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Interview with Pavlína Fialová, IFR 2019 World Champion IGP III

The Rottweilers Are Closest to My Heart

Pavlína Fialová is 42 years old, she has a university degree (Ing.), is married and works as a quality controller in the company BN International. She has passed more than 45 exams with her Rottweilers, including IPO3 with five dogs. She is a certificated dog trainer. Pavlína repeatedly participates in the Czech RTW Nationals and has represented the Czech Republic at the IFR World Championship four times so far. She came back from the last IFR World Championship held from 18th to 21st September 2019 in Odense, Denmark, not only with highest scores for tracking and obedience, but as the new and at the same time historically the first IFR World Champion from the Czech Republic!


Pavlína, can you tell us more about yourself? Where are you from? Did you grow up in a dog-friendly family or did you have to “fight” for your first dog? What was your first dog like? I don’t mean dog for sport, but your very first dog ever.

I come from the picturesque foothills of Krkonoše Mountains, from the outskirts of the town Červený Kostelec. We lived in the village and our family always had a dog amongst other animals. At first it was a mongrel from our neighbours and then my sister bought a female German Shepherd. When my sister moved away, the care for the dog was left to me. At that time the dog was already 7 years old, so it was not about training. I was just providing the everyday care. When the dog died at the age of 11, the choice of the next dog was left to me. That’s when I decided to get a Rottweiler female.


What brought you to the dog sport? Do you remember your beginnings? When and at which training club did you start, what dog did you train and what was your “best” achievement at that time? :-)

My first dog Bonnie, the Rottweiler, brought me to the training club. We did not know anything at all so we went for advice. I started attending ZKO Žernov-Rýzmburk and all training was done with traditional "Svazarm" approach in line of handlers. We started to enjoy the training, passed our first exams and started to participate in competitions organized in local towns. The best success for me at that time was every exam we passed. The top for us was the first participation in RTW National Championship in IPO3 level.


What was the turning point for you to make the decision that you would devote your life to Rottweilers? Did you have a special reason for choosing this breed?

It was basically a fluke. When I started to look for a new puppy, I was firstly looking at German Shepherds again. However, at that time my brother-in-law bought a Rottie puppy and I fell in love with this breed. So after that, my search was focused on Rottweilers. Coincidence brought me to Hradec Králové. There was one last female available, so the little girl went home with me in the end.


Did you have any doubts or fears how would you manage this “fighting” breed after you decided to get a Rottweiler? What do you think in general about this incorrect labelling of Rottweilers?

I did not have any worries because I did not know anything. Perhaps that was a bad attitude to have, but I went into training without any prejudices. I do not like the term "fighting” breed. If someone uses it for any breed, he/she does not know anything about dogs.


So when did you get your first Rottweiler? Can you tell us something about her? :-)

My first Rottweiler was born on 6th of June 2000 and her name was Bonnie od Harachova dvora. She was a very friendly and social female. Maybe she was not as drivy in today's grand scheme of things, but she had a heart for work. She knew how to bail me out on the trial field too. Basically, we learned everything together. We went through the first trials, competitions and shows together and she was the founder of our kennel Bonnapo. She was with me for 13.5 years and she showed me the beauty of this breed.


When was your kennel Bonnapo founded, and how many litters have you bred so far?

Our kennel was founded in 2002. We are not commercial breeders. We bred 6 litters on two females during those 17 years. We have seen full litters as well as small ones, we had easy births and those adrenaline ones, too. We had experienced the trouble-free mating and we had problems in that department too, but that's what every breeder will go through. It is an amazing miracle when a new life is born and you have the opportunity to watch it and experience everything first hand.


What is your goal in breeding Rottweilers? What do you put the most emphasis on and what do you want to avoid? What are your criteria for choosing a stud dog for example?

My goal in breeding is good health and working abilities. Of course, whilst maintaining the desired breed standard. When I am looking for a stud dog, I first check his health. Then the main criterion is dog’s temperament for work. It is not so much about the number of passed exams, but rather about working abilities. I would very much like to avoid what has been a major trend lately – exaggerated and short muzzles of Rottweilers. These dogs have problems to cope with work and often even with an ordinary active life.


What do you think about Rottweiler breeding in the Czech Republic? Can you tell us what you like and dislike from a breeder's and a competitor's point of view?

I do not consider myself as a big breeder. I think most breeders are trying to achieve a balance between dog´s appearance and working abilities. Nevertheless, the Rottweiler as a breed is beginning to divide into working and show lines, similarly to the German Shepherd Dogs. Both extremes are not ideal. I do not like the efforts of some breeders to get the biggest heads as possible with short muzzles. This type of dog has no longer anything to do with Rottweilers. However, sometimes you can meet a working Rottweiler that looks more like a Dobermann, which is also not correct, of course. Fortunately, this is not a burning issue in the Czech Republic. As far as training is concerned, it's good that there are more people training Rottweilers to a good level recently. On the other hand, it is a pity that most of the animals that make an appearance in the IPO1 competitions don’t continue further.


What success of your offspring do you value the most? Which male or female is unforgettable for you?

Most of our puppies have lived their lives as family pets. I most appreciate the fact that their owners are coming back to me again and again asking if they could get another wonderful companion. I have to mention dog Bastien Bonnapo, with whom I won the title CACIB, BOB, BIG, BOD together with his owners at the international dog show. Derrick Bonnapo, who not only gained his IPO3, but also became international champion C.I.B. (formerly Inter-champion). As far as work is concerned, I can’t forget Ancara and our entry in CACIT Dobříš 2010 and participation in the IFR in Denmark 2010. And of course, I must mention my current dog, Funny Falko Bonnapo who won three big competitions over the last year. He won the CACIT competition in Stránčice, the Czech RTW Nationals and now he also became the IFR IGP World Champion.


As you said, you have champions as well as inter-champions at home. What do you enjoy more – training or shows? :-)

Definitely training, I take shows as a necessary evil.


Can you introduce your current Rottweiler "pack" to us? :-)

We currently have 2 Rottweilers at home – a German bred female Tequela von Avalon (Elina) and our offspring, male Funny Falko Bonnapo (Fanny, Fanouš). Each one is different and unique in something. Our dogs live with us in our house and I have to say they even sleep with us in bed. :-)


You are training males and females. Is there in your experience any difference, for example in approach, methods or motivation? Do you prefer males or females for training?

As far as the training is concerned, each of my dogs was a bit different. It is difficult for me to say whether male or female. It is true however, that managing a drivy big Rottie is sometimes quite challenging, which is confirmed by my youngest Funny (Fanouš) :-). Motivation and approach is about the same, just every dog needs its time and that is different for each animal. When it comes to Rottweilers, taking my time has always paid off. I used to prefer females, but now I can say it's more about that particular dog. But it is true that when taking part in competitions with a male, you don´t have to deal with e.g. date of heat. And if you are competing with a female who you want to breed, sometimes you have to consider your priorities.


Let´s go back to your fantastic achievement in Denmark. What were your goals and have you dreamt of such success?

I think everyone dreams about success. Especially, when you have a really good working dog. So we were leaving with hope that we would succeed. But the most important for me was to go back with a healthy dog. And to show my dog´s quality even if anything didn´t go to plan. There were a few difficulties, but overall we did a good job. :-)


Yes, you really did! :-) Could you, please, describe each of your phases and comment it?

We drew tracking as our first discipline for Thursday. We arrived to Denmark and our training track was on Tuesday. The weather was absolutely horrible that day, our training track didn´t go well and so we had to do it once more. On Thursday, we went tracking in the last group and I have to say that results of morning groups were not good, I was a bit worried. I drew the fourth track of the group and then I was watching the performances. Great, each dog finished the track. Our tracking – I have to say that Funny was working hard on his track from start to finish, His only mistake probably was when he wanted to speed up after the second article on the third leg and I had to slow him down a bit. It was just a minor problem and he worked the rest of the track precisely. I knew that our result could be nice, but 97 points the judge awarded to us were beyond my expectations.

Then we had to wait for obedience and protection phases until Saturday morning. Other members of the Czech team had finished their performances and they came to support us at the stadium. Our obedience routine was started with down stay. Funny was completely focused on me throughout obedience and I have to say he really showed off the audience his temperament. As far as I remember, the judge said that sit in motion could be tighter to the ground (the ground was wet in the morning :-) ), he also said the dog could look happier during the down in motion exercise and ways back with the dumbbell could be a bit faster. He awarded 95 points to us for obedience.

Well, protection as our last phase was completely directed by Funny. He missed two blinds, which was his first mistake. His drive cost us also some points during the back and side transports. He came off the sleeve on the long attack and one of his teeth was broken off. When Funny re-gripped the sleeve, the helper fell down and twisted dog´s neck badly. I was really worried about my dog at that moment. Fortunately, we completed our protection routine without health consequences. Total score 82 points was surprising to us, but in fact we could not hope for more points for this phase.


Was there a situation during your performance when Funny surprised you – in a positive or negative way?

I was very pleased with his precise tracking performance. His protection phase was the opposite. However, thanks to that we know what we need to improve.


How did you enjoy the podium? Were you proud, moved or happy that your dream came true?

I have enjoyed the awarding ceremony very much and my emotions were a mixture of everything you mentioned. To win such a championship is definitely a huge success. I am very proud that the winner is a Czech dog from my own breeding. I was moved to tears. It was so exciting to stand on the podium twice and to hear the Czech national anthem twice. It was incredible. I realized it all when we came back home.


What will you recollect if I say the IFR IGP 2019?  I mean, besides your victory. :-)

A perfect bunch of people, April weather regarding clothing – from anorak to T-shirts. Very pleasant people all around Denmark, and very good food (which is often not a standard at these events). I think this competition was very well prepared and nice.


You have already participated in four IFR World Championships. Could you compare these events? Whether in terms of your own participation or can you give us your opinion about how the dog sport has developed over those years.

Regarding my participation, I was probably most stressed and nervous at the IFR IGP 2019. At the same time, I hoped everything would go to plan, expectations were high. On the other hand, to be the first competitor for the routine on the first day of the competition may be worse (two years ago, IFR World Championship in Belgium). If I were to compare each Championship, I would say that each event had its dog star. Overall, I dare to say that quality of dogs and their performances have improved a lot recently. A different approach to training and dogs willing to work can be often watched on the field. Just like at this year´s World Championship, there were many good dogs. Some teams just lacked a bit of luck.


As the IFR World Champion 2019 you are going to participate in the FCI World Championship next year. Are you looking forward to this event? When do you start getting ready for the new competition season and how?

Yes, I am looking forward to it. And I know that it will be very difficult. It is an amazing achievement and success to get qualified for the FCI World Championship. Our preparation for the upcoming season starts in fact right now, after a short break and treatment of Funny´s tooth.


Have you ever thought about changing the breed, or are Rotties closest to your heart and there won’t be any change? :-)

Never say never, but for the time being there will be no change. The Rottweilers are closest to my heart.


Who would you recommend this breed to and who would you rather discourage from owning a Rottweiler? When you are choosing new homes for your puppies, what's the most important for you?

I had both beginners and experienced people as new owners. This is not essential for me. After all, I was also starting with Rottweiler straight away. It is rather about the general approach of the new owner or ideally, of the entire family. Choosing new owners for puppies is always an uncertain thing. The most important thing for me is that the dog has a good life with new owners and that both sides are happy. That's why people should have an idea about what they want to do with the dog and choose accordingly. I always try to help them as a breeder with the choice.


What about your future plans? Will you tell us what are they in training and breeding?

Our plans are given and simple. Prepare Funny for the next season, in which we will take part in a few competitions. Elina enjoys her pet dog life now with us. And I hope that everything will be OK and a puppy will arrive to our team in the near future.


Do you have any other hobbies apart from dog sport? What else do you enjoy doing? How do you imagine your dream holiday for example? :-)

I do not have much time for other hobbies, but sometimes I read a book. I also occasionally relax on a walk in the countryside and we like to go to forest in the autumn picking mushrooms. The best thing is to sit down with a cup of coffee outside in the garden and just look out into nature :-). The ideal holiday for me is to walk in the mountains for a while and then lie down somewhere and relax.


Is there anything you would like to change in your life if you could? Do you have a message or a motto for our readers?

I think every person has a period in his/her life that they would rather erase. I also have such periods, whether in personal or dog sport life. Every event like that has moved me forward and I had to clarify my priorities. However, I try not to think like that. I am trying to live in the present. Having some goals is definitely fine, but let’s rejoice in every little thing and even in the small successes. I'm so glad that my husband Petr supports me in my efforts.


Interview: Eva Fiedlerová and Draha Mašková

Translation: Markéta Braierová and Eva Fiedlerová

Photo: Mariela and Pavel Kaděrovi, Lucie Spálenková and author´s archive