A New Goal for All of Us to Aim For

Sunday, February 8, 2009

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.



  1. Friend of mine voluteered me to help out at a USDAA Qualifying trial. I was on the ring crew straightening the chute. I straightened that chute 106 times. I couldn’t walk for 3 days.

  2. Susan,
    I think you would find the book “Younger Next Year for Women” very inspiring. It will give you a road map for reaching the competing in agility at age 81. I hope we are both there, then!

  3. Could you pleeeez post the youtube addy so that I could sneak and connive some more behind my boss’ back? Uh oh, he’s coming! gotta go!

  4. first video :

    Second video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf1EhlQ-0lw

  5. Comment is not specifically to this post. Just wanted to say what a great blog this is. Thank you so much.
    You know how you can read a book several times and still notice something new each time. I am having the same experience with your blog. It is all about what “speaks” to me at that moment of reading of course.
    I really enjoy the mixture of training and “life wisdom”. Hope you know what I mean.
    Best wishes,

  6. Thanks, Feature, that was great! I love the lady who says “I’m gonna record, too..” so we hear that teeter loud and clear as Feature pulls it back down!
    An instructive post as I had to google leash-running to figure out what it was you were actually doing and also Shirley McRitchie, which led me to discover an interesting article about 6 people in Canada doing agility with different breeds. Great reading, from from “Shirley McRitchie peers out of her pup tent” – pup tent? to Maomeone

  7. Whoops! continued…
    … to Marilyn Corbett whose Hungarian shepherd once ran a whole course, nose to the ground, retracing the judges’ footprints.

    I wonder if Ms. McRitchie’s example will inspire us in the future, to lie about our age, by ADDING on years?

    • LOL, that is funny Trudie!

  8. Feature must be just one comedic moment after another! I loved the tetter pull-down! FABULOUS!

    Shirley is not only a Canadian icon, but an inspiration to a lot of us. I only aspire to be running my dogs as long as she has! I think we all can learn from someone like her! She definitely does set the bar when it comes to running agility. For those that haven’t seen Shirley run, she RUNS!!! She laughs at the word “Senior”! She moves better than most of us, has endurance that would put most of us to shame & does it all with a smile on her face. If we all could be just a bit like her!

    Susan, I’ll be aiming for that mark too so keep us posted on how high Shirley sets the bar for YOU!

    Gail & the ‘boys’

  9. Most appreciate you posting the addys for the videos! Microsoft has decided I no longer deserve to see videos and pictures in your blog.
    Any experts out there who know how to deal with the blank square with the little logo in the left upper corner?

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