As I sit here tonight typing this latest entry for the dog agility blog event day, it is my partner’s 10th birthday! We are just coming back from a trial this weekend where she earned her MACH 3!
I am fortunately in a position where my dog is still healthy and happily playing this game…the joy in her face as we made the victory lap was evident. I will however start to move her to
Preferred after nationals as that will be her last year at 24″ competition. I have already started dropping her from 26″ to 22″ in USDAA and she is now only running 26″ for pairs…I feel at this point she is comfortable jumping half a course at 26, as soon as we get those last 5 legs, she will go down there too. Now that is of course assuming she continues to run the way she has been and shows the same enthusiasm that she is currently.
I retired my first agility dog at 8 1/2 after ACL surgery, she spent a year before she could have run…but she was not as enthusiastic about the game, so she stayed in retirement and got to come to trials occasionally to socialize ( which was her favorite part)
We are all getting older in agility and keeping our partners and ourselves fit and healthy is a more important than ever…I see more and more dogs that are able to continue to compete and do so without struggling. I feel that this is a testament to our improved understanding of the importance of conditioning, warm up and cool down, benefits of massage/acupuncture/chiropractics and healing touch (of course!). We in the agility community are more aware of our dogs tiny nuances in their movement and health. This i believe that this helps our dogs live a longer higher quality life than they would have otherwise. Tegan ( my first agility dog) lived 16 1/2 wonderful years and was able to move happily all but a few days of that.
As far as we as handlers are concerned…I know I for one need to work on keeping me game ready more than I am and more than I used to. I find for my self, it is much easier to plan and control my dogs health and fitness than my own. I give them premium food, supplements, and take them to the vet for the slightest off step. I…on the other hand, could use a little help!
Ultimately, the time will come when I will have to start to pull back with Cheetah and not enter her in every class…that will be a sad day, she has been such an amazing dog, and we have been on such a great ride together. I will have to keep her busy doing other things, we have started doing nosework with her and Vixen, I can enter her in rally or other less strenuous sports. I hope to make this transition smooth and she will not be too angry with me…I also hope that it will not be needed anytime soon.
I will end this entry with by asking you all to appreciate your partner every time you step on the line, and hopefully you will be able have many more runs with them and may you both continue to be…. young at heart!
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