The year’s FCI world championships were such an amazing event for me. John and I had a little vacation with our friends Martina & Carlo (ok mostly it was Martina and I talking about dogs). We did some sightseeing,  I did some shopping and then the actual agility event was amazing.
Due to the way schedule laid out I was finished all of my agility for the day before 8 AM on Saturday morning. So I had the rest of the day free! Of course I sat and watched my teammates and the other many amazing agility runs but I am not the best person to sit still for long so I decided to do some “spur of the moment” interviews. Not having prepared for this in advance, I really didn’t have the proper equipment for such an adventure. I didn’t let that deter me and did several interviews with some of the world’s most successful agility handlers. What a blast I had!

In the end not only did some of the interviews not get recorded (had to get volunteers who didn’t know my camera very well and sadly the record button was not pushed) but the audio quality was so terrible I was just going to forget the whole thing. But, I figured I will post them anyway and let you all decide if you want to listen. I learned a lot while I did these interviews both about the process of interviewing and about the sport from these very knowledge handlers. You will have to listen closely but I promise it will be worth it, next time I will be better prepared! For those of you with great hearing, please post your biggest take aways from these interviews so others can benefit as well!

First up my first with my friend Jaakko Suoknuuti from Finland. Jaakko is always a great competitor and has had a long successful career in agility already.

**Note thanks to one of our rockin’ blog readers (Mary Anne) we now have the transcripts to this interview for those of you that are hearing impaired (or just can’t hear the audio), I will post it below. Thanks Mary Anne!

You can read more about Jaakko and his partner Janita’s way of agility on their website

Thank you Jaakko for being such a great sport and my first official interview! More interviews to follow!

Today I am grateful for Jaakko and all he and Janita bring to the world of dog agility!

Interview Transcripts:

A Chat with the World’s Best in Dog Agility: Take One (Jaakko Suoknuuti)

Susan Garrett:  I’m here with Jaakko Suoknuuti from Finland.  Jaakko is an amazing handler, always aggressive, always going for it.  That’s what I love about him.  I know his dog Zen; I saw him for the first time a few years ago at the world Championships.   Amazing team and I always love to watch Jaakko and Zen perform.  And, year after year, he’s always here at the World Championships. Which is very hard to do in Finland, Isn’t it?  It’s a very tough process.  To make it on the team.

Jaakko Suoknuuti: Ya.

S: it’s one of the hardest in the World.

J: Ya, probably so.

S: To make it on the team. So, Jaakko, you’ve won the World Championship? Or the team?

J: No, no.

S: You’ve got medal.

J: I don’t even got a medal, but I have won the jumping.

S: Yes, won the jumping. And, this year what place are  you in?

J: I think I was 4th

S: And, Zen is 7?

J: yes, 7.

S: So that’s very impressive.

J: Thank you.

S: She is amazing.  OK, so, one of the things I love about Jaakko is he is an aggressive handler. And, he can run like the wind, even with this belly (appears that Susan is rubbing Jaakko’s belly).  You can run so fast.

J: Yes, timing is everything.

S: And it’s inspiring. And, he’s not like one of the very, tall, tall Europeans. He’s such a good runner.

S: So, Jaakko, if somebody wanted to get to the world championships what do you think is most important for them starting out to think about?

J: Well, um, I think, you must be willing to accept you making mistakes. In training, in competition, because you really, really have to go flat out learn actually how to do it in the competitions. So you have to be able to let go of the idea of making mistakes.  You can’t ever be thinking that I have to make sure or I’m afraid of making mistakes.  I am never afraid of mistakes.  If it’s a FCI final I still run flat out and then I see what happens.

S: That is brilliant! I love that. Love that answer. Because so many people especially with dogs, they want to be perfect.

J: Exactly.

S: And when they can’t be perfect, they get down on their dog or down on themselves.

J: Exactly.

S: That’s brilliant.

J: Yes, you have to kinda accept, uh, I don’t know the term – you are “not perfect”?

S: I’d say it’s “roughly right”.

J: Yeah, you have to be “roughly right”. But you just have to give everything; you have to put your heart into it. Um, and trust your dog. But, for me, I trust my dog, 100%.  Sometimes she makes herself but well that’s what she is for me. (mab – I could not understand what exactly he stated.)

S: And, who do you think when you think of all the agility teams of the world how do you think Finland is compared to the rest?

J: Oh, I think we are quite close to the top.  That’s why it’s very hard to make each team every year. Um, and I think, uh, overall in Finland people are, taking the team, everybody is more or less thinking that they really go flat out. And I think that’s been moving us (mab – unintelligible – I cannot understand his last few words)

S: And, agility is so exciting to watch

J:  It’s all the time going on the edge. That’s what agility is for me. Always on the edge.

S: OK.  Jaakko, very important question now. On a scale on 1-10 how do you think I rate as a runner?

J: You rate as a runner?  Um, let’s say 6.

S: Oh, not bad. Not bad.  Thank you Jaakko my good friend.  It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for stopping by.

J:  OK, one more word.  Um, handling wise, and uh, how she prepares her dogs I think she is an actual 10.

S: Ha, ha, ha, ha.  You’re the best Jaakko.  Thank you.