Linda Irion knows what it’s like to be dog-tired. The Lake Highlands resident has to work to keep up with her energetic border collie, Miss Sadie, who is not just an ordinary pet. She’s trained to compete in agility competitions with her master.

When Irion, a registered dietitian, started looking for a dog, she just wanted a companion to exercise with her. Her small terrier couldn’t always keep up.

“It wasn’t my initial plan to compete with her,” Irion says. “I needed someone to go on walks with me, so I thought I’d get a bigger dog. I also wanted a smart dog.”

And that’s exactly what she got. She bought Sadie from a breeder and found that she was a very focused dog. Irion took her to obedience school when she was 4 months old and realized that Sadie was always watching for the next command. Someone suggested they try dog sports.

“I really enjoyed taking classes with Sadie,” Irion says. “So we took a class in agility and really liked it.”

In agility competitions, dogs run through a course of jumps, tunnels and other obstacles. The owner has to run with the dog and tell it where to go next. This is a physical and mental test for both the dog and the owner. Each course is different, and the dog doesn’t see the course until it’s time to perform. It’s up to the owner to memorize the course and make the right calls to the dog.

“Sadie’s so fast that I always have to think two objects ahead,” Irion says. “It’s good exercise and I have to think a lot. There’s some strategy to it.”

Irion’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Ashley, has also gotten involved, competing in both agility and trick contests, where judges choose the best dog trick.

Ashley also does what she calls “dog dancing,” where she makes up routines of tricks and “dance steps” and performs them with Sadie. Some of Sadie’s dance moves include weaving between Ashley’s legs, sidestepping with her and circling around her. In a recent routine, Ashley dressed up as a cowgirl, and Sadie tied her up by circling around her with a rope in her mouth.

Irion’s next project is writing a book on dog nutrition. As a dietitian, Irion is very particular about what goes in Sadie’s mouth, and researched until she found a dog food that satisfied her. And besides, she and her canine companion have already conquered the agility realm – they have a box overflowing with colorful ribbons to prove it.

“We stopped picking them up because we got so many,” Irion says.