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IFCS Team Profile: Maria Badamo

A profile of 2017 IFCS Team Member Maria Badamo and her dog Gromit.

A profile of 2017 IFCS Team Member Maria Badamo and her dog Gromit.

Where do you live? 

Midlothian, Texas

How did you first get involved with agility?

In 2007 I was living in Prospect, Ohio. I had just come home from a vacation and my pet sitter felt very strongly that my little Pomeranian, Babaghanoush, would have fun taking agility classes. She told me there was a training facility only 10 minutes from where I lived. I had always wanted to try agility but never knew how to get started. Even as a young girl I used to set our benches at home on their side and trained my childhood dog Odie, a Schipperke, to jump them in a row. So I was very excited to hear there was a place so close to home. We started taking classes at Dogwood agility in Ostrander, Ohio, owned and operated by Sally Boarman. 

 Well Babaghanoush was a natural and quickly advanced from novice to master level. He definitely gave me the agility bug. After a few years in Ohio we moved to NJ where we trained with Jeri Prekop, who kept our fire for agility burning. He is now a happy healthy 12-year-old, and has been retired for the past two years. I so miss running with him out there!!!

What made you decide to compete?  

I love the thrill of competition. It was a natural progression for me.

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

After "Babaghanoush" retired we tried out barn hunting for a short time.

More recently I've been training dock diving with Gromit and my baby dog Kenobi.

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

Gromit is a five-year-old Border Collie. At the age of three he won the AKC National Agility Championship in Reno 2015, got second in 2016.  He also took Bronze at USDAA Cynosport this past year in Biathlon. His favorite things in life are agility and swimming. He is very serious about his agility job, and is laser focused when we are running, even though he is barking at the top of his lungs the whole time!!  At home he is super mellow, and never makes a peep, you'd be surprised he's the same dog.

He has been such an amazing partner, and I feel so very lucky to have him. I cannot wait to see what our future holds. 

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

His best friend in class is a Schnauzer named Max. Every time he sees a Schnauzer he literally drags me to them to say hi. All Schnauzers are now his best friend and just Schnauzers. He likes other dogs but this is different.

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

Yes, I have two Pomeranians, Babaghanoush and Luna, both 12-years-old. I have Stuffin, a three-year-old terrier mix. My baby dog Kenobi just turned one last week. He is amazing, and we can't wait to get out on the agility circuit later this year!

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

I am a veterinarian working at Metro Paws Animal Hospital in Dallas, TeXas.

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

I feel so honored to have the opportunity to compete for our great country. Thrilled beyond words!

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

I am looking forward to the energy in the atmosphere. My current agility instructor Jody Lolich has been on the IFCS world team the last two years. She has done a great job encouraging and inspiring me to follow my dreams of competing on an international level, and training us how to handle these though courses. She has described the energy in oversees competitions as being so much different than what it is here, and that it is truly electric. I'm super excited, and I cannot wait to have this experience!

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

I have been visiting the training site at the site set up by our coach Tracy Sklenar. Tracy has set up some amazing courses and drills, as well as mental management posts, for us to practice. It has been instrumental in my preparation for the big 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?

The thrill you can get from competing is nothing you can get in training. To see all the work and training that you've put into yourself and your partner culminate into completing a competition course is so rewarding. It doesn't have to be about ribbons or placements, it's more about going out there with your partner and completing the challenge given to you by the Judge. It is so worth it!

Photo Credits: #1, #4 Great Dane Photos; #2 M. Nicole Fischer; #3, #5, #6 Maria Badamo

Watch a video of Maria and Gromit at Cynosport:

Watch a video of Maria and Gromit trying out for the IFCS team:


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