By: Ozzie Foreman  Date: 01/27/2012

Senior citizens make up a large percentage of great achievers in obedience and agility. In Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Hutchins, his wife Ruth, and their Boxers, are truly inspiring.

At age 70, Jim devotes his retirement to the dog sports. Besides showing his Boxers almost every weekend, racking up many advanced titles in both agility and obedience, Jim is a driving force behind Queen City Dog Training Club. He serves on many committees, is a member of the board of directors, is the guiding light behind the club's agility program, repairs and maintains all of the club's agility equipment, and sets up and runs an agility show-n-go almost every Friday night.

His wife, Ruth, who also shows Boxers, is a gourmet cook and always prepares one of her tasty dishes for every show-n-go, fun match, show, and pitch-in dinner. Jim and Ruth try to fit their 10 children, 9 grandchildren, and a great grandchild on the way, around their dog activities.

Jim's first encounter with dog obedience was in 1962 with Folly, his boxer pup. Jim showed Folly to her Utility Dog title; she had puppies shortly thereafter, and Jim's love affair with Boxers began. Back then, Folly's great obedience success took a back seat to Jim and Ruth's kids. Jim became heavily involved in coaching baseball, softball, and soccer. Jim found that the same skills he learned while training Folly - practice, patience, praise, and perseverance - were important to training young children to excel in athletics. Coaching the children and teaching chemical engineering at the University of Cincinnati for 20 years provided a natural transition into teaching obedience and agility.

In 1992, several generations of Boxers later, the children were grown and retirement approached, and Jim decided that dog training would be a great retirement hobby. The Hutchins' had two Boxer pups, Suzi and Winston, as well as their mother, Calli. Jim decided to train Suzi; Ruth, who had never trained a dog before, trained Winston, and they joined Queen City Dog Training club.

Jim took Suzi to her Utility Dog Excellent title; she was the second Boxer in the country to earn a UDX. They went on to earn 31 UDX legs, a record which still stands in the Boxer world.

In 1995, after observing an AKC agility trial in Dayton, Jim decided to start an agility program at Queen City. Today, the program is going great guns; QCDTC hosts two agility trial weekends each year. Jim, Ruth, and the Boxers continue to show in obedience and agility. Jim's Annie was top Boxer in agility in 2002 and she and Jim are working on their master agility championship

In addition to training their own dogs, Jim and Ruth teach agility and obedience classes at QCDTC and serve on the committee for every club agility trial. Their efforts in bringing agility to the club and guiding every trial helped the club buy land and build a new building.

When I asked Jim what is the biggest challenge to senior citizens doing agility, he replied that , just as with all exhibitors, it's giving the correct directions to your dog at the correct time and trying not to have a "senior moment" and getting lost in mid-course. Jim offers these words to live by, "'You don't stop playing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop playing,' which I firmly believe. At age 70, I look forward to playing with the Boxers every day."

For more information about agility competition, see "AKC agility teams captures gold and silver medals."

For information about Queen City Dog Training Club, visit the club website at

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