Front and Finish Article December of 1996.
Having just completed the Hawkeye Hustlers Third Annual Iowa Heartland Fall Fling Flyball Tournament I now have time to sit down to write another column. Our tournament has grown considerably since the first one. We started out the first year with 24 teams competing on Saturday to this year having 40 teams on Saturday this year. Sunday has grown the same way. The interest in flyball has grown considerably in the past couple of years. When we started in 1992 we were team 99. Now there are over 200 registered teams with the North American Flyball Association.
With the growth that is going on in Flyball it is hard to believe that people are still out there trying to say that you can't do Flyball and any other dog activity. The following is an excerpt from a recent e-mail flyball list discussion. It was written by the Susan Garrett of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Susan runs on the McCann & McCann team and also competes in USDAA agility and does competitive obedience.
letter written July 10, 1996
Recently the girls (Shelby-JRT, Stoni-BC, & Twister-JRT) & I (Susan) went down to Venture, California to compete in the USDAA (United States Dog Agility Assoc.) national championships. While I was there I was approached by a few Californians who compete in both sports who told me "people out here believe flyball will ruin your agility dog". The first time that I heard it I just laughed, but then I heard it twice more and I started thinking "Do people really believe this?". How can anything you do with your dog that helps to build a better relationship between you, have a negative impact on the rest of your training? People used to say this about flyball and obedience. If a dog was an absolute out of control idiot in the obedience ring and they just happen to do flyball--then people had an excuse for the behavior. Let me tell you folks, nothing can help a poorly trained dog. It is not the activity you are exposing the dog to it is the way the dog has been trained.
If you believe flyball should be a venue where your dog can explore their free spirit and be an out of control wacko--then yes you are in store for some control problems somewhere else in your training. Sometimes I make my dogs do some serious heeling before we go in to run flyball and then their reward for good heeling is the opportunity to run--there are others on our team who just let their dogs run up to the line but because of the total verbal control we have over their dogs they are not impacting their behavior in a negative way. Do our dogs enjoy flyball any less then yours--no way! Do our dogs enjoy obedience more then yours--possibly. I want my dogs to look on an obedience ring as a playground--you have a lot of fun while you are in there--but it is controlled fun--just like flyball or agility.
Why on earth people say don't do flyball or it will ruin a potentially good agility dog is beyond me. Little nut bar Twister (a Jack Russell Terrier) who is crazy about flyball, runs on one of the fastest teams in the world, can post times as low as 4.45 seconds, managed two second places and a first at the agility nationals. Stoni has been doing flyball since she was 10 months old (not an age I would start a dog today, but 5 years ago what did I know), this was long before she was ever introduced to agility. She also runs on one of the fastest teams in the world and can post times as fast as 3.85 seconds--no slough in flyball terms. Nevertheless she managed to come home from the nationals with 3 class placements and she won the Grand Prix at 24"--arguably the most competitive division! Two weeks later Stoni placed second at the World Series of Obedience, in Detroit, Mich., out of the Top Dog Division--tying for the high score of the day on Sunday in both Open and Utility.
Shelby also is a Flyball Champion, although never as competitive as the other two she still loves the sport and also managed to make the Grand Prix finals along with 3 class placements. Has flyball effected these dogs in a negative way--I don't think so, in fact I believe flyball has been a major benefit to these dogs from a motivational point of view. So any of you agility people out there who have been down on flyball maybe you should consider starting to recommend flyball as a foundation builder for your dogs!! < Very Big Grin > What I am getting at is that if you are willing to spend the time and lay down a good solid foundation in each discipline, it doesn't really matter what you do with your dog as long as it is impacting the relationship you have with our pet in a positive way. If you are looking for excuses why an agility dog is knocking bars or running off course you can do a lot better then to say it is because they are a flyball dog--how about, it was too hot or too cold, his tail is too long or too short, his teeth hurt or his best doggy friend just moved away--I don't know--be inventive, let your creative juices flow, blaming flyball is just too droll.
When I read the above message that Susan had written I asked her if it would be ok to use it in my article. I guess that I have found that I have the same problem in my area with people believing that you can't do flyball and anything else at the same time. I have also heard the excuse that flyball makes a dog aggressive. You know in the years that I have done flyball I have never heard of a dog getting killed. I know that I am not reaching all of the parties with this article that are saying that flyball can't be done with other dog activities but I am hoping to put the word out that there are those of us that believe we can do flyball along with other activities.
Enough on that subject but I do welcome anyone who wants to write comments to me about this please do. My address is listed below.
Until next month for all of you FLYBALL competitors good luck in 1996. And to all of you non-competitors that would like to know more about FLYBALL activities in your area just e-mail me, write me, or write to NAFA, P.O. Box 8, Mt. Hope, Ontario, L0R 1W0.
Anyone interested in sharing some of their FLYBALL experiences, titles, and upcoming tournaments please write to me at P.O. Box 171 Olin, Iowa 52320-0171 or e-mail Judy Hagan at email@example.com. To all of you that are already competing, good luck in 1996. To all of those that aren't competing yet, you don't know what your missing!
Thank You for Visiting!
Jim Sova Web author, member of the H.W.G.!