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Balance and agility key to dentist/dog duo’s success

Westwood Village, Calif.—Dr. Tracy Golden and her border collie Blink are both known for their agility. And Dr. Golden is also known for her ability to balance work, competition and fun, whether on an American Kennel Club agility course, on national television or in the dental office.

Image: Dr. Tracy Golden and border collie Blink compete in the AKC National Agility Championship
On the course: Dr. Tracy Golden and border collie Blink compete in the AKC National Agility Championship in Lexington, Va., in April. Blink won the 24-inch national championship.

Dr. Golden, a Los Angeles-area periodontist, and her dog Blink took the 24-inch height AKC National Agility Championship title in April during the 15th annual competition in Lexington, Va.

Dr. Golden and Blink, an 8-year-old agility champion, frequently travel throughout the U.S. and Europe to compete.

Dr. Golden still finds time for her full-time dental practice, teaching part time at the University of California Los Angeles School of Dentistry, running a study club and mentoring dental students.

“It’s about balancing work,” said Dr. Golden. “Having a hobby like agility competitions is a great stress reducer for me.”

Dr. Golden says she and her husband are sports enthusiasts who enjoy Los Angeles Lakers and Dodgers games and auto racing. She grew up playing sports and especially excelled at showing horses and skiing. But a skiing accident years ago left her looking for a competitive outlet that would keep her physically and mentally engaged without jeopardizing her health.

“I adopted two rescue dogs from a shelter 16 years ago and when one of them was having some adjustment issues, I started using agility training to channel his energy and it’s just blossomed from there.”

Bringing a dog to national and international competition level takes a solid three years of training and a level of speed and talent that the average dog may not have, she said. “And my dogs are also family pets. They sleep in my bedroom. They are well-loved.”

Image: Dr. Golden and Blink receive their championship ribbon from judge Scott Stock.
Winners: Dr. Golden and Blink receive their championship ribbon from judge Scott Stock.

Dr. Golden and her dogs have a rigorous competition schedule and she is able to work it around her full-time dental practice.

“You always need to be out there chasing competition points and standings, so we have an out-of-state trip at least every other month,” she said. “I work in the office Monday through Thursday, take a red-eye flight to the competition, show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then come back home on Sunday night.”

Dr. Golden keeps all her office information with her on her iPhone so she can respond to professional needs that might arise while she’s traveling, but she says that competing reduces her stress because she needs to give the dogs and the agility course her undivided attention.

“I don’t have time to think about the office when we’re competing,” she said. “I really have to concentrate. And it’s been a great way to meet people and make friends.”

She is thankful that her profession allows her the flexibility to develop her dentistry skills as well as her outside interests.

“I really enjoy being a dentist,” said Dr. Golden. “I enjoy being my own boss, being an entrepreneur and having a flexible schedule. And I love the latest technology and the fact that dentistry is always changing and evolving. And teaching at UCLA and running a study club also give me the opportunity to connect with my colleagues and to mentor others.”