Me & My dogs

My mother had been visiting dog shows during her pregnancy. The wall of my room was filled with my father’s pictures of dogs. I can still see the Kuvasz galloping and the Boxer puppy looking out from a bag. It’s not a miracle that after a hospital stay where I borrowed “Kántor Investigating” (a book about a famous Hungarian police dog) I rushed into the library so that I could read it immediately – and from that point there was no turning back: I wanted a dog.

My mother didn’t let me have a boxer – “It’s so big that it would drink our tea from the pot on the table!” A Hungarian Greyhound or atransylvanian Hound could not come into question because we had a small flat. At the end, I didn’t choose – I was chosen. I was hanging out with my classmates when I met Pajti, a small mixed breed dog with big hair, and soon he was waiting for me in front of the school. As it turned out, he was a part time stray dog, and a part time watchdog of the nearby driving school. After he escaped several times, both his owner and my mother gave their blessings to me officially to adopt him. What a pity we didn’t know agility the time; both of us would have loved it! The only sport which was left for us was hunting for sparrows in the park.

My first pure bred dog, Freddie was born in 1992. Naturally I owned a copy of The Dog Almanac by Szinák-Veress, and it might have maybe in this book that I first noticed the English Bullterrier breed. In the dog shows in Népstadion, the Bullterrier’s course was in the covered hall. Face to face, I was even more impressed by their muscular shape, special appearance and friendly character. Since I was high school I could only think of buying a puppy during the summer holiday. It turned out that I had to bring Hungária Gladiátor Carlo Freddie home before the last day of school. There weren’t many litters and it was important for us to pick from the right kind of bloodline, and from the best possible breeder. My form master must have thought we had gone for a pre-summer holiday.

I can thank Freddie a lot – my first big love, for the encounter with Dr. Tibor Bródy, my first article in the magazine “a Kutya” (“the Dog”), travels for abroad, show experience, plenty of life experiences – but there was only one thing that he did not want to do, agility!

Leukemia took him from me too soon – I wasn’t able to get a new dog from the same breed immediately – which is why I chose from the Miniature ones. Anterrabae memorial Don Giovanni was born in 1998 and he was a partner in agility, too. It’s true that he never learned the independent slalom entrance but he won the winter cup in korneuburg and the köztársaság kupa (national cup). I started to train with him in January 1999 in Népsziget dog school, and in July we entered the Csepel Cup. I became a team leader. When I was not needed anymore and nothing kept me in Népsziget by profession, we continued in the Happy Dog School in Kőbánya. Kriszta Kabai was soon following me there. We participated together in the first agility seminar of my life in austria. The price of this event was rather too expensive for us. We could have paid many entry fees from that, I thought -, but if somebody was a two-times World Champion surely we could learn a lot from her. Christine Charpentier was simply awesome, just like her dogs. To be honest, as the journalist of “the dog”, the events of the English Shepherd Club weren’t really my favourite. But her Border Collies were totally different: normal dogs, you would not take notice of them in the flat, but when it was worktime, they ran rings around everyone. After she held several seminars in Hungary and I visited her in France, I timidly asked her, whether I could do agility with a Border Collie, too…

Nevian was born as the only daughter of the two-times World Champion French Loch Macleod and also the smart and beautiful Silvertip’s Ai Loch Red Girl, on March 12, 2004. Because of Giovanni I could only think about a female so I didn’t have to choose; she was the only female in the litter. From the first I knew she was special. Christine socialized the puppies very well. They knew how to wait at the door for the command “stay”, and when we stayed at a lay-by on our way home, Nevi brought me the ball back right for the first time. I feel very lucky for being her owner! I can thank her that now I earn my living with what I love the most.
In 1998 not only was Giovanni born but I also met my boyfriend at the time. I started agility with both of his dogs. We ran A3 with Wanda, the extremely smart American Staffordshire Terrier. Our last a2 run was judged by Iveta Lukacova. Wanda got a fried chicken for the third clean run. Vigo was an Amstaff-mixed bred, with a huge head and even bigger heart. Unfortunately he was attacked by a Doberman and from that time on he was no longer friendly with other dogs. That’s why i asked ildikó halász to train at her course. She owned a private closed course in solymár.
I started to compete with Vigo at veteran class because of his body structure. Our biggest success was building up a running contact. Even the foreign competitors clapped for us at a competition in Gyula.

I owe a lot to Ildikó Halász. When I asked her for a large dog to run for the world cup, I was given Fax to run. Although we did’t make the qualification, we placed third in the National Championship in 2004. I placed second with Flört, and with her, my dream came true in 2005. After achieving third place again in the NC, we qualified for the World Championship! The road to Spain was unforgettable with Ildikó and Noémi Fái. The agility sport commission made a decision to only enter large dogs for the AWC. I think we earned their trust; Bijou, Flört and Frakk got the sixth place in team. I remember the feeling when I first stepped on the course in Vallaloid; I was very nervous! But I said to myself, this is the thing you have been waiting for since you’d seen a World Championship live in dortmund! So just enjoy it! We ran three clean runs, but in the fourth run the double jump bar fell down.
I had the opportunity to compete with a very small Bergerac dog. April was a very small schipperke. We qualified for the AWC in 2008, and won the third place in NC in 2009.
Chester was a Bergerac dog too, a litter brother of Fax. They were as like as two peas in a pod but inside they were chalk and cheese regarding their speed on the course. Our first run was an open jumping in bratislava. It felt like a rush with a TGV. We were second in the NC in 2005 and 2006 and after winning the agility run in 2006, finally we became National Champions in 2007!

In 2009, Chester also got a qualification, just like Nevian. We just slipped from the podium with Ági Tóth. The Hungarian large team got the fourth place. I was very nervous when stepping on the course with Nevian – and I couldn’t control this feeling. Running on a probable winner team, for a country is very different than as an individual. This resulted in two bars down. The agility run was different. We were fighting with a fire in our heart on the exciting course of manuel alff. If I didn’t play chester’s dogwalk contact safe, if… If… If we got just one fault less, we could have stepped onto the podium!

Nevian… What can I say about her? She’s simply perfect! Regarding the results, it is not because of her that we haven’t become World Champions she’s been part of the wc qualifying team every year since 2006. I stepped on the podium with her immediately. This was the first and unfortunately up to now, the only Hungarian individual to medal. It feels like it happened yesterday. Christine asked me what do I have to think and do before the individual jumping. Ildi instructed me in not bothering about the dogwalk contact, just to go on. Looking up to the display after we finished, it was a clean run. Remembering that unrepeatable moment still make my flesh crawl as the Hungarian fans were running down to celebrate, wading through poor Swiss fans!
We were fifth in 2007 as we lost a lot of time in a long bend in jumping. We had two contacts in 2008, got a fourth place in 2009 with a beautiful run, thanks to Ági Tóth who shouted down to me in a very critical moment: “run!”. Unfortunately I made a famous mistake: 1-3 instead of 1-2-3: I was at the contact in the head and pulled off the dog from the second obstacle.
This is why in 2010 I tried to do two clean runs so badly and that’s how I learned that you won’t get anything on a wc with a safe run. We couldn’t get on the first paper sheet in general results.
A contact again in 2011 but our time was better than the World Champion’s. In 2012, after a clean run in jumping, I again made a handling mistake at the beginning of the agility course. In 2013 we would have had a chance but the journey to south africa would have been too expensive and dangerous for us to compete among 23 (!) Large dogs.
In 2014, at ten years of age and after a clean jump run we finally did the perfect agility run! We got 21st. Place in general among 126 competitors, all of them were younger than nevian. Imagine I didn’t want to make this run at first, because i didn’t like the course…

We won a lot of titles with Nevian – and there are many that we didn’t. She became National Champion in 2009 and 2013. At Crufts we won the British Open and the International class, too. We also won IABC, Korneuburg Wintercup, ASB Wintercup several times as well as Midatlantic Showcase Triathlon. There were smaller and bigger competitions in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Swiss and the USA. Many times I made just a tiny mistake but the results are secondary. If we bring out the best from the dog, we already have won – and we have to be happy for all of the runs! I think this is why Nevian was so fast in basel. After every run she would feel special and that I was happy with her. Mistakes are always made by humans, the dogs are perfect!

If you already had lost a dog, you would treat your next one so that you never would feel remorse when you have to let your best friend go. I’m grateful for every minute I can spend with my dogs and i do everything to give a good life to them.

After Giovanni’s death our life became boring. A perfect sheepdog needs to have a little troublemaker by her side! We chose Trancesca e’l temperamento based on a careful, almost scientific process… I saw her in a fascinating picture, where she put her paws on a stone ball – it was love at first sight! We had to make a payment in advance without seeing her. I quickly looked for what I could see in a video that the breeder sent, which was shot just after lunch. Could I be sure that this dog would be active enough for agility? – I asked myself the question… That turned out to be the most stupid question i could have asked myself! Dú is the smartest, the most active and cutest dog in the world! I don’t know where our journey will lead us in agility, but I already learned plenty of things from her and have became a much better trainer.

I’ve been teaching training seminars since 2007. I teach five-day-long seminars four times a year at Hotel Wolf and Ferienhof Kraus, Germany. These trainings are booked with accomodations and full board. I also teach seminars at the invitation of various dog schools, and agility clubs. In Switzerland I arrange two-day intensive trainings. Here in Hungary I keep OMD teach-in and practice about the basics and various handling techniques from 2015. I also started to offer online agility classes.
I’ve been teaching seminars in the USA since 2010. Usually I’m there in the spring and the autumn for 3 months altogether. Besides teaching I compete there also with both of my dogs. There are many big agility organizations in the USA. For example, at the USDAA the Snooker, Gambler, Relay (2 teams are competing together) are official categories just as are agility and jumping. They also have team competitions and qualifications for Cynosport, which are Steeplechase and Grand Prix trials. It’s not unusual to run 5-6 runs in a day; i love it!

Nevian competed in Cynosport World Games in 2011, 2013 and 2014. This is the biggest American Championship. I had fantastic teammates in 2011 (Jen Pinder and Kayl McCann) but we still did not get into the finals though nevian won Agility and Gambler runs and she was second in Jumping. Based on the team runs, she was the second best dog in her height category (26″). In 2013 she was third in this aggregate. She still got a 7th place in jumping and a 6th place in Gambler. With Linda Mecklenburg and Jennifer Crank, we qualified for the finals and got 11th place out of 211 teams.
Both years we had very good teams but we couldn’t step onto the podium, so I started to reorganize. I found Rosanne DeMasci0 who ran the most clean runs and asked if she would be my teammate in 2014. She said yes and she found a trusty third team (Mia Grant – Vic). Finally Nevian would step on the podium in a big competition as we were third in team. Although she was competing in 22 inch, which was the biggest field there, she still was the third best dog based on team runs.
There are many more jumping heights in the USA than in Europe. For example, USDAA has six (12,14,16,18,22,26 inches). If it’s not enough for the dogs who are on the edge of the size margin, they can choose performance program instead of championship. Performance has four categories (8,12,16,20 inches). One inch is 2,54 centimetres. Because of her height, nevian should jump 22 inches (56 centimetres) but because in europe the large category is between 60-65cm, we were competing in the 26″ (66cm) category, because this is possible, too. In 2014 she jumped 22″ because of her age. If i had wanted, she could have competed in 20″ or even 16″ in performance. Competitors and organizers take performance program just as seriously as the championship. There are also a veteran competitions, with four jumping heights.

In 2008, Dalma Zalud left the president’s chair at the agility sport commitee in Hungary. I was so crazy that I took her place, as many competitors were encouraging me to do so. It’s not a very thankful position but I’ve never regretted my decision. (since 2009 I have represented Hungary and participated in the work of the FCI Agility Commitee.) Before MEOE became an union, we succeeded several times in getting a certain amount of subsidy for the wc qualification team. Julius k-9 graciously donated a photoelectric cell and displayer for the sport commitee as part of a long-term supporter agreement. The company also supported our competitions with gift parcels, tracksuits, t-shirts for the qualification team, paid for the accomodations for the wc team and supported the eo team, too. Thanks to the high quality competitions helding by ASB, Hungarian competitors can compete for special prizes on courses of famous international judges on smart-99 obstacles, and on non-skidding artificial grass. We have high standards in organizing competitions. Luckily, there are more and more organizers who are trying to follow us. We are organizing qualifying competitions regularly with wc and eo judges. In 2012 the Hungarian team won the first team medal: our medium team got bronze medal at the AWC. After winning a run in medium in 2011 and jumping small in 2012, the Hungarian medium team won the agility run in 2014.
In 2010 we organized the Border Collie Classic in Zalaegerszeg. After that, the European Open in Taszár – despite the early difficulties – also had universal international success. FCI Agility Committee said it was a well prepared, highly organized event. When I saw the courses on the first day of the competition, my eyes were swimming with tear. The best competitors of the world, came to us from 33 countries! Agility fills in a significant part of my life and thanks to this wonderful sport, I’ve visited many amazing places with my dogs. I have found friends in many countries who welcome me every time with open arms. Now this was the the other way around. My country and I would be the host of 33 nations from europe and overseas. We had many troubles with organizing the competition. We had to look for a new site two times, but even when we were solving the most annoying problems, we did not forget our goal: to organize a dog-friendly and competitor-centered european open. You cannot imagine a succesful EO without good judges. I’m ineffably happy because beside the accomplished foreign judges , our young Hungarian judges got the chance to prove how talented they are as well. Veronika Herendy and Tamás Tráj’s courses are mentioned repeatedly with high appreciation all over the world. The competition in taszár was one – and not the last – of the high points of their career.

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