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Talking with IFCS WAC Team Member Stuart Mah

Deborah Davidson Harpur chats with Stuart Mah about his experiences regarding the upcoming IFCS event.

Handler Name: Stuart Mah
Dog Name/Breed/Age: Ares/Border Collie /4 years old
Hometown: Bryceville, Florida, just west of Jacksonville
Occupation: Retired maxillofacial surgeon, currently training dogs
Years competing in agility: Competing since 1990

This year the IFCS World Agility Championships are being held in the U.S.A. Did knowing this affect your decision to try out for the team?

Yes. After the IFCS Championships in 2008, I had decided not to continue to fly dogs overseas. With the competition being in the US, it is easy to drive to the competition and bring along the entire pack.

Have you ever tried out for the team in the past?

I competed in the 2006 and 2008 IFCS World Agility Championships with Qwik, Ares' uncle. 

Have you represented the USA at an event before?

This will be my ninth time representing the US in agility.

1991  Agility World Cup  Dortmund, Germany (Team Bronze)
1992  Agility World Cup  Valencia, Spain

1995  Agility World Cup - Brussels Belgium
1996  FCI Agility World Championships  Morges, Switzerland (Individual Standard Agility second place)
1998  FCI Agility World Championships  Maribor, Slovenia
1999  FCI Agility World Championships  Dortmund, Germany

2006  IFCS World Agility Championships  Oosterhout, Netherlands (Gold Medals in Biathlon and Power and Speed)
2008  IFCS World Agility Championships  Ingelmunster, Belgium (Bronze medals in All Around standard and jumpers, Silver medal in the All Around and Power and Speed).

2012  IFCS World Agility Championships  Dallas/Fort Worth, TX USA!

This year, do you find yourself enjoying any type of "home court" advantage?

In the past, we have attended the Central Regionals at the arena where the WAC is being held, so we have been on the surface and in the surroundings. I think, though, that at this level of competition the advantage is strictly superficial since most competitors at this level do not usually let these kind of details bother them.

What were some of the challenges you faced during the world team qualification process?

During one of the events I had twisted my ankle severely so as to not be able to walk on it at all. I was considering scratching the remaining events. Fortunately, and thanks to Adrienne McLean, she was able to tape it with KT tape well enough for me to be able to run on it. I finished the weekend and even won the GP Regional.

How did your family and friends react to the news that you made the USA IFCS team?

My wife, Pati, was happy and proud that both Ares and I made the team since we had put in so much hard work. Over the year Ares and I improved quite a bit. My friends and students were also elated. 

Will any of your family or friends be traveling to the event to cheer you on?

Pati is coming with me to the event as are several friends from all over Florida. 

What is your goal at this year's event?

The first goal is to make sure Ares and I enjoy the event. After all, the reason why Ares does agility is because he enjoys being with me. Secondly, it would be nice to help bring home (or keep them home to be more accurate) some medals for the US.

As the event comes closer and closer are there additional stresses to your daily life because of your participation on the team?

There really aren't any additional stresses other than to make sure that Ares and I stay healthy and in shape. 

Have you done any specialized training to prepare for this event?

Our training has been making sure that our skills are as finely honed as possible. Ares and I have a good deal of skills and our focus has also been able to utilize as many skills as possible so that we don't get boxed in handling wise. Also, with the international courses being more complex in nature, the emphasis the past year has been to stay focused throughout the entire run and try not to take anything for granted. 

What do you think will be he most difficult part of the event for you and your dog?

I don't think that there will be a real difficult part for Ares or me.  I just need to make sure that I trust in the training that he has and not let outside influences change how I know we can run. 

Do you want to give any "shout outs" or share any other comments?

Just want to say thanks to everybody that helped Ares and me be part of the team (especially Pati), and hope that we don't disappoint. Would also like to thank USDAA for getting the WAC in the US. Finally, I would like to thank Greg Fontaine for taking the responsibility of organizing the event and for putting all the hard work into it. Knowing Greg like I do, it should be a first class event.

Photo courtesy of Pati Mah.

Deborah Davidson Harpur has been competing in agility since 1998. She currently handles 16 dogs of various breeds including Rat Terriers, All Americans, French Bull Dogs, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, a Shetland Sheepdog, a Border Collie and more. She enjoys competing in USDAA agility and is the proud mom of USDAA roving reporter Rickie Roo. Her dogs are all proud canine ambassadors for the Active Care line of dog food by Breeder's Choice and for,, and You can learn more about Deborah and her dogs at


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