Petra Pohlová: Alyscha is My Love at First Sight
I was born on the 6th of May 19… in Ostrava. I studied the Business Academy in Havířov. After my graduation, I started working at the Municipal Police in Ostrava, where I am working till today. I have worked there for some time also as a search and rescue dog handler.
I have a husband and two children, daughters Adélka (10 years old) and Terezka (6 years old). They both love dogs. Adélka, the older one began to run Agility. However, her main hobby is horse riding and she has been attending riding club for three years now. Terezka will go to school after the holidays. She wants her own dog, so we will see…
Petra, you are the winner of the International Championship of the German Shepherd Dog Club of the Czech Republic (MM ČKNO) for the year 2018 – congratulations on the fantastic victory in such a strong competition full of seasoned handlers that you and Alyscha have steam rolled. How do you feel? What are the feelings of a fresh Czech Champion of German Shepherds 2018? 🙂
Thank you for your congratulations :-). I also want to thank you for the interview, it is an honour for me :-).
Feelings are wonderful… In a one word, simply AMAZING. What I wanted was fulfilled. We participated twice in the WUSV World Championship with Alyscha. Now we have become the Champions of MM ČKNO and therefore we are going to the WUSV WCH in Denmark as CZ1.
Are you enjoying all the interest and attention from everyone around you? 🙂
Of course, I am enjoying it. We have trained really hard with Alyscha for this competition and now, all the hard work has paid off… It’s a really nice feeling.
You were going for obedience and protection at the very end of the Championship because Alyscha was in season. Does she perform in the same way when she is in heat? Were you not afraid that the hormones would somehow play up and something would happen? …although, we all know of course that anything can happen at any time…
Alyscha does not mind when she is in season, she works exactly the same whether she is in heat or not. She does not have a problem, and she has never had… – and hopefully, will not have a problem in the future, I hope. 🙂 It’s me, who has some problems with her being in heat. 🙂 I have to plan what to do at the official training, which is only a short time before I actually go on the competition field. I cannot for example run the blinds and then go on the trial field for obedience. I never did it like that with Alyscha and I do not know how she would react.
Are you enjoying competing or are you nervous?
I enjoy competing and I have probably never been really nervous. 🙂
Do you have a ritual before you get on the competition field? Do you believe in luck and coincidences, or rather in the fact that if you are prepared for everything, then it will work out?
I do not have any rituals. I do believe in luck a bit, nevertheless I am trying to prepare Alyscha for everything in training…
Are you lucky, or do things haunt you straight away if you underestimate something?
I guess I’m lucky. Alyscha is not a type of dog that if you underestimate something, she will give you payback. She always tries to do everything right.
What is Alyscha like? I have to say that I was smitten at the WUSV last year with her protection. And her protection round was described this year by Mr. Josef Adamuščin, the judge at MM ČKNO as the best one even despite some small mistakes – is she a natural protection dog? What is she like?
Alyscha is a darling! 🙂 Now seriously, Alyscha is very fast, she loves protection, but she loves probably everything – balls, swimming… She just knows how to enjoy life. She goes full steam ahead in protection and she loves long attacks so much that I’m sometimes worried about her health. I was really afraid of the protection at the last year’s WUSV, but Alyscha did really well and I was very pleased. This year, I was very pleased by Mr. Josef Adamuščin when he said, that Alyscha’s protection was absolutely the best.
Alyscha is after your dog Imo Anrebri – but you did not get her until she was two years old. How did it come? Did you not feel afraid to take on a two years old bitch that you did not have from a puppy?
Alyscha came to me unplanned. When her breeder, Tonda Šimurda came to mate her mother Luna Vikar, I wanted a male from that mating. I saw Luna only a few times before that, but I liked her very much. She was crazy about balls and she would not look away from her handler for a second. Unfortunately, there was only one puppy ALYSCHA born from this mating and the breeder kept her. When Alyscha was two years old, I met Tonda (breeder of Alyscha) at the MM ČKNO. Tonda asked me there if I would take Alysha for training and pass necessary exams for breeding with her. I refused. I do not like training a dog for someone else. I have two kids, work, my dogs and a very little time. In the end, I gave in. After all, Alysha still is daughter of my Imo. I went to see her, she was unreal and ball crazy. So I took her to do the exam, and after a week with us, I was so excited by her that I suggested to her owner that I would buy her. He was against, but eventually everything fell in place and Alyscha is mine! 🙂
What were your beginnings together – both social ones and then the training ones? What did you have to work on with Alyscha? Please, describe your training beginnings in all three phases.
When Alyscha came to me, I began to spend time only with her. She got me by everything she did. She behaved as if she was with us since she was a puppy. Obedience and protection were without bigger troubles, but tracking was a lot worse. I really worked very hard with her, but we did it together. We passed BH, IPO1-3 together and qualified for MM ČKNO 2015 in Kroměříž. I was going for IPO3 with Alyscha just before the competition.
So three years after the first big competition, you became a Champion! 🙂 What was your performance like at this year´s MM ČKNO from your point of view?
Alyscha showed her standard performance. I am delighted that Alyscha has managed this year’s Championship – she gave birth less than four months ago, came in heat and we are also competing for the fourth season… When I think about it, I was really pleased that she did not come up with “anything new” and stuck to what we are training together. 🙂
I guess that 1st place at MM ČKNO 2018 is your biggest official dog sport success, but do you feel that is it the biggest one for you personally? Unwritten victories are often equally important…
Yes, our 1st place at the MM ČKNO 2018 is the biggest victory for me. But when I got the best protection at the MM ČKNO in Kroměříž in 2015 and qualified for WUSV in Finland, I was already fulfilling my dream, it was incredible…
Petra, what about the three cups you got for the first place – did you actually manage to lift them and carry them away? 🙂 Which one of them do you like the most and which one has the greatest value for you?
All three of them are hugely valuable to me and they are beautiful. When Jiří Tichý (editor´s note: the main judge of the competition, ČKNO training advisor and owner of company Gappay) told me while I was standing at the podium, that I have to lift the biggest one above my head, I thought to myself: “I want to see how I am going to do that…” 🙂 The joy of winning was so great that I did it without any difficulty! 🙂 And taking them away was the easiest thing for me – I asked my husband to do it. 🙂
Do you have any Hall of Fame at home? 🙂 How did you celebrate your victory? Did you have a short break or did you just continue in training for the WUSV 2018?
We have a Hall of Fame in the living room. 🙂 I have all the cups there, they deserve to be seen. 🙂 I have celebrated our victory just with my husband so far, but we are planning a great celebration at the end of August when our friends are back from holidays. Regarding training, we now have a break as we all need to relax. I, Alyscha and my family, because my husband probably could not do without a break. By the end of July, however, we are starting to train fully again.
Who has helped you the most in training over the years?
As a girl, I used to attend dog club ZKO Klimkovice and Mr. Mrázek – he was my teacher. I am glad for that. Of course, the training methods were different than they are today, but the essence remains the same. We were always forced by him to compete in the trials of youth, we had to pass exams… I like to remember that time, it gave me a lot.
Petra, Alyscha is not your first dog with whom you have been involved in IPO dog sport. You passed IPO3 also with Imo Anrebri – and before him, you had a female Bona Zde-Sko who passed for example IPO2 and SchH2 exams. What were your very first beginnings in dog sport?
We have always had a dog at home, and I started to “train” our little mongrel called Ťapka when I was about six years old. My first dog was a German Shepherd male Kendy without pedigree. I got him when I was 12 and we passed exams ZM and ZVV1. Kendy´s nature did not fit much in dog sport, he didn´t like retrieves and protection.
When I was 15, my parents gave me my first German Shepherd with pedigree, a female Citty Iv-To from show line. I passed exams ZM, ZVV1 and ZVV2 with her. We also participated in many competitions and our greatest success was taking part in the Czech National Championship of Youth.
Then I had a female Arlen Duffmar. Arlen was a working GSD line from a breeder Jitka Duffková. I and Arlen passed IPO1-3 and we participated in the selection trials. We managed to participate in the Czech IPO National Championship and in the Czech Championship of the German Shepherd Dogs. Arlen was a brood bitch, I tried to mate her twice with a nice stud dog, but unfortunately, she never had any puppies.
In the meantime, another female joined me and Arlen – Adria Slovan, who was also from a working line. When I started to train with Adria, she was about two years old and had already passed IPO3 exam. Together we participated in the ČKNO Championship several times and we won the MSKS Championship.
When the competition career of these two females finished, Matouš, who is my husband now, had a litter from his female Bona Zde-Sko. I kept one puppy from this litter – male Imo. This litter was bred under the name of Anrebri kennel, because our kennel didn´t exist at that time. I passed IPO1-3 with Imo, we took part in the Czech IPO Championship, we were several times at the MM ČKNO and we participated in the trial “TOP 15”.
…and now I have Imo´s daughter, Alyscha 🙂 and I am participating in competitions with her as well… 🙂
I have to say that I have no idea how an experienced handler you are. Can you compare your dogs regarding their nature?
If I take the last ones: Imo Anrebri was actually sort of a horse 🙂 – when I was on the competition field with him, I knew he was Mr. Dog. Alysha – she is my darling, she is working for me, she doesn´t want to make any mistakes and I know that we are cooperating as a team on the field. 🙂
Love at first sight – have you ever met such a dog in your life?
Of course, it´s Alyscha! 🙂 When I saw her for the first time, it was clear! 🙂
How much is dog sport important to you? What are you able to do and sacrifice for dog training?
It is my big hobby and I am able to sacrifice a lot. When I am preparing my dog for a competition, I´ll do the maximum for it. My husband says that three months before the MM ČKNO, it always looks like we´ll get divorced… Fourth dog sport season and he still didn´t get used to it… 🙂
…and what about success? Is it your driving engine, or just a great joy and a fulfilled dream?
Success, of course, drives me further and further… My dream has fulfilled by winning the MM ČKNO and by qualification for the WUSV WCH.
What else is important to you in your life?
My children, my husband and my family.
Do you have time for any other hobbies apart from dog sport?
No, I don´t have any time for a different hobby. I drive my elder daughter Adélka three times a week for horse training, I go to work and I sometimes I am really busy… We have been planning for quite a long time to start cycling, the whole family, but somehow there is no time, it´s about dogs and dogs all the time. 🙂
Do you go on holiday with or without your dogs? Or there is no holiday because of the dogs?
We take our dogs on holiday with us, as my husband says – the whole circus. 🙂 We rarely go without them.
Petra, you are also a breeder. Can you tell us more about your kennel, your breeding plans and litters?
I and my husband have a kennel “MAPET”, its name is an abbreviation of our names Matouš and Petra. We breed only working German Shepherd Dogs. We bred also two litters of Belgian Malinois in the past, but now we have only GSD. We want to breed only on females who are willing to work, who love retrieves and are naturally fast. I personally don´t like breeding that much, I prefer competing, but on the other hand, my husband doesn´t want to compete and prefers taking care of the puppies.
Well, that´s a good division of work. 🙂 You own two females from your breeding – Fiona and Gilli Mapet. Both are Alyscha´s daughters and Gilli comes from a litter that was born in March this year. That makes Alyscha´s performance, who gave birth to her litter just a few months before the trial, even more amazing and I take my hat off to her. Did you actually have any time to train?
Thank you. 🙂 It was very demanding and I really had my hands full… I didn´t know whether I should train each discipline or devote our time to Alyscha´s fitness. She lost her fit condition totally after the puppies… And the weather was horrible – a terrible heat, simply “great”. But we did it! 🙂
Fiona was born in 2016, are you preparing her for competitions? Do you have the same dog sport plans also for Gilli? What are these two females like?
Fiona has much drive, she loves protection and she definitely has her speed inbred after Alyscha. She is also crazy about balls and I am very satisfied with her character traits. But no, I don´t prepare Fiona for competitions, I kept her from Alyscha´s first litter to see what her offspring would look like. Fiona will be used for breeding – she has puppies these days. 🙂 After this litter, I plan to pass IPO1-3 with her. 🙂
Gilli is a young puppy right now, we will see if I decide to do dog sport with her, I don´t know yet… In the future, I would like to compete with a male again. That is my dream for a long time and Fiona now has one black male in the litter, so we will see if he stays with us. 🙂
Back to the training. 🙂 Who is your helper for protection training?
Michal Řehoř is my helper for trainings. We have already been preparing Alyscha together for protection for the fourth season. When we need to train, he is always helpful. I would like to say thank you to him for that. 🙂 Before a trial, I always try to do protection also on other helpers, and so I would also like to thank Zbyšek Gorecki, Radek Kupka and Jiří Mach for such help.
You are a handler and a breeder – are you also a coach? What about tests to become a judge? Do you have any other plans and goals in dog sport apart from competing?
I am not a trainer, I don´t enjoy it, and moreover, I really don´t have much free time. To pass tests to become a judge is not interesting for me either… And especially my husband would not cope with that 🙂 – even though he says, he wishes I would become a judge… I will stick “just” to trials and competitions, at least for now… 🙂
Petra, do you have a life motto?
I don´t have a life motto.
…and a message for our readers? 🙂
Let your four-legged darlings bring you only joy, dog sport is a wonderful sport! 🙂
I wish you many more fulfilled dreams – it is wonderful and motivating to see that dreams really can come true. It certainly needs much effort – but then the delight is bigger and more deserved, isn´t it? 🙂 I was honoured to have this interview with you, thank you very much.
Translation: Marketa Ford and Eva Fiedlerová
Photo: Tereza Vajnerová, Ivan Gabal and author´s archive