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Dot Dobie is a 92 year old Agility competitor, and has been doing agility with standard schnauzers for over 60 years.
Photo by Joe Camp

Whether you’re a seasoned AKC Agility competitor or just like to watch, you can tell that Agility courses are often pretty complicated. Now imagine navigating one of these Agility courses at age 92. Vancouver, Washington, resident Dorothy “Dot” Dobie doesn’t have to imagine — this is her reality.

She’s not new to the sport either. She currently competes with her Standard Schnauzers “Kruzer” CH MACH6 Steinhaus Wyldwind Kruzecontrol, and “Kaper,” Steinhaus Wyldwind Chasing Lions. Kaper, who turns 2 in October, has already advanced to the Excellent level in both Standard and Jumpers Agility classes.

A Lifelong Competitive Spirit

Even before she got started in dog sports, she always had a strong drive. Her level of ambition is mirrored in her fascinating past, pushing boundaries and making a name for herself in everything she did. In the 1950s, Dobie worked in a Navy SEALs program called ‘Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service’ (Navy WAVES, part of the United States Naval Reserve). No easy task, especially in a time where it was most common for women to be nurses if they were involved in the military. “There were eight of us who went to Seattle for a rigorous two months’ training program,” she recalls. “Half were out after the first three days. Another woman [and I] hung in there until the end.” During the period that the program ran, WAVES recruited over 90,000 women, mainly during World War II, to serve onshore and throughout the continental United States.

Throughout her life, she continued to find outlets where should could dedicate her passion. From 1944 to 1974, Dobie was a member of various top-tier American Softball Association teams, including the Erv Lind Florists. This team won the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) World Championship in 1964, with her as captain. With her fast pitch, she was All-American four times, in 1960, 1965, 1969 and 1970. Dobie was inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1995, and can also be found in the Portland ASA, the Yakima Washington, the Northwest Region, and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

Over 60 Years of Dog Sports

It’s only natural that her love for competition continued. In the 1960s, Dobie purchased her first Standard Schnauzer. She competed in Conformation for almost thirty years before taking a stab at something new.

She tried Agility in the 1990s and hasn’t stopped since. “Agility has given me a reason to enjoy life and want to live for another day,” Dobie says. “My many Agility friends are my extended family and support me. They reach out to me at all times, whether at the show venues or at home. Quite honestly, I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Dot Dobie is a 92 year old Agility competitor, and has been doing agility with standard schnauzers for over 60 years.
Photo by Joe Camp

Despite her strong bond with her Agility family, Dobie is still fiercely independent. Even nearing 100, she drives herself to all her competitions, and still trials 15 to 16 times per year. She has her boundaries though: she always tries to get home before dark, and limits her trials to ones near her in the Pacific Northwest.

Staying in Shape and Not Slowing Down

Dobie makes sure to prioritize her physical wellness. “Dot’s long experience with physical fitness allows her to stay in shape and understand how to move effectively,” explains her trainer, Heather Christenson of Bright Agility Academy. Christenson notes that it can be hard to get Dobie to slow down sometimes, and she continues to be a strong competitor mentally and physically. “She immediately internalizes feedback and implements changes in handling when working with different handling choices. This enables her to work through issues that come up quickly. She’s a wonder!”

Though she may face complications with her body, her dreams and ambitions aren’t getting any simpler. Foot surgery recently sidelined Dobie, but only temporarily. “This is exasperating,” said Dobie of her injury. “Sitting on the sidelines and not being able to compete is not for me.”

Luckily, she’s already on the mend, and making plans to enter two Agility competitions in Oregon this September. Even when she’s not competing, she’s still exercising at home where she can to stay in shape.

Someone to Look Up To

Dot’s friends, young and old, continue to be impressed by what she accomplishes. Her Agility ambitions aren’t dwindling with age, and her dog’s titles reflect the hard work she puts into their relationship and the sport. Kruzer has his MACH6 and CH under his belt, and right now she’s working with Kaper towards his MACH.

“Dot is absolutely amazing,” says Martha “Marti” Park, Dobie’s close friend. “Who else gets a new puppy at age 91?” Park notes that in his first trial, a three-day trial this past summer, Kaper won every class he qualified in. At this trial alone, he earned both his Novice Agility Standard and Jumpers titles, and ended up High in Trial. “She’s a phenomenal handler,” Park says. “She’s an inspiration to all of us.”

Dot Dobie is a 92 year old Agility competitor, and has been doing agility with standard schnauzers for over 60 years.
Photo by Joe Camp

Other competitors are in awe of Dobie in action too. “Every time I watch Dot compete, I think, ‘Wow, I wish I could run like that!'” says fellow Agility competitor and longtime friend Little Liedblad. “She is so smooth with her moves when running with her dogs. I’ve seen her take a tumble in the ring, bounce right back up, and continue on as if nothing happened.”

Judges aren’t exempt from the wonder of Dot Dobie’s runs either. “I find myself saying, ‘I sure wish I could run as well as Dot,'” says AKC Agility judge and licensed trial secretary Lori Sage. “Dot always has a kind word and a special hug to greet me at all the trials, something I truly cherish. She’s always a bright spot in my busy day running Agility trials. I want to be like Dot when I grow up!”

Celebrating Dot

Dobie’s impact on others doesn’t go unnoticed. To celebrate her 90th birthday in June of 2021, Park organized a celebration at an Agility trial in Ridgefield, Washington. Everyone in attendance, judges included, wore special “Dot Day” T-shirts, signed a memory book, brought gifts, swapped stories, and ate cupcakes with frosted dots on them.

“Dot does not like being the center of attention,” explains Park. “So we knew that if we wanted to do something for her, we would have to do so without her knowing. The fact she is not on Facebook nor any social media made planning a bit easier, with everyone sworn to secrecy.” Along with doing what she loves in Agility, Dobie got to feel just how appreciated she is in the dog sport world and beyond. “The love shared that day was literally palpable and remains a lifetime memory for all of us.”

Dot Dobie is a 92 year old Agility competitor, and has been doing agility with standard schnauzers for over 60 years.
Martha Park

Dobie reflects on her action-packed life so far by mirroring it in song titles, and tells it with a smile on her face. “‘Born Free,’ as my parents gave me freedom to become what I wanted; ‘My Way,’ even though it may not have been the right way or the best way; ‘The Impossible Dream,’ which would include winning the World Softball Championship and earning MACHs on my dogs; and ‘Wind Beneath My Wings,’ which includes my teammates, opponents, and especially my Agility family, who encourage me to do better and reach for the stars.”
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