A Big Win for Kirk the Border Collie

Kirk the Border Collie regularly competes at agility competitions. In this video, she is watching her winning agility run in a recent competition in Huntington Beach, California. There she dominated the small dog class in agility at the 2017 Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regionals. This win qualified Kirk for the national championship.
Afterwards, Kirk’s handler and human, Channan Fosty, posted this cute video.
For those who wonder about Kirk’s name, Channan notes, “Kirk is a girl, even though she was named after the esteemed masculine Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.”

One Theory About What Kirk Is Thinking

It is always interesting to read the copy that other bloggers attach to videos like the one above. Several have pointed out – no doubt tongue in cheek – that Kirk has a valuable lesson to teach us. If we were more like Kirk, they say, we, too, would take the time to celebrate our accomplishments.

This observation is not without merit. I am sure that most people, myself included, do not adequately savor their successes. This may be because, upon completion of one task, there always seems to be another task looming ahead.

Is That How Doggie Minds Work?

Just for the sake of argument, I asked myself, “What is Kirk really thinking?” In order to celebrate what she sees on the screen as a personal achievement, Kirk would have to be able to recognize her own image on the TV screen. That is highly unlikely. After all, dogs normally cannot recognize themselves in a mirror.

According to behavioral scientists, there are several animals that are capable of that degree of self-reflection (no pun intended), and dogs aren’t one of them. And if Kirk cannot recognize herself in a mirror, then how is she supposed to recognize herself as the dog blitzing across the screen?

An alternative explanation is that Kirk is excited, because she recognizes her handler, Channan Fosty. That I could believe.

My Own “Pet” Theory

I would like to believe that Kirk is so excited, because she is reacting to the movement on the screen. Maybe she recognized that the dog on the screen is enjoying the sport that she loves so much herself. Kirk may even be experiencing the run vicariously.

For my money, that is the more exciting possibility. Instead of celebrating her victory, Kirk is celebrating something much more elemental: she is celebrating the joy of movement. There are a lot of reasons we humans watch sports, of course. But surely the delight in experiencing the human in motion at its most spectacular is part of the attraction.