Saying Good Bye to a Great One

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Canadian agility lost one of it’s very special dogs yesterday with the passing of Sarah Mairs’ brilliant Golden Retriever “Gabby”. She was only 10 1/2 years old. Gabby was an amazing flyball dog, one of the fastest “non-Border Collies” of her day and brilliantly represented Canada at both the FCI and the IFCS world agility championships. She had a great career that included both field titles and regularly modeling for TV commercials. Just last fall the two of them won the Canadian Nationals Agility Championships in the veterans class. Of course more importantly than that, in the home in which she lived , Gabby was a very well loved family pet.

Sarah comes from an agility family where both of her parents and her sister are all involved with the sport. Today the entire Mairs family and Sarah’s husband Brent, will all be sharing the same feelings of loss because of how together they all proudly shared in the joy with each of Sarah and Gabby’s accomplishments. After winning that National Championship last fall Sarah put together this video tribute to her dog as she had decided to let Gabby retire from the sport. I know we all live busy lives and to sit down and watch a 7 minute video of a dog you may not have even known may not seem worth your while, but trust me it is, you will have gained something by the experience. Watch not only the great teamwork these two had in agility, but the obvious close bond they shared as a team off of the field. No one knew when this video was posted on Youtube that Gabby was sick as her cancer diagnosis only came on January 15th a short few weeks ago. The point I am trying to make is to watch this video as it was put together not by someone that was facing losing their great dog, but rather by someone that was celebrating how much they loved their great dog.

Today I am grateful for Sarah who shows us all how to enjoy the “times of our lives” with our dogs for the brief time we get to enjoy them here on earth.


  1. Beautiful!

  2. Just moments before I got on my computer this morning I had pulled out my desk to retrieve something that had slipped between it and the wall. Lo and behold I came across a “Q” ribbon. It was from the very last run I had with my 8-1/2 y.o. Lab, Ajay. No, she didn’t place in the top 3; in fact it was 12th. It brought back so many great memories of where we had started and how far she had come given all of her problems, and how much she had taught me. She is happy and healthy and loves just being a dog. So the timing of this fabulous video was especially meaningful to me. Thanks!!

  3. *wiping tears away* What a wonderful expression of the special bond we form with our dogs.

  4. Amazing…what a great journey together.

  5. Ok that was major kleenex time! Susan you needed to put a warning on that one!

    I had the opportunity to get to know Sarah a bit better at the last Say Yes camp, we were in the same group with our young dogs, and I have to say she is truly a great person. Her bond with all her dogs is quite something and I can only say that our time with our dogs is always too short in my opinion. Gabby was certainly a brilliant dog and Sarah a lovely handler. We won’t forget Gabby beating all our border collies in gamblers in Montreal I think it was! My thoughts are with you and your family Sarah….

  6. Words can not express how grateful I am for this acknowledgement……Thank you

  7. I have never actually met Sarah- but I was lucky enough to watch her and Gabby at Nationals. I happened to watch one of the first runs of the weekend and I remember thinking then what a great team they were. I purposely tried to watch her after that first run. Simply Amazing.

    I am so sorry for her loss.

  8. I am so glad that she got such wonderful memories of Gabby before she left this world. What a wonderful way to celebrate her friend!

    I saw a t-shirt at a trial last spring that said “Never give up on the team.” That message hit home with me after a bad day at an agility trial. I promised myself I wouldn’t forget that. Shortly after, I found out my girl had lymphoma and a very short time to live. Even with being sick, she wanted to work. So we did Rally to feed the need. Not giving up on her was one of the best gifts I have ever received. One month before she passed, we entered a Rally competition because I knew it would be our last chance to work together and have a special weekend of memories. She was so in her element that whole weekend and was so happy. She won 3 blues, a title and 2 recognitions. The prizes didn’t mean much… I would have never guessed all the memories I would have missed with her if I didn’t make the most of the time she had. She was my first agility dog and had her for less than 3 years. I am so glad that time was packed with wonderful memories.

  9. It’s true, Susan — a warning would have been good.

    Sarah, Gabby couldn’t have asked for a better tribute. Your love for her shines through every moment. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss.

  10. I have a soft spot for Retrievers 🙂 and Gabby was one I really wanted to see at Nats. this year. I was excited to see her run, I loved her spunk and her bond with Sarah, you could really see it – something everyone wants. So sorry for her loss of such a great loving dog, the video tribute was really nice and her spirit really shined in it.

  11. Sarah,

    Great video, great dog, great team!!

    Gabby adored you as much as you adored her.

    I’m sure Gabby would want you to know that “No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail.” – Eugene O’Neill

  12. It was with great sadness that I read this entry. I have had the privilege to know both Sarah and Gabby. Sarah has taught me so much over the last couple of years and watching Sarah with Gabby competing has truly given me something to aspire to. But what has created a more lasting impression was to observe that special bond that they had.

    Gabby you will be missed and my heart goes out to Sarah at this time.

    Gabby truly was a “Great One”

    Steph, Skye and Possum

  13. Thanks for posting this beautiful tribute! I cried from start to finish.

  14. Love the video, I really enjoyed watch Gabby and Sarah this year at nationals. A true team!!
    P.S. I really shouldn’t watch this stuff at work hard hiding the tears.

  15. Oh dear that was mean! Will have to forward to my Retriever buddies.

  16. Thanks for posting this – a lovely way to celebrate a great agility career and relationship. I will always treasure those memories of the golden dog among all those B&W dogs in the tulips or on the giant chess board – she stood out in so many ways!

  17. Sarah,
    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful and special dog. She was an awesome sports dog and an awesome companion – I loved that she was often the only redhead to be seen! (yes, I am biased, having Tamsu Goldens myself).
    You did great by her and you should be proud of everything you did with her and for her. She could not have had a better companion, friend, than you.
    Michele Potter

  18. What an awesome tribute to such a loved family pet and amazing athlete. Thanks for sharing.

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