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IFCS 2016 Team Member Profile: Karen Beattie Massey

A profile of IFCS 2016 Team Member Karen Beattie Massey and her dog Bella.

We are featuring regular profiles of all of the IFCS 2016 Team Members. Today we feature Karen Beattie Massey and her dog Bella.

Karen has been a regular in the Pacific northwest agility scene over the last decade. As well as earning Master Agility Champion titles with four different dogs she has earned numerous obedience and rally titles with her Cavaliers and Pumis. Karen and her husband Jim also show in conformation and occasionally breed litters of puppies that they hope will become the next generation of champions.

Karen's first agility dog, Maya, was the top agility Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in 2005 and 2006, culminating in a third overall placement in the AKC Invitational 12" class in 2007 and a trip to the finals. Maya was featured several times in local and regional press and television and over her short lifetime achieved seven MACH titles and a PACH.

Karen's next agility dog Beth, also a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, earned her first MACH was ranked in the top five for her breed in 2007. Zoe, her Australian Shepherd, achieved success at the regional level in USDAA.

Karen's current agility dogs are Minnie, daughter of Beth, and the first MACH dog bred in the MayaLu kennel, Teddy, Minnie's son who debuted in his first agility competition in the summer of 2013; and Bella, her first Hungarian Pumi.

Bella was a bronze medalist in the America and Caribbean agility championships in 2012 and won her spot onto the U.S. international agility team for the European Open in 2013.

Up and coming agility dogs are Bella's daughter Aria and our Swedish imported Pumi, Knixa.

Karen's first career was as a psychologist helping people learn new ways to work effectively within their organizations. She developed training programs, ran workshops, and created training videos and other materials. After moving to the U.S. she started working in the software industry creating instructional materials. Taking her knowledge of how people learn and think about solving problems she later applied this to designing the software itself and leading teams to create new products. It was only natural that this fascination with learning would spill over into her interactions with dogs.


Where do you live? 

In Issaquah, Washington (just east of Seattle).

How did you first get involved with agility? 

I had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was so shy as a puppy that she hid under the table at puppy class. Somebody suggested that we try agility to build her confidence. 

What made you decide to compete? 

My first Cavalier was very fast and motivated in her agility training so we decided to give competition a shot. Thirteen years later we're still in it!

Do you (or did you) participate in any other dog sports or training with your dogs? 

As a teenager our family showed Weimaraners for a time in Australia.

Tell us more about the dog(s) you will be competing with as an IFCS Team Member?

Bella is my first Pumi, and for those who aren't familiar with the breed they are a medium-sized herding dog from Hungary known for their high spirits, athleticism, and funny ears! Bella is nine-years-old and has competed internationally at the European Open 2012-2015 and the Americas and Caribbean Championships in 2012 and 2015. She was a finalist in the AKC Agility Nationals in 2014, and a silver medalist in the Masters Challenge Biathlon at Cynosports 2015. In addition to enjoying her agility career, Bella has been a two-time mom with four of her kids from her first litter in 2012 competing in agility at the Excellent level and above.

Does your dog have any quirks or unique habits that you would love to share? 

Bella's ears are a very good barometer of how she's feeling. When they are fully upright you know she's ready for anything.

Do you have other dogs/pets aside from your IFCS dog? Tell us more about them: 

I have an up and coming agility prospect, Bella's three-year-old daughter Aria, who is even more spirited and vocal than her mom. I am also running my third-generation Cavalier from our own breeding called Teddy. He is a four-year-old ruby male who's not only sweet and a joy to live with but also loves to lay down great agility runs. At our small hobby farm we also have five Katahdin sheep and our llamas, Treat and her very social daughter Jewel, who help keep down the grass. It's on my bucket list to teach Jewel some agility tricks. I think she'd love it.

Describe for us what you do in your "other" non-agility life/work life? If retired, what did you do before? 

I worked for 20 years designing software and managing software projects. Currently I'm busy with my two girls - one in elementary and the other in middle school - while also doing freelance web design work, teaching agility, and competing with my dogs.

How does it feel to be on the IFCS Team this year? 

I'm super excited to be on the IFCS team this year. It's been a long time goal to participate in this event.

What are you looking forward to the most at the World Agility Championship event in The Netherlands this April? 

I'm looking forward to great courses with lots of fun challenges and the camaraderie of my teammates

Do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a big competition? 

I like to familiarize myself with the courses from the event's judges and figure out the likely challenges. I'll then try to dedicate some practice time to setting up courses or exercises with those challenges.

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? 

Give competition a try. There's a real sense of accomplishment when you can succeed with your handling plan under pressure. And you never know; you might just win!


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