Heather Kaluza O'Neill
Heather has been training dogs as long as she can remember, one of the perks of having an obedience instructor as a mother. She started agility in 2000 with her German Shepherd, named Chase. She was hesitant to try it and only went to agility class after saying, "I'll try it, but I'll never compete".
How quickly things changed, as she learned she had natural knack for agility training and was hooked! A few years later she also started training and competing with Golden Retriever, Rivi. Volunteering to teach 4-H agility classes while still in high school, is where Heather found her love for teaching. She was given an amazing opportunity to start teaching at Argus Ranch, where she has been teaching weekly classes since 2003. She has learned a lot about dog training from her mom and her training partner, Gillian Crawford. She credits them for teaching her how to teach people and dogs.
Two dogs are responsible for where she is now, and shaped her agility career -
Golden Retriever, Derby (MACH2 Spirit's Run for the Roses CD RA). Derby passed away in 2017.
Border Collie, Chip (MACH Speedoggie Woowho PCDX RN). Learn more about Chip here
Derby was a 4 time National Finalist ( USDAA 2010, Kentucky. AKC 2012 Reno. USDAA 2012 Colorado. USDAA 2014 California) and a 5 time Regional Champion (2009 and 2010 NW Performance Grand Prix Champion, 2014 NW Performance Steeplechase Champion, 2014 NW PVP Team Champion, 2014 Western Performance Biathlon Champion).
Chip is a 4 time National Finalist (USDAA Steeplechase 2014, California. USDAA Steeplechase 2016, Arizona. AKC 2017, Georgia. USDAA Grand Prix 2017, Tennessee), and a two time Regional Champion (2016 NW Steeplechase Champion. 2017 NW Grand Prix Champion). They also won the Silver Medal in Biathlon at Cynosport World Games in 2016. At their second AKC Nationals in 2017, Chip and Heather won the 20" Standard class and came in 2nd place in the NAC Finals.
Heather and her dogs also compete in obedience and rally, Derby earned his CD and Rally Advance Title, Chip has his PCDX and Rally Novice Title.
Heather is even more proud of her student's accomplishments than she is of her own. Whether it's qualifying for and attending National Championships, Breed Nationals, and the Invitational, or racking up multiple MACHs and PACHs, or simply having a blast with their dog and upholding criteria at local competitions.
Training Chip brought Heather to explore many new training and handling methods, as well as running contacts. Heather believes that there is no "one size fits all" for agility training, and helps her students to learn what works best for their individual dogs. An emphasis is placed on trained skills, so that the dog knows exactly what is expected out of them and develops strong obstacle commitment, allowing the handler to stay ahead on course. Heather has worked with Silvia Trkman, Susan Garrett, Justine Davenport, Tori Self, and Greg Derrett, and draws inspiration from all of them. She believes there is always something more to learn, and continues her education by attending seminars and doing online training with various instructors.