September 21, 2022

Episode 312: Interview with European Open Winner Angie Benacquisto

In this episode (47:44)

In this episode, we talk with Angie Benacquisto, the first American to win the European Open!

You Will Learn

  • How Angie prepared herself to be able to run the long lines typical of international agility at the highest levels.
  • The effect that the competition rules have on the competitiveness of the event.
  • How Angie’s path to gold included 15th non-clean runs.

Mentioned/Related

(upbeat music) - Welcome to Bad Dog Agility, a podcast helping you reach all of your dog agility goals, whether it's competing under the bright lights of the televised finals at Westminster, or successfully navigating a homemade course in your own backyard. We'll bring you training tips, interviews and news about the great sport of dog agility. Are you ready? - I'm ready. - I'm ready. - I'm ready. - The

show starts with your host, Jennifer, Esteban and Sarah. - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - I'm Sarah. This is episode 312. Today's podcast is brought to you by HitItBoard.com and the new Teeter TeachIt. An easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your Teeter so you can introduce motion to your dog in a gradual way. Go to HitItBoard.com for the new Teeter TeachIt and other

training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10, to get 10% off your order. That's HitItBoard.com. Today we have a very special guest on the podcast. We have Angie Benacquisto joining us from Michigan. Welcome to the podcast, Angie. - Thank you. Nice to be here. - Excellent. Angie is a two time national agility champion in the 12 inch class. She actually has other national agility champion titles. We'll let

her talk about those in a minute, but the big win here is that Angie just won the 2022 European Open in the small dog height, the first American to ever win this event in any height. We are very excited to be joined by Angie today. Angie, tell us a little bit about your history in agility in general, and specifically with Sundae. - I started agility because I found

a flyer on a wall from an obedience class, and I thought it would be fun to maybe put a jump in the little tiny patch of grass I had in the condo building we shared with three other people. Little tiny patch. Next thing you know, here I am. But yeah, it started in the 16 inch class with a little Rat Terrier I got from a shelter who went

on to become my first national champion dog. And then I had a Border Collie that also won who is in 24 inch. And then there is Sundae who is the most perfect little dog to live with, to train. Just in general, she's just incredible. - Sundae is a mixed breed dog. How did you get her? How did you happen upon her? - That was actually a funny story.

I came home from work one day and my husband Mike says, "Yeah, I emailed Julie Jenkins about a puppy," and I said, "You did what?" I had no idea he was even putting the searchers out, looking for a puppy. And so, yeah, it was just a random, here's my husband looking for a puppy for us and that's all she wrote. Next thing you know, I have this amazing

little dog. - That's awesome. Actually, one of my first agility dogs, the dog that I fell in love with the sport with and fell in love with the dog, was a dog that Esteban found for me the same way. He was like, "I've been looking and I think this dog would be perfect for you." That was Denver, my Mini Aussie, way back when. - Clearly, you guys have

very different husbands than myself because my husband decided a French Bulldog was the way to go. I'm a bit envious of your guys' situations here. - Yeah, I was mortified. I'm thinking, oh my God, what did he say to this breeder? Because I'm all, this is how you should approach people and this and that. He's just like, "Oh yeah, I emailed the breeder about a puppy." I'm like,

"You did what?" - Nice. Let's talk about the European Open. And of course, Jennifer, you were there too with Bee in the medium height class. We have Angie and Sundae in the small dog height class and Jennifer and Bee in the medium height class. Jen, why don't you tell us about the structure of European Open for people who aren't familiar with the event? How many rounds? I know

there's team and individual, all that kind of stuff. - This was only my second European Open so I'm actually quite unfamiliar with the event as a whole. I went five years ago and then took a long break and then went back this year. Angie feel free to correct me, I know you have a lot more experience than I do. But the European Open has individual events and it

has team events. It's a three day event. On the first day event on Friday, it's two team classes. You have team standard and team jumpers, and you are matched up on a four dog team from your country. In the mediums, there are eight mediums that go. It's four dog teams. We had two medium teams that went. And you have a standard run and a jumpers run, and they

drop the lowest score from your four dog team to basically accumulate six scores to then determine who makes the finals. The finals is Sunday morning. And then on Saturday they have individual and it's standard and jumpers. Depending on the height, it's the top number of dogs, so I do believe in the mediums, it was the top 16, maybe the top 18 dogs from standard make finals. And then

the top dogs from jumpers make finals. That finals is run on Sunday afternoon. Basically Friday is team, Saturday is individual, Sunday is both team and individual finals. There's some minor details I don't know super clear, like how many dogs from each height make finals. And then they also have ways to earn spots in the finals based on your cumulative score. If no dog from your country made it

in on individual rankings, they have a cumulative team dog, and I will fully admit I'm a little bit unclear. But I know for team USA, in all heights, we had dogs make finals, earning their way in from individual classes, which is huge for our country. That was super exciting. Bee earned her spot into the finals from her jumpers class. I know Sundae earned her spot into finals from

jumpers as well, from our round placements and jumpers. And then some of our team members earned it in on standard. And then we had three teams in finals. Am I correct on that, Angie? - Yeah. Two large dog teams and a medium team in finals. We actually had a fantastic showing this year at that EO, for team USA. - Awesome. And then for the finals it... You get

into the finals, however you get into the finals, and then the finals is like standalone. It's clean slate, one run. The fact that maybe you got in on jumpers, but were eliminated in standard, just saying that could happen to somebody, you would have a complete... I see two people raising their hands. You would have a completely clean slate going into finals, winner take all, kind of event. -

Yes, they do a reverse seating that is like a combination of how you finished in those other classes. Like Angie won her individual jumpers, woohoo, and so ran very late in the order. And then they always have the previous year's winner gets an automatic buy and they are the very last dog to run. Next year Angie gets to be the last dog to run in finals. (indistinct) -

Wow, I like that. - They do a modified reverse seating in finals, but you are correct that you only have to have one great run to make it into finals, and then it's clear scoring. - Angie, who was the previous winner that got to run last? - Oh, that was Dorte with Tobias. - All right. That's amazing. - Amazing. Amazing team. - Yeah, I mean, he's the reigning

AWC champion. I'd forgotten because it's been a couple of years with COVID and everything, that he was also the reigning European Open champion at that height. (indistinct) - A little starstruck. - Yep. - Wow, I got to watch that live and that was very cool. - Yeah, and it's exciting because you beat him twice, right? You beat him in jumpers 'cause you got first place in jumpers and

he got third, and then you beat him in the finals. That's some good stuff. - Yeah, I noticed that I was looking at the results. And so for people who don't know, Germany, I would say is probably the most dominant country in agility right now and maybe the past few years through the pandemic, certainly. Especially on the small and the medium side, but even very talented, large dogs.

They go deep in terms of depth, where the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth dog, best dogs in the country, could easily be the best dog in other countries. I was looking at the results and I saw Sundae one and then Germany, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I saw one of the rounds went like that. I saw in one of the other rounds that Germany was three of the top

seven or eight, things like that. That's what you're gonna find, I think in a lot of these big competitions. Obviously what you accomplished with Sundae, very, very impressive. Going head to head and on these kinds of courses. I wanted to ask you, can you talk a little bit about running on that surface and what running on that surface is like, I watched all of your runs, there were

some enormous lines, just really long, where you're running from one end of the arena to another, the European style courses are already much bigger than what we typically see here in the United States. And even than what you might see in UKI. Now you're putting it on a surface that is not advantageous to the handler, whereas at the AWC and some these other competitions, Westminster Finals, for example,

you're running on turf. Sometimes the handler can run a little bit faster, I think, relative to what they normally would. What was that like running on that surface? - Honestly, I felt the surface pretty easy, but in fairness, I've been prepping on sand for four months now. I started getting myself ready for it, working with amazing trainer's name is Chris Kerton with Karma Fitness Academy. One of the

things we did early on is get on sand. Of course I'm looking around like, Michigan has zero trials on dirt, none. They don't exist here, and so next best thing, okay, I got myself on deep beach sand. And so I did all of my training on deep, loose beach sand. And so by the time I hit that surface, it felt just like turf to me and I'm like,

I'm ready to go. It was super easy. - I love that preparation. I mean, it just goes to show that things don't happen by accident. You're working really hard for this. For our listeners, we have had Chris Kerton on the podcast, so our listeners will be familiar with him and we'll put a link in the show notes to that. But yeah, he's a fantastic guy and I love

how he approaches handler fitness because he is so familiar with our sport. We really like working with people that have that deep, deep knowledge of the sport that we're in. - Yeah, he was awesome to work with exactly for the reason that you said. It wasn't just some general trainer. He knew exactly what I would need to be doing. Going from one end to the other, direction changes

and how to accelerate out of turns. He knew what I was looking for. - Yeah, before we move on to the next topic, I wanted to go back to Sundae being mixed breed because some people might be confused. The European Open, which I guess is sanctioned by FCI- - Right. - Organization, lets in all dogs. - Right. - So a hundred percent anyone can go. The other cool

thing about it is, the teams are much larger. When you have teams like Germany, Slovenia, Great Britain, where agility is very well developed and there's large populations of handlers, you can bring more of those handlers with you. You can go deeper on your bench, so to speak. I think those two things combine to make the European Open very challenging, and in my mind, maybe even more of a

measure of a true championship because you're including a larger number of dogs per country, and all breeds. - Well, so what you haven't said is, you are comparing that to the FCI Agility World Championship where there are four dogs from each country max per height, and where mixed breeds are not allowed even though these are both FCI events. They're two different events. One allows mixed breeds, the European

Open one does not, the Agility World Championship. - Absolutely, and I think what you, Angie showed, is Sundae's out there, and in my mind, basically a world champion. If I'm running and I win a bunch of world championships and the one time I get to go up against Sundae, I go and I get beat soundly, I'm gonna feel less good about maybe being a world champion there. It's

a remarkable accomplishment to win any event, in any venue, at any time. But what I'm saying is, as a population, as a group of enthusiasts, we assign tremendous value to the Agility World Championship. Every instructor, every person, every seminar presenter, "Hey, look at all these things that I won, I'm a member of the team," yada, yada, yada, but dogs like Sundae are excluded. And so I think it's

really a noteworthy thing. How many times has Sundae been to the European Open? - This was her fourth European Open. - Yeah, you'd been out there previous years, obviously not done as well as this. What was it like to feel like you broke through now? Was that at all in your head? - No, I had written a post about it when we got back, but actually my first

three, well, all the way up until the fourth one, had not had good results. My first two were four out of four Es so I went home with a bunch of Es. And then my third one was a few more Es and a few more five faults. And then this last one, as I see Jen laughing, followed up with some more five faults and another E. It wasn't

until my 16th run, that jumping run that you're talking about, that earned me into the finals. That was my first clear run at EO (indistinct). - Wow. - As soon as I ran that one clear, I just I'm like, okay, I finally broke through and I'm ready now, let's bring on finals, I'm ready. - Yeah, I love the determination and persistence, because I have known people who after

going abroad a couple of times and spending all that time, all the emotional energy, the money to go and do that, and not done very well, that they found it very, I guess, difficult to deal with and they decided, hey, I'm gonna take a step back from that. I'm not gonna do that anymore. Was there ever a thought in your mind that you're like, maybe I shouldn't go

this year, maybe this is just not in the cards for Sundae, maybe this is beyond what we're capable of doing? - Yeah, after 2019, is our last run individual standard, man, I had that course, it was a weave entry I bolted on and it was a weave entry that, man, she can do. Oh my gosh, there were so many tears I sobbed and I said I did not

wanna come back, international's just not for me, we just can't get it. Our assistant coach Annette Alfonso talked me off our ledge and she got me back on the horse. I owed that a lot in part to her. And then we tried out for 2020, which as you know, went downhill from there. But this year we came back with a vengeance. I'm like, I'm ready to give this

another shot. But yes, you're absolutely right, it can definitely take the wind outta your sails because we have been so successful here in the US and then you go over there and you just, oh, get it handed right back at you and you're like, oh, I can't do this. But yeah, we were definitely persistent on that. - Yeah, I think one thing that I like people to understand

or I think it's easy for people to just look at the results and not have an in depth knowledge of the person, an in depth knowledge of Angie and her history in the sport. To feel like, or to not recognize how much, I guess, failure happens before success. How, I think for the most part, when you see people that are winning at the highest levels, they have been

attempting the highest levels for a while. When Jen goes and she has amazing runs, she's building on a decade or longer, of going to international competitions over and over and over. I had the same thought recently when I went to AKC nationals and I just felt like there were just so many familiar faces winning the NAC. You just realize that there is something to be said for experience

and for coming back to the same event over and over and over again. And so I just want people to recognize that it does take that experience, that you shouldn't feel disheartened when things don't come the first time or right away. - For sure. I think that's something important too. I think a lot of people here in the US have seen Sundae in particular, having success for a

while in the US, but they don't realize my four attempts at EO before then and 15 failed runs. I think you don't realize quite what's happened in other events outside of the US. - Right. - I had no idea your statistics until you posted them on Facebook. It was like, absolutely incredible and when you were talking about it, it wasn't like laughing as much as like, it still

just gives me chills, because you hear these things. Like Bill Gates dropped out of college, was turned down 300 times before. You don't have to know someone. And so you're like, yeah, sure, perseverance, all that stuff. But to see it and know it, and then live it, it gives me chills. It's so exciting. Exactly as you said Angie, you're like, I've known you for years, just winning, kicking

butt, working hard, doing it all. So when you wrote the stats about your history of EO, first of all, I had no idea. Didn't know, I just know your person is on the team every year. You have way more experience than I do. But to the grit and the determination is absolutely incredible and nobody can have excuses anymore. Nobody gets to say, oh, I tried once and it

didn't work, I quit. No, there is lessons to be learned, and it is, I don't know, I'm just excited thinking about it. I'm so excited for you. The fact that you went back and you worked through it and bam, all that hard work and effort paid off. I know Esteban talked a little bit about the all American thing. I also think it's incredibly worth noting, incredibly worth noting,

Sundae's age. - She turned eight- - I was wondering about that. - The day she won, if I'm correct. She turned eight the day she won? - That's her birthday, her 8th birthday. - I see so many people that are like, "Oh, my dog's five and their career's over." That's so disheartening and you just put the effort in and you worked really hard not only on your own

fitness, I know you talked about running on the beach, but you work very hard on Sundae too. It's not like we're just gonna rely on her youth and age to get it done, you do a ton of strength training and taking good care of her. I think there are just so many things people can learn from you. - Yeah, we did. We did a lot with her fitness.

I mean, in terms of training, I think most of the training went into myself. I mean, I have an eight year old dog and there's definitely some differences. I'm not gonna pound an eight year old dog. Maybe not that you'd pound a young dog either, but our skills were what they were. We did some coursework, but yeah, most of her stuff was keeping her fit, keeping her strong,

keeping her sound and not overworking her. So many people, their dogs get injured doing over training so I took on most of the training aspect for myself, but yeah, her age, she's running at the top of her game, I think. At eight years old, that's really, really cool. - Yeah, that's awesome. Go ahead. - Yeah, I wanted to talk a little bit about your handling. I've been watching

you for a very long time because Sarah and I, we're stats people. We've known for a long time, as soon as the dog pops in on the radar, a frequent way that that happens, is we see the numbers before we ever see the dog run. There's an obvious statistical outlier in the rankings and we gotta figure that out. It makes me think of the Papillon. - Yeah- -

Masher. - Yes, Masher. Masher was statistical outlier. - Statistical outlier and in my opinion, just based purely on numbers, one of the greatest agility dogs America has ever seen. Sundae is a dog of that caliber. Even how, I guess, toward the end part of Sundae's career, where dogs are now older than say 5, 6, 7, 8, still a very clear statistical outlier. You can see this in the

rankings. You can see this in the yards per seconds. That's not even taking into account the different events where you win, the finals that you've made, the teams that you've been on, and things like that. Just looking at run after run after run, how much better is this dog than everybody else? And so that's just a long story for me to say that I've been watching you for

a long time. I always enjoy watching handlers evolve their handling. And so I wanted to talk a little bit about that. You've got two dogs that have won national championships in the past. How different do you think you are as a handler today than you were maybe even just five years ago, or maybe even more recently? How do you think your handling has evolved recently? 'Cause this is

a dog where your handling spans, it must span like six, seven years, depending on when you brought this dog out. The dog is eight now. How's your handling change within the lifetime of a single dog to be able to get through courses like this that eight years ago, the European Open did not look like this? I don't think, yeah. - Wow, honestly, I don't think my handling has

changed all that much. I think our gelling as a team is just what has started to come together. Because everything, even when Sundae was a youngster, I did everything with intent. Even if it was just a speed loop at 10 months old, it was, go, go, go as if it was the national finals. Things appropriate for the dog's age, but she grew up with, hey, we're going as

hard as we can at something. She just loved it. And so I don't know that my handling for her is all that different, we just have evolved the challenges that we've taken on. Even as a young dog, she showed me that she can handle the go, go, go with everything that we did. And so I think it just was a matter of us coming together more as a

team, with the challenges that we encountered. - Yeah, I mean the faster the dog, the harder it is to get the timing right. - Right. - Sundae is a fast dog. I'm sure that a lot of the work that you do is about getting the timing right, knowing what you need to support, what you need to trust and things like that. - Absolutely. You hit a key, knowing

what to trust, because with a dog that fast, you can think you trust something and in a blink, right out the window, (indistinct) and it's not quite there or a backside that you swear they are committed and right on the inside, and there's your elimination, faster than you can even blink. The timing is so crucial. - When we talk about the final specifically, did you feel any kind

of pressure or was it more like, I'm just happy to be here or you tuned all that stuff out and you just hyper focused on what you need to get done? What was your approach to the final, maybe the hour before your run and then five minutes before your run? - For a finals run, those are actually my easiest runs. I have zero worries. I'm calm as a

cucumber because there's really not much you can do. It's not like you're gonna go out and train any skills worrying, what is that gonna do? There's nothing to worry about. There's only one way to run a finals and that's as hard as you can go. You have no other options. Even in the few minutes before, it's you just focus on that moment, what you have in front of

you and you attack that course as aggressively as you can. Because honestly, any finals run doesn't mean I'm going to win, but I certainly am not showing up to try and get 10th place. As hard as you can go is the only way, which really means there's nothing else to worry about. - Do you have any Achilles heel with Sundae? There are people that it's like they have

great success, but they struggle with the start line and they have to figure out how they're gonna handle the beginning or they get calls on contacts. The contacts are hit and miss, or the dog drops bars. I imagine that all of those things are a large part of the stress. Do you have any of those Achilles heels? She seems beautiful on the jumping and the contact, but do

you ever worry about those things or are you like, nope, those three things were solid. - Well, it's funny that you mention that because I had a couple people come up to me after the finals run and they said, "We saw that you killed it and you won jumping, but we didn't know if you could win the final." I said, "Why is that?" They said, "We had no

idea if your dog had any contacts." (indistinct) well, that's fair. That's fair. But honestly, her Teeter, her seesaw is always a bit, what's gonna happen here? She just gets so excited to go. But as you know we missed the challenge around win because of the Teeter fly off. We lost it in hybrid that year because I had to wait with my Teeter because I didn't trust it. But

yeah, we had been working on that Teeter like, hey, 100% criteria for the last, well, since NAC. Man, she stuck that thing and it was solid. It was not even questionable. That made me pretty happy. But I think always an Achilles heel for her is gonna be backside. Like I said, how much do you trust them and how quickly can you leave? Because dogs, small dogs with no

lift time, and they can seek right in there faster than you even know what to do with. That's always gonna be a questionable point for me, is timing of backsides. - Yeah, that's a really great point 'cause having run big dogs and small, 16, but still there's a difference. There's a difference in that commitment point. I always enjoy the big dogs because you know they're taking that backside

and they're still four feet away, but they couldn't possibly pull off at that point. But with the small dogs, there is always a chance that they can change their mind. It's why I felt like with small dogs, for the same reason, I always felt that gamblers was really hard, because the dog had like six strides to decide, I'm not sure that this is what you want me to

do, or as a big dog, as soon as they headed toward the thing, they were like, as soon as they started to wonder they were over it, it was done. It is very different. - Yeah, and at least one of those courses had a ton of backsides. - Yeah. - I forget which one exactly, but there was one that had a million backside wraps and stuff like that.

The other thing that I know someone will ask you about was the coloring of the tail. First, I didn't know that you'd be allowed to do that so I wondered if that was a rule change or if it was ever a rule and people had been doing it for years and I just didn't pay enough attention. And then secondly, why did you choose the color that you chose

and how did you do it? And so tell us all about that. - It was not always allowed in AKC. The first couple European Opens I went to, I had to use a water soluble wax for her so that it could come out or else I wouldn't be allowed to run in AKC when I got home, and that was always sad. But then AKC separated from the confirmation

rules and started allowing it, which made me very happy because then I could actually use real dye instead of the icky wax that I'd put on. But all my dogs have color themes where their leashes are that color and blankets and things like that. Pink was the color that I hadn't used yet for any of my prior dogs. It's funny because I hate pink. I hate pink, I

hate it. But here's this little girl dog, and she was all white, and so I'm like, well, let's just use the color pink on this dog and use it up so I don't have to worry about it anymore as (indistinct). So Sundae got designated pink. And so that's what we use for her tails. - Now- - (indistinct) like pink? - I'm not a huge fan of pink, but

I have to join her. She likes to look like a princess while she kicks butt so we do the pink. But it's actually a made for dogs dye. Some people like to think, how could you do that? It's made for animals. She uses the crazy liberty, which tends to work really well and stays in for a really nice long time. - Do you use the dog on yourself

or do you match with human? - I go to a human, a human person. I said back in 2020, well, 2019 tryouts, I made her a promise that if she won a spot on EO, I would go to a human person and I would get it done for real. Not just a couple little highlights that I put in, but I would do it for real. And then when

2020 was canceled, I said, well, I need to just hold up my end. Even though there was no EO, in summer of 2020 I went and got my pink anyway just for keep my end of the bargain. - (indistinct) I'll have to talk after, I cannot figure out how to get a color to stay and not then turn dingy after a couple of days, I would love to

have bright colored hair, but so far I haven't gotten it to work yet. We'll have to compare notes. Yeah, we need a white dog 'cause we have no dogs to dye. - Get a white poodle and then you can do some- - Oh, yeah. - (indistinct) - Actually in Austria, 2018, I (indistinct) blue stars down her back. It was (indistinct) cool. - Yeah. - Yeah, that's what I

wanna do. - Very cool. All right, well, let's deviate just for a minute and hear about how Jennifer and Bee did at this event. Bee being so young, we're so proud of Bee in making the team at the age that she is. How did your week go Jen? - Well, it's hard to even comment after that because I'm so excited and inspired for Sundae and Angie, but yeah,

I decided to take Bee to EO for kind of test the waters, to see where I'm at with the young dog. She was two years old when we tried out and I went with her this year so she's now three. I hope to have a big international career, and I was like, I'm gonna go to EO and see where we're at. Am I hanging with the pack? Are

we a few seconds off? Or are we like 65th on a clean run? We exceeded my expectations. We made both individual and team finals. We had a lot of bubbles that weren't faulted throughout the weekend, and thinking about coming home with a homework list, I had four bubbles, one which did result in an E, the other three just cost me time and all four were the exact same

skill. The good news is my homework list is quite short at this point, but I'm very excited. I mean, even with the bubble and jumpers, we were able to make finals. I think if I can clean that up, we can get some better runs in finals. I've never made a team or an individual final at EO. My first year I went, we didn't make either. So to be

in both team and individual finals was super exciting. And then in individual finals I was completely overwhelmed by the course and thought, okay, we're just gonna go see where we're at. We made it very far before E. I mean, it is an E in the end, so on paper an E is and E, but I was very proud of how far we made it. We did fault on

the one skill that I knew prior to Sunday morning was a weakness. But the analytical side of me has evaluated runs, done side by sides, compared times, and I'm very excited going forward. I think it's one of the most excited I've been, coming home from an international event. I think most of that is because of the team. We had great team camaraderie. We had a fantastic coaching. The

team as a whole did really well. Angie's medal made everybody on cloud nine. There was just a lot of excitement coming home for the future of agility for the US. For one of the first times I'm coming home excited to go back again and attempt it again. We don't have any monumental results, but I'm very excited and pleased with her performance. Unfortunately, we had an injury on our

team so even though our team made finals, we actually had to scratch on Saturday afternoon and pull from team. They let us run, but we were running for no score. She got to practice and got to go out there and run in finals for team, but our team didn't do anything because of an unfortunate injury. My EO on paper, not so fantastic, but I'm very excited for our

future. Again, we have homework and hopefully I will get a chance to go back in the upcoming years to try to get even better with her. I was happy with my performance and looking forward to future years should I get that opportunity. - Awesome. Angie, did you come home with homework? I mean you won, but did you come home with homework? - Yes. Backsides, shocker. I think that's

always gonna be my homework. Yeah. It's one of the few things I really tried to hone in on beforehand. Like I said, my dog is eight, there wasn't gonna be reinventing of the wheel in terms of training. I tried to pick a couple things that I could really get more bang for my buck. That's when I started over the winter, in my basement, retraining 'em from the ground

up, but it is still and probably always will be on my homework list. But I also- - Go ahead. - I also echo what Jen said that I'm just so proud of team USA as a whole. There was such incredible things that came from USA that in my four EOs, I have not ever seen such an amazing team USA performance. They were incredible. Even the scores that may

not have been so great on paper, you look at that one little thing and, man, the rest of the runs just in general were amazing from team USA. I'm super proud of our team as a whole. - That's awesome. - I love the mindset, this idea of building on past performance. I really like how both of you talk about your past experience leading to where you are today.

Obviously, Angie, having what looked on paper to be not great showings for the European Open, but really it was probably a key part of your journey to winning this year. And so just having that mindset and then when you travel back to the US it's not all, well, we flew out there and team USA did poorly again at another international competition. To get away from that kind of

mindset and say, there's a lot of stuff here that we did really well, there's a lot of stuff here to celebrate, there's a lot of stuff here to build on. And then after you put in your years, then you're gonna start seeing some of those results come back. That's why I think agility is so challenging and interesting for people. If it were easy, if it were stupid easy,

we wouldn't do it. If you could master all the agility in just a couple weeks or months, I don't know how many of us would still be around trying to get things done in the sport. - Yeah, absolutely. I know that both of you came home with very specific homework, specific to you and your dogs and any gaps in trainings. But what would you say more generally, either

one of you, about just for everybody, the trends that you're seeing, the advice that you would give if you didn't know what somebody's weaknesses are, and you were just trying to give them a list of, these are the two or three or four skills that knowing nothing about you, I would say you need to make sure that you have honed. Not necessarily one dog specific. Either of y'all

have anything there based on what you saw more generally at the event? - I think the biggest thing that I would tell people is get ready to run big lines. There's no way around it. I am so, so glad my fitness was where it was because I didn't have to worry about that. At no point did I have to wonder, can I make it from one side of

the arena to the other and get my dog over the correct obstacle? That was huge. There's enough other things that you have to worry about rather than, can I run from this line to the next? That's probably my biggest thing for people, the spacing is so different. Even in a more narrow kind of ring, man, they can make some really long lines for handlers to have to run.

- Right. - I would 100% agree. I had the conversation with a couple people after returning home. Everybody wants to know your thoughts on the event. Some of the people that are aspiring to be at that level will ask your opinion and your thoughts on things. I think my two big takeaways for me was, I feel like I have the skills, I feel like I've taught the skills,

I don't feel like I trust them to the level that needs to be trust. It's one thing to go out in your barn or in your yard and do them. And even if you say to yourself, I don't wanna do it one and done, but if you wait a second to make sure the dog takes the jump, to get downstream or whatever, it might cost you a little

bit of time. But in your own backyard it's not a big deal. I feel like the level of trust of the skills is above and beyond what I think a lot of people get practice doing. But the second thing is exactly what Angie mentioned. I've literally looked at people and I've been like, you need to get faster, you need to run harder. It's really difficult as an instructor

to tell somebody they need to get faster. That's hard. That's hard to tell somebody. I'm not a coach, I'm not a physical fitness person. I'm a agility handling instructor so it's hard to tell 'em, but the size of the rings, the yardage of running. I mean, just to put it in perspective for the listeners that might do AKC, it is possible for some of the best dogs in

our country to run a standard course under 30 seconds with a five second table. It's possible, it's been done, I've seen it done. Like you're running running 25 second standard course and a five second table. Some of the best runs on these standard courses are in the 40s. 43 could be super fast on a standard. That just goes to show you... And there's no table. That just goes

to show you the sheer yardage and the running. Even if you feel like you're a pretty good runner, it's the long distances while handling, while hollering verbals, and the mental duration that has to be like, you can't give up mentally. The mental stamina, I guess, it's not just the physical stamina, but there's nowhere to let up. We often will start to fade out at 17 or 18 obstacles

and it's like, no, no, 22. Even for me, I've been running big courses, I've been running long courses, I've been running long lines, It still was a shock to see that finals course for mediums run on 130 by 175. That's huge. It's hard to train for that, unless... I mean, it's just hard to train for that. I wanna say, unless you go outside, I mean, that's what you

have to do, I know Angie that's what you do. But it's like, I build a building that I thought was pretty good size relative to other areas, other buildings in the area. And now I'm like, it's half the ring, it's half the ring. I actually came home and made a contact and arrangements to have an outdoor field done. That was my EO motivation, come home, get an outdoor

field that I can make bigger than my building and get ready to train. The level of trust that the skills are required, not just doing the skills, not just saying, can you single a backside from 15 feet away? But the level of trust that's required and then the speed and the running, hands down were a huge takeaway for me. - Yeah, and I'd like to put that into

perspective too, because I know that sometimes there's a little bit of pushback about, "What our sport has become or what it takes to be competitive at our sport." But I would like to point out to people that this is like an international event. This is like the equivalent of our Olympics. If you want to be competitive at the Olympics, you have to compete at truly an elite level.

It is not an event designed for the casual, yeah, the casual competitor to go and win. If you want to compete at that level, basically both of y'all are saying, is this is now the requirement, the ability of the handler to run for the most part. There are a few, like two or three in the entire world, people that have the verbal skills where they can get through

a course like this without having the ability to run. But we're talking about two to three handlers in the entire world, I would say, that have that ability. Well, before we wrap up, Angie, what is next for you and Sundae, or for you as a handler? Do you have any thoughts about next dog or is it still too soon? What's going on? - I do have a young

dog that I'm bringing up. She's almost two. We're working on getting her up to gear. As for next, I will be starting to think about EO 2023, because as the winner I get that automatic buy as the last dog, to run in the finals in Denmark. - (indistinct) - I'll go to tryouts. We will have the US Open in November. Even before that though, going back to school

next week. I am a high school teacher so that is what's next on my plate, Coming down from EO and heading back to school. - That's so funny. You're a high school teacher. We have a high school student. (Sarah giggles) - That's right. - We have our son going back to school. He went back to school today. Today is first day at school. - Today, first day at

school. - Senior year. - (indistinct) done. Yeah, what do you teach? - I teach chemistry. - Ooh. Do you teach AP chemistry as well? - No, just general chemistry, which is the equivalent of most AP classes in other places. We're a pretty up there district. - Awesome. - Gotcha. - You get to do experiments and make things explode and things like that.? - Yeah, we do a lot

of things with fire. I have char marks on my ceiling that the kids all really love. - Awesome. - Well, the other thing, I mean, I love that you're a teacher because teachers are awesome. But the other reason that I love you're a teacher is because it does show that this is something that you do on the side, apart from your day to day life. You have a

whole life outside of agility. You're not just about agility. But I guess that's convenient to have the summer for EO, perfect timing. - Yeah, it is, but what most people don't realize is I only get four days a year to do what I want with. That's it. If events don't happen during the summer or on a holiday break, I get four days. Hugely convenient that EO happens during

the summer, for me. - Right. - Yeah. - Absolutely. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Angie. It was a pleasure to talk to you about your event. I mean, I just can't say congratulations enough on your entire career, really, but to cap it off with EO is just amazing. Congratulations. - Thank you, and thanks for having me on. - That's it for this week's

podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor, HitItBoard.com. Happy training. (upbeat music) - Thank you for listening to Bad Dog Agility. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. For more information, updates and links to all our socials, just check out our website, www.baddogagility.com. If you haven't already signed up for our email subscription, we would love to have you join the BDA community. Until next time, take care. (upbeat music)

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