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IFCS Team Member Profile: Rachel Sanders

A profile of 2017 Team USA Member Rachel Sanders and her canine teammate Tush.

Where do you live?

Atascadero, CA

How did you first get involved with agility? What made you decide to compete?

I used to train my dogs for obedience competition but found that competition in the US was very different to the obedience competitions in the UK. I have always been involved in competitive sports including team sports, swimming, and dog obedience. So when I realized that USA style obedience competitions were not for me agility training and competition filled the hole!

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

Tush is owned and trained by Monique Plinck. Due to injuries/surgeries she was unable to compete with him at the WTSE in October, so without ever training him before (not even putting him over a jump in practice) I ran him for her and qualified for the IFCS team. Being able to successfully compete with him at the WTSE is a testament to his great character and personality, Monique's training and the fact that we both apply OneMind Dogs methodology to our training and handling. Oh yes, and I'm not a rookie to agility training and competition either! Tush is awesome, he loves to play, loves to train, loves agility and is just a great confident, friendly little dog. He has the work ethic of a Border Collie in the body of a Papillon.

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

I have my own pack of dogs - five Border Collies and one American (not) Hairless Terrier - AKA the house elf! Fable is my oldest at 16.5 and was a prior IFCS team member in 2008, with Stuie, Gifted and the youngest Bright, who is so much fun to train and has just started to compete. Nellie is our resident rescue/re-homed Border Collie and is spoiled by Michael daily!

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

I teach agility full-time in Atascadero and seminars across the USA and abroad. My teaching, training and competition schedule leaves very little time for much else. However when I do have time I love the ballet, movies and taking the dogs for walks on the beach.

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

I was the IFCS team coach from 2012-2016 so this year will be very different for me. I am looking forward to focusing on myself and Tush and being on the competition side of Team USA, sitting in the stands relaxing after our runs while watching the rest of the team compete and being driven to and from the show site.

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

The opportunity to represent the US and USDAA at the WACs and to have the opportunity to stand on a box with Tush!!

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

I am at the gym a little more and eating a little less. As for training with Tush he lives in CT and I live in CA - we have been working together in February for 10 days, he will be in CA for five days in March and we'll have some training time together in April.

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?

Agility is a really difficult sport and as such even the most experienced handlers have failures. Even when you fail you can still have fun learning and improving. Depending on your own personal goals, agility in the US is set up in a way where all types of handlers and dogs can have success. My dogs deserve my very best effort to train and compete to the best of my ability but I don't take either the failures or successes too seriously. There are many things in the world to be afraid of but agility competition is not one of them!


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