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Meet the 2014 IFCS World Agility Team USA Members Part 2

In the second part in this series, you'll learn a bit about five more of the IFCS WAC team members (Daneen Fox, Andy Mueller, Giuliana Lund, Jennifer Thomas, and Stacy Peardot Goudy). More to come! By Brenna Fender


The 2014 IFCS World Agility Championships takes place from May 8-11 in the Netherlands. Team USA is made up of 12" team members Andy Mueller and Crackers, Daneen Fox and Masher, Ivette White and Zip, Monique Plinck and Tiki, Linda Womer and Sonic, Mike Padgett and Kona (Alternate); 16" team members Stacy Bols and Krusher, Maureen Waldron and Michael, Jenn Crank and Kaboo, Jennifer Thomas and Rodeo, and Giuliana Lund and Zuri; 22" team members Mary Ellen Barry and Maizy, Paulena-Renee Simpson and Graphite, Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble, Kate Moureaux and Smart, and Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Sobe; and 26" team members Lori Michaels and Solei, Desiree Snelleman and Pace, Terry Smorch and Presto, Ashley Anderson and Psi, Jenn Crank and Sonic, and Jamie Herren and Zip (Alternate). Giuliana and Zuri and Stacy and Sobe replaced Jen Pinder and Britain and Lisa Kucharski and Finesse (respectively), who cannot compete due to injury. 

This is part two in a series that takes a closer look at those who will be representing the USA at this prestigious event. (Part one is here.) Meet Daneen Fox, Andy Mueller, Giuliana Lund, Jennifer Thomas, and Stacy Peardot Goudy. Get ready to cheer them on via the live stream on cynosport.tv



Daneen and Masher. Photo courtesy of Nicky Josty.
Daneen Fox and Masher and Andy Mueller and Crackers are on the 12" team for the US. Daneen lives in Acton, California and is the owner and head trainer at Action Dog Sports. She is also the owner of Daneen's Mobile Grooming and Dog Boarding. Daneen and Masher, her eight-year-old Papillon, are highly accomplished in both national and international agility, and the two were on the 2012 IFCS World Agility Championship team as well. Having extensive international experience will benefit the duo at the event, says Daneen: "I think any international experience or training is always good to have. The more tools and experiences a team has, the better."

Daneen believes that she and Masher have some strong points that will help them at the WAC. She says, "I seem to be OK with pressure and my little dog is crazy fast." She feels that they are ready for the event. "Masher and I always step up to the line excited and as hopefully prepared as we can be," she says. When asked what she expects the biggest challenges of the event to be, Daneen says, "International courses tend to always be challenging and fun."

Daneen is looking forward to attending the big event. She says, "I really enjoy the team spirit and meeting and watching all the great agility teams do their dances out on the courses. The awards presentations, with the national anthems being played, and the countries' flags are a highlight too! And, of course, running my little dog! It is a thrill and an honor to be on the 2014 IFCS World Agility team representing the United States! I am very grateful to be alive, with a happy and healthy dog and that we are able to make this journey and step up to the line and run. Feeling very blessed as there has been some gut wrenching events in the past few weeks with fellow agility friends and their pups. Thank you to my friends, family, students and supporters for helping make this grand adventure possible. Masher and I will do our very best!"


Andy Mueller and Crackers. Photo courtesy of Lynne Brubaker.

Andy and his five-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Crackers, hail from Pierz, Minnesota, where Andy is a Dairy Nutritionist and Technical Support Manager for Purina Animal Nutrition in Minnesota, Northern Iowa, and the Dakotas. Like Daneen and Masher, Andy and Crackers were on the 2012 IFCS WAC Team USA, and the duo has other international experience. Andy expects that experience to be beneficial at this year's competition: "I think being on previous teams is an advantage for the competition in that I know more about what to expect during the competition as far as strategies for the runs, how the completion flows, and how to prepare for it. Going to the WAC back in 2012 was kind of like the first time I went to Cynosport in that I was not exactly sure what to expect even though I had heard all about it. I was lucky in that the more experienced members of the team were extremely helpful in getting me prepared for the competition. I was glad that the 2012 WAC was held in the USA so I could focus on preparing for the competition and did not have to worry about all the travel arrangements to a foreign country. It can be a little stressful getting everything set up to travel with your dog to another country and I have found that you should just be prepared for something to pop up at the last minute that you will have to deal with."

Andy and Crackers have been working hard to get ready for the World Agility Championships. Andy says, "Crackers and I have been preparing for the WAC by first getting back into shape. It was a very long, cold, and snowy winter in Minnesota so we did not get a lot of training in this winter. Since it has climbed above freezing we have been practicing whenever I am not traveling for work, so about every other day. We rotate running a jumpers or standard course and I usually make up a gamble for us to do in every course. I have been walking/jogging to get back into shape, although shoveling snow every other day this winter does keep you somewhat in shape. For  Crackers conditioning, outside of chasing the Border Collies around the yard every day during walks (yeah for Klink [one of Andy and wife Loretta's Border Collies]!) I also do ball work with him to build up his core muscles."

When asked about their strong points in international competition, Andy says that the biggested one is teamwork. He says, "We work well together and he is a very honest little dude on the course. He also covers for me so much during our runs that it is ridiculous. He makes me look like a better handler than I really am. It is also good that I don't think he as ever meet a person that he doesn't like, so he is not scared or skittish about going to new places and competing."

What is the biggest challenge Andy expects to face at this event? He says that he's not sure. "The easy answer is the courses because you never know what the judges will come up with to stump and intimidate us. There are a lot of good little dogs on our team and on the other teams, so I usually just hope I get through our runs clean and that I don't trip and fall and embarrass myself," he says. 

Andy is looking forward to more than just the competition at the World Agility Championships. He says, "The team camaraderie and friendships that develop during one of these competitions are the best. I have made a lot of friends and had a blast competing on this team in the past and expect this competition will be the same. Crackers and I have also made friends with competitors from across the world, so it is good to see them all and catch up." 



Giuliana & Zuri Lund. Photo courtesy of Donna Wasielewski.
Giuliana Lund and Zuri and Jennifer Thomas and Rodeo will be representing Team USA in the 16" class. Giuliana and her eight-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Zuri, live in Houston, Texas, where Giuliana is a humanities professor at the University of Houston - Downtown. While the pair has traveled around the US doing agility, this will be their first time competing overseas. But Giuliana doesn't believe this will be a disadvantage. She says, "We have attended many high pressure national events which have prepared us well to meet the challenges of the world championships. We have also worked extensively with some terrific instructors with lots of international experience, especially Linda Mecklenburg and Daisy Peel, who have taught me a lot about what to expect and how to handle it." And the pair has been training to put their best foot forward at the event. "Zuri and I have worked hard over the last year to build skills, strategies, and confidence in handling international-type challenges such as backsides and pull throughs that are not seen often in standard US agility competition. We have sought out opportunities to run in USDAA's new Masters Challenge classes to help us prepare. I have also been working on my mental game, since I believe this is crucial at big events. Zuri's mental game is already brilliant, so she got a free ride on that one."


Giuliana thinks that Zuri has some strong points that will help the team on course: "Zuri has a fantastic combination of incredible ground speed, super tight turns, instant responsiveness, and completely reliable start lines and contacts. However big the event, no matter the chaos or cameras, she always walks to the start with perfect self-control and blasts off the line at warp speed the moment I release her. I just do my very best to keep up with her. Zuri is a great motivator!"

Giuliana does expect some challenges at the event. She says, "I imagine that the biggest challenge of the event will be dealing with the mental pressure to perform at the top of my game, do justice to Zuri's immense talent, and honorably represent the best of US agility. My intention is to be in the moment with Zuri at this culmination of our partnership, and to run as a true and joyful team."

Despite the potential challenges, there are many things that Giuliana is looking forward to at the WAC. She says, "I am very much looking forward to competing alongside and learning from my wonderful teammates, many of whom I've admired for years. I have always enjoyed the camaraderie created by USDAA's [Dog Agility Masters] Team events and I appreciate this opportunity to be a member of the US Team and to improve as a competitor and instructor as a consequence of this international experience. Zuri, Sunburst Absolutely Fabulous, is my first competitive agility partner. When I got her as a puppy, my highest aspiration in agility was to compete at the Masters level and perhaps one day earn an ADCH. I had no idea where this little dog with great heart would take me! She has certainly lived up to her name and inspired me to grow as a trainer, handler, and person. I am excited to embark on this next step in our journey together!"


Jennifer Thomas and Rodeo. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thomas.

Jennifer Thomas and her eight-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, Rodeo, live in Lavon, Texas, where Jennifer is a medical technologist. Jennifer has competed at international events held in the US (like Cynosport and the IFCS Continental Championship of the Americas), but not overseas. Her canine partner has one more international event under his belt than she does. "Rodeo was a loaner dog for the Australian team in the 2012 IFCS WAC," she says. Jennifer says that her experiences at the CCOA will be helpful in her success at the WAC. She says, "Rodeo and I were successful on the courses when we competed at the 2013 IFCS Championship of the Americas."

Jennifer and Rodeo have been working to prepare for the big event. "[We have been] practicing on our distance skills for Gamblers. We have also been working on tightening our turns and some international handling skills," she says. The duo has great teamwork, which Jennifer lists among their strong points, along with knowing her dog well and knowing how to handle him. She says, "We are very consistent and Rodeo has great handler focus, which helps on the technical international courses." She expects that her biggested challenge at the WAC will be "Gamblers."

When asked what she's most looking forward to about attending the WAC, Jennifer says, "I am looking forward to watching all the great handlers and dogs from around the world. I am excited to be a part of this team and grateful to have this opportunity to compete at an international event."

Stacy Peardot Goudy and SoBe and Jeannette Hutchison and Rumble are part of the 22" team. Stacy is a professional dog agility trainer residing in LaPorte, Colorado, with her six-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie, SoBe. Stacy has extensive experience competing internationally, including competing at the first ever IFCS World Championships in Moscow, Russia. She also served as the coach for Team USA twice.

All this experience will come in handy in the Netherlands, according to Stacy. "I think having competed internationally in the past helps tremendously. If you already have an idea of the type of competition you will be playing in, and have had a chance to work through your nerves (which, of course, are always greater in competitions of this magnitude), it helps greatly! The greatest strength that SoBe and I bring to this competition is the fact that we have already trialed overseas; I have been able to see firsthand how she will deal with the International-style courses in a true competition setting. She is also in her prime age-wise and has competed in many high level competitions."


Stacy Peardot Goudy and SoBe. USDAA file photo.

Stacy has had plenty of chances to practice and prepare for the WAC. She says, "I am lucky enough to have had a lot of trialing opportunities this winter as well as working on pieces of courses that were previously used by the judging panel for the event to help prepare! I think the best preparation that I have had was my trip to Peru this April where I actually got to play on the type of courses we will be seeing in the Netherlands."

When asked what she is looking forward to the most from the upcoming competition, Stacy finds it hard to answer. "There is so much that I am looking forward to about this competition, it is truly hard to choose just one! I am truly honored to be representing the USA with my best friend, SoBe, who I have known since she was one minute old because I bred her!" 

Check back for more tomorrow!

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