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IFCS 2016 Team Member Profile: Shane Miller

A profile of IFCS 2016 Team Member Shane Miller and his dog Luna.


We are featuring regular profiles of all of the IFCS 2016 Team Members. Today we feature Shane Miller and his dog Luna.



I'm Shane Miller and together with five-year-old Luna we are a part of the 2016 IFCS World team in the 26" class. We have been competing in agility since Luna was 15-months-old. She has been a natural in agility from the beginning and is a pure joy to live with. We live in Illinois and don't spend as much time doing agility as you would think. Outside of agility Luna wants to do whatever I'm doing. That could be just going out to the back yard to run in our two-acre field or just to sit on the couch and chill out. Whatever it is, she adjusts perfectly to the situation at hand. This will be our third trip to Europe to compete at an international event and I'm hoping that we can help the team win some medals!

Questionnaire:

Where do you live?  Moline, IL which is about two-and-a-half to three hours west of Chicago.

How did you first get involved with agility? The first dog that my wife and I had was a Border Collie trapped inside a Rottweiler's body named Kalil. One day at obedience class at a local facility we saw an agility class going on at the same time and thought that would be a good thing for Kalil to do.  That was eight years ago.

What made you decide to compete?  After about a year of taking classes and training my instructor at the time encouraged me to enter a local agility trial and that was in January of 2009.  We got a Q on our first run and I was hooked!

Do you (or did you) participate in any other dog sports or training with your dogs?  I do not participate in any other dog sports, but all of our dogs compete in nosework with my wife.

Tell us more about the dog you will be competing with as an IFCS Team Member?  Luna is a five-year-old Belgian Malinois from Texas.  She has been an amazing dog from day one.  Extremely biddable, high energy, and the best temperament I've ever seen in a dog all packaged into a dog that has an instant off switch and doesn't mind sitting on the couch for days at a time.

Does your dog have any quirks or unique habits that you loved to share?  Belgian Malinois are often affectionately called Maligators because they like to "clack" their teeth. Luna definitely fits that description. She will just randomnly start clacking her teeth sometimes fast enough to sound like a machine gun. She is the only one in her litter to have this trait.

Do you have other dogs/pets aside from your IFCS dog? Tell us more about them: My wife and I live with  seven animals total. We have two other Belgian Malinois. They are littermates Onyx (my dog) and Jane (my wife's dog) and they just turned three-years-old. Luna and them are cousins.  We also have four cats. They are Mr. Bojangles (Bo), Marley, Elanor Rigby (Elly), and George. All of their names have a musical influence.

Describe for us what you do in your "other" non-agility life, work life? I work in the technology field as a senior telecom administrator.

How does it feel to be on the IFCS Team this year? It feels incredible! This will be my third time competing on an international team, but each time is a new experience from the travel to bonding with teammates to the competition itself.

What are you looking forward to the most at the World Agility Championship event in The Netherlands this April?  Bonding with the new (to me) people on the team.  Also looking forward to this competition as I feel Luna and I are just hitting the prime of our competition career. I am very interested to see how we stack up against the competition at this event.

Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a big competition?  I typically don't try to do anything special. I try to treat an event like this as just another weekend so as to not put too much pressure and expectations over and above what is already there. That just leads to nervousness and anxiety which only leads to mistakes.

People who enjoy agility with their dogs are often intimidated by the idea of competition - what advice would you give them to encourage them to take the plunge? Just do it!  Just try to remember you're not out there competing against everybody else. You're competing against the course and completing that successfully, no matter how fast or how slow, should be the only win you're after.  Any mistakes you make everybody watching has made at some point in their agility life. At the end of the day, our dogs don't care about the ribbons, the applause, the titles, or anything else. They care that they played this silly little game with us. That is their joy and their reward. That other stuff is just for the humans.

Do you have a favorite dog from a book, movie, TV-show or video game?  I have to go with Old Dan and Little Ann. "Where the Red Fern Grows" was the first animal book I ever read as a child and the story has stuck with me ever since.

Here is one video from the IFCS WTSE in Texas this year:

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