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.