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A Case Study In One Agility Handler’s Transformation: Angie Benacquisto

Posted on 01/30/16 11 Comments


In December 2014 I received an email from Angie Benacquisto, someone I had known as an accomplished agility competitor. I knew she had a young dog about the same age as my dog Swagger. I had also known that her and Echo were struggling for qualifying scores in agility as I had seen them occasionally when I trialled in the USA.  Angie was frustrated and wondering if joining my online handling class Handling360 would help. I told Angie signing up for H360 was not a good idea UNLESS she was willing to start back at the beginning and take the course as a complete novice. Actually, I wasn’t sure if she would take my challenge…but she did.

Recently I came across this email exchange with Angie, the one she sent right after she threw her hat over the fence and joined our course. Read the email from the bottom up to see the conversation that unfolded between us 13 months ago.


If you “read between the lines” Angie was frustrated and wanting to do better for her young Border Collie. Echo had already been trialing in agility for 2 1/2 years by that point, and was still struggling for consistent clean runs. During the years leading up to joining us he had only managed one Masters Standard leg, two Grand Prix legs, and ZERO Master Challenge or Biathlon qualifiers.

Angie shares her story in the video below.

It has been just 13 months since Angie made the investment in our program and in herself. She integrated the handling, starting right back at the beginning and still managed to have the best year in agility ever for Echo. They earned two Biathlon titles, four Grand Prix legs (3 first place finishes and 1 second), three Master Challenge jumpers legs and four Masters Challenge Standard qualifiers (including a win at one of the regional events). Her qualifying rate in AKC has gone from 40% to nearing 70%. In addition, Angie and Echo were finalists at the AKC Nationals for the first time ever and just last month where named as an alternate on the US National team heading to the European Open in France next summer.

Angie’s story shows just how fast a turn around can happen. It has been quite a year for this young team. I can’t wait to see where the two of them end up and, where Angie and her young mix breed dog Sundae are heading in the future!

Today I am grateful to handlers who listen to their inner voice and recognize the importance of foundation. A solid foundation creates clarity and a relationship of joy and mutual trust.


  1. Liz says:
    Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 11:55am

    I definitely remember Angie and Dylan – great team! Echo sounds so much like my red boy, Strut. In fact, I think we got our pups around the same time.
    I’ve been struggling with him as well. We’ll have these amazing runs and one thing will go wrong (one wrong course, one dropped bar, miss an easy weave entry etc.) or it’s a complete train wreck. I feel like we are so close to being great but what… what is missing?? He’s an amazing dog but I’m very frustrated. 🙁
    I will admit he’s had many interruptions in his foundation training (an injury, a work/life change for me) but I myself am confused as to where we are missing things? How far to I go back?
    Truly inspired by Angie and Echo. Heavily considering signing up for this myself (plus I also have a young puppy). Time will tell…


  2. Kim Hanson says:
    Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 9:29am

    I keep trying to register at Handling 360. I complete the sign up information and when I go back to register, it tells me I’m not registered. I’m so confused! Please advise.


    • Kim says:
      Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 11:19am

      Hi Kim, contact [email protected] and they should be able to help you out.


  3. Lorraine Simpson says:
    Friday, February 5, 2016 at 7:07pm

    Hi Angie
    Thank you for sharing this video. It was so great to watch.
    I actually picked up things that I am doing wrong.
    Congratulations on your great achievements.


  4. Charlotte says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 4:14pm

    Fantastic Angie :). I loved watching you and Echo at Summer Camp last year, you are an amazing team.


  5. Diana Penha says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10:52am

    Angie has been my inspiration going back at least 9 years. No one works harder or smarter with their dogs. While I don’t have anywhere close to her speed, I watch videos of her runs before my trials because they make me try harder. Go Angie!


  6. Jan F says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10:51am

    You and your dogs look fantastic together! Well done to you for going back to the beginning. It’s certainly paying off 🙂


  7. Tiffany Salmon says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10:22am

    Great story! Angie–You always impress me. You are such a hard worker and are always willing to try new things. I’m thrilled for you that you are finding great success with Echo & Sundae!


  8. Shelly says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 10:03am

    Wow, this is fantastic Angie! There’s something to be said about listening to that inner voice 🙂 Kudos to you for “starting over” and working through H360 from the beginning to build that solid foundation. I love seeing the before & after. Congratulations, you and your dogs look great together!


  9. Laura says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 8:30am



  10. Laura says:
    Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 8:25am

    I’ve seen you run many times and I remember Dylan as well. So expiring and exciting! Great job, you and Echo look so good together and so happy. Congratulations, keep it up! What a nice way to wake up this morning and see this blog.


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