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Talking with... Angie Benacquisto

The next in a series of interviews with USDAA IFCS World Agility Championship team members. By Brenna Fender


The 2010 World Agility Championships are fast approaching. USDAA will send a terrific team to Clevedon, North Sommerset in the United Kingdom for the event that runs from May 14-16 at the Hand Equestrian Centre. Team members include Angie Benacquisto with Duncan and Dylan, Daneen Fox and Masher, Janelle Julyan and Eve, Rhonda Koeske and Tack, Elise Lynch and Ting, Kate Moureaux and Driven, Stephanie Spyr and Rage, Rosanne DeMascio and Drifter, Dudley Fontaine and Maverick, Ann Zarr and Skylar, Suzanne Wesley and Sonic, and coach Stacy Peardot-Goudy. To celebrate our team, we'll be doing periodic interviews with team members.

In real life, Angie Benacquisto is a high school chemistry and physics teacher who lives in Macomb, Michigan with her husband, Mike. She's the only USDAA/IFCS team member competing with two dogs at the big event! While juggling work and family, Angie (never Angela, she says) finds it hard to have any other hobbies or compete in other dog sports. 

Angie and Dylan. Photo by Rhonda Koeske

Brenna Fender (BF): How did your friends and family react to you making the IFCS team?

Angie Benacquisto (AB): They were excited and proud of us!  

BF: Will a friend or family member travel with you to the event?

AB: Yes, my wonderful and very supportive husband, Mike.

BF: How tough did you find the qualification process to become a team member?

AB: I found all of the traveling very tough.  Some of it was in the summer when I am not in school, so that made it a little bit easier.  
 
BF: What is your goal for this year's event?

AB: Push our limits, run our best and have fun with my dogs! 

BF: How would you describe your emotions as the event draws closer?

AB: I'm excited and trying to make sure everything is in order.  I am also staying focused on each dog and their individual preparation needs.

BF: What do you need to do differently for each dog in order to get them prepared?

AB: For Dylan I have been working hard to maintain contact performances.  We have been doing tricky sequences on and off of the dogwalk; I need to be ready for them, especially with a running dogwalk performance.    
 
My preparation work for Duncan is mostly focus-related.  He can have a short attention span at times, so I need to make sure I work to keep him with me.  We have been working on reading my body and staying connected.  And, of course, I have been working on me.  I need to make sure I am giving my information in a time/way that I don't cause a break in connection.  
 
Being such a big event, I am going to have to work even harder to switch gears between the two dogs.  Dylan is a very serious dog and demands to be run that way.  Duncan is my party child that needs to just be having fun with mom.

BF: What is your greatest concern about the trip to the UK for the event?
           
AB: The long travel time for the dogs.  We've never been overseas before.

BF: What do you think will be the most difficult part of the competition itself?
           
AB: The different style of courses and challenges.  

BF: What do you expect to be fairly easy or smooth?

AB: Having never done this, I'm really not sure.  But, I am hoping that the dogs can adjust pretty easily and run well after the long trip. 

BF: Any other comments?

AB: I want to give a very big thanks to my wonderful instructor, Jen Pinder.  She has been a mentor for me and has been instrumental in our training and successes.   My club members at Canine Combustion and AWSOMM, in addition to other fellow competitors, have also been very supportive in our endeavor.  I am also very appreciative of all the time I have been able to spend at Highest Hope training my dogs. It was my only place to practice all winter and the owner, Mark Bills, was always so accommodating.

I am looking forward to sharing this exciting and challenging experience with the rest of the team - Go Team USA!

Brenna Fender is the editor for the USDAA's subscriber services portion of the website.  She is also a freelance writer, wife, and parent of two dogs and two children.  Please contact Brenna at Bfender@usdaa.com with comments, questions, or submissions.

  Photo of Duncan by © 2010 www.PawPrintsLife.com

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