Debbie Heifner has at all times loved competitors. So does her canine Rango, one among quickest Labradors within the nation.
Heifner, a Columbia resident, dove into canine agility in 2000 after witnessing a contest in Arizona. When her youngsters left residence years in the past, she determined to transition from her earlier passion of exhibiting horses to canine agility.
Since she began, she has educated and retired two canines, together with Spur, a border collie. She presently runs Rango in competitions, and she or he is coaching Fizzle, a golden retriever, for his debut within the ring.
Heifner describes her aggressive nature this manner: “Successful makes it the most effective competitors,” she mentioned. “Success makes it a bit brighter.”
However there’s extra: “You understand — I mentioned profitable makes it good, however actually, it’s the folks.”
After COVID-19 disrupted everybody’s life, agility competitions, like different giant gatherings, modified. Organizations corresponding to the UK Agility Worldwide and United States Canine Agility Affiliation have tailored to permit video submissions instead of in-person competitions.
Heifner just lately competed by way of video within the UKI U.S. Open Agility Competitors with Rango and her buddy’s canine, Spark, in November 2020.
Her life is entwined together with her canines. She spends her days coaching and bonding with them at her residence agility course within the close by woods. She additionally volunteers on the Columbia Canine Sports activities Middle, helping different trainers and working the course together with her personal pets.
On most weekends, she travels to St. Louis or Kansas Metropolis, spending all day at an enviornment. Competing in weekend trials earns a canine particular venue-based titles and factors that accumulate towards extra titles.
“It’s actually all in regards to the camaraderie,” she mentioned. “We spend the entire day chatting, simply having a very good time with our mates and cheering one another on. That’s the most effective half.”
Heifner says she is going to at all times deal with having enjoyable with the animals. “The artwork to doing this a very long time like I’ve (and) nonetheless actually take pleasure in it’s to verify your canine continues to be having a blast.”
Wells photographed this story as a scholar within the Image Story and Photographic Essay class, taught by Affiliate Professor Jackie Bell. This story was edited by Jacob Moscovitch. Supervising editor is Brian Kratzer (email@example.com).