Posted Date: July 2, 2008
One competitor shares her story of determination, weight loss, and fitness as she worked to reach her personal best in the sport.
When I asked for information from competitors about whether they had made changes in their fitness levels for agility, I received this answer from Poodle owner Heidi Loganbill:
"Does losing 80 pounds so I wouldn't look like a cow in the agility ring count? True story. Going from 80 to 40 hour work week? Yep, that's me. Does hiring a personal trainer so I could be a better teammate, getting up for 7 am sprints count? That is what I'm up to now. Happy to share more if you are interested."
Of course I was interested! Here is her story, as told by Heidi herself:
I got Pogo, my first dog as an adult, eight years ago. After basic neighborhood manners classes, he didn't want to sit around on class night. He'd come and hit me with his paw as if to say, "C'mon, Mom, it's time for class!" So I had to find something for my smart young Poodle to do.
I weighed 215 pounds and am 5'3" tall. I couldn't walk up one flight of stairs without panting. We began playing agility. I started to do little tiny fat lady sprints when I was teaching him sit stay, lead out, release and run.
I am a physician and two of my partners had just quit. I was working more than 80 hours a week and I was beside myself with fatigue and overwork. I couldn't make myself say "No" to all the demands of other physicians and patients who wanted me to take them into my practice. I couldn't say "No" for me. But I'd go home and get Pogo after patient hours and he would stay with me at the office until I got done at work. It became obvious that it wasn't fair to him to have to spend 5pm to 10pm every night at the office. I started ending early to get my boy so he could practice his new agility game.
I started trialing way too early; I had no clue. But I realized that for the half minute that I was out doing a Novice run, people would be watching me. I didn't have anything to wear; I was too heavy. I started Weight Watchers and over about a year and a half I lost 80 pounds. I mostly got my exercise while training my dogs, but I added walking to my day and joined a gym. I just didn't like the gym because it seemed like too much time away from the dogs! Pogo came home to me in the spring of 2000. By 2003 I weighed less than I had since college (I was about 45 years old at that point).
Since then there have been some ups and downs. I hurt my back and couldn't really do much. I could hardly walk the course. Winnie, my Champion girl, had a groin muscle pull that took her out of competition for six months. I regained about 30 pounds. My agility buddies led me to find a great Osteopathic physician that put my back straight, and Winnie recovered from her injury with careful rehab from Carol Helfer, a canine rehab specialist in Portland, Oregon.
Before I lost weight because I didn't want to die of embarrassment while people watched me. Now I have a fast, talented, athletic young dog. I'm demanding so much of him that I decided I had to demand as much of myself. If I want him to be the best, I owe it to him to try to be the best handler he could have.
Since January of this year, I've been back at Weight Watchers. I've lost 20 pounds again. I have hired a personal trainer. He and I reviewed my agility runs and I showed him runs of very fast, athletic handlers. I told him I had to become the best sprinting, fastest turning, most agile 49-year-old he has ever coached. Now he reviews DVDs with me and I point out to him where I'm not as fast as I'd like to be. We meet at 7am two times a week. He sets up speed, quickness and agility drills and I do them until I think I will either cry, vomit, have an asthma attack, or simply die. I haven't died yet, and at our last competition Winnie had three of her personal best times ever. So I think we really are getting faster.
I do sprints when throwing the ball for the dogs. I chuck it, release the dogs, then try to race them to the ball. I warm up by running around the training arena, then sideways around, then backward around. I do Pilates for core strength and throw medicine balls, and do jumping up on platform drills for explosive strength.
Anyway, that's the story.
And it's a good one too! Congratulations to Heidi for showing extreme determination and dedication to our sport, plus plenty of courage to share her story with the rest of us!
Want to share your fitness story? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll see if it can be included in our fitness series!
Heidi Loganbill is almost 1/2 a century old. She had Shelties growing up and one of them, Brittle, would have been an excellent agility dog. She now has 8-year-old Pogo, and Winnie and Gabriel, 6.5 and 2.5 years old respectively, all Standard Poodles. She only does two things: practices Neurology in Salem, Oregon, and plays agility with her dogs. Winnie is a 24/7 dog, never away from her side. Her husband, Dean, is the perfect agility spouse and loves their dogs as much as she does.
Photos courtesy of Heidi Loganbill.