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IFCS Team Member Profile: Brenda Kelly

A profile of 2016 IFCS Team Member Brenda Kelly and her dog Déjà Vu.

The World Agility Championship in The Netherlands is only a few weeks away! Meet competitor Brenda Kelly and her dog Déjà Vu.


Where do you live?

We moved to Texas from Virginia about eight years ago and we now live in the Denton, TX area (just north of the DFW Metroplex).

How did you first get involved with agility?

I have been competing and training with horses in show jumping and dressage all of my life. I also do a lot of trail riding and enjoyed hiking. I had not had a dog for a long while and I decided I really wanted to get a puppy that I could bring up to be good on trails and around the horses. I had always been attracted to Border Collies and Aussies so decided to take the plunge in 2007.  Just after I got my puppy we moved to the Texas area. I was looking at scaling back my equestrian competition pursuits and since I had always been fascinated by the agility shows I had seen, I decided to see what it was all about! 

What made you decide to compete?

Well, very simply I just really enjoy the process of learning, training and acquiring skills. Competition has always played a big part in my life. I had competed in the equestrian sports but also am a black belt martial artist. I think competing is a fun way to test how well your training is working and use it to focus goals and target improvements.

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

No other formal dog sports. With my work schedule, we just play in agility and spend some part of everyday outdoors hiking and playing - at least a couple of miles each day.

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

Déjà Vu (Vu for short) is a very intense but goofy girl. So named since she is a repeat breeding of her big sister Luna. She is actually a Border/Aussie and has the Aussie wiggle and bounce to prove it. There is a lot of power in her 18" frame and her favorite thing to do is literally wind sprint everywhere she goes!

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

Vu loves the water and will plow face first through any stream or puddle she can find. We also call her the "grunt muffin" and the "crab walker" because she grunts when you pet her and curls into a "C" and wiggles sideways up to anyone who will show her affection.

Are there any challenges you have faced with your dog that you'd be willing to share and how you both overcame the challenge and achieved success?

I am very grateful that both my girls are biddable and have exceptionally balanced temperaments. I do however think the baseline to success in any endeavor is investing the time in the early foundation and paying attention to the details. When a dog has that training, love of learning and resulting confidence then everything else is easy.

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

Vu has a big sister, Luna, the consummate "old soul" who has been an exceptional teacher and partner in life and in agility. We also have four cats who allow us to share the house with them, as well as two other rescue dogs that are enjoying life on the farm.

Describe for us what you do in your "other" non-agility life, work life? 

For my day job, I manage a team of engineers that provide pre-sales design support for a customer experience software company servicing state and federal government agencies across the country. I also enjoy teaching agility at a local facility one night a week and providing short series seminars as my schedule allows.

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

I am very grateful and excited to be a part of the team representing the U.S. It is only our second time overseas so we still have a lot to learn and am very much looking forward to the learning experience!

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

I will really enjoy getting to know my fellow team members and meeting other agility competitors from all over the world. The growth that comes from participating in events like these is exceptional and I am very much looking forward to that experience!

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

When planning for a bigger event, I will generally look at when the event occurs and plan backward from there, taking into account the total time I have available on the time line. There is then different emphasis in different areas of the cycle with respect to what to practice and when. Keeping it simple and returning to basic blocking and tackling is key as you get closer to the event.

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?

I believe that there is often some stigma attached to the concept of competition. My view is that competition is simply a motivator and a tool for you to focus your training efforts - regardless of what your individual goals may be. Everyone's "why" is different - it could be about the joy in building a relationship with your dog;  satisfaction in learning a new skill; being able to play with your dog after a knee surgery - whatever! Stay focused on your learning process and your "why" and let the rest go!

Do you have a favorite dog from a book, movie, TV-show or video game?

I'm not sure I could point out a dog movie per se - but one movie I have watched a few times and find inspirational is Secretariat - a great commentary on what belief and determination can accomplish!


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