Handler spotlight – Nancy Chwiecko and Rich Tannen

Tell us your name and dogs names and breeds:

Nancy Chwiecko and Rich Tannen 

 We have four Shetland Sheepdogs, Quinn 14.75 years, Fuji 6 years, Toki 5 years and Spy is 3 years old.   Quinn is retired. Nancy runs Fuji and Spy. Rich runs Toki. 

 We live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. 

 How long have you been doing dog agility?

Nancy started training in agility in 2004, when she was 48, with a young Doberman named Lena. Unfortunately, Lena had a congenital spinal issue and was never really able to compete. Nancy’s next dog was Quinn. Quinn was a great training partner, but trials were not really his thing.  So, her agility career didn’t really take off until she got Fuji 6 years ago. Rich started training in agility with Toki, she is his first agility dog. Rich was 68 years old when he started. Nancy is now 65 and Rich is 73.


What levels and titles have you achieved since starting UK Agility?

Rich and Toki compete in the Champion level in the Speedstakes and International Programs. 

 Nancy and Fuji compete in the Champion Level in the Speedstakes and International Programs. They have achieved an IAC 2 and an IWAC 2. 

 Nancy and Spy compete in the Senior Level in the Speedstakes and International Programs.  

 Any big UKI events you have attended and any results you achieved you’d like to brag about? 

Rich and Nancy have attended two UKI US Opens, 2019 and 2021.  

 At the 2019 UKI US Open Rich and Toki made it to the Speedstakes Final. (Not bad for a 71-year-old!) 

 At the 2021 UKI US Open Nancy and both Fuji and Spy made it through both the Biathlon Jumping and Biathlon Agility 12” regular classes.   

 Nancy and Fuji ended up 2nd place overall in Biathlon in the 12” regular class. It was an unexpected thrill to end up on the podium. 

 Besides training your dogs in agility, what other fun things do you like to do with your dogs? 

We take daily hikes with our dogs, mostly on our own property. They love to play; Toki has a special ball and Spy a frisbee. We have fun teaching them tricks, especially in the winter months when we are stuck indoors.  

 We bought a small RV motorhome and now enjoy traveling with the dogs. 

 Nancy has been taking herding lessons with Spy. They work with both sheep and ducks. For a little guy, he’s pretty impressive with sheep! It’s the hardest dog training Nancy has ever done but she loves it. There could be more herding dogs in our future! 

 What other hobbies do you have, or activities do you enjoy besides Agility? 

Rich has been a dedicated bicyclist and has gone on several long-distance trips with friends. He also is an avid guitar player.  

 Nancy loves to garden and landscape. Her “happy place” is on one of her farm tractors. She also paints, mostly images of the moon, with a focus on light and shadow. 

 Rich and Nancy designed and built their current energy efficient home 7 years ago.  

 Feel free to tell us what you do for a living or used to do, or desire to do? 

Rich and Nancy are both retired professors. They taught at Rochester Institute of Technology, Rich in the School for American Crafts– Woodworking and Furniture design, Nancy, in the School of Design – Interior Design. 

 What are your agility goals or future ambitions? 

Continue training and learning as much as we can.  We both love learning. We both want to improve our handling skills and techniques. We also hope to do a little teaching together.  

 We currently train with Darryl Power at Power’d Up Agility. Darryl has been a great teacher and coach, providing us with weekly challenges that help hone our skills and techniques. 

 Before the pandemic we were able to travel occasionally to nearby Canada to train with Kayl McCann and her instructors, either in private lessons or at one of Kayl’s camps. In addition to being one of the best competitors in the world, Kayl is also one of the best teachers and coaches.  She is able to bring out the best in dogs and humans! It’s always a memorable experience to work with her, and we hope that we will be able to travel once again for these opportunities. 

 What do you love about competing with UKI? 

Nancy has competed in 4 other organizations in the US, Rich in one other. We recently decided that for now, we would only compete in UKI. There is no other organization that compares to UKI. None. 

 We would agree with all of the things listed under “Why UKI?” on the website. But there is more. Our reasons: 

  •  Courses are the most challenging and interesting, they never seem remotely the same. So different every time, even with the same judges. 
  • We compete against ourselves and learn a lot at every trial. 
  • The UKI US Open is an amazing event. It’s challenging, yet fun. It’s a great place to see some great agility in this country. For us the week there is like a vacation.  
  • At Home Trials helped us through early stages of the pandemic. Although we have gone back to in person trials, At Home is so useful for so many people who can’t go to trials.  
  • UKI judges 
  • UKI staff are wonderful, very responsive to any questions 
  • Made many new friends who love UKI as much as we do 
  • We have found a camaraderie amongst UKI people, with less emphasis on “Q-ing” as a primary goal, and more on learning, improving and helping one another.