Emese Gyóllai is Fierce Fireball whippets breeder, who bred many amazing racers – coursing champions. She is also international coursing judge, activist of the Hungarian Sighthound Club and organizer of hungarian coursings. Emese is a pretty busy person, so I’m so glad she found a moment, to answer for some of my questions.
Emese, when did it started?
I have always loved animals, especially dogs. I used to have Dobermanns and a lovely English Cocker Spaniel. When I arrived home from school, I changed my clothes and I went immediately to the garden playing with my dogs. I lived only few years without having dogs.
So why sighthound, why whippets?
In my hometown there are many Magyar Agárs, so I have known sighthounds, but I never wanted to have big sized sighthound and long-haired dog. I was 18 years old when I first saw a whippet (live). It was a memorable and special experience for me. I have never looked at them as dogs, they are very special creatures. So, what should I tell? It was love at first sight. But honestly, now it is very funny, but I have never thought about showing, racing or coursing my future whippet.
What is your bigger passion sport or breeding, or both same?
Very difficult question, both have bright and dark sides. Maybe my bigger passion is the sport (coursing): when you do trainings, when you prepare for a competition, when you plan everything in advance step by step, when you see your dog’s running…
This procedure is very special and exciting for me, for us. I love to work together with my whippets. It is a kind of lifestyle.
What is history of your kennel name?
My kennel name “Fierce Fireball” is coming from my first whippet, Mili. She was a crazy, very fiery young whippet (I still wonder how we both survived her youth). I told she is a fireball, because of her temperament and unstoppable running style. Originally I wanted to have this kennel name, simply “Fireball”, but it was already owned by a hungarian Spaniel breeder, so it was not possible to get it. “Fierce” is coming from the famous William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night Dream) quote, which I found perfectly matched: „And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Have you ever had any authority or you learned all by yourself?
I had no real authority. I had (still have) many sighthound people in my life I have learned a lot from. But mostly I listen to my divination, my feelings. The most important thing to know your own dog, because every dog is different. There is not a receipt for good breeding or successful coursing/racing career. I can learn from my own and others’ success and failure too. In my experience we can learn the most from our mistakes. I am constantly watching the whippet/sighthound world and try to learn.
Did sport change your life?
My life is totally changed since I have whippets. I never get bored, I have very active life. As I am organizer of Hungarian coursings (I am not just a competitor), it always keeps me busy. To work and help around coursings/racings is a passion, as well as competing.
When you decided to be a coursing judge?
I’ve always been very ambitious and “knowledge hungry”, so after few years in the racing and coursing scene, there was no question that I wanted to be a coursing judge. I participated many coursings abroad and I organized many events at home, so it was quite easy. I am still very grateful for the possibility.
How do you think, what is the secret of having good coursing dogs?
I think needs a perfect match of owner and dog. And of course, needs to be competitive, ambitious and be able to learn from failures. You have to be motivated and able to motivate your dog. In breeding, I think, you have to breed only with the best (without compromise).
What is your biggest success and biggest failure?
There is so much success in my “Fierce Fireball Family”, I could not highlight only one. Maybe our podium placements on the championships (included 3 victories). It was also nice to win coursing meetings in England. But I am very proud of all my wonderful pups, they live a perfect sporty life (one of them in England, in the motherland of whippets). It is a wonderful success of your breeding when other whippet kennels, serious competitors or judges ask for a puppy from you. One more thing to mention, as the latest success in my life: it was so great to be part of a successful huge event (FCI European Racing Championship in Alsónémedi) as race leader.
Failure is part of success, so I can’t really tell you any. I did not regret anything.
The happiest moment in your “dog life”?
There were a lot of happy moments in my dog life, especially when my litters were born. But honestly, my happiest moment (rather day) was in 2016 Slovakia, when my own bred bitch (trained by myself) won the European Coursing Championship. It was a very special day, a dream came true. Actually it was a special pleasure that the winner of dogs was also a Fierce Fireball whippet (historical, because bitch and dog from the same whippet kennel never won the championship before).
Your biggest dream?
First of all: to be able to develop my breeding and not having boring litters (pairings). I always strive to create something special, new, different, interesting. In my opinion this is the only way to leave a mark. The secondary: to win the European Coursing Championship again, possibly with the same whippet, as it was never happened so far.
Are there any advantages & disadvantages of living with whippets?
The only disadvantage is: you are never alone, even in the toilet. Life with whippets is eventful. They are small, clean, quite silent, lazy dogs. Very big advantage is: whippets are able to pick up your lifestyle, your rhythm, your habits – they are very flexible sighthounds. They are true friends.