Riggs is on to Retirement
By Patrick Shannahan

April 9th, 2014

This past fall, I ran my last trial with Riggs.   His retirement was planned, as he turned eleven years old this past summer.   We came to the  2013 National Finals with hope that we could make one last good showing.

Although we didn't win the Finals this last time, or even make it into the Semi-Finals, seeing him as still vibrant and young was a thrill to me.  He made me very proud to be part of his team.  This was Riggs’ tenth Finals in which he was competing; Ten years of being very competitive at the National level.  Ten years of going to the post with a dog with whom I had great confidence and trust.

Riggs owes no creature anything.  His life has been honest, and he has more than fulfilled his obligations to those around him.  So in this last segment of his life in trials, it was great to see him still enjoy the thrill of competing, enjoy controlling sheep, and taking instructions from me.

Of course, it would always be tempting want to run Riggs again.  At eleven and a half years of age he still looks young.  Physically he is in great shape, with only minor arthritis in his front toes and his injured shoulder.  At 52 pounds, he dispels the myth that big dogs break down much sooner in life.  He still looks as strong as when he was young, and there are no physical limitations at this point.  His only slight limitations are that his eyes are good, but cataracts are starting to show, and his hearing might be not quite as sharp as when he was younger.

In mentioning his retirement to a friend, this person thought I would be very sad.  Although I am going miss running him, I am not the least bit sad, but very grateful for all the years that he has given to me.  Riggs was a huge part of my life, and I will be forever grateful for our time together.  He taught me so many lesson, but most important was taking the team concept to a much higher level.  He was able to show me how to be intuitive and a partner in this sport, and to trust  my feelings in regards to so many aspects of my life.

Of course my trialing career  was enhanced  by Riggs, but our time at the trials together has come to the end. So there is no sadness, only appreciation for the portion of my life where Riggs was a major part for so long. Now I look forward to the coming years, seeing Riggs grey and aged, still able to conjure up memories of our days past. This segment of my life is over, but Riggs brought me to a higher level on so many accounts, and that will live on in future dogs. I have now gone to a few trials without Riggs.  Seems strange at first, but I know he is okay with it. My other dogs are getting to experience many of the lessons I have learned from Riggs, and we all will be better because of it.

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