DogAgilityNOW: Congratulations on a great weekend in Colombia! Agility fans around the world were able to follow the action on the free livestream and the popularity of the event seems to be on the rise. When and why did you first attend this competition?
Daisy Peel: I first attended the Americas Y El Caribe in 2011. That year, it was held in Bogota, Colombia, and it was the first year that the judges for the upcoming FCI Agility World championship were invited to judge at the event. A good friend of mine, and student at the time, who was from Colombia, convinced Linda Mecklenburg and me to make the trip along with him. It was an unforgettable event. And the altitude, wow. Hard to breathe! By the end, I was partaking of the oxygen tank that the EMTs had placed at the end of the course. The dogs, thankfully, seemed unaffected.
DogAgilityNOW: I noticed you were running barefooted on the turf. What did you think of the surface?
DP: It was great! I didn’t trip at all, and Frodo didn’t slip at all. Several have commented that they saw slipping, but as usual, dogs slipped when they weren’t getting good information from their handlers, and when their jumping style was less than ideal. I loved being able to fly over the turf and feel it under my feet. Cornering is so much easier when I can use my toes as nature intended! And what a great idea to have the turf chunked up in pieces that fit together like a puzzle. If a dog were to soil a section, if you had this turf in a highly used facility or something, just replace that one section, or take it out for cleaning. The cushion was great too. There was a bit of an issue with some gaps between some of the pieces opening up, but the whole thing was laid out without edging to keep it all together, and when gaps opened up, there was a crew out there with rubber mallets putting it back together.
DogAgilityNOW: Tamas Traj is making a name for himself as an agility judge with flowing but challenging courses—he will also be a judge at the FCI Agility World Championship later this year. The other judge was Alexander Beitl, and together they unleashed some tough courses on the competitors. What do you think of the courses you ran?
DP: I absolutely loved them. The lines were fast and easy for the dogs, and challenging for the handler, just as it should be, in my opinion. The dogs didn’t have to do too much super tight turning and twisting, but things could go wrong in a hurry. I don’t know how I know, but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that every course has a feel to it—like maybe the judge was angry or lacked understanding when designing. But all of the courses from Alex and Tamas had a feeling of a party to them. Fast, forward, keep a brisk pace fun. If courses at weekend competitions were more like that, frankly, I would have no interest in flying my dog and myself all over the world to run internationally.
DogAgilityNOW: You and Frodo will also travel to France this July for the European Open, an event where you’ve done very well in the past with Solar, a highly accomplished two-time AKC National Agility Champion and former World Team Member. Have you changed your approach to training or handling from Solar to Frodo?
DP: Oh yes! Frodo cannot tolerate any repetition at all, which is part of why I abandoned teaching running contacts to him. I’ve had to be much more clever with respect to training him. He’s much smarter than Solar, and much more sensitive to being wrong and right. In many ways, he’s much more a team player than Solar was. Solar was incredible, and flashy, and man oh man what a thrill. Wow. Like heroine (I imagine). Frodo is not flashy. He’s afraid of a lot of things: strange surfaces, heights, strange people, skateboards, bicycles, and more. He’s not a brave dog. And he’s not a showoff—and as you may have guessed, I am kind of a showoff myself. But he’s an incredible teammate now that I’ve gotten myself in the right place to be sensitive and supportive, and now that I’ve opened myself up more to the idea of being vulnerable with my partner, whether it be a dog or a human. My success with Frodo has been in part because of a change in my training and handling approach, but that change in how I approach the whole thing is part of a larger change in my personal life. There have been some big changes in the past year in my personal life, and my performances with Frodo are just a reflection of that.
DogAgilityNOW: Do you plan to compete at this event again in 2017?
DP: You bet! Next year it is in Chile, and we’re already working on uniforms. We had an amazing group of intrepid travelers this year; it’s not easy to get to South America with dogs as the ports of entry are fewer and further between than in Europe. But I’m looking forward to a return trip to Chile. This year, returning to Colombia for a second time was amazing and my Spanish gets a bit better every year too. There are some incredible competitors in South America, many of whom we will never see at the European Open or Agility World Championship or World Agility Open, simply because the costs are too high for them to attend.
DogAgilityNOW: What are you working on and where can people find you?
DP: I’m pretty available on Facebook and twitter. My personal site is www.daisypeel.com and my teaching site is classroom.daisypeel.com. Right now I’m working on a flow chart to help people decide what courses to take, as there are so many! From two week courses on topics like circling a cone and a verbal threadle cue to longer courses like Mastering Jumping Skills – Foundation Flatwork, taught along with Linda Mecklenburg, there’s a lot going on there.
DogAgilityNOW: You can watch Daisy’s individual runs that contributed to her overall second place finish below:
Editor’s Note: Since this event, Daisy and Frodo have competed at the AKC World Team Tryouts and earned a place on the Short List—a group of ten dogs who excelled at the event, from which two will be chosen to complete the Large dog team of four, along with an alternate.