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IFCS Team Profile: Diane O'Reilly

A profile of IFCS Team USA member Diane O'Reilly and her dog Rauri Belle.

Where do you live? 

Delaware, the First State. We are so close to the many agility competitions and training opportunities in Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania.

How did you first get involved with agility?

My first dog as an adult started snacking out of trash cans in the middle of the night. Vet said she was bored and needed a job. My groomer (most poodles have their own groomer) suggested this new dog sport called agility and even suggested a class. Not too long and we were hooked. Loved Molly and she taught me so much about agility. We moved from pet owner to beginner dog trainer. That was almost 20 years ago now. Molly was my heart dog and I will always have fond memories of her agility antics.

What made you decide to compete? 

We went to our first agility competition. Just loved it. We were hooked. Yeah, I've got an issue with my competitive side....

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

Never did dog sports prior to agility. Had pets rather than teammates. 

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

Rauri Belle is my third agility dog. The third time is just a charm. She is so intelligent and athletic and has taught me so much about dog training. Her dominance (Rauri is old Irish for Red Haired Queen which explains a lot) challenged me for years until our teamwork finally clicked. She moved me from cheerleader of less motivated dogs to team leader with an amazing partner. Just love this dog, her drive, and her loving disposition.

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

Two. She is a screamer; screaming fast and screaming loud. And, she loves belly rubs. The look on her face for a belly rub is just awesome.

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

My senior, Scarlet, finally earned her ADCH after many years striving for the elusive third Super Q. And, I love the new SQ rules. Scarlet is now trying to survive cancer. She still loves playing Frisbee on good days. She always loved Frisbee, more than agility. And a darling puppy recently joined our household. Keegan is bringing joy and youth to everyone in the house.  You've got to love the enthusiasm and novel view of the world that a puppy can bring.

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

I have a work life just to pay for agility. I'm a Distribution Sales Manager with DuPont Performance Material. Want to buy some engineering plastic? Great job. Been there for 35 years and my boss is really cool about us taking so much vacation for high-level agility competitions. Not sure if I'm more excited about big events or if my co-workers are. Great fan club. And for you young ladies out there, STEM careers are really cool; engineering jobs are good paying and quite satisfying. Do seriously consider a career in STEM fields!

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

TOTALLY AWESOME!!! I will always remember when my instructor and some fellow class mates looked at this crazy, wild, fast, loud barking puppy and said she had World Team potential. We laughed. Then, we all smiled and laughed but wondered if maybe it was true. Comments and support continued for quite some time. Years later, she won the World Championship Grand Prix Title for C12" at Cynosports in 2016 and my classmates threw her a huge party. Yes, they were right! From she could not hold a start line, she could not down on a table to OMG she is a World Champion, we could not have done it without our agility friends (and instructor/friend). And along the way, we earned a spot on the IFCS World Team. So feeling like a Cinderella story.

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

Tapas. The national dish. Little plates for little poodles. Kidding. I've been to Europe on business but never to Spain. We would love to see some of the amazing architecture and finally get to see the Mediterranean Sea. Seriously, since I was a small child watching the Olympics (on a Black and White TV), I've always wanted to represent the USA at a World sporting level event. We are now really getting the opportunity to do that. Just totally awesome. Just to experience a World level agility event has become a lifetime goal since we started this sport. I'm honored to represent our country and the sport of agility.

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

What don't we do. My personal trainer is mean; love the results. Got to give a shout out to Weight Watchers (for me, not the poodle). My Spanish lessons are a disaster; let's hear it for Google translator. Lots of extra agility training. And most of my time is on mental management for serious competition. Deep breathing is key.

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? 

It's fun, REALLY!!!! Try an Intro course. Competition with toys can be great for your dog and it builds your relationship.  Every time I start with a new dog, I've been amazed at the camaraderie of people at the Intro and Starters level. Having a puppy reminds me again how fun starting can be. It is all about the fun for your dog. People have positive suggestions and are always willing to help. I'm a competition addict and found it better to compete with my dog than against my coworkers. The dog community is full of people with a rich history of dog experiences; some good, some educational. Come and join the learning. Dog people are rather unique but we are a community.


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