OneMind Dogs Coach Magdalena Ziolkowska from Poland took part in the Agility World Championships in Bologna, Italy, a couple of weeks ago, accomplishing some great performances. We interviewed Magda after the contest.
Magda has represented Poland at the World Championships with four different dogs, out of which one was a Groenendael, the rest were Border Collies. Looking back, Magda sees Rieden 2010 and Bologne 2015 as the most successful ones of all eight times she has participated:
“In 2010, Mac and I were a great team. Competing with him showed me what mutual understanding and teamwork really feels like and for the first time ever, we managed two clean runs at the World Championships. I was afraid that I would never find a way to repeat that experience with another dog, and yet I did.
Going to Bologna, my second World Championship with Mati, my aim was simply to do my best. I never even dreamed that I was good enough to stand a chance against all those famous agility titans. And yet, I almost did it. Even though we had a bar in the individual agility, I achieved two things – I did my best and I repeated the experience from Rieden.”
Back when Magda started with agility, things weren’t as easily accessible as they are today.
“I started a long, long time ago... 25 years... in the dark ages without the Internet and without access to information. But everything really started somewhere around 2000 when it was finally possible to find competitions and seminars abroad to go to and see what other people were doing.”
Magda has tried many canine sports, but she feels that agility is by far the one that lets you build the best relationship with your dog.
“You need to feel one with the dog to get the maximum speed combined with the control to get round a course and that is ecstasy. And then there is the excited twinkle in the dog's eye…”
We asked Magda to tell us a bit about Mati, the dog that she teamed up for the AWC this year.
“Mati is a wonderful Border Collie. Up till the age of 2 people would laugh behind my back saying that I had gone all the way to Italy to breed his mum and with all that effort I got a really slow Border Collie. I knew, however that there was a way to get the speed out. Now he is more like an unstoppable speeding truck. It's best to keep out of his way!”
“I always have doubts whether I want to go to the AWC. The competition tends to get the worst out of people, but curiosity always makes me try in the end. It is a great challenge to compete against the best in the world and a great feeling if you manage to beat a few of them. This year, for the first time in my life, I had the potential and speed to beat them all.”
The mental game is one of the biggest challenges in all big competitions. Many of the top athletes have their own routines for preparing to their performance. The thought that carried Magda through the excitement was the complete trust in her dog.
“Doesn't everybody get nervous? First of all, when I walk the course I listen to my intuition. Everything has to feel right if it is supposed to work in the end. Then I don't look at others run. It puts a lot of unnecessary thoughts and fears into my head. I rather spend the time either sleeping somewhere in the arena or I go for a walk. Then I have a mantra that I repeat in my head to keep it clear of any thoughts.
This year I finally managed to be in control of my own head – I cleared my mind, I didn't think at all, I just ran. There was no doubt in my head that Mati would do everything perfectly.”
Magda’s future goals have not changed after the AWC. She is always aiming for the perfect teamwork and connection with her dog.
“My goal has always been to have runs that feel great and that isn't going to change. I want to feel one with the dog when I run and see the sparkle of excitement in his eye.“
Magda, what is the most important thing you like to tell your students?
“When you go into the ring to compete, leave your fears and worries behind, clear your mind and trust your dog!”
OneMind Dogs Method has been able to answer many of Magda’s questions. Being a part of the OneMind Dogs Pack and teaching the methodology to her students gives her a lot of pride.
“I am a very inquisitive person, each answer generates tons of new questions that need to be answered. OneMind Dogs has been able to answer so many of them that I decided to pursue the system. And it works!
It is extremely rewarding to see how things work for your students, how they learn and develop and be a part of their success. I am so proud of my Lithuanian students who won a World Championship medal this year!”
Janita answers Magda's question: "When we thought about who we wanted to include in the OneMind Dogs Coach Pilot group, we thought about people who we felt had really understood the whole OneMind Dogs concept. Magda had been training in Finland regularly, and she really did assimilate everything we taught her. Magda was able to answer all our questions and explain why she chose to handle the sequences in a certain way, and also what kind of an effect her choices had on her dog. Magda's passion for motivating dogs fit perfectly to our way of thinking: we do agility on the dogs' terms. Magda was an easy choice as an OneMind Dogs Coach, and it was great to be able to watch her amazing performances in Bologna."