Monday, 11 April 2011

interview with a dog trainer: Kenny Spottiswoode

We are ready for Another interview.
This time we approach the world of agility with a person who has contributed and contributes every day to give more space to this sport in Scotland and in the world with his trainings/workshops and his magazine agiltiy zone
This interview is part of the section of dog trainers, because It Lacks very little to earn extraordinary results to be in the memo dog blog PRO section.He is the two times winner of the Scottish Dog of the Year Final and he's representing Scotland at the Crufts...
This year, he's the team manager of Scotland for the World Cup and I think we'll hear a lot more about HIM in the future
Here is the interview with Kenny Spottiswoode . Enjoy

First of all some warm up questions...
What was the last thing that you ate?
I shouldn't tell you this because I'm supposed to be training for a marathon but I have not long finished eating some natcho's and warm cheese dip.

The last time you watched TV – What did you watch?
The last thing I watched was Crufts Live TV which is an internet live stream. There is only one television in my home and that is situated in my son's bedroom – and he only gets to watch it occassionally. We're very much book people!

In your car do you listen to CDs or Radio ?
I listen to both, actually. I listen to the radio for some variety, new music and the news. I listen to CDs and Mps when I need the fix of a certain song – That will always depend on what mood I am in.

Ok, I think that is enough! let's be more serious and begin with the interview
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
I ask this question quite a lot on behalf of the Agility Zone Magazine and I have never considered how hard it must be for contributors to answer, until just now. And yet I'm quite surprised because it's a subject that I know most about.

Well, I'm at least a quarter of the way through my life (assuming I live to be one hundred) and I'm almost completely satisfied with how things are going. I have a lovely girlfriend of seven years, a three year old son who I truly adore, a lovely house in the country and six dogs to share my extra love with.

I'm passionate about just about everything in life except early mornings, house hold chores and VAT.

When did you get your own first dogs?
I got my first dog, Kale, when I was fourteen years old. She was supposed to be shared dog between me and my mother – My mother would teach the obedience and I would teach agility. Agility created a high association of reward towards me and quite quickly Kale started to favour me over my mother. The more we trained together the more we bonded, and in the end, my mum let me have her to myself. We shared twelve brilliant years together and I miss her very much!

Tell me a little bit about your start in dog sports?
Kale was a failed sheepdog and I was encouraged find a »discipline« (I hate the word discipline in dog sports) that would satisfy her thirst for work. Agility seemed to tick all of the boxes for us both. It would allow her to work physically and mentally whilst giving me an insentive to learn with her and have some fun, too.

How has the growth on agility scene been in Scotland in recent years? Are there new talents?
When I first started out in competitive agility I was still a young boy in my teens. The world, the people in it and the agility scene itself looked HUGE to me. But it wasn't!

As I grew older I started to see that agility in Scotland was very new and very small, and now, in 2011, we seem to be stuck between the »fun« agility that it all started off with and the »competitive« agility, which is the direction this sport is moving toward.
Where competition is involved, growth and advancements are certainly taking place.

Regarding talents... I feel there are many talented handlers and lots of talented dogs, but unfortunately that's not the full ingredients for great agility. I think Scotland lacks great dog trainers! Once we crack that nut I don't think there will be any stopping us. Susan Garrett and Silvia Trkman will have to watch out ;-)

You are involved in the Agility Zone magazine “project“ . How did that start?
Well, there are actually three agility magazines based in the UK, including the Agility Zone. I found the content in the other two magazines to be lacking in many areas. They seemed to fill their pages up with league tables, Kennel Club news and adverts, which is fine if that's what you're signing up for (and many are), but it's not fine if you're signing up to an agility magazine – Which I was.

I hoped for indepth training articles from instructors and competitors around the world and sadly that's not what I got. So I decided to do for others what I wanted for myself....

If I'm honest, I have no experience in this area other that the two years I have under my belt working with the Zone, and my English grammer and spelling leave a lot to be desired. Luckily I have a strong team behind me and a bloody good proof reader (She'll be angry that I didn't run this interview by her).

We're making steady progress in my opinion and the magazine is maturing with age.

It was proclaimed one of the best agility magazine of the world.
Nowadays seeing the “results“ what do you think , you wanted even better or It's good like that?
I have heard these comments too and they certainly bring a big smile to my face.
Personally, I regard the Clean Run Magazine as the best agiltiy magazine in the world, but to be compared to this magazine and told that we are heading in a similar direction is positive and inspiring.

We will continue to listen to our subscribers and implement the changes that they feel are needed. If we can do that then we are achieveing what we set out to do.

What do you expect from the world open agility 2011?
I expect great things from this competition, actually. The back bone of this new and prostegious world event are some highly regarded and motivated people that include Greg Derrett (UKA), Mark Laker and Monica Percival (Clean Run). If anyone can bring the ultimate in world class agility to light it is these guys! We finally have a world agility competition that is open to ALL dog breeds.

You are the two times winner of the Scottish Dog of the Year Final.  Does such a big event give you more adrenaline? How do you focus on a competition?
Yeah we've done quite well in the Scottish Dog Finals and this is actually one of my favourite agility competitions of the year in Scotland.
The winner of this competition actually qualifies for Crufts to represent Scotland in the Interntaional event. Sadly I don't particularly like the floor surface at Crufts and opted to withdraw Nike for the 2011 event just passed.

Big finals and adrenaline go hand in hand, but over the years I have learned to use those nerves to keep me focussed. The trouble I have now is that in a standard competition that has no BIG prize at the end, I struggle to find the motivation to run hard.

How do you feel in the role of the Scottish Agility Team Manager?
I am honoured to be the first person to manage a Scottish Agility Team. Scotland have been under-rated for many years now and I hope that my experience as a competitor, home and away, and my good eye for talent will be enough to help bring back a medal for the WAO.

The DFS Crutfs has become a meeting point for you every year. What are your most beautiful memories of the Crufts?
Putting aside the awful floor surface used at Crufts I would have to say that the 10,000 seated spectators make up all of the buzz. A Saturday evening in the main arena just blows your mind.

I was overwhelmed when I walked into the main arena for the International ceremony and I was greeted by all my fellow Scots. I'm sure they could be heard all the way back in Scotland!

How goes a typical day in your life?
I spend most of my day doing just this... Typing. Like you, if I am not out enjoying my dogs or training them then I am in front of my computer writing about them or someone elses.

I try to divide my day into portions and dedicate myself to whatever it is I'm doing that fits into that portion of my day. My son likes to squeeze into as many little portions as he can, and because he's the apple of my eye, he usually wins. Right now he's into fire engines so we've been constructing a life sized kiddy engine out of ply wood and spare parts. He's a very happy boy :)

What music can you not leave home without when you go to a competition?

I'm a very big fan of a British band named »Kasabian«. They have some particularly upbeat music that helps me focus if there are too many distractions or something big at stake. Their best song being »Underdog«.

Where you see yourself in the 2015?

I'll probably still be sitting in front of this computer. Maybe writing a second interview for Memo Dog Blog about how things have changed for me? LOL

I would like to believe that the young dogs I am working and living with just now have a special talent and that perhaps they will be kind enough to take me to the FCI Worlds, the European Open and if I'm lucky, the WAO – but as a competitor.

I will be taking the season ahead out from agiltiy competitions so I can spend as much time with my son as possible, and so I can concentrate on my business and put more time into training my young dogs. Sometimes a good break can do the world of good!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Yes, if it's all right I would like to ask your readers to visit my »Just Giving Page« and kindly make a donation. I will be running a marathon in May (26.6 miles) to help raise funds for the Rainbows Childrens Hospice.

This hospice is where terminally ill children go to live out their final days. Rainbows has something to offer these children that no where else does, and without funding, it cannot survive. Please, if you can spare a little it will help a lot!

Thank you Luca, and thank you Memo Dog Blog readers.


all photos are a courtesy of Kenny Spottiswoode

Scottish Dog of the Year by kennyspottiswoode

A bit of fun with Nike’s daughter, Spirit
by kennyspottiswoode

Kingdom of Fife championship
by kennyspottiswoode


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