U-CDX, Just Rufus, MAD, EAC, CGC (English Shepherd)
Photo by Richard Kaye
For her next dog to train for agility Kathy chose an English Shepherd. She was fascinated by this American herding breed which had originated in Britain. She wanted a dog with good common sense and a temperament which would enable him to go anywhere and do anything without worrying. Kathy had read stories about how these dogs had worked on family farms helping the settlers who first came to the United States. Even knowing how wonderful these dogs were renowned to be, Kathy was still amazed at the depth of personality of the puppy she named Rufus.
Kathy describes Rufus as a bit of a show-off who always enjoyed attention and applause. There was nothing he liked more than to show off and, of course, the rewards of food or his favorite toy. Rufus quickly became Kathy's best friend. He was the classic "English Shepherd Shadow".
In 1991 Kathy and Rufus competed in the first USDAA titling event in California where Rufus earned his USDAA Agility Dog™ title with a first place in the 30" height class. A few months later he won the Southern California Regional Qualifier for the Grand Prix of Dog Agility. The prize was a trip to Houston for the semi-finals. There Rufus proved that he could indeed go anywhere and do anything, just missing the finals in his first big event. The following year, Rufus again won the Southern California qualifier and earned his trip to the Nationals. This time he made the finals.
In 1993, with the handicap of a pregnant handler, Rufus placed second in the Southern California Regional Qualifier. With the arrival of baby, Clair, Kathy and Rufus didn't make the trip to the Nationals. Instead, Rufus learned to walk patiently beside the stroller on walks and to share Kathy's time. The following year the team were back and placed first in the Regional Qualifier once again.
The bond between Kathy and Rufus was very deep and when he was forced to retire from agility in 1996 due to a back condition it took Kathy a long time to adjust to agility without him. Rufus lived happily for several more years as a much-loved member of the Lofthouse family and Kathy will never forget their early years together, when they travelled the country together promoting the sport. Kathy says, "What made Rufus so memorable to anybody who knew him was his character. He had his little quirks, like eating a pair of socks every now and then, but as a teammate and constant companion he was simply the best."
Rufus was happy to pose for the RunJumpWeave.com mast head. Kathy tells how it was tricky for her to get the photograph as she was alone at the time, but Rufus quickly understood that he would be given some tasty roast chicken if he would just sit still and hold onto the flags. "That was the kind of dog Rufus was," says Kathy fondly remembering her friend, "I only had to tell him what it was we were going to do and he never let me down."