unique energy.


  15. Pat Burroughs says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:31pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz I will never forget the first time I met you and you were in a garage during a seminar in Winnipeg and your mom on a microphone said I’m gonna smoke ya and you staring your happy scream lol you do enjoy a good life and you and your mom have insprired many of us “Party on Buzzy” !


  16. Penny Mead says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:11pm

    Quote from the movie “16 Candles”
    (only the names have been changed!)

    Susan: Happy birthday, Buzzy. Make a wish.
    Buzzy: It already came true.


  17. Linda says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 4:23pm

    Buzzy, to know you is to love you! Thank you for a great top ten list. It inspires me.

    Happy birthday big guy!


  18. Amy @ True Dog says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 3:47pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz! Love the Top 10. We can totally relate at our house. Brought joyful tears to my eyes.


  19. Jennifer Kolasa says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 2:00pm

    Buzz is awesome!!! A very happy birthday!!!


  20. Helen Verte says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:43pm

    Happy birthday Buzz! You are an inspiration to so many. Whoop it up! 🙂


  21. Angela says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:27pm

    Happy Birthday to the boy who has inspired a woman, a nation, a world! XO


  22. Lori says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:12pm

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, Buzz! Oh my, laughed until tears ran down my face. If only more people shared your joy for life!


  23. Jenny says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 1:08pm

    A giant howling happy birthday Buzz!!!!


  24. Lili Dawidowicz says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 12:57pm

    Happy Birthday Buzz! my how time does fly :>O


  25. Pat D says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 12:00pm

    Happy Happy BD to you Buzz! I remember the first time I met you. In Atlanta, at a seminar at Sirius Dog Agility Training Center…you were still a youngster! I loved watching you slide down the seesaw, LOL!! Have a great day ole’ man……


  26. Jean says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 11:58am

    Happy Birthday Buzz. My 14 yr old chow mix would agree with all 10 of the items on your list. You are never too old to dance!


  27. Karin says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 11:30am

    A very Happy Birthday Buzzy!
    Here is to many more to come!


  28. Nicki Gurr says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:53am

    Rock on Buzz!! You are wearing 16 in style!!! I don’t think they broke the mold with you Buzz, I think you ARE the mold!


  29. Steve Morgan says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:22am

    Happy B-Day Buzz live life while your living cuz it won’t happen after you gone. You taught me a lot when you were growing up (bbbook form) Happy, Happy B-Day


  30. Karey Grisdale says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:22am

    A very Happy Birthday Buzz!!!! I’m sure there will be many more!


  31. Anji says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:18am

    16! Wow, we should all be so lucky! Happy birthday Buzzy! May you have many more years of back scratches, ear rubs and things to bark about!


  32. Beth Hudson says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:08am

    Love old dogs! Love border collies! Old border collies – priceless! Happy Birthday Buzz, carpe diem!


  33. Sandra Orr says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:02am

    Happy Birthday Buzz. Unbridled joy is a great way to approach every day. I think my Rik at almost 13 would agree with Buzz on his approach to life. Thanks for writing this-we love love love our old dogs!!!!


  34. Suzanne Stachurski says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:58am

    Happy Birthday Buzz! Many more for sure!


  35. Paula Waterman says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:42am

    I can’t believe he’s 16!!Congratulations Buzz and many more happy returns!


  36. Andrea says:
    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:14am

    Happy birthday Buzz boy!
    you – through Susan’s Shaping Success gave me faith to keep going with my own whole lotta dog. (Who totally agrees with numbers 4,5,8 and 9 even tho she’s a solid 10 years younger than buzz!)


    • Maggie says:
      Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 10:24am

      Me too Andrea – it was an epipheny, and we owe him, and Susan, a great debt of gratitude


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