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Swift . . . Jimmy, under the watchful eye of Allen Booth, makes short work of the plank. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

“Man’s best friend” is the perfect description of Jimmy.

The 12-year-old heading dog has retired from an exceptional agility career in which he always did owner Allen Booth proud.

Mr Booth and his wife Kathy, who farm and own boarding kennels at Peebles, have been running dogs in agility competitions for 20 years. Mr Booth said he started when he was 50 and now, at the age of 70, he reckons it might be time to retire himself.

The Booths have had Jimmy from day dot – his father was already part of their team of working and agility dogs.

“He’s a beautiful dog,” Mr Booth said of Jimmy.

“In 10 years of agility, he never had a lame day. He’s worked all his life on livestock.

“He’s won hundreds of ribbons.

“Every show we’ve been to, he’s never let me down. I’ve let him down. He’s just so quick!”

Jimmy’s top honour was the New Zealand Kennel Club ADX Advanced Silver award.

The only disappointment Mr Booth has is that Jimmy never produced pups.

It was a pleasure working with him on the farm, he said.

“He was an easy dog – he wanted to work.”

The Booths teach dog training classes at the Oamaru Showgrounds twice a week.

“It’s gut-wrenching not to bring [Jimmy] to training,” Mr Booth said.

“We put him in the kennels so he can’t see us leaving.”

The Booths have had several dogs live to the age of 16. Mrs Booth said the agility work helped with control when using the dogs to move livestock, and the farm work kept them fit.

The couple has four other heading dogs and a spaniel – the latter given to Mrs Booth by her family as a birthday present and a “challenge”.

The Booths would like more of the district’s dog-owners to attend the training sessions.

“There are 5500 dogs in Oamaru. We’re lucky if we can get 15 to dog training,” Mr Booth said.