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"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."

(Roger Caras)

Chance, a Shetland Sheepdog

ADCH, ADP, MACH, C-ATE3 Marshland Beyond Chance

Chance, a Shetland Sheepdog

ADCH, APD, MACH, C-ATE3 Chance - 2 years old
© 2003-2011 Gib Brown

After Katie's relapse in June of 2000, I had put all my hopes for a future in agility into a little boy in blue. Although his love for the sport was never in doubt, it soon became obvious that Brenden was terrified of the crowds at a trial and the judge in the ring. Would we be able to work through his fears or would we have to settle for fun in class?

Agility is my passion (second only to my love of dogs in general). Brenden's inability to compete in agility did not cause me to love him even a tiny bit less. I was disappointed in the outcome of the experiment in bringing home an older dog (along with all his problems) to run in agility, but not in the dog himself. I would never regret for an instant bringing Brenden into the family, but I was admittedly downhearted that competing with one of my own dogs in agility seemed further away now than it had a year earlier.

I was in my mid 50's in 2000 and uncertain just how long I would be able to run around an agility course. If I gave Brenden 2 years to work through his fears (which seemed reasonable to me) and he still couldn't compete, it would take me at least another 2 years to find, raise and train a puppy. I'd be almost 60 and perhaps physically incapable of competing in the sport I love (bad hips run in my family). But I felt I had no alternatives. I already had 6 dogs, each of which I loved devotedly. And Katie's oncologist said that a puppy was out of the question as bringing home a dog before it had all of its shots could compromise her weakened immune system. Katie and I had been through too much to let that happen.

And then chance intervened. A friend asked me why, if I could bring home an older dog (Brenden), I couldn't bring home a puppy after it had all of its shots. The answer was, of course, that I could. But if I went to all the trouble of getting another dog I wanted to be sure it was properly socialized etc. and I couldn't necessarily do that by leaving a puppy with the breeder until it was 4 months old. Assuming, of course, I could find a breeder that would even consider keeping a puppy for me that long. End of story. Or so I thought.

A week later a dear friend told me that if I wanted to get a puppy she and her husband were willing to raise it for me until it had all of its shots. I could hardly believe my ears. I wasn't sure I would be willing to go through that myself for someone else and here was someone offering to open her home to puppy disasters and sleepless nights so that I might be able to have another chance at agility competition. And I couldn't ask for a better foster home. There would be 6 other dogs to play with and the pup would be well socialized, well traveled and well trained, of that there was no doubt.

My husband was supportive. After Brenden, I knew without a doubt that I wanted another Sheltie. I contacted Brenden's breeder to ask that I be put on her waiting list. To my surprise, although she hadn't bred any dogs in the last year or so, she currently had two litters on the ground and although she had a waiting list, I could have my pick (other than those she was keeping herself) if I got there within the next few days. It wasn't long before we were again in the middle of an 8 hour drive to Southern California to pick up another Sheltie.

A chance conversation with a friend. One more chance to compete in agility when I thought it might all be behind me. And what were the chances that a foster home would be available just when I needed it and that a litter would be on the ground just when I wanted a pup? It took me several weeks to name him, but I should have known from the beginning - that I would name him Chance - my best chance for an agility dog.

Chance, a Shetland Sheepdog Chance,
© 2006-2011 DogHouse Arts

Update - 2003: At 20 months of age Chance entered his first agility trial and brought home his first title with two second place ribbons. At his second trial he earned his second title with two first place ribbons and after 12 months in competition he has earned 20 novice agility titles. As I had hoped, he was definitely my best chance for an awesome agility dog.

Update - 2004: At three years of age Chance had earned more than 50 agility titles in five different venues. If there was ever any doubt, there is none any longer - bringing this little boy home was definitely the chance of a lifetime.

Update - 2005: At four years of age Chance has earned more than 75 agility titles in five different venues including his CPE Championship and the 2005 CPE Top Ten Year-End Award. He continues to scream in delight when he sees the toys (agility obstacles), so hopefully there is more fun in our future.

Update - 2006: At five years of age Chance has earned more than 100 agility titles in five different venues including his AKC and CPE championships. He needs one more qualifying run for his USDAA championship and is two thirds of the way toward his C-ATE. Agility remains his passion and he is in great physical shape so the fun continues - hopefully for many years to come.

Update - 2007: Just days after his 6th birthday, Chance earned his third championship, making him an agility champion in USDAA, AKC and CPE. Between December 2006 and August 2007 Chance earned 3 major championships - his MACH, his ADCH and his C-ATE (he was the third dog in California to earn a C-ATE). This boy is definitely a dream come true.

Update - 2008: While playing in the backyard with my Whippet, Will, Chance pulverized a weight bearing toe on his right hind foot. The orthopedic surgeon was cautious about the prognosis and for a while his continued agility career was in doubt. Following surgery to try to repair the damage, he spent 10 weeks in a crate in a cast waiting for the break to heal. Confinement in a crate for so long depressed him terribly, but eventually off came the cast and Chance was back to his old self. After that came 6 weeks of rehabilitation. We were extremely fortunate in that the injury healed beautifully and Chance was able to return to the sport he loves as much as I do. In 2008 he was in the USDAA Performance Top Ten in both Jumpers and Gamblers - an absolute thrill considering all of the wonderful dogs currently competing in the United States.

Update - 2009: This year was a very good one for us. Chance earned a scond USDAA Championship, his APD and his C-ATE2 in CPE (he was only the fourth dog in the US to earn this title). In addition he surprised me by once again earning a spot on the CPE Top Ten Year-End Awards. But most of all, he had fun! Chance lives to run a course and I'm very thankful that he continues to be able to do what he loves more than anything else in the world.

Update - 2011: At almost 10 years of age, Chance became only the third dog in the United States to earn a C-ATE3 title. And bless his little heart, he hasn't slowed down a bit and still lives to do agility. Definitely the agility dog of a lifetime!

I want to thank my dear friends Kathie and Jake Leggett, for taking Chance into their home and their hearts for more than 2 months when he was little more than a ball of fluff bent on destruction and determined to get them up at 5:00 AM every morning. What they did was "above and beyond" and for that I will be forever grateful.

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Last revised: 06/2011