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IFCS Team Profile: Desiree Snelleman

A profile of IFCS Team USA Member Desiree Snelleman and her dog Pace.

Where do you live?

I live in Sumner, Washington, 45 minutes southeast of Seattle.

How did you first get involved with agility?

In 2002 we got two Siberian Husky puppies that needed a lot of activity. We did not get them for the intention of doing agility, but to help us get back into shape after 11 years of inactivity due to sports injuries and surgeries. We took T'ai and Chi to classes and had private training sessions with a phenomenal Long Beach trainer. When I mentioned that we used to do a lot of high intensity sports and wanted to do something fun with the pups, he mentioned agility. I went to a training session at the SPCA-LA Long Beach and from there, the rest is history.

What made you decide to compete?

Once I was introduced to the sport we got pulled in to the agility magic. It looked like so much fun. This was now going to be our next sport. T'ai started competing in 2004.

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

We have competed in Nosework, obedience and Rally and have trained quite a bit with CaniCross. Since moving up to the Pacific Northwest in 2010, we hike in the mountains as much as we can. Cross training has been very helpful to both the dogs and us. 

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

Pace will be eight-years-old in March. He is an amazing athlete and teammate. At home he is calm and relaxed, but when it comes to doing any activity, he turns it all on. He is laser sharp and dials in the moment the activity starts. I could not have asked for a better teammate! 

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

He occasionally howls, something he learned from T'ai. It puts a smile on most people's faces when he does it.

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

In 2012, my Siberian Husky, T'ai, made it into the finals at the AKC National Agility Championship and took third place in the 24" class; one week before his tenth birthday. T'ai earned an invitation to attend the AKC Agility Invitational seven years in a row. In 2009 he made it into the AKC Invitational finals, and took third place in the 24" class. We lost T'ai to cancer in 2013. He was an amazing athlete and ambassador for his breed. We sorely miss him.

Stinger, my oldest Border Collie, now retired, had a long history of success. He was the 2011 USDAA National DAM Team Champion. He competed twice at the AKC Agility Invitational and multiple times at the AKC World Team Tryouts. He was an incredibly reliable teammate throughout his seven years of agility.

Cru, my three-and-a-half-year-old Border Collie knows he has big paws to fill, and is determined to do it his own way. We are having a blast running in the big events and he often gives Pace a run for the money. More to come!

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

I work for the It's a Dog's World and Agility Center in Sumner, Washington. I teach classes and do privates. In my own business, Pace Agility, I do seminars and do remote coaching and support. 

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

This will be Pace's fourth year in a row on the USA IFCS Large team. We are proud and excited to be traveling with a talented team to Spain in April. We love this venue and have quite a bit of history in this event. I LOVE the fact that we will have the opportunity to compete in so many cool events!

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

I love the process of preparing and getting the both of us ready. Being able to step to the line with Pace knowing that we both will enjoy every moment together on course and off the course! :) I am also looking forward to spending time with all my teammates and my friends from other countries.

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

Making sure that both both Pace and I go in prepared by being both physically and mentally fit. The challenge is often the timing for both of us to peak at the same time. It can be a tricky sport with regards to that. 

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? 

Get inspired by watching good teams who can demonstrate the joy of team work. 

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

Balto, the Siberian Husky from the movie Balto.


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