Agility Instructors

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Stefanie Rainer - Training Director, Agility

Stefanie Rainer is an accomplished dog agility handler and teacher. She is also a judge for the American Kennel Club. With 15 years of experience, she has been competing and achieving new goals since she was seven years old. Stefanie has earned many titles on multiple breeds including a Papillon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and three Border Collies. Stefanie actively competes in AKC, USDAA, and UKI events with her Border Collies Spree and Nike.

Stefanie's list of achievements include:

• Competed in seven AKC National and four USDAA national competitions

• 2011 Grand Prix Finalist, Cynosport World Games

• 2012 Eastern Canadian Regional Steeplechase Champion

• 2012 New England Regional Grand Prix silver medalist

• 2013 North Central Regional Steeplechase bronze medalist

• 2015 AKC NAC 20" finalist, 7th place

• 2015 Mid-Atlantic Regional Performance Speed Jumping Champion

• 2015 Mid-Atlantic Regional Performance Grand Prix Champion

• 2015 New England Regional Performance Speed Jumping Champion

• 2015 New England Regional Performance Grand Prix silver medalist

• Three-time AKC/USA European Open large dog team member

Stefanie has developed her own style of teaching with the guidance and expertise of her mother Renee. She honed her teaching style under the mentorship of renowned dog trainer, Diane Bauman. Stefanie frequently attends seminars to stay current on the latest agility trends. Her latest adventure took her and Nike to Finland for a week working with One Mind Dog agility coaches. Stefanie doesn't believe in any one system and she adapts her methodology to the most effective style based on her assessment of the handler and dog team. Contact Stefanie @ agility@stefanierainer.com

Mary Champagne

Mary Champagne first got involved in agility in 1994 because she thought it "looked fun" and has since trained a variety of dogs of all sizes, breeds and mixes thereof. She began teaching for her local agility club, SNEAK, and now runs her own training school, The Agility Facility, in Southeastern Connecticut. Mary's dogs have competed extensively in the Northeast earning the sport's top titles, and have also been semi-finalists at multiple championship events and ranked in the Agility Top Ten national standings.

An advocate of strong foundation training for agility and not rushing her dogs, Mary believes that "it is a journey from the time dogs begin their puppy fundamentals until they retire." Mary is a fun, knowledgeable, experienced and very approachable instructor. She says she enjoys teaching new teams and loves the diversity of breeds of dogs. She loves seeing teams come together and being able to share in their journeys.

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Bronagh Daly

Bronagh Daly started her agility career at 16. She began by running her Labradoodle Stella, who achieved top levels in USDAA, AKC, and CPE. Stella, who has both dog and environmental stresses, taught Bronagh about troubleshooting ways to help stressed dogs in class and trial environments. More recently, Bronagh has been competing in Masters/Advanced USDAA levels with her four-year-old Border Collie, Razzle. Together, they recently attended their first Regional, making Steeplechase finals and running clean. Bronagh recently started on a new journey training her young Border Collie, Oz.

Bronagh is a OneMind Dogs Instructor and in the final stages of becoming a certified Control Unleashed instructor. Her instruction is based in seeing everything from the dog’s perspective, but she doesn’t believe in teaching from a single system. She has recently been training her youngest, Oz, in the systems of Silvia Trkman and OneMind Dogs. She loves most to help every team foster their strongest possible connection and level of trust, finding creative solutions and plans that best fit each team.

Bronagh has worked with some of the best trainers in the world, including Tereza Králová, Lisa Frick, Silvia Trkman, Tuulia and Timo Liuhto. Most recently she traveled to Finland to work with OneMind Dogs creators, Jaakko and Janita Leinonen. In Finland, she was lucky enough to compete and won third place with Razzle.

Contact Bronaugh @  bronagh.kate@gmail.com.

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Grace Heck 

Grace brings a unique approach to agility training, focusing on building strong team dynamics, and mutual team growth through an understanding of your dog's needs, and deeper cognitive connections. She is passionate about helping dogs and handlers to communicate more clearly, and eliminate frustration behaviors, so that both team members can enjoy the sport more fully.  She brings an analytical approach to all aspects of dog training, ensuring her students have access to clear protocols with detailed explanations, printouts, and video support as needed.

She started training agility with her first dog Riley four years ago, and has been competing him for the past two years in USDAA, UKI, and AKC. Shortly after starting Riley, Grace started training her second dog Casey, who has taught her much about working with stress down, and low drive dogs. She is currently working Foundations with her Border Collie puppy, Fin. 

Grace is constantly learning, and studying new techniques to be able to apply out of the box methods to training challenges. She draws on expertise spanning everything from animal behavior to equestrian sports. Grace had the great fortune to assistant teach under One Mind Dogs Assistant Coach Stefanie Rainer, and has trained with other top handlers in the sport of Agility including Soshana Dos, and Jessica Ajoux. Grace does not teach any one method, but rather believes in the power of the right tool, for the right team, at the right time. 

Contact Grace at:

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Misa Martin, CPDT-KA

Misa Martin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. After being invited to come along to Agility practice by a fellow Brooklynite, Misa and her first dog Flop caught the "agility bug" and studied with Tracy Sklenar, Chris Ott, and Mary Lou Hanlon. Years of attending agility seminars, workshops and camps with her first dog led to the beginning of her professional dog training career as a PetSmart Trainer in 2008.

In addition to joining PCOTC's Family Manners program, Misa is a staff trainer at the Mount Vernon Humane Society and Pet Rescue. Misa owns Hudson Valley Dog Trainer, providing reward-based training to private clients.

Through her knowledge, experience, and sense of humor, Misa encourages students to approach dog training as a team effort, where students learn as much from their dogs as dogs learn from their "parents," making training fun for humans and dogs alike!

"My greatest satisfaction since becoming a dog trainer has been seeing my students 'click' with their dogs and be proud of what they've learned together," says Misa.

Misa has competed in NADAC, USDAA, and CPE agility at the Elite and Masters level with her rescued rat terrier Flop. Her newest family member, Jambo, is also training in agility.

Misa is an avid photographer and is currently working on a documentary about dogs adopted from rescues and shelters. She can be reached at misa212@gmail.com

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Stephen McKay, CPDT-KSA

Stephen has been involved in agility since 1998. A recurring national qualifier, he has earned six AKC Master Agility Championships (MACH) as well as over eight dozen additional agility titles in three agility venues. Past and current teammates include a Golden Retriever, two Shetland Sheepdogs and a West Highland White Terrier. His upcoming teammate, a Border Collie, will complete his pursuit of competition in almost every jump height. Positive reinforcement training philosophies, games, play, and operant conditioning are used by Stephen to benevolently build the solid foundation skills and advanced competition skills necessary for teams to be successful.

Stephen is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Knowledge and Skills Assessed (CPDT-KSA). In addition to agility, canine behavior is a primary interest to him. Education is a constant priority with regular seminar attendance, books and instructional DVDs utilized to expand his knowledge of behavior, learning theory, training and coaching skills. Stephen was instrumental in the development and implementation of PCOTC's Family Manners Program, is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and runs McKay9 Dog Training LLC with his wife Jamie, who is also a Certified Professional Trainer (CDPT-KSA) and fellow PCOTC instructor.

As a volunteer trainer at the New Rochelle Humane Society, Stephen and his wife Jamie apply their skills to the training of new shelter volunteers and the behavioral modification of shelter dogs. Stephen and Jamie are currently owned and loved by their two Shelties, a Westie, a Golden Retriever and a Border Collie. Stephen can be reached at goweave@optonline.net.

Rick Pisani, CPDT-KA

Rick Pisani has been training dogs since 1987, teaching competition obedience classes as well as puppy kindergarten, basic manners and Canine Good Citizen classes. His students have obtained all level of AKC obedience titles, ranging from Novice Obedience through UDX and OTCH, as well as rally titles. He has been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) since 2005.

Rick attended the Instructors Training Course in 2004 hosted by Rondout Valley for Adoption and Dogs of Course, and was awarded the "Inspiration Award" at the ITC by his fellow classmates.

Rick has an outstanding record of accomplishments with his dogs, including Obedience Trial Championships (OTCH) on three different breeds, as well as multiple High in Trial and High Combined awards.

Rick took Shetland Sheep Dog NOC OTCH Sir Malcolm MacDuff UDX4 from Novice A to an Obedience Trial Championship, winning the Gaines-Cycle Super Dog award in 1995. MacDuff became AKC National Obedience Champion in 1996.

Rick's Golden Retriever CH-OTCH Wingmaster's Ounce of Gold UDX5 VCX WC, Can CD, was the 15th dog in the history of Golden Retrievers to obtain the dual championship designation, and was the Gaines-Cycle Open Class winner in 1994.

Rick's Border Collie OTCH Shoreland's Wild Thing UFX RA OA OAJ earned Multiple High in Trial and High Combined awards along with numerous placements in local and National Obedience tournaments.

Rick also competes in agility. His adopted shelter dog, Australian Shepherd Nani, who was born deaf, recently completed her USDAA Agility Dog Champion (ADCH).

His newest dog, Smooth Coated Border Collie Disco, is being trained for obedience and agility.

Lisa Topol

Lisa has been competing in agility for over ten years, and in that time, she has excelled with dogs of multiple breeds and sizes at the highest levels of competition. She is especially proud that she has found her greatest success with rescue dogs (her mixed breed dogs Schmutzy and Plop).

Competing primarily in USDAA and UKI, as well as AKC, among her most recent accomplishments:

  • 2017 Cynsoports World Games:  (Schmutzy) 20”perf speed jumping finalist (4th) , perf grand prix finalist (4th).  (Plop) 14”steeplechase finalist, gamblers bronze medal, jumpers bronze medal, fifth place overall team (among 180 teams)
  • 2017 UKI Northeast Cup:  (Schmutzy) 22” biathlon silver medal, games bronze medal, speedstakes silver medal, top overall dog.  (Plop) 16” biathlon gold medal,
  • 2017 Northeast Regional:  (Schmutzy) 20” perf speed jumping silver medal
  • 2017 Mid Atlantic Regional:  (Schmutzy ) 20”perf speed jumping gold medal, biathlon gold medal, perf grand prix silver medal, team gold medal,  top overall dog.  (Plop) 14” steeplechase silver medal, grand prix bronze medal.
  • 2017 Mid Atlantic Showcase: (Schmutzy) 20” triathlon gold medal
  • 2016 New England Regionals: (Schmutzy) 22” grand prix silver medal ,  (Plop) 14” biathlon silver medal
  • 2013: Cynosports World Games  (Schmutzy) 22” gamblers gold medal
  • 2013: Canadian Regionals  (Schmutzy) 22” biathlon gold medal
  • 2013 CCOA champ/IFCS tryouts:  (Schmutzy) 26” steeplechase silver medal, gamblers bronze medal

In terms of her own training, Lisa’s biggest influence is Kris Seiter, with whom she continues to train. She has also trained extensively with Mary Ellen Barry, Rachel Sanders, Jen Pinder, Val Henry, Rosanne DeMascio, Svetlana Tumanova, as well as the Finnish One Mind team. She has also worked with Linda Mecklenburg and Jennifer Crank. 

As such, while Lisa is fluent in the most popular systems used today, she is not beholden to one training system and strongly believes in supporting whatever methods work best for a particular team. In the end, Lisa believes it comes down to building a great, trusting, and happy foundation that can grow and strengthen throughout a dog’s career.