By: Dr. Amanda Glew
With the Olympics just finishing, watching those fine young athletes at the top of their game participate, made me so proud to be a Canadian. They sometimes won gold, sometimes not, but their pride in our country was palpable from so many thousands of miles away. It is the same when you represent your country in any sport, a good friend who rides endurance horses for Canada told me. “You are just so proud of your colors when you are in another country, just to be a part of it is so important”. But there are many sports that are not Olympic, yet take the same amount of commitment, cost and talent. However, these are funded by individuals, not by any major sponsors. In order to get them to the “world” level, it often involves not only dedication, but also personal finance to pay for coaches, to practice their sport, for equipment etc.
Canine agility falls into this category. This is why, as his vets, Dr. Cote and I are proud to sponsor Keeper on his run to the world agility competition this May in the Netherlands. Keeper is a story which brings to tears to the eyes of anyone who loves dogs. His person Tammy, is the co-star.
It started in 2008 when Tammy’s pitbull cross got cancer, at a young age. Tammy had learned agility with Becker, and like anything that you do for the first time, he was her love because they did it together. Counselling and getting Tammy to let Becker go was one of the most emotionally difficult things that I had to do, knowing their relationship. When I told her, “Get another dog, Becker would want you to do that” she told me tearfully, no dog would replace her Beck.
Fast forward months later, she found a dog from the Monteregie SPCA – a young border collie abandoned at a post office. Likely just too much energy, but perfect for someone willing to work a dog. So work him she did. Suddenly, with his energy being directed to working, he developed a bond with Tammy that few people achieve with an animal. Suddenly, the pound puppy without papers began to win at trials.
For those of you who have never seen agility, it is rather like horse jumping with obstacles, but the human directs the animal from the ground, rather than on the back. Speed, direction, and ensuring no faults occur, such as missing the line on a see saw, or going into a weave pole in the wrong direction, all account for the final score. The owner has to keep up with their animal, but from a distance, and the dog must in tune with the owners instructions, cues and body language to direct them. Both must be supreme athletes at the national or world level.
Keeper and Tammy kept learning together, and became a team. When they went to the Nationals last year, I told her she was to bring home the gold. She told me in no uncertain terms, although they would try, she just hoped to perform well. That is of course true. But when she did bring him the gold, I was so proud.
So this year I tell her the same thing – bring home the gold. But just to run Keeper in the World’s is an accomplishment that I am proud to be a little part of…we can all be a part of it!
We have booked the Community centre in Hudson the night of April 4th (Friday) for Keeper’s Run. For $20 you will have a wonderful dinner of homemade chili, fresh salad, garlic bread and dessert. You will see how Keeper and some of his friends show us how good canine citizens are. There will be a silent auction. All proceeds will go to both Keepers Journey and the Monteregie SPCA from where he came.
Tickets can be reserved at the Timberlea Veterinary Clinic- call 514-505-6555.