Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Action Day "Aging": Don't Be "That Guy"

I had two criteria to determine whether or not to retire my dog: willingness and ability.  This dog will always be willing to work for me. Ability, as in still able to run, jump, and climb without issues, I figured would be the deciding factor.

I retired her anyway.

A few issues arose when some jerk ran into my truck in a parking lot, despite the truck being big, red, and parked far away from the store.  These behavioral issues in the car were major factors in my decision to retire Scout, although once out of the car, she was fine - willing and able to play.

 Scout enjoys the brand new truck before the backseat became crates.

I retired her even thought a few titles were still achievable.

I retired Scout at age 12.5 60 Qs short of LAA-Platinum.  It was doable.  I trialed at least twice a month.  I entered her in two things a day.  She had a high Q rate in those two things (Snooker and Jumpers).

She's still retired.  Why?  I don't want to be "That Guy".

"That Guy" is the one EVERYONE at the trial talks about, but not to his/her face.  "That Guy" is so obsessed with titles, "That Guy" doesn't see the pain his/her dog is in.  "That Guy" has a dog that is old, trots through the course, and barely makes Veteran's course time.  "That Guy" believes his/her dog still wants to play agility, despite the dog clearly displaying otherwise.  "That Guy" could let the dog be a "One-Jump Champion" or a "Backyard Champion", but insists upon torturing the poor dog by entering the dog in each Veteran's class, and acting surprised when the dog shows no enthusiasm.  "That Guy" is one step away from attaching the leash to the dog and dragging a half-dead dog over obstacles.

Don't be "That Guy".

Retire your dog with style and class.  I threw a party at a local trial.  I made a tearful announcement.  It was difficult.  However, I consider myself lucky that I got to make the decision and not some other event - death, severe injury, etc.  And, I know people weren't talking about me behind my back for being "That Guy".

Scout's well-earned cake.

I brought Scout out of retirement for one run.  I did this to enter a contest for rescue dogs.  That's when I realized, at 13+ years, she's completely deaf.  She ran amok in Snooker.  I didn't care.  She had fun.  I enjoyed running her again.

Scout is still retired.  Oh, and she won the random draw contest.

Scout poses with her prize.

This entry is part of the Dog Agility Blog Action Day topic on Aging.  For more articles, visit


ViewFr4Inch said...

Good for you! I also am on the "retire early, regret less" band wagon. My Taylor is "only" 11 but retired 2 years ago when I realized his back was hurting him and he had been diagnosed with PRA.

Yes, he can still see. Yes, he would still LOVE to be out there competing in agility. He could have earned at least a couple more championships by now. But I'm the adult and the species with the gift of reason.

Our dogs often do more than they should because they know it pleases us. We should honor this trait but also have the integrity to protect them from their own desire to please.

Merinda said...

Thank you - this is perfect! I hate seeing those poor dogs being drug around the ring for the sake of the human's hunger for titles.
People need to realize that there is more honor in retiring a good dog, than earning MACH 235 on a crippled shell of a once formerly grand dog...

AgilityEngineer said...

@ViewFr4Inch - Beautifully written. I am thinking about updating and quoting you!

@Merinda - Agreed! I call it "eye rape" when an handler drags around a dog that doesn't want to do it anymore or has a physical issue that makes watching unbearable.

minnow said...

Great post. It really is so dreadful watching "that guy" (or lady) trying to get a dog that isn't into it (or capable) around a course. :( They might be blind to the dog's condition and even using "happy voice," but it doesn't make it any less upsetting than watching someone be negative and mean to the dog.

Muttsandaklutz said...

Love the brutal (or not so brutal) honesty in this post. You went were I was afraid to go ;) Thanks for putting this message out there!

ViewFr4Inch said...

@AgilityEngineer Came back to re-read, I liked your article so much. Yes, you have permission to quote me if it helps the cause. @Merinda 's comment is pretty on-target as well

The Tri-Ferals said...

Great Blog.

I am currently a few months or less from retiring my 11.5 year old bc. Over the years I have seen a number of dogs, who were very competitive when young, kept going well into their older years. In the end these dogs were struggling to get around the course and knocking down and refusing jumps. It was sad to watch these formally good dogs keep trying to give their all to handlers who were blind to their struggles. My last memories of these dogs is watching their pain and heavy gasps as they landed over jumps. I do not want my dog to be remembered like this. I want her to be remembered as a dog who loved agility and at her last run finished wanting more of it.

Kaypee said...

In July, I retired my 8 year old Belgian Sheepdog. He'd been having problems with weave poles and during a routine chiropractic adjustment our vet looked at me and said, "It's time."

My dog was still blazing fast, in the 5 yps range. But I could see the weaves were hurting him and knew our vet was right. We were at a trial, and I took one last run, skipping the weave poles. I begged everyone to clap since my dog lives for applause. We had a gorgeous run with flawless teamwork. I skipped the weaves, finshed the course, and wept as I put the leash on. So glad my dog had a lot of life ahead, grateful that we had one last glorious run together.

He's having a happy retirement and no, no one wants to be "that guy!"

I am so glad you retired your great dog with class! Thank you for outing one elephant on the agility sidelines :-)