A friend of mine Tom Ritchie died last night of heart attack while doing what he loved...training dogs. I normally would not post something like this on this forum because I am not sure many would understand and the world of protection dogs can have stigmas surrounding it simply because it is not understood. But Tom's life and dog training career can be an inspiration to anyone. Tom was legally blind. I am usre he is not the first blind dog trainer...But I am sure he is the only blind helper (the guy who wears the sleeve) in protection sports. Tom was certified to catch dogs on a sleeve at the national level. That means he could work a national championship for sanctioned protection trial. This is no smalle feat for anyone. Most people at this level were ex-professional athletes. The level of skill needed to catch a dog on a sleeve at this level is few and far between. To give you an Idea of what Tom was doing while blind, was charging down the center line of a soccer field, at full speed while one of many of this nations top protection dogs charged at him from the other end of the field...where Tom would have to present a sleeve on his arm for the dog to bite and choosing which side the dog would be favoring so he could spin with the dogs momentum...Why this is important, because if he chooses wrong it could be a disaster and severly injure the dog. Tom never choose the wrong side. Besides that Tom was accomplished at training his own dogs. Competeting at top levels, and one of his more well known achievements was taking a Staffordshire bull terrier to a Schutzhund 3 title. A breed not known for doing well in the Schutzhund arena. Again this can be extremly diffcult to achieve with the best of dogs from breeds that are more well known for having traits that do well in Schutzhund.
So sorry for your loss Gunny. I understand and relate to your shock and confusion.
It's nice to hear Tom was living his dream.
Although I am grateful he is still with us, my uncle is also a pretty amazing guy... suddenly over the past 3 days he has been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance twice because of a heart attack. One artery was completely blocked. He underwent a stent procedure and he has to be on bed rest for two weeks (so not my uncle). Right now they are not sure if he is rejecting the stent or what is going on with him.
Tom was awful young, but it seems he lived an amazing life and touched a lot of other lives with his time here. Thanks for honoring your friend and sharing his story with us.