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Never under-estimate the older generation

While most retired people are thinking of taking up a quiet hobby like gardening, one spry octogenarian started her agility career. Having been told by other clubs that she was too old to start agility, Mary Stephen's phone enquiry to Kathrin Tasker was very defensive. 'I would love to do agility, but you are going to tell me, I am too old.' To her surprise, Kathrin replied that she was happy for her to give it a try. It was one of the best decisions either have ever made.

Mary's story
I have owned dogs all my life and I have been involved in competitive obedience and gundog work for about 60 years. I competed with a Corgi in obedience up to Championship C.

My great love was breeding Labradors. Due to running a small kennels, I have been adopted by Springer Spaniels as well.

I have been involved in agility since it started and have trained with Kathrin Tasker at the MAD club for many years.

Well into my 80s I rescued a Working Sheepdog from a watery grave. I could not resist her. She was so small and vulnerable. Having worked sheepdogs on the Cumbrian Fells I knew Flora wouldn’t be happy unless she had a job to do. She was wild and did not take to obedience kindly. Agility came to the rescue. After patience and expert training from Pat and Kathrin, she became hooked – so did I, even more than before!

As I am now 88 years old, I am not sprinting as fast as my younger class members, so with Kathrin's help we have taught Flora to work away from me.

I have been placed with Flora in Starters and Novice at every show I went to and have a lovely collection of highly coloured rosettes. The most important thing to me is that Flora is such a wonderful, happy and affectionate dog now - full of fun and a real joy to be with.

Kathrin Tasker Comments

Mary is a fantastic pupil and progressed in fact much better than some of her younger classmates. If you asked her to practice something, she would go home and do her homework on her own agility equipment.

By the time she was 80, she was well hooked and having trained with a Labrador and Springer Spaniels, she felt it was about time she tried her luck with a collie! Everyone thought she was mad. I told her to go for it!

We trained her Collie to do most of the work for her and she has now a wait, that most Advanced handlers would be envious of. She is an incredible lady and now at 88 years of age is still competing and has been collecting a place rosette in all the shows she has gone to.

I am incredibly proud of Mary and  feel very privileged to be able to teach her. Watching her get a buzz out of her collie Flora working for her is a great reward for me too!"