Pavlína Fialová: The Rottweilers Are Closest to My Heart
Pavlína Fialová is 40 years old, she has a university degree (Ing.), is married and works in a small textile company. She has passed more than 40 exams with her Rottweilers, including IPO3 with four 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 twice so far.
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 ŽKO 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 will 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 will 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’ve 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.
I have had one awesome Rottweiler female from you out of Bonnie, so I have to ask you to tell us more about your kennel Bonnapo. When was your kennel 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 those15 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.
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 Interchampion). As far as work is concerned, I can’t forget Ancara and our entry in CACIT Dobris 2010 and participation in the IFR in Denmark 2010.
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 3 Rottweilers at home, 5 year-old German bred female Tequela von Avalon (Elina) with whom I am currently competing and we also have two dogs from our own breeding. Derrick Bonnapo, who is 10 and enjoys his retirement and nearly 3-year-old Funny Falko Bonnapo (Fanouš) who is getting ready for his first competitions. Fanouš is everything I imagine the “working Rottweiler” should be and I’m glad we managed to breed such offspring. Only time will tell, what successes we will achieve together (or not). 🙂
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.
You just came back from the IFR World Championship in Belgium few days ago. Once again congratulations on the amazing 9th place in the world! 🙂 You have achieved the best placement from the Czech team with Tequela von Avalon (Elina). How would you summarize this World Championship in terms of organization, team, traveling, accommodation, facilities, tracking terrains and work of helpers, judges etc.? 🙂
Thank you. It was an experience for us. Overall, it was a nice and cool event. I think we got on well with other competitors and team leaders and I thank them for the support on the trial field as well as away from it. The journey was long and also with a bit of adrenalin. I forgot to turn one app off on my phone and my phone and tablet battery went almost dead about half way through there. Luckily the phone lasted till the end of our journey, so all turned out ok and we didn’t get lost anywhere. :-). The accommodation was not luxurious, but we chose it with the other competitors so the dogs were kept calm and cool as possible. I will not judge the work of judges or helpers. The organization of the event was running smoothly and everything was as it should be on the competition field and in tracking, too. I would on my behalf like to mention couple of errors. One was lack of start times for tracking (“watch the one before you” isn’t very good) and second one was the great confusion during the final announcement of the winners. This sort of thing really should not happen. There was not much of a food choice at the stadium, too.
Of course, I have to ask about the competition itself. Were you nervous? Especially when you were on the field for obedience on Friday as the very first competitor of the whole Championship? Do you have any rituals before you go on the field or do you take a talisman for good luck with you?
Yes, I was very nervous, but that of course disappears when I get on the field. However, getting on the field as a first handler of the whole World Championship is a different kettle of fish. Thanks to that I’m aware of a few mistakes. Yes, we have a certain ritual with Elina before going on a particular phase, so she knows exactly what’s going on. I do not carry a talisman for good luck, but I’m glad to have someone with me who I can rely on. Not that I need help to get the dog ready for each phase, but it’s good when I do not have to concentrate on driving and similar things around :-).
Could you describe the individual phases? Did everything go as you expected or did Elina surprise/disappoint you? 🙂 How would you rate your performance?
Elina looked around after we got to the down stay in obedience, which she does sometimes and I managed to give her the command just at that moment when she wasn’t paying attention to me. So I had to repeat the command once more. I felt bit sad about my dumbbell throws. The dumbbell on the flat retrieve rolled in a way that the fast pick up was almost impossible and that’s exactly what happened unfortunately. The dumbbell on the retrieve over the A frame rolled to the side. I did see it, but I wanted the obedience to be over so I did not attempt to throw it again. She had a lot of trouble coming back over the A frame. Otherwise, I was very pleased with obedience. The “creature” enjoyed protection very much. The less willing outs, two pops at the sleeve and one not so good grip cost us a lot of points. The tracking was sink or swim. It was quite hot throughout the whole Championship and Elina was tracking at 1.45 pm, which was reflected in the result. You could see towards the end of the track that she couldn’t track with closed mouth anymore, and she overshot last corner by about a meter and had to find it again. Still, I was very happy with our performance.
Your obedience with Elina at the IFR in Belgium was clearly among the best. Is there anybody who has influenced you in training, who is your teacher and a mentor? What methods do you use in training? Do you use for example clicker?
Yes I do have a mentor and that person is Gábina Macounová. Without her I would have never achieved such result and I thank her very much for that. Of course, I have to mention the other members of our ZKO Červený Kostelec – Špinka. I would not be where I am today without their help. We try to train in way we enjoy it and so does the dog and results can be seen on trial field. I use classic motivation such as treats and toys, depending on what the dog likes more. I think that motivating the dog to work for the reward really is the most important thing and lots of people are underestimating it. We find place in our training even for clicker. I don’t use it a lot, but some of our members do use clicker more.
Tequela comes from Germany, why did you choose a female from abroad? What is Elina’s temperament like and is there anything you would change on her if you could?
Elina was originally bought to improve the gene pool in the Czech Republic. That’s why I was looking for a bitch from abroad. Working abilities were of course the must. Due to the missing tooth, breeding was unfortunately straight out of the window. Therefore we decided to commit fully to training. Elina is a very greedy female, which I use a lot during training. Her temperament is a bit complicated, so she earned a nickname “coconut” at our training club because she can be quite stubborn. She just has her opinion on some things and to persuade her otherwise is almost impossible task (especially in protection). Getting her fit is not an option, because running is just an unnecessary thing for her.
It is not the first time you have participated in the IFR World Championship, you were representing the Czech Republic in Denmark with Ancara Bonnapo in 2010. How would you compare those two World Championships?
The first Championship was definitely more challenging for me. I didn’t have any experience and did not know what to expect from event like that. On the other hand, nobody was expecting any great results from us, so maybe I was more relaxed. As far as dog’s performance is concerned, there were certainly more of good quality rounds this year. It has been noticeable over the years that even training with Rottweiler’s is moving in the right direction, especially dog’s willingness to work. As far as the organization is concerned, I think it was comparable. Anyway, I enjoyed both events and I love to remember them.
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. The big mistake probably is that the Rottweiler as a breed is beginning to divide into working and show lines, similarly to 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. As far as training is concerned, it’s good that there are more people training Rottweilers and to a good standard too. 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. Often, even the first entry to the Nationals or CUP discourages the handlers.
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 breeding and training?
Next year, I would like to start competing with our youngest one Fanda. I do not have anything to breed at the moment, but maybe I will get a new female in the future. We’ll see. As far as training is concerned, I would like to compete with this breed in a trial among other (more popular) breeds.
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? Would you like to thank anybody?
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. I would like to thank the ProfiDOG.cz team for doing a great job. 🙂
Thank you for the interview and good luck with the Rottweilers in the future! 🙂
Interview: Eva Fiedlerová
Translation: Marketa Braierova
Photo: Lucie Spálenková, Petra Růžičková, Iveta Pejšová, Jana Bělohubá, Mariela Kaděrová and author’s archive