Last weekend was the 2015 European Open. In March I was named to the Canadian team with my two dogs Feature and Swagger. It should have been an event I was really looking forward to, however, I was heading into it with mixed emotions.

Several times in the past 10 days I had actually written my manager an email bowing out…I didn’t end up sending any of those emails, although I was very tempted.

You see over the past 19 months I have been plagued by a nagging pain in my heel (not plantar fasciitis) that had gotten progressively worse. I had been seeing various specialists and, at first, managing the pain by taping my foot. However, in the past 6 months it had gotten unbearable, even to just walk any distance.

I had virtually stopped running courses at home with my dogs as I couldn’t bare the pain that would follow in the evening. Truthfully I had starting disliking agility because of how badly I felt afterwards. Ten days ago I got an appointment with a top sports specialists at our local University hospital and he shared the same suspicions my podiatrist suggested…a stress fracture that would require 4-6 weeks on crutches. I needed a bone scan to confirm the diagnosis…I baulked at the idea.

Heck I haven’t used a microwave in over ten years, the thought of pumping radioactive juice through my entire body does not excite me. However the pain has won me over. So I agreed and the specialist said I could continue on with my plans of competing at the European Open if I wore these “sexy” running shoes pictured below, along with following some icing and taping protocols.


Those around me and I have affectionately referred to my lovely new runners as the “mattresses.” On the plus side I am about 1.5″ taller for the first time in my life (having never worn heels this is kind of cool). On the downside imagine staging a race with a field of the finest thoroughbreds and putting them up against a Sloth in galoshes (I picked a Sloth as Wikipedia assures me they are the slowest land animal known to man). That is kind of how I felt trying to run agility in these shoes.

So I entered the EO with my new footwear and my brilliant dogs, who I could trust to follow my verbal cues no matter how far back my bum foot and accompanying mattresses held me back.

Honestly I didn’t have huge expectations for the competition. The pain in my heel  had allowed me to run only one course at home with my dogs over the past 7 weeks. And then of course I had my stylish footwear to contend with..

But my dogs didn’t let me down. Despite whatever handicap I may have presented for them, both Feature and Swagger made the finals which happened to fall on my birthday on Sunday! Swagger added to that birthday gift by finding that “silver lining” in all of this for me. Yep, he finished on the podium in second at the European Open. Here is Swaggers run from the finals.

You may notice that for the final class I chose to not wear the mattresses. Shhhh please don’t tell the doctor. I wanted to help my dogs as best I could so for that one class I switched back to my old footwear. 🙂

Swagger and I were edged out of first place by my fellow Canadian teammate, friend and Say Yes Summer Camp instructor Jessica Patterson. If we had to be beaten, I couldn’t have hand picked anyone nicer to do it. So proud of both Swagger and also thrilled for all that Jess has accomplished with her young dog “Trix!”

*Edited note. John just reminded me that Feature won a Gold medal at this same venue back in 2010 for her individual standard run at the Agility World Championships… I think I really like Rieden, Germany!!!

Jess & Susan


Today I am grateful for a phenomenal week in Germany. From the vegan bakery in Frankfurt, to the care from people like Kim, Carol, Diamond, Linda, Dante, Deryl, Brenda, Marleen and of course all of my team mates and the amazing performances from both of my dogs. And today, I am also grateful for the first time to looking forward to some relief from this heel pain…even if it means the rest of the summer on crutches…there has just got to be another silver lining here for me I am just certain…and who knows… maybe the next one will turn out to be gold!