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The USDAA Community Loses One of Its Canine Greats

Longtime agility competitor Kathy Wells says goodbye to Houston.


On January 16, 2012, owner Kathy Wells and the rest of the USDAA community said "Goodbye" to Houston, a Border Collie born in 1995. Houston was well known, not only because of his amazing agility accomplishments, but also because of his winning personality. He loved to be admired, both in and out of the ring.

During his 16 years, he did many things to earn that admiration. Kathy and Houston competed on the 2004 IFCS/USA World Team, representing USDAA and the United States with impressive performances. Together, the pair won in national and international competition, and completed the requirements at the Platinum level for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Agility Dog Champion, and Performance Dog Champion with a total of 1337 lifetime qualifications, landing second on the Lifetime Achievement Award list.  Kathy and Houston have been on the Agility Top Ten list from 1998 to 2006 and on the Performance Top Ten list from 2007 to 2009. The two performed at the top of the game for a long time, running in the finals for many years in the Grand Prix, Steeplechase, and Team as well as in Performance Grand Prix, Speed Jumping, and Versatility Pairs.

Almost six years ago, Houston was diagnosed with Lymphoma. He was given a year to live, assuming he underwent chemotherapy. But like the successful dog he was, Houston turned that one year into four-and-a-half in remission. When the Lymphoma returned in September of 2010, he was treated with more chemo and again achieved remission, although only for one year. Since September, 2011, Houston has battled cancer with different chemotherapy treatments, but he could not achieve a third remission.

Kathy is, of course, feeling the significant loss of her longtime companion. She says, "He changed my life forever and taught me so much, both in agility and life in general, when he came into my life over 16 years ago. He allowed me to dream big, and achieve even bigger. He has shown me what true strength and determination are, and unquestionably what unconditional love is."

Houston now joins his "sister," Dory, another USDAA agility high achiever, who passed on in July of 2010 at age 15.

Houston on course at the 2010 Cynosport World Games. Photo courtesy of Karen Moureaux, dogsportphotos.com.

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