Monday, 16 January 2012

interview with a PRO: Sven Van Driessche

From Belgium , a disc dogger that knows what it means disc dog. Here is the interview with Sven Van Driessche , the "Skyhoundz master" . One who do everything to organize competition and expand this fabulous sport in his country and in Europe.
As usual a great interview :D

Sven and the warm up questions...

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
I'm living a dream for the moment. There's probably no job in the world better than mine. I get to work with dogs everyday and since I'm home based, it gives me the opportunity to enjoy their company all the time. They are very well behaved employees and I never have a strike.

What sound or noise do you love? 
The sound of my dogs when they are fast asleep and dreaming is one of my favorites. They all snore at different frequencies which means it can be a fun concert at times.

Last time you watch TV (What)?
I try to keep up to date by watching the news every day. Mostly the tv is only background noise or moving wallpaper for the dogs. A part from the news, I also like sports programs. Especially tennis since I was a reasonably good player in the »old« days.

...let's be more serious begin with the interview

Could you tell our readers a little about yourself 
Starting with the dogs obviously, there are 2 of the 4 in our pack that play. The dog that is responsible for getting both my wife and me hooked, is Jumper. He's was 7 months when we rescued him from a shelter and he was in a pretty bad shape mentally. When he became 4, we discovered the sport at a dog school nearby (about 50 km from home at that time) and it immediately had effect on our relationship and he started to trust me more and more. The problems with his behavior got better and better and also the results in competition followed. I'm proud to say he took second place at the Skyhoundz European Championship in 2009, hosted by Flydogs Hungary.
The second dog we trained was a chocolate Labrador Retriever, called Choco. She started chasing discs at 8 weeks and we knew from the start this was no ordinary Labbie. Now, at 6 years of age, she's still loving every second we spend together and her tail tells me that over and over again.
Already from the early days we started playing, we were addicted and it was only a short time later when we crossed several borders to go and play in Germany and Holland. Since Belgium (still) has very little competitions and there are not that much people involved in hosting competitions, there was no other option to learn. In 2009 we hosted our first Skyhoundz World Championship Qualifier solo and a year later we were rewarded by the founders with the European Championship. We continued this tradition and together with Mike Miller we also started a new kind of competition where the fun is more important than the result and named it after Kathy Miller and her partner Ruckus. Unfortunately Kathy passed away a year after we started this but also this tradition will continue and goes in to its fifth edition this year. A part from hosting and playing, I also give seminars on disc dogging, anatomy and physiology. I think it's very important to know how your dog moves and especially with a larger breed it's necessary to keep their limits in mind.
by Thomas Scheir

Tell me a little bit about your start in discdog.
What has fascinated you in discdog at the beginning?
What still fascinates me every day is the drive the dogs have and the fun as well, all caused by a little round piece of plastic. Also the fact it is a sport for the body as well as for the mind makes it a perfect workout. Another thing that struck me is the camaraderie you can find in the sport. We have met so many fantastic people who all think alike. There are a couple of people of whom I can say they really changed the way I saw life.

Do you remember your first competition?
It was in Belgium in 2006 with Jumper in Distance. We had a great time but my throws were just too far off to stand a chance.

What are your greatest satisfactions in your career?
The greatest satisfaction is the fact I know I can provide a healthy and diverse life for my dogs and in the mean time enjoy myself. The fact my wife supports me every step of the way and you see places and meet interesting people also helps, of course. Another one that is high on the list is hosting both the 2010 as well as 2012 Skyhoundz European Championship. For a small country with not that much players or sponsors, it's very nice to know players appreciate the efforts make and are happy to come back. On a result base, I am very proud of the victories in the KMARCh with Jumper and Choco, as well as being able to play with Choco at the 2011 Skyhoundz World Championship. It's not easy to compete against the more agile and lean dogs but she managed to qualify for both freestyle as distance/accuracy. With Jumper we could have been there 5 times already, but since he's afraid to fly, we'll never know how he would have done amongst the best in the world. His most stunning result was taking second place in Budapest at the European Championship. I know the dogs don't give a damn about the result and they are just as happy playing in the garden but it's still nice, no?

You are also the owner of the K9 DISC STORE . How are proceeding the businesses?
We started with this project in 2009 when the sport wasn't that big in Europe yet. Now that more and more people are playing in the different countries, the amount of discs needed is increasing just as well. The main philosophy behind the store is to provide people and clubs with the discs they require at a fair price, topped with a quick and personal service. And that's also our mission for the future.

What do you have/sell ? Can we order from all over the Europe?
We sell all disc types produced by Hyperflite and Hero Disc USA as well as the bags made by Innova. Everyone can order from the site by mail, individual players as well as clubs or web shops.

Favorite trick?
The most fun trick to do as well as the most useful for my routine, is the shuffle. It allows you to take a breath (my dogs have always been very fast so you run around a lot), give the dog a break, resume control and pick up the routine in case I'm out of inspiration. Since I don't have a fixed routine and most of the performance is improvisation, it can be useful to gather your thoughts for a second and try to remember what you are forgetting. The fun and challenging part about it is that the speed of execution.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I think my strongest point is my imagination and creativity. The fact you can change your routine according to the conditions outside is a true benefit. Also it allows me to break down some of the more complicated moves and make it easier on the dog to learn a new trick.
My weakest point is without any doubts: nerves. Before entering the field I'm still nervous. This was proven once more on our last trip to the USA, when you throw 3 out of 5 discs out of bounds in a wind still environment, you know who to blame.
by Thomas Scheir

Can you give our readers some tips that they should remember when training their dog?
There are two things that come to mind. The first is to always adapt your training and tricks to the ability of the dog and its physical limitations.
The second one is something Mark Muir said on a seminar in France last year. And that's to enjoy every second of playtime you get with your dog. If you are really lucky you can play about 4 years with a strong dog. If you count 10 competitions a year, that means you're on the field for about 30 minutes a year in freestyle. That's 2 hours of competition time with your dog in his life. Need to say any more?

What music can you not leave home when you go to a competition ?
There is not really any type of music that I can't listen to. We always have a fair amount of cd's in the car so it never gets boring when we are driving to a competition.

Which is the favorite toy for your dog?
Easy one... discs!!! Except for VaVite that's their toy of preference, the little one likes is more into dummies and hide and seek games. Since she has spondylosis, disc dogging has never been an option.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Do you have anything else you would like to add?


all the photos are a courtesy of Sven Van Driessche

Sven in action by WetTailsSven


Yannick said...

I just love Sven ! A very talented player, of course, but also a very good and humane guy ! Hope to see him soon, in France or elsewhere !

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