When we live with dogs, and especially it seems, when we train them for sports, we develop such a bond that our dogs seem to read our minds. I love that feeling of connectedness, and although two of my Shetland Sheepdogs are tottering around the 10 year mark, we still train for agility. We might not run as fast as we did years ago, but assuredly, we run with even greater joy.
I no longer have the aspirations of greatness in the sport of agility that I once did. I had hoped to be one of the areas’ top handlers, and frankly I’m not. I stopped competing several years ago because of lack of time and funds, but we’ve enjoyed training, and we’ve continued to do that.
As we’ve all heard, each day is a gift, and that is brought home to me each training day. When the dogs do well, which is often, I cherish those moments. When they decide to stop and sniff, all I can do is smile, and encourage to come back and finish the course. I realize all too well that this run could be their last.
To accommodate their aging bodies, I set their jump heights to half the height they jumped when they were in their prime. They seem comfortable and happy at this height, and the lower height should extend their careers.
Agility is not only a physical game, it is also a mental game, and in that respect, the two older Shelties are as strong than ever. We run advanced level courses in training, I’m so impressed by how quickly they learn new skills.