Tarna Rufus Runner (AW)  :  dexter  :  31.01.1996 - 15.05.2012

After training four rescued dogs with a range of issues, I decided my next agility dog would be a puppy.
Dexter was bred by Irene Holbrook in Stockport. His beautiful mum Tarna Alika was from Irene's long Tarna line and his dad was the well-known Batavia's Skip. Although I had been planning to get a red bitch, when I held the ten-day-old black tri-coloured dog in my hands I knew in a heartbeat that I had found the one for me. With his classic markings I thought he looked very smart and 'Dexter' sounded like a name to suit.

'Deckie Dog' was a big, powerful dog. In his hay-day he had great torque and an immense stride once measured in excess of 12'. He loved to please and he lived to do agility. The otherwise invisible gentleman at home became a transfixed, tense ball of anticipation around agility equipment. He was a dream to train and to live with. Large, well-spaced, steeplechase-style courses were his forte and for me, letting Deckie open up the throttle on such a course was nothing short of bliss. Over the years a very tight working relationship developed between Dexter and me. A trainer once said 'You two have got so close that nobody else can run him, and you can't run anybody else either!' I viewed this as a compliment. To become so in tune with such a superb working dog is a rare and true privilege indeed. Dexter reached Advanced (G7) at the Golden Valley DTC show in 2002, obtained his Agility Warrant and went double-Advanced during 2005.

Dexter was amongst the foremost pairs dogs of his generation. With just three canine partners over ten years he qualified on several occasions for every pairs final available and topped off his career with three successive years at Crufts in the Eukanuba Mini/Maxi Pairs, winning the event in 2002. Dexter's pairs partner for this was Fly (the late Carolrose Steady Eddie) and handler Clive Foden.
After exactly a decade in the ring, in August 2007 Dexter ran his last full height course and simultaneously concluded his outstanding pairs career with a farewell win in the Large CG4-7 Pairs at Pembroke show, with his other long-standing 'Large' partner Meg (Nutmeg Of Windermere) and her handler Ian Smith.
In 2010 aged fourteen and increasingly hard of hearing, Dexter was finally retired from agility - much to his disgust.

On 28th March 2006 Dexter became a dad with the birth of his daughter Una (Kilnhurst Rufus Relay) to mum Skye (Rufus Rajni Of Kilnhurst.) On 18th February 2009 Dexter became a grandad when Una herself had a litter of eight, and a grandad for a second time around when Una had her second litter of six on 19th November 2011. These descendants form the greater part of the Collie ('working sheepdog') side of the Kilnhurst Clan. Deckie's trademark look of one ear up, one ear down, his legendary power, speed and focus in the ring, lives on through them.

Dexter finally succumbed to a tumour on the spleen, aged sixteen and a half. He had soldiered on bravely for several months but eventually he told me he had struggled enough. Dexter slipped over the Bridge at home, in my arms, in the warm spring sunshine. I was, and remain, completely inconsolable. Time is doing absolutely nothing to diminish the overwhelming sense of loss.
There may have been other dogs who were Dexter's equal. But Deckie-Dog - my gentle giant, my Officer and my Gentleman, will never be bettered, loved more, or could ever be missed so deeply.
Run fast, run clean, run free at the Bridge, my boy.

Click the button to visit Dexter and Skye's 'litter' page: