Sophie, the Miniature Australian Shepherd from North Saanich, isn’t like most dogs. She’s endowed with a unique set of skills. Some might even say, she’s super.
“We think she’s pretty special anyhow,” said Ron Wright, Sophie’s owner.
“Special” is right. At just six years old, Sophie’s list of accolades compares to that of a professional athlete.
“This year she got her lifetime achievement award,” said the 65-year-old Wright, who keeps up with Sophie during their near exhausting training sessions.
Sophie is an elite agility course competitor. Wright and Sophie’s journey into the niche sport started a few years back with Wright looking for a way to bond with his new pup.
“We never even knew what agility was, and we went and watched a meet and then we thought, well, let’s take a six-week course on it,” said the loving dog-dad.
Since then, Wright transformed his North Saanich backyard into his furry friend’s field of dreams. And the two now regularly compete amongst Canada’s best K9’s.
“She has the most qualifying scores or, as we call them, ‘Q’s’ in Canada,” said Wright. “She has 143, second place is a dog in Quebec that’s under 100.”
In simple terms, Sophie was Canada’s top-ranked agility dog in 2020. According to Wright, getting to number one takes plenty of practice, patience and chemistry.
“She has to take into consideration where my feet are pointing, where my shoulders are pointing, where my hands are pointing and what I may be telling her verbally…And do all that at full speed and react to that.”
For the recent retiree whose only child lives in Alberta, Sophie has provided a shining light in what’s been a challenging year due to the pandemic.
“It’s a sense of pride,” said the former University of Victoria teacher. “I was a school teacher, so seeing my students succeed at school was really nice and to see my dog succeed here is equally nice.”
They’re teammates and best friends, on and off the course.