Some agility dogs are picked as puppies, carefully chosen from well-bred litters. Others are selected via well-researched rescues. And some just happen.
Back in 2010, this July’s Clean Run magazine cover dog was languishing, neglected, in a backyard in a Canadian neighborhood. Her previous owner had threatened to shoot the dog if he couldn’t leave her behind when he moved, so the current resident had let her stay but had lost interest in her. When Sheila Gunn, who already had a three-dog pack of rescues, saw the dog hanging out in the unfenced front yard, she went to talk to the owner. He gave her the timid dog. Sheila says, “[Brady] didn’t know how to walk on a leash, she didn’t know sit or down commands. She was terrified if grabbed by the collar! She did know how to chase cats as I was told ‘you won’t have any cats in your yard, that’s for sure!’ Not a plus as a cat was a solid family member in our house! [Brady] came with nothing but a dirty, worn collar that was neglectfully tight… no information. She got into my car timidly, but willingly, and curled up in a tight, little, stinky ball for the ride home.”
Sheila felt connected to Brady right away, but the dog had many concerns to overcome. “She had fears but is a very brave little dog. She had to learn that a hug and/or kiss [aren’t] scary, that a raised leg of a sitting person isn’t something to duck or run from, that the smell of alcohol on person’s breath isn’t a cowering, yelping threat…. In short, it took about three months, then a gelling, a softness in her eyes, she was melting in with us, and now a complete melding. And the cat (recently over the rainbow bridge) chose her as his best critter friend in the family,” says Sheila.
Sheila decided to try agility with the dog, now named Brady, and “she took to it like a duck to water… she was brilliant at agility,” Sheila says. The pair competed together for years until Sheila’s health required her to retire from agility. Now estimated to be 12, Brady enjoys her more relaxed lifestyle with Sheila. “She is a happy, healthy, still very active doggy, who loves to be hugged and kissed, and walked on a leash, and find her toys, and put her toys ‘in the basket,’ and more. I can’t even imagine life without her, and ache for all the other older doggies out there that are overlooked as a best friend,” Sheila says.
The lovely cover photo was taken by Linda Matteson.