Former Resident Qualifies for Team GB
When Agata met Roger, she knew they had a special connection. Just 18 short months after rehoming him, Agata and her beloved boy have qualified to represent Team GB at the British Sleddog Sports Federation (BSSF) World Championships in Poland. Read Agata’s story here:
Roger (formerly known as Blue), is a four-year-old staffie border collie cross from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Roger and I met in February 2014, when I moved to Edinburgh from Aberdeen and became his dog walker. From day one I knew he was perfect companion for me, as we were both super active.
Over the course of 6 months, we became inseparable to the point where I couldn’t imagine my life without him. His owners at the time had adopted him from Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home and were struggling to cope with him as he was a very hyper and super energetic boy. They made the really difficult decision to find him a new home. I didn’t have to think twice and made my dream of having Roger as my pet come true. In July 2014, Roger became my dog and totally changed my life.
I tried to learn as much as possible about his life before me, but it was hard. I knew one thing, this boy really needed solid obedience training from day one. As a rescue he had awful separation anxiety including: chewing when left alone, hating his crate and howling. I was desperate to help him and started looking for something to tire him out and make him more content.
It took me over a year to find out about canicross. Canicross is cross country running with your dog attached to you. Being a volleyball player, I have always avoided warm up runs as I’ve never enjoyed running. We attended our first social run with Cani-Sports Edinburgh, who support Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, and I loved the run with Roger.
Our first run was just amazing and I still remember how happy he was to run out in front of me. However, the main thing was he was one very tried pup afterwards. I thought this will be great activity for us, for our bonding and for Roger’s energy. I also thought it will be great extra training for me for volleyball. A few months later we signed up for our first race and I loved it. I decided I wanted to spend more time running with Roger and hopefully become a great running duo. I decided to stop playing volleyball and started training and racing more with Roger.
I discovered that there are other sports out there that you can do with your dog, such as bikejor, which is cross country biking with your dog attached to and running out in front of your bike. All of these are known as sled dog sports and I soon found that you can compete around the UK and worldwide!
In January 2016, I attended the British National Championship in Scotland organised by the British Sleddog Sports Federation (BSSF), where we met other people involved in the sport. I met people who competed in events such as the 8-dog rig and who had not just one, but 25 dogs! I was overwhelmed with how great it was and how supportive the environment was.
We went to two other British National Championships in Wales and England. I never dreamed we could qualify for the World Championship! I knew there were very strong athletes in our category, but we did our best and trained hard.
Our training was up and down as I have health problems, and sometimes without Roger I wouldn’t be able to get up. He was so bouncy and happy in the morning that I was always super motivated to get through my pain and be happy for him. There’s no doubt about it, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am without him.
Fast forward to 18 months later and after all the training and all the ups and downs, I can confidently say it pays off. I will be representing and competing for Team GB at the World Championships in Poland which takes place at the end of November this year. I worked very hard with Roger for this and I wouldn’t be as great a runner without my dog who has such an amazing love for canicross.
With all my hard work, I have been trusted by BSSF not just to represent Team GB, but to be a Team Leader and support all of our athletes during the event. Roger has made me believe that together we can reach all of our dreams. I dreamed of having an amazing rescue dog and now I dream that we can be strong together and run together.
The best part is that even though I feel I’ve changed his life, he has changed my life even more!
If you would like to read more of Agata and Roger's adventures, you can check out Agata's blog here.