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Ready! Come Fly With Me

Posted by Christina Potter on

Flyball is a fast paced sport in which dogs run side by side in a relay-type race.Invented in the late 1960s, Flyball requires a dog to run over a 51-foot-long course, taking four jumps along the way.At the end of the course is a flyball box, which the dog must trigger.As the ball is released from the box, the dog must retrieve it and return to the starting point going back over the jumps along the way.The next dog on the team is then released, but must not cross the start/finish line before the previous dog has returned. The closer to the line that the subsequent dog passes the previous dog, without crossing prematurely, the better time the team will have. This continues until all four dogs on the team have completed the course.The first team in which all four dogs have successfully completed the course without faults is the winner.The height of the jumps is determined by taking the height of the smallest dog on the team, rounded down to the nearest inch, then subtracting five inches.The minimum jump height is seven inches, while the maximum is fourteen inches.

Flyball has come a long way since its inception.In the early days, they did not have the electronic timers that they have today.In those days, the head judge would start the race, while line judges used handheld stop watches to time the runs.The electronic timing system used nowadays, called an Electronic Judging System (EJS), tracks the dogs’ times to a thousandth of a second.The team world record for running all four dogs, now sits at 15.22 seconds.Wow, imagine trying to track that time accurately with a handheld stopwatch.

In 1984, the nonprofit North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was established.NAFA was formed when twelve flyball clubs in Michigan and Ontario came together to guide the development of the sport.Today the sport has grown to more than 400 clubs and currently has over 6,000 dogs competing.NAFA offers over 300 tournaments a year.The tournaments are divided into divisions in which teams compete against other teams with equal abilities.The speed, drive and determination exhibited by a dog in flyball is fascinating.Their enthusiasm is palpable and contagious.This exciting sport is open to purebreds and mixed breeds alike.For obvious reasons, couch potatoes need not apply.

If you enjoy Christina's writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and "Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications