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A Loss Honored

New England competitors honor the loss of a beloved dog and his inspiring owner at the New England Regional. By Val Duff and Brenna Fender

Kelly and Biggie after earning their ADCH-Gold in April. Photo courtesy of Kathy Clement.
On July 13th and 14th at the New England Regionals, competitors honored fellow competitor Kelly Wilson with a gift in memory of her beloved four-year-old Border Collie, Biggie, who passed away unexpectedly on May 11. Biggie was a well-known character on the New England agility scene, but his partner Kelly inspired many competitors as well.

Kelly is one of those special people who is supportive of everyone, people or dog. This attitude is something that shows every weekend when you see Kelly at a local USDAA trial. Close friend Kathy Clement says, "Kelly is one of the most supportive, friendly people in the entire agility community. No matter who you are, what kind of dog you have, what kind of run you had, she always has a smile and something positive to say. She's the first to jump in and ask if you want your run recorded and then cheer you on like you're in the finals, even if it's just Masters Jumpers on Sunday afternoon. If that weren't enough, her relationship with her dogs is second to none. Whether her run was spectacular or went down in flames, the joy she shows in the privilege of running her dogs is unequaled. Kelly exemplifies all of what makes dog agility special. This was our way of saying thank you, all the while wishing it didn't take a tragedy to remind us." What Kathy states here is felt by the entire agility community. 

The presentation at the regional on Saturday was a surprise for Kelly. She was gifted with a memorial bench made of teak with hot pink cushions, and an engraved plaque in memory of Biggie. Kelly's favorite color is pink and her dogs have worn harnesses that say "Real men wear pink." To further honor Kelly and Biggie, most of the participants at the trial wore pink, and some dogs wore pink in their fur to celebrate Biggie's memory. As part of the presentation, Frances Hannan spoke about relationships with dogs and how Kelly exemplifies that bond.

Kelly and Bling showing off their gift. Photo courtesy of Kelly Wilson.

Kelly was touched by the presentation and gift. She says, "The memorial bench for Biggie was amazing.  I am beyond touched and amazed by my agility family. It was a total surprise. I can't believe I didn't find out about.  The support the agility community has given me has gotten me through this horrific tragedy. Frances Hannan started the whole idea to do this amazing thing for me. They all really made me feel that Biggie really did have an impact on everybody; he was a special boy, an unrepeatable dog. The plaque is perfectly worded: 'You are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own.'  I love my agility family. That's what they are, family."

In addition to being honored, Kelly had a successful competition weekend with her Border Collie, Bling. The pair placed second in the Grand Prix Finals. Kelly says, "I think there was a mysterious force behind that one!"

Val Duff owns and runs a trial secretary business ( She also works full time for a neurosurgical office and runs an incredible two-year-old Border Collie named Play.

Brenna Fender is the editor of the USDAA newsletter and news page, among other things. She can be reached at


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