FLYBALL - A TEAM SPORT FOR DOGS!
So what is Flyball? Flyball is a relay race with 4 dogs on a team. The course consists of a start line, 4 hurdles spaced 10 feet apart and a box. The first hurdle is 6 feet form the start line and the box is 15 feet from the last hurdle for a 51 foot overall length. The dogs jump the hurdles and steps on a spring loaded box that shoots out a tennis ball. The dog catches the tennis ball and then runs back over the 4 hurdles. When the dog crosses the starting line the next dog goes. The first team to have all 4 dogs run without errors wins the heat.
Flyball is truly fast and furious - the world record for completing the whole 408 foot course (that's down and back for all 4 dogs) is 16.16 seconds and is held by the team "Instant Replay" in Ontario, Canada, where the sport is very popular with canine enthusiasts. There are teams all over North America that run under the North American Flyball Association. Here in Alberta the sport is up and coming with teams in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Lloydminster. These teams get together several times a year to race in tournaments hosted by the various clubs. Right now the fastest teams are running in Division 1 with times around 19 to 20 seconds (not record breaking but not to shabby either!).
Dogs of all Breeds can take part - Purebreds and "All Canadians" - we have seen Pomeranians as well as Borzois competing! The handlers can be as varied as their dogs. For example, kids and adults can participate in this sport on equal terms making flyball a real family sport! Overall, flyball is a fun activity that allows anyone with an interest in dogs to become involved - whether you are just looking for a way to exercise your dog when it is cold outside or whether you are aiming to break records.
For those competitive types, each dog earns points for each race completed with no errors. For every race completed in under 24 secs each dog earns 25 points, in under 28 secs each dog earns 5 points and under 32 secs each dog receives 1 point. As these points accumulate the dogs can receive titles for the number of points they have earned. These titles are as follows:
FD Flyball Dog 20 points
FDX Flyball Dog Excellent 100 points
FDCh Flyball Dog Champion 500 points
FDCh-S Flyball Dog Champion Silver 1,000 points
FDCh-G Flyball Dog Champoin Gold 2,500 points
FM Flyball Master 5,000 points
FMX Flyball Master Excellent 10,000 points
FMCh Flyball Master Champion 15,000 points
ONYX Onyx Award 20,000 points
FGDCH Flyball Grand Champion 30,000 points
HOBBES Hobbes Award 100,000 points
It takes a lot of hard work for the dogs to receive these titles.
HOW TO EXPLAIN FLYBALL TO YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY
Since real dogs play flyball and real people live for flyball, you already know what that blank look means on your non-flyball friends', family and/or spouse's face as they stare at you on Sunday evening. They're staring because of that big, stupid grin all over your face! They're wondering what planet you've been on or why on earth you're so darn happy.
What they need to understand is that the big stupid grin is all because you just spent the last 48 hours with your best friends (furry and semi-furry). You may be inclined to try to explain how you feel, but would they be able to comprehend it at all?
Now, some people can only see the good aspects about something and some can only see the bad things. What if you explained both what's good and what's bad about flyball? That may help them begin to see the picture, eh?
Well, here's a stab at a list you can share with them. Let the rest of us know how it works:
1) Getting up at 4am on Saturday and Sunday morning to be at the tournament site by 7am when the rest of the house gets to sleep in until 9am.
2) Lugging ten times your body weight in gear from your house, to your vehicle, through the parking lot, into the arena in below freezing temps and in pitch darkness before breakfast.
3) Paying extra mileage fees on your lease vehicle because all the tournaments are in Canada and you live in the US (or they're all in the US and you live in Canada).
4) Learning to live on mouthfuls of whatever food you can get your hands on instead of 3 square meals a day because two of your teams are on deck in both rings and your other team is on double-deck.
5) As a handler, realizing that it's never the box loader's fault.
6) When you're the box loader, realizing that it's always the box loader's fault.
7) Standing at the box having to give the "I need balls" signal when some of your non-flyball friends are watching your team for the first time.
8) Not seeing your family on weekends and Holidays because you are at your favorite tournament (again).
9) Not being able to wear a skirt to work on Monday because your knees are red and swollen from kneeling on Tuff Spun for 12 hours a day for the last two days.
10) Having to borrow money from a teammate for dinner because you flagged on your passes a few too many times that weekend and now you're broke.
11) Wearing the monkey hat!
So much for the good things…now for the bad………………………………………?
The EndWritten by LINDA KREFT
Proud dog-mom of Timber & Indy
Member of the Ballistics' Flyball Team