The trial I was at on Friday was a small one. There were two standard runs and in the second one, Feature was the only 26″ dogs (video included below). However with this very small trial there where still 3 people (that I knew of) competing (and doing very well) that were between 77-81 years old! I mean they were really impressive! It was truly inspiring, really. One of them was struggling a bit to run hard as he had a bit of a bad leg, but the other two were running hard, I am pretty sure they could have out-run me (ok no jokes any of you that have seen me run). Around mid-day I was leash running for one of the biggest class of the day and started whining a bit about why did I have to pick the largest class to leash run, and why would I pick leash-running in the first place? All that bending over, picking up and moving those leashs back and forth. You know, the usual belly-aching, all done very tongue in check mind you, cutting up in front of my friends. Anyway I laughed out loud to myself when I saw one of these gently-aging competitors leash-running for the VERY LAST CLASS OF THE DAY! So we all were moaning about what a long day we had, running all those extra runs, yada, yada, yada and here this lady in her late seventies was leash running for that same big class I had done earlier in the day!
Anyway here are a couple of Feature’s runs from Friday. The first one is her standard run where she thought about her nose touch on the seesaw a bit too late, but quickly righted what she felt was an obvious wrong by pulling the seesaw back down to do her job properly. Entertaining for all of us, including the judge. And no, I never ask her to do this in practice. I don’t believe in putting a dog back on the end of the contact if they have come off for any reason (I would prefer to have them repeat the entire obstacle). The next run is her last jumpers run of the day. She makes me laugh how she has to “pose” at the start line, stretching out as long as she can and then before I release her, she shifts her weight into her rear engine, like she is engaging the power-boasters before take off. She just cracks me up.
Near the end of the day I was chatting with an Ontario agility legend, Shirley McRitchie. Shirley turned 80 last year and still runs two very fast mini dogs (a Sheltie and an Eskie). Not that long ago Shirley won our Ontario regionals with one of her American Eskimos. Did I mention she will be 81 this year!!!! So Penny and I are moaning about our aching bodies and Shirley tells us she has been volunteering at the Ontario Provincial Curling Championships all week (and this is Canada where Curling is a HUGE sport). Yes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday she does everything from selling stuff in the souvenir booth, to selling tickets at the door, to working in the snack bar. She shows up Friday morning bright and early to run agility (aaah yeah, she also lives an hour drive away–of course she drove alone:)). She runs her two dogs all day, up to and including the very last class, collects her boat-load of ribbons and heads out in a hurry because she is working at the Championships again first thing Saturday morning. HOLY CRAP!! This lady rocks I tell you (no curling pun intended).
During the conversation Shirley says to me “so are you going to make a goal of trying to run dogs in agility when you are 80?” I tell her, “Shirley I am way to competitive for that, what ever you do I want to do one year more, so keep on kickin’ it and set that bar high for me!” I know she will.
Today I am grateful for amazing competitors like Shirley McRitchie who help to make a day at an agility trial, time very well spent.