September 15, 2021

Episode 288: Interview with 2-Time Highest Scoring All-American Westminster Winner Lisa Topol

In this episode (42:46)

In this episode, Sarah, Jennifer, and Esteban are joined by Lisa Topol, the 2021 AND 2019 Highest Scoring All-American dog at the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster.

You Will Learn

  • How Lisa is like Lebron James.
  • What you should expect from your rescue dog.
  • How Plop got his name.
  • Why shelters and rescues are full of great agility prospects.
  • Why it is important to know your goal for every agility run.


Lisa will soon be offering training at her new facility. Check out the website for details (currently under construction!)

- You're listening to Bad Dog Agility, bringing you training tips, interviews, and news about the great sport of dog agility. - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah. And this is episode 288. - Today's podcast is brought to you by and the Teeter TeachIt, an easy to use tool that controls the amount of tip on your teeter, so you can introduce motion to your dog

in a gradual way. Go to for the new Teeter TeachIt, and other training tools and toys. Use discount code BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's - Today, we're joined by a very special guest, and that is the 2021 Westminster High Scoring All American Lisa Topol and her All-American, Plop. Welcome to the podcast. - Hello. Hi everyone. Hi Sarah. Hi Esteban. Hi, Jen.

- Hello. - I wanna just tell you guys, I am a huge, huge, huge fan of Bad Dog Agility. I subscribe to it. I love the courses. I've used it in my little space in Manhattan and now a bigger space I've got, here, in Connecticut. So, I want to thank you guys. It is really helped me with my young and my old dogs. So, thank you and thanks

for having- - Awe, thank you. - Welcome. - We're excited to have you on. Now, I mentioned that you are the reigning All-American High Scoring All-American dog from Westminster this year, but we should also add that you are a two time winner of this title. And if I recall the only All-American to have won it twice. You won with Plop back in 2019, as well. Am I correct

on that? - That is correct, yup. - That's very exciting. So, tell our audience, let's talk a little bit about your history in agility and how you got started. - Well, it's it's kind of kind of a cool, weird story. I I actually got started... It's a sad but happy story. I had a dog that had very sudden cancer and passed away. And he passed away very, very

suddenly. And I was heartbroken. He was my soul dog. I did not do agility with him. And then literally the next day, my best friend's mom passed away, out of nowhere, and he was left with all of these dogs. And I he called me up and he basically said, "You need to take one of these dogs. "You need to help me and take a dog." And sort of

long story short, that's how I ended up with Schmutzy. And I didn't know anything about agility. I just realized I loved sports. I loved dogs. I was in a dog park and I would go every day, in the city, and just train her and play with her and do tricks with her. And a person walked up to us and said, "Do you know what agility is?". I said,

"The thing with the seesaw, yeah, that thing". And they said, "I think you guys would be "really great at it. "You should give it a try.". That is how I got into agility. Chris... I ended up in a psych class with Chris Cider, actually, who I still work with today. And we ended up, you know, Schmutzy ended up winning tons and tons of regional championships, (indistinct) Sport Gold,

IFCS, try out metals. I mean, she was, she was a great dog. But I, I knew nothing about it before her. - That's such a great story. Let me ask you, what park was this? - This was Madison Square Park in, in Manhattan. And it's, it's nothin fancy. It's just got little kind of pea gravel in it. And every night I would go a little bit later so

that I could have the run of the park and I... This this this dog could catch anything. She could learn anything. And so I just, I would have a blast with her. And it was just someone, who had done recreational agility, who saw us and little did I know, it was going to entirely and completely change my life. - That's amazing. So, basically, you were recruited like LeBron

James is what- - I'm exactly like LeBron James. I get compared all the time to LeBron James. - That's right. Now, for everybody listening, you can't see her, but we can actually see her on our call and I can see she's decked out in the Adidas gear, right. (all laugh) This is serious athlete, right. - You know I'm sponsored? No. - Exactly exactly. - Now how long ago

was that? Because I met you with Schmutzy, right. He that he is the dog I recall you with but I didn't realize you were so new to it at that time. So how long ago was that? That you got started? - She's 15 now. - Wow, - Wow. - It's crazy. And I guess she was probably about year and year and a half when I was doing that.

So probably, you know, 13 and a half or so years ago. Which is crazy. - That is crazy. I think I met you probably over 10 years ago. Schmutzy was young. She was very young. And it was, if I recall, before I got married. And I'm coming up on 10 years, so. That's how long I've known you. I knew you before you were famous. - Yeah, oh well

thanks, Jen. I call you the Michael Phelps of agility. So, you know (laughs). - There you go. - Michael and LeBron we're set. - But yeah, she... I didn't know what I was doing for the... Really genuinely, she's a very forgiving dog. And I had no idea what I was doing. She would just do courses on her own, but boy was she fast and athletic. And once I

caught up with her and learned what I was doing, it was great. And it was, she really taught me a lot. So, I really, now I know what I'm doing. (laughs) - Those are the best first dogs. Those dogs where, you know, they have so much drive on their own. They enjoy the sport and you have success right away, even though you don't know exactly what you're doing.

I mean, I feel like my first dog was like that. I would say your first dog was like that. It was just, it's just such a blessing- - It really is. - to have that be your first introduction to the sport. - And you know it's... Since I know a lot of this is about All-Americans, it was really funny cause when I came in, with her, I think

there was even less successful All-Americans. There really, really wasn't any. And even when I would go to the start line and things with her, people would tell me like, "Oh, you don't need to expect a lot from her". It was a very odd thing. And I was always like, "Yeah, I do. "I expect the same from her as anyone expects "from their dog." And it it just took

us time because of me. But she, she could be any Border Collie on any day. I mean, she was, she was an amazing athlete. And there you go. I mean, any dog could be a winner. (laughs) - Yeah, I think it's definitely. Oh, I'm sorry. - No go head. - I was just going to say that I think there's definitely been an evolution in how people, especially within

the AKC, as both the, you know, the, the leadership and the, you know, members view All-American dogs, right. And I think it was a real milestone when the AKC said, "Okay, we are going to welcome mixed breed dogs "into all of our programs", right. It and yeah. - Because I... She was an incredibly successful dog and a really good dog. And I couldn't compete in most of the

big events. I wasn't I wasn't allowed to. And I wanted to do AKC and I couldn't. And before they actually allowed mixed breeds in, there was a proposal to allow mixed breeds in in their own category, all the time. So that every trial they they would be in their own category. And I wrote the AKC a letter and said that "I'm not down with that." I said, "If

I, if I'm gonna win things, "I wanna win things against all the dogs. "That's what I want to do. "So I don't want a different category". And actually waited a little bit, you know, before I was sort of even ready to do AKC, but she was actually one of the very, very first mixed breeds to do AKC. I think they did an article on her years and years

ago about the first trial she did because she was one of the first to ever compete. - Yeah yeah that's amazing. - Now, your recent Westminster wins were with Plop, right? A different mix? And we're talkin a lot about Schmutzy but but tell us a bit about Plop. Now is the two time winner. And kind of your history with her, but also her very unique name. I want

the story behind that. - Well, it's a he, but- - Oh he, okay. - Yes. So, the history with Plop... The funny thing that does happen, and maybe it happens, I couldn't even tell you, cause I don't know. But maybe it happens with people who have pure breeds also, but when you have a mixed breed that does well, because Schmutzy did well, I cannot... Anytime there was any

kind of cattle dog mix, that was a rescue that they thought could be a good agility dog I got an email or I got a fake. - Right. - And I wasn't, I genuinely was not looking. And I got em all the time and I'd look and I'd be like, "Yeah, thank you. "But I'm not interested in, in another dog". And then one day there was a dog,

on Facebook, literally through Facebook, this was Plop. And a few of my friends sent him to me and said, "This dog is so cute. "It's a mini Schmutzy. "You've got to look at this one." And I was like, "Oh, whatever, I'll look". And I swear, it's so dumb that you could know from a Facebook post, but I just looked at him and he was demented and funny. And

he has this sort of little toupee on his head and these silly little ears. And I just thought I'm like, "I think that's my dog." "I have to get this dog". And he was out of control and ridiculous. And you know, but I don't know. I just had an affinity to him and I reached out to the rescue group and I ended up with Plop. His name is

kind of cause he plopped in my lap. And so that's how we, we got, we got Plop. Yeah, he's got a very silly AKC name because I was at I don't know, I don't know if we want to include this... But Plop has a very silly AKC name. Cause I thought, "Oh, he doesn't have a, breeder's name. "I don't have anything. "I'm going to give him the most

ridiculous name "I could think of." And his AKC name is Frumpy Dump Pants Paints the Town Brown which is his whole name. Though I don't use that. But I couldn't believe they let me do it actually. That is his, his official name. But yeah, that's really how I got him. And then he was in Florida and my friends actually brought him up. And that was the first time

I saw him. He was crazy, but he loved me immed... It sounds stupid, but he loved me the second I saw him. And I loved him. And it has been an incredible relationship. And there's just sort of a, a bond that I think is kind of rare with dogs. I shouldn't say that cause, I think, a lot of people have that special bond with their dogs. But I

just, I do think his is, is particularly special. - Well how old was he when you got him? - He was... They don't really know but 10 month about 10 about 10 about 10 months, something around there, just little bit under a year. - Right. - And he just, he clearly had, he was super fat. He clearly had, I honestly think he was just put in a crate

because he had too much energy. And that's so typical of, of rescues is especially ones that are good at agility. Border Collies are put in shelters all the time because of that. Because there's, there's because of their drive and their need to be active. People just don't know what to do with it. So so, Plop was considered like a trouble child, but the truth is, I mean he

didn't know how to sit. He didn't know how to do anything and he was almost a year old. And he just... I brought him home and he literally sort of did 360s off my wall. He just bounced off it and bounced off it and just jumped on everything. So, it took a little bit of time with him. To sit was really our big goal for a very long

time. And once he got that, the sky was the limit. Cause he was just, he was so smart. But yeah, I think, I think rescues are filled with dogs that actually make great agility prospects but not necessarily regular pet home prospects because they're, they're not dogs that will just sit on your lap and do nothing. - Right. You're saying that they end up there because of their energy.

So, you're gonna they're gonna tend towards the more energetic side, all things being equal. - Right. You know, I was watching your run right before this podcast and, you know, to prepare and whatever it is, this dog definitely has it, right. And I was watching him run and it reminded me so much of our Rottweiler, you know. And just a lot of the things that you say, even

in picking out the name, you know, for the AKC, the registered name, and we didn't understand that there were kennels and breeders would have you, you know, put the kennel name in that and that kind of stuff, you know. So, I thought that was pretty interesting. We just had, we gave our our dog a very normal name, as if it were a child. We named her Samantha. And

her last name. So, her registered name was Samantha Fernandez Lopez. (all laugh) Like a real, like a real person. - I mean a little bit. - But how am I just now finding this out? - So, I mean the short- - Wait, so which story is crazier? Hers or ours? - I love yours. I love it. - The short version of the story is that she was our

first dog, our first pure bred dog. And for us, a purebred dog was we like bought her on the side of the road where they had a tent and they were selling Rottweiler puppies for $300. - Cash only. - Yeah. And so, we like... So that was our first pure breed dog. There was no research, there was no breeders. It was just like, we had always just gotten

strays at the pound and this was a step up. But, you know, it looked like an actual identifiable dog and so we got her. And then short, short story, but we never got the papers on her. And so we ILPed her, which was the thing before PAL. - Yep, I know ILP. - And we didn't have any kennel name and so we named her Samantha Fernandez Lopez. -

I love it. - And she was amazing. So there you go. - Yeah. - Yeah yeah. - What I thinks super cool about your story, Lisa, is that not only are we talking All-Americans, and you are the reigning All-American winner, but they're also rescues, right? Plop and Schmutzy are also rescues, which is kind of a unique aspect to the mixed breeds, as we go into 2021, because what

we're seeing is a lot more purposely bred mixed breeds. So, what's your take on mixed breeds as rescues that we've seen a lot in the past and now starting to get into sport mixes or whatever, you know, they may refer to them as, but purposely bread mixes, still being considered All-Americans. And, and does that change your, what are your thoughts, I guess, rather? - Well, first I'll just

start by saying, I'm definitely not, you know, one of those precious sort of you know, a shot adopt don't dune what is it? Adopt shop adopt don't shop, right? I think that's the phrase. I think the phrase is adopt don't shop. I'm not, I'm not one of those. I mean, I honestly feel like if you give a dog a good home, you give a dog a good home.

And a responsible breeder is great. I I've got no trouble with any of that. And in fact, all of my... I have five dogs and four of them are rescues and one of them is not. She's as she's a sport bred mix that I got from a friend of mine. And when I was at Westminster this year, that exact question went through my head because I thought to

myself, she's she's probably the next dog in line for me to sort of compete competitively with. And I thought, how would I feel about her being in the All-American category? And honestly, it feels weird to me. And I, I know that, you know, that that's what the category is, but a sport bred mix is different to me than a rescue. And I have a pure bred rescue. I

have a Border Collie, who's a purebred rescue. And I almost imagine she's she's 14 now, but I would almost imagine her sort of more in that same category as Plop, than I would my my sport-bred mix. I love them both and I think it's both great. But I think in the past, All-American tended to parallel with rescue. And I 100% think that has changed radically. I think probably

this year there there was a few sport-bred mixes that that were in the hunt. And I think next year it's going to be even greater. There's so many dogs that I know that are incredibly competitive that are sport-bred mixes. And it just, it feels like a slightly different thing to me because I'm not sure I can't read the AKC's mind, but I'm not sure that that's what they

necessarily meant to celebrate when they talked about All-American. I actually think they were thinking more towards sort of the dogs that were rescue dogs or shelter dogs not necessarily purpose bred sport mixes. I love, I love the sport mixes. Like I said, I have one, but they do they do feel different to me. So, it's a little bit interesting. And I won, I actually wonder where the category

will go, as there become so many that are all purpose bred and a lot a lot of them, I think a lot of the border pups are going to look just like Border Collies, like little Border Collies too. - Right, right. That is super interesting. That's a great question, Jen. It never even crossed my mind. And then as soon as you asked that, I thought, "Huh, "that's pretty

interesting". And your response very well put. And I feel like I have to give some kind of hot take here. I think with the AKC there was an intent, just as you as you pointed out, to to really focus on kind of the rescue mixed breed, as opposed to the intentionally bred for sport, whether it's fly ball or agility. And I think you would lose a little something,

unless you decided, well, we're going to get rid of the All-American category altogether. - Well the only problem with that then becomes where do they cause they have they deserve deserve to go to Westminster too. - Right. - And then you just have the question of, "Well then what category would they compete in?". Because Westminster is is very different. It really is about showcasing breeds, and show casing

different kinds of dogs. So, I don't know that you actually can get rid of it because I would love to see sport-bred mixes have the chance. - Sure, no I agree. - In the invitational, as well, right. The invitational as well. - The only thing I would- - Exactly. - Just back to my hot take, this is just off the top of my head, I would create I

would I would I would literally make them a new breed category, maybe where they're not like a recognizable breed with breeding but you can register them as a breed. So, if you had... What are common mixes, like what's a common mix? - A border pap is- - Border pap's are probably- - A border whippet. Border pap 50 50. - Golden doodle. - Okay, so those are all 50

50, but are there also three quarter quarter? - Oh yeah. - Yeah. Some great ones. - So, I would put each of them into (coughs). Excuse me. So, I think I would put each of them into their own category and I would keep stats. - Wonder who- - I think you're crazy. - If you had gold, let's say you had golden doodles, right? - Yeah. - Westminster and

now now, you know, there's three ESPNs and FOX sporting events. Let's say 10 and 20 years from now, golden doodles are actually like almost as popular as regular old golden retrievers and labs. Like they're really a high percent of the pet population. And they're brought into agility more and more. And you know, the breeders become very serious and they start taking the best, most competitive poodles and the

best, most competitive goldens. And then they have these golden doodle lines. And then now you have dozens and dozens, like over a hundred, maybe golden doodles. Like why not? You know, they, they, you, you put them in their own category. You don't recognize them as a breed and there's not gonna be confirmation and all this stuff, but for the purpose of sport. And I think here, specifically agility,

I don't, I don't know. - I think I think- - That Westminster can deal with that. - I don't think they'd do that. - I don't see how it's even feasible. Because now you're saying like, why don't you AKC keep track of a whole bunch of breeds that you don't recognize this so that we can keep stats on them. Like you, and I would love those stats, but

I don't see it being- - You could possibly do like a registered. I get what you're saying, Esteban, a registered mix where like the mother is an AKC registered dog and the father's an AKC registered dog. That's what we do tend to see with the sport mixes. Right, they're not just intentionally bred. but they're intentionally bred from generally speaking, good lineage and health testing and whatnot. - Sure.

- And then you have your mixed breeds that are from the shelter and you know, nothing about it. I mean, so you could kind of have a registered mixed breed versus PAL or ILP mixed breed. I don't know that you're going to see those divided out into different categories, but the whole question of intentional mixes and accidentals, you know, you brought up the point, Lisa, that it crossed

your mind at Westminster. It certainly crossed my mind with regard to international events because we aren't seeing a lot or at least I'm not seeing a lot of mixes internationally. Like I'm not seeing a lot of the big handlers in Europe with these mixes, but they're being very popular here. So, I keep thinking like, "Why don't they have border whippets? "Why don't they have border paps." And AWC,

the Agility World Championship doesn't allow mix breeds. And I think that if that were to change, it might be in three years, it might be in 20 years, you're going to see things change. I know it's like speaking for myself. I am certainly in no way against a mixed breed, whether it be a rescue or intentional, but knowing that my goals are AWC and some of those bigger

events, I'm hesitant because of what that means I can do. So yeah, it definitely will something will be something that evolves over the year, both through AKC Westminster, Invitational, you know, everything to see where it goes. - Well, you know, one of the things about... I competed, I made WAO and the IFCS World Team with Plop a few years before COVID pre COVID, the year, right before that.

And I did, I noticed the same thing, Jen. That when I was abroad, people were fascinated by him. Like people stopped to take pictures with him because they were so not used to seeing... Like he had a little, little cheering section in the Netherlands because we're just not used to seeing genuine mutt at the, at that level. It is very rare. And I do think it's the same

thing abroad. And I do think the reasoning, a huge part of that is because of AWC. I think because AWC doesn't allow them, I know I can never compete in it. So, if you want that opportunity, you cannot, you cannot have a, a mixed breed. So, I think that probably does dictate some of what you're seeing abroad as well. And I, I would love to see that change.

Because I think the, the mentality that AKC is bringing in, which is this isn't confirmation, this is about athletics and a sport. And so let's celebrate dogs. So, I do kind of feel like it'd be pretty cool if they if they allow them at at AWC as well. And I think you'd see a huge increase in the number of dogs like that. which I, I think would be

pretty neat. And as far as the sport bred and rescue, I think you could do that at AKC. I don't think they would ever do by, you know, a golden doodle or a border whippet, I don't think they could ever do that. But it would be interesting if maybe they did sport sport bred as a category and then rescue as a category and then it could be a

rescue Border Collie competing against a rescue mixed breed. - Right. - Cause it's a it's a different, interesting thing. But it's the only event where where it matters. - Yeah. I mean, it's, it's come such a very, very long way. Like just came back to our history in it, which is a little bit longer than yours and bout the same as Jen's. But when we started, you know,

that first dog that we had, that was a Rottweiler, but we didn't have papers. So, you know, we were limited in some of the events that we could do with her at first. And then our second dog was a miniature Australian shepherd, but before they became an AKC breed so. And that dog was also very, very good. And so we constantly had our eye on like becoming an

AKC breed. Are we going to be able to do FCI? Can we do AWC? And then that was all pre WAO and and things like that. And so there were fewer opportunities. And then it started to become almost moot about whether we were pure bred or not, because there were so many opportunities opening up where there were a couple that were still closed down, right. But it was

just those couple and there was so many other things that could be done. And so I would love to see it completely open up, you know, - Me too. - On the Agility World Championship side. But from my perspective in years in the sport, it's so different now than it was when we first started. It's really cool to see that. - Right. I mean, European open though, they

take- - Right, they do. - Mixed breeds, right, so I don't see why they- - But they didn't, but you couldn't do, you couldn't do EO either because you couldn't get the qualifiers to try out for the European Open because you couldn't go to the local AKC events. So, for Schmutzy for example, I think I got to go once to try it later in her career because I

could not... And I, and then you have to get the, you know, you couldn't just do premiere. You had to, then you had to get the, I think it was an AIX extra. Maybe it was an MX MXJ, I can't remember. - Right. Right. - But I was sort of had to rush and get through weekends very quickly when, when she finally got allowed. Cause we actually did

miss out on on EO. You could only do sort of USDAA, IFCs, and there was no UKI either. - Right? - So, your international opportunities were very, very limited until until recently. - Wait wait. I have a quick question. I just have to jump in here with it. How do you spell Schmutzy on the the competitor sheet, on the check-in sheet? - It's a, it's a Yiddish word.

It's S-C-H M-U-T-Z-Y. It's a, it's a word my grandmother used to use it. It's like it's from the German word schmutzig. It's like, when you get like stuff on your in your eyes. It means you got you got smutzig in your eye. - What's? - Means you're dirty. And you look at Schmutzy, she's all like dirty spots all over her. So that's how she got the name. -

Nice. - Gotcha. Nice. - Yeah, I think the progression over the years of mixed breeds has has really evolved and kind of getting back to Westminster, not only do they have this high scoring All-American award, but it actually is written in the rules that they must take an all American from each height to finals. I mean, that's huge. Not only are they saying All-Americans can come to Westminster,

but they're saying that we will make sure an All-American from each hight makes finals and then hopefully makes it on TV. And I think that that's great for our sport and great for people who do have rescues or do have mixes to watch and see, "Oh, the hey, there's a mixed breed. "There's a mut, you know, just like mine, "that's out there doing it" versus feeling like, "Oh,

this is Westminster. "And it's these proceed pristine all breeds "and I have a mixed breed or I have a rescue, "so it's not gonna work". But does that play into a little bit of your strategy? I know you commented earlier that you were aware of other mixed breeds at Westminster this year. I know given how the rules were, I had an eight inch Sheltie this year. So, knowing

that they take that breed diversity into finals, the first thing I did was look at the gate sheet and go, "How many other Shelties are under eight inches?" - Oh yeah. - You know. So, tell us a little bit about like Westminster specifically about that event and your strategy at that event or how that event compares to other events throughout the year. - It affects me a lot.

And first I do think you still have to get one Q in your two rounds. I think even if your All-American did- - Yes you are correct. You have to have at least one quick run. - That was the first thing I was gonna ask. - Sorry. - Yeah because I- - It does. - There was no 24 inch All-American this year. I went and looked and I

saw there was one every height, but there was none in the 24 inch. And so I assume it's because nobody met those qualifications. - And you still have to meet the same qualifications as everybody else. But it, I absolutely know it's a it's a different, it's the only event where I'm competing very specifically against other All-Americans and and even more so, because there's a specific award for it.

- Right right. - So I, frankly, I don't look at any other dog in the competition, except I say, "Okay, "who are the other All-Americans that I need to focus on? "And what do I need to do?". And cause I know I know I've gotta get a Q. Like I know that to start with, to be able to get in the final. And so even if I look

at this, you're actually didn't particularly love my my finals run, but I did quite like my qualifying runs. And I push it a little bit harder in the qualifying runs because I feel like, okay, there's some good some really good All-Americans in there. Especially in the 12 inch category, there are some really, really good ones. Some World Team, 12 inch dogs in there. And so I just felt

like that's where I have to push it, have a really good time and I got to make sure I'm clean in one of them. Once I did that, I mean, it's sort of what you said, Jen, where you kind of look at who you're competing against. And again, it's very unique to Westminster. Then by the time I made the finals, I knew who the other All-Americans were. And

looking at it, I kind of was like, "I think if I go clean, "I'm going to win." - Right. - And I don't normally go in with them at that mentality, to be honest. Like normally, like when I'm trying out for the World Teams or if I'm trying to win UKI, you know, events or any of the other big events, when I get to the final rounds, it's

the opposite. I just, I go for broke and I'm sort of like, all right, I gotta I gotta go as fast as I can, as hard as I can if I want to make this team. If I want to get on. So, I sort of have a little bit of a different mentality. And with this, honestly, a little bit more careful in in the finals than I would

normally be. And cause I felt like if I'm clean, I've got a really good shot at it. And in a way I think it affected me and made the run not as good because I actually feel like I run a little bit better when I when I run more aggressively. - Right. - So, I was a little bit annoyed at myself to be honest. And because Plop had

come off surgery, he was really sticky. And so a dog that I'm used to be able to sort of send to anything, was like, "I'm not leaving your side". And so, it was a little bit hard for me to navigate, but we got through it clean. And honestly, that kind of was my goal. Not to go slow, but to be a little more thoughtful, I think about it

and not take silly risks to gain time. It was be smart and be practical and do what he does best. And don't worry too much about trying to pick up a 10th of a second here or a 10th of a second there. Run smart and run clean. - I think- - And I thought about. - Right, I mean I think that's really smart though. I mean like every,

every run that you do, even in practice, every run that you do has a goal, right? And the goals are different. And they affect like how you handle, how you deal with mistakes and you know, and everything. And I see people make mistakes about in terms of not paying attention to what their goal is in the moment. And so in practice, you know, their dog breaks a start

and they continue running, right. There's no penalty for stopping. You shouldn't do that, right. So they're making, they're making not the right decision. They're given the goal of practice, right. Which is not to just go out there and get it clean. There's no reward that you're going to get, right. It's about training. It's about preparing your dog, right. And then here you have like a very different scenario

where like the the the goal, the overarching goal, like ideally you'll have a beautiful, perfect run. You'll get first place and you'll win, right. But if you got to rank order them, winning is the top goal, right. And so you stuck to that made sure that you had it, you know, really concentrated on that. I liked what you say about like, not taking silly risks. Like I, you

know, it is hard sometimes. You just get into the mentality of, you know, how can I do everything just so, and then shoot yourself in the foot. So, keeping your eye on like the ultimate prize and knowing that that prize changes from like run to run, competition, to competition. - Yeah and it's, you know, it's funny when I, I teach agility and I know when when I when

I'm working with my own home students, sometimes we'll do a run. I'll be like, "That's great if what you wanted was a Q". - Right. (laughs) - And I'd be like, "That's great. "Now let's run it to win the class". - Right. - And it's very, very different. And I haven't said that I never think it's wise to go, "I'm gonna try something. I've never tried before. "Here,

in a big competition." because you see that a lot where someone's like, "I'm gonna try something crazy". And you've never, you've never practiced it. That's not a good idea either, but it's really is figuring out exactly what you said, Sarah, which is is my goal. You know, I got to have the fastest, I've got to just go for broke or I have got to be, have a smart

Q. And in this case, like I said, the earlier rounds were a little bit more aggressive for me. "And the final was a little bit more because I felt like I was competing in a very, very small, limited category for me. Like I wanted to win the top All-American. And so for me, it was, that's my goal. That's what I'm focusing on. And so, yes, like I think

I was a little bit more conservative than, than I would normally be in a in a finals kind of situation. - Right. - So, what did you think about the course? Like the course design, how it ran? - Yeah, I thought it was very fair and fun is is what I think I thought of it. I don't think it was super complicated. I think there's one challenging line

sort of right in the middle of of the course. - Right. - That you really needed to get down and you needed to move to kind of make it happen. What I liked about Westminster in general is and I think you alluded to it, Jen, is this is a chance for people that never watch agility to watch agility. And so I don't think that they're building the courses

to be the hardest international course ever. I think they're building it for people to see dogs have fun and to see handlers have fun and to have a good run. So, I feel like it was there was no stupid challenges in it. There wasn't anything where I thought, "My God, "what a horrible, you know, plan that was. " I actually thought it was a nice, good flowing course

"with good fair challenges". And it actually felt that way about the early rounds, as well. So, I thought it was really good for that, especially, you know, I know this year is different because it wasn't, it was in Tarrytown and it wasn't in Manhattan. But especially when you're in Manhattan, I mean the crowds go crazy. You know, they see a dog, do weave polls and they're just so

excited. And I do think that's part of the, what you were mentioning earlier, Jen, about the allure of having an All-American dog do it because so many people in that crowd, that's what they have. And you think, "Oh, I can only do this with a Border Collie "or the fancy dog that's bred for it". And this is the chance to say, "Nope, any dog can do this". And

I think the courses are amenable to that. I think that they make it so that you know, you can, you can really see some dogs just kind of go out and have fun and not have a bazillion end cues. So, I think they were, I think it was a nice course. - Very cool. Okay. Now, I've got five quick questions for you. I'm gonna have to make up

five, but let me start with number one. Number one expected criteria for the dog walk. Is running dog walk or does he have a stop and you just ran them through for the final? - Yeah, he has a stop. And when it's it's in a final, he kind of did a little bit and he's been, to be honest, this is dog coming back from surgery. - It was

a nice hit. - Yeah, he's been creeping since since he came back from surgery and you know, I was sort of like, "All right, he's moving, he's moving. "I want to keep him moving". And I just, I kinda just let him move and I could see, - Gotcha. - I knew he was going to be based on where I was. Cause I had to actually not go where

I would normally be for the dog walk with him. I knew he was he was in the contact, so I was okay. - (indistinct) Question number two, A frame criteria. Running or stop? - Running running A frame. - Okay. Question number three weave poll method. How did you teach the weave polls to this dog? - I am am big. It's his favorite obstacle. I am big on, on

shaping and sort of a modified two by two. I I don't particularly do channel or or do guides. I, I just like, I like to watch them really sort of think it out and learn it out with some really simple shaping and all my dogs are really, really good weavers. And that's, that's how I do it. So, it's essentially kind of two by two, but I I let

them take the time to really figure it out. And then when they do, they go. And they all are have really great understanding of their entries and of staying in the weaves, so. - Alright very cool. Okay, question number four, which of these three crosses is your favorite? Blind rear or front? - (laughs) It's definitely not a front. I'm sure of that cause even even when I think

I'm early, I'm late. So, that's that's always the case with the front crosses. I have really crappy knees, so the blinds are a godsend because I can do them. My dogs happen to have incredibly good rears, all of them, very tight and sort of much sort of looser ones. And I think it is undervalued and underappreciated. - Agreed. So, I love, I love blinds, but so many times

I... All the time I remember this was, this was, with Schmutzy, she won a USDAA Grand Prix. I did rear the entire course. That's what it was built to do. And the judge actually said to me after, "Your the only one who knew what I built the course for". And I could just tell, I was like, everyone's going to try different things. But the truth is if you

just reared, it was built for it. And so I think people think it means you're lazy or you're bad, or you can't do the other ones if you do a rear. And I just don't think that's the case. I think sometimes it is the smartest best move to actually get you ahead where you want to be ahead. And it sets up the most natural term for the dog.

So, I'm maybe the biggest fan of rears, but I personally, I love blinds. So, the kind of answers I give you a double answer. - No, I think that's good. - Alright, I 1000% Agree with you on rears and I'm just gonna holler out to one of our VI peers, who just today I emailed her, a speech about rears and it was basically exactly that. Like, it is,

it is a great maneuver. It has its place. It doesn't necessarily make your dog slower. It's you know, it's so... Fantastic. - Yeah. On-time rear and a late front, I'll take the on-time rear. - That's exactly what I said. I was like, "A good rear beats, a bad front every day". - Right. Right. Okay, and now your fifth and final question, and this is a tough one. You've

shown in a lot of different, big events. What has been your absolute favorite? If you pay, if you say Westminster, if you pick Westminster, you have to tell me which Westminster. Which your, your favorite your all time favorite. - So hard. It is. It's a toss up between two. (laughs) - We'll allow it. We'll allow it. WAO in the Netherlands because I just thought it was so well

run. It was so much fun. It was just the international feel of it was so welcoming. And I made so many friends there. And I thought the courses were great and challenging. Plop was hurt there. It actually was when I realized he was hurt, but the experience was, was fantastic. And the first Westminster. Because it was the first time ever that my family got to see me do

agility because I I live in New York city. And so for them all to come and to share it, my friends and my family screaming in that crowd, just, you just can't beat that. Every, you know, every other time you talk about agility, it they're like, "Yeah, yeah, great, good". They don't know what I'm talking about at all. And so this was the first time I think they

got to see it and they got to see the fun and the excitement of it. And so I think that's the other thing that really can't be beat. So those, those are my two favorites. - Awesome. I love it. - Yeah. - Well, this has been such a fun podcast. You you've had a pleasure to have on and speak with. And I think everyone would agree you're a

fantastic ambassador for All-Americans and then for our sport as a whole. So, congratulations again. - Thank you. - And will you be coming back next year? Will you will you go back? - Well, you know, Plop, like I think I've mentioned, he he had a pretty he had a pretty bad injury and I didn't even know if we were going to come back this year. Been very, very

limited in what we've done. He's starting really, now, to look like himself again just, now. But I'm not sure that I want to push his schedule too much. So, I'm really gonna, I'm gonna have to see. I won't be sad if we leave Westminster winning twice. It won't it won't depress me to no end. And I don't, I never, ever much as I love doing it, And I

know he does, I never ever want to push him beyond his own limits and his own boundaries. So, I kind of just have to see how he is and we'll we'll go from there. I've got, I've got the sport mix and I have another All-American rescue, that I just got named Poopsie cause it's a female she's the female Plop. - Poopsie? They look alike, they talk alike. It's

like the Patty duke show. It's ridiculous. And I also got her through Facebook. People sent her to me. And I didn't have any intention to have her. And here she is, she's home with me, so. I've got plenty of other dogs I can take to to Westminster in the future. In the, in the All-American category coming up, so. - Well, if you make it back next year, we'll,

we'll root for a third win for you. That's right. So, it's been a pleasure to have you on. Thank you for your time. - Thank you. It's been a pleasure, really truly a pleasure to be here. You guys you guys are great. And I really appreciate you talking with me. - Alright thank you so much. We'd like to thank our sponsor, Happy training. (ragtime piano music)

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