Debbie Heifner has at all times loved competitors. So does her canine Rango, considered one of 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 pastime of exhibiting horses to canine agility.
Since she began, she has skilled and retired two canine, together with Spur, a border collie. She at present runs Rango in competitions, and he or she is coaching Fizzle, a golden retriever, for his debut within the ring.
Heifner describes her aggressive nature this fashion: “Profitable makes it the most effective competitors,” she mentioned. “Success makes it just a little brighter.”
However there’s extra: “You understand — I mentioned successful makes it good, however actually, it’s the individuals.”
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 not too long ago competed through 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 canine. 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, aiding 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 further titles.
“It’s actually all in regards to the camaraderie,” she mentioned. “We spend the entire day chatting, simply having time with our buddies 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 ensure your canine continues to be having a blast.”
Wells photographed this story as a pupil 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 protected]).