Posted Date: April 18, 2017
A profile of IFCS Team USA member Diane O'Reilly and her dog Rauri Belle.
Where do you live?
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
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
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
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
Describe for us what you do in your
"other" non-agility life, work life?
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?
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.