Interview with AKC EOJ Team USA Member Brie Schaff

Interview with AKC EOJ Team USA Member Brie Schaff

Video Credit: Mary Schaff Brie Schaff, one of the youngest members of AKC EOJ Team USA, talked with 1TDC™ about her experience with agility and the upcoming event in The Netherlands. Question: What is your dog’s name? How old is he/she? What breed is he/she? Brie’s answer: My dog’s name is Streak. She is a four-year-old Shetland Sheepdog. Question: How long have you and your dog been competing in agility? Brie’s answer: I started agility when I was about seven or eight years old, so it is going on five years now. Question: How did you get involved in agility? Brie’s answer: My mom did conformation with our little Maltese for about 15 years, so I attended a lot of dog shows with her when I was little. She heard about agility from one of her friends, so I started going to her classes as well. She also had Cocker Spaniels at the time that I really wanted to run when I got old enough. I only did it occasionally back then, but I really started doing it when I was able to run Streak. Now we both kind of switch off running Streak. I’m pretty hyper and active, so getting to run was a big draw to agility for me. I also really enjoy the relationship you get with the dog and getting to see them progress over time with training.

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Question: What’s your favorite part about agility? What’s your least favorite part? Brie’s answer: It’s a lot of fun to be with my dog because she’s crazy and she loves me. My relationship with her has grown immensely by doing agility, and I just really enjoy getting to spend time with her. It's frustrating when you mess up on a course but you know you have to keep going on. It’s tough when you work so hard and sometimes it can be kind of embarrassing when you make a mistake. I know I have to get back out there, but I get butterflies in my stomach before I go run again. Sometimes I feel a little out of place with all of these adults who probably have more experience than me watching me.
Photo Credit: Andy Klamm
Question: What’s your dog’s favorite part about agility? What’s your dog’s least favorite part? Brie’s answer: I always say that Streak loves three things: food, agility, and us (my mom and I). All of those in one is like the best thing ever for her. Even when she messes up, she just spins in circles and I can tell she’s always having a lot of fun. Question: Where/when do you train? Brie’s answer: I train every Wednesday unless I have a school conflict. I go to Dog Gone Fun, which is located north of Houston, Texas. Depending on how much I have going on, I usually compete every other weekend. Question: How long have you been part of the AKC EOJ Agility Team USA? How did you get on the team? Has this been a goal for you since you started agility? Brie’s answer: This is my first year on the team. We sent in videos of me running Streak. To be honest, my mom did most of the application, so I was really surprised when I made the team. I found out when I was preparing to run at a track meet, actually. My mom came up and told me to call this number, so I did, and the coach told me that I made the team! It gave me a boost of excitement right before I ran my race. I was so excited to go tell all of my friends. My goal is just to improve at agility. I have another dog I train that is in Open right now. I’m just working on her anxiety and trying to balance that with training Streak for the EOJ. I would say my main goal at the moment is just trying to time manage and keep it all together. Question: What are you looking forward to most in terms of competition? Will you be traveling a long distance? Do you have any tips for those traveling with pets? Brie’s answer: My next local competition is at the same place that I train. It’s a really comfortable environment because I compete there often and I know everybody there. The EOJ is in mid-July and it’s located in Roosendaal, The Netherlands. It will be my first time going to Europe for agility! I’m a little nervous for the EOJ because I’m representing Texas and it’s my first being on the team, so I don’t really know how everything is going to work. I’m pretty comfortable with the travel aspect, because we’ve flown Streak throughout the United States quite a bit for agility recently. We went to AKC Nationals in Reno, Nevada, and we attended World Team Tryouts in Minnesota. Streak really doesn’t like when the plane takes off and lands, and I know she’s not going to like the really long flight to Europe. Luckily, she’s small enough for us to have her under the seat with us, so we let her have her head out to help with her anxiety. I’m looking forward to the whole experience of EOJ, like getting to run her and meeting all the people. Question: Do you think agility is a good sport for other young people to be involved in? What do you think agility has taught you and could teach other youth? Brie’s answer: I definitely think agility is great for youth because it lets you have an amazing relationship with your dog. I’ve heard that some agility people have reservations about young people getting into agility because it might lead to them wanting a career in dog training/handling and those adults don’t want the young people putting a lower priority on education. I really think it’s a good experience, though, because you can get involved in the EOJ or the World Team or something like that. Agility teaches a lot of patience in training and accepting when mistakes happen. It also teaches you to deal with adults who don’t have a lot of patience for young people. It also teaches you to always be positive and happy with your dog because they’re trying their best and so are you.

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Question: Where should people go to learn more about agility and begin training? Brie’s answer: I recommend teaching your dog basic tricks like sit, come, and stay before anything. Those basic obedience behaviors end up bleeding into agility skills, whether it be on the start line, at the gate before you run, or in a class setting. You can find friends and training facilities to help you with the process. Don’t start agility when the dog is too young because they have to be developmentally ready (physically and mentally) before you start teaching them these difficult things. 1TDC™ is excited to see how Brie, Streak, and the rest of Team USA perform at the upcoming EOJ in The Netherlands this July!
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