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"In The Beginning"

Flyball used to be beleived to be ,
introduced with a "Flyball Demo" on the Johnny Carson Show",
by a Mr Herbert Wagner in the early 1970's in California.
Between then and 1984, not much is really known about Flyball. But its starting to come together slowly.
This Flyball page is dedicated to the Flyball years 1988 and earlier(1967)!
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paw FAQ's for the first time vistor who's never heard of Flyball door
This History web page was started in 1996.
A special thanks goes out to Ms Cheryl Anderson (one of the group of the earliest pioneers to our sport 1967).
Her invaluable contributions has filled many voids.
To the Flyball Pioneers of our sport, a much deserved pat on the back.
And a BIG Thanks to my many flyball contributors, for which this page could not have been made without them.

Flyball is a direct decendant from the canine activity called, "Scent hurdling"!
See "Flyball is born" for more..go to index to start your readings

Scent hurdling is a racing sport where the dogs jump over four jumps and pick up one of four articles, that were previuosly scented by the handler.
The dogs also wore racing jackets, that had the same number as their article.

Flyball is Born Intro:
Flyball is Born
"PRE-NAFAŽ the 1970-1983 years"
"Three Lanes"
"Recalling the Old Days"
"The Birth of NAFAŽ -1984"
The Early Flyball Teams
"What Flyball was like"
"A Trip Down Memory Lane"
"Granmother Of Flyball"
Playing Flyball in '85'
"Some Early Rules"
"PcBoard BBS system"
"Feedback Form"

Some Early Items From the "Era"

Some Early Items From the "Era"


One of the First boxes, designed and built by, James A Cogswell




One of the First boxes


Two of the First Programs

Cover pages-4/12/86

Flint, Mi. and

8/9/86 Dearborn,Mi.



Two of the First Programs


"What is Flyball"


"What is Flyball",

from Program 8/9/86 Canine Express (Canex Inc.) Dearborn, Mi

[A little bit differant than what were used to now].


"What is Flyball"



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"Flyball is born 1967-Intro to Origins of Flyball"

Introducing Ms Cheryl Anderson, one of the original founders of Flyball:
By: Cheryl Anderson [info received 10/2002] [1 of 3 post]

I was part of the original Barbara Weatherwax group that invented the first hurdle relay racing, which grew with the addition of scent discrimination, and then evolved into flyball. And boy the apparatuses we used then, were nothing like today. We also had Doberman basketball teams and other such events.

I was then a member of the West Valley Companion Dog Training Club in Los Angeles, we met on Saturdays at the San Fernando Park to perfect the equipment and practice. We had several breed teams that ran, and made bright colored satin doggy saddle blankets jackets for each team member. We often appeared on TV during intermissions at major sporting events, as attractions at dog shows, and charity fundraisers at hospitals, and the like, with a program called, "The Wonderful World of Dogs".

This was all started back in 1967 in Southern California, under the organization of, the daughter of the trainer of Lassie. I was on the Sheltie team, and we also had a Poodle team, a German Shepherd, and a catchall team. I was also part of the "Top Dog Team", Gaines predecessor + CDTC 1967-1969 and trained under Milt Gibian who was taught by Blanche Saunders.

Yeah, I'm ancient. Thought you might want to know all this since you have a history page set up.
Cheryl Anderson AKC Judge
email Cherden11@msn.com
website http://www.cherdensheltie.com

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FLyball Is Born, 2 of 3 post
By: Cheryl Anderson [info received 1/7/2003]

Unfortunately, I have no pictures remaining from that era -- they got lost along the way. And several of the people that were involved back then are now dead, others I lost track of. We had people from both west and east SF valley Companion Dog Training Club involved in the initial development.

We started out just developing the scent discrimination hurdle racing. We first tried without a divided board, just with dumbells on the ground as if it were a normal scent discrimination exercise, but that was too confusing, the dumbells got scattered everyplace, so went to a board, then added dividers to it. Well, after running teams at that, things got boring, so we tried with Frisbees, but not all dogs were Frisbee chasers and was too hard to get it right. So then we started putting tennis balls on a board til the dogs got used to fetching balls instead of dumbells (that was easy), then we had a guy standing there throwing tennis balls to each dog when it came to the end of the jump line. Well, some of the dogs wanted to bring the ball to the guy instead, so we started working on ways to get a ball launched without a person -- that was when the "fun" started...ggg

Some of the early apparatus experiments were really comical, but we ended up with a spring loaded arm caught on a cabinet latch holder, and the dogs had to hit a small paw pad, wood about 4" square. Teaching them that was the hardest challenge until the light bulb went off in their heads. So very, very different from the sophisticated machinery now used. Ours were wood and hinges painted white, basically. I was trying to pinpoint the dates, and the closest I could pin it was about 1968. I'll get back with more info -- I'm going to dig thru some old stuff to see if I can come up with a better timeline than that.
Cheryl Anderson Cherden since 1966 AKC judge #4183

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Flyball is Born Continues post 3 of 3
Cheryl-[info received 1/9/03]

Barbara Weatherwax was Rudd Weatherwax's (trainer of the TV-Lassie) daughter, and she was the "leader"/organizer of the group, she also had the "in", plus Larry Stewart (producer, his major show was Hawaii 5-0) and Angie Dickenson, to the movie/show industry, they got us most of the spots where we performed. I'll have to really dig for this stuff, hadn't actually thought deep about it for, oh, 30-35 years.....gggg Dang -- I can SEE the people in my mind, but I'll have get the names put to them........ Herb Wagner's name is familiar -- he may have been one of the group, for all I can remember right now. I have lists somewhere. Jerry Orth (east valley) and Milt Gibian (west valley) were the trainers for Companion Dog Training Club who asked for volunteers for this Wonderful World Of Dogs venture.....in addition to the flyball, we had Doberman Basketball, some sort of soccer game, Golden Retrievers doing something with training dummies, and Frisbee demos too. But the flyball relay races were by and far the most popular event. We got satin jackets -- a different color for each "team" and sewed (ourselves) matching "racing jackets" (saddles with chest and belly bands) for the dogs -- we also separated the dogs by breed -- we had a Sheltie team (which I was on), a Poodle team (they were hot but not as dependable), a GSD team, a hound team, a mixed breed team, a Collie team, a Retriever team, a Dobe team and a toy team. They did have boards for hurdle height differences in the groups -- one board toys, 2 for Shelties/Poodles, 3 or 4 for the rest. Lowest dog on team determined height. A lot of the basics were pulled from obedience for this. (web masters note# I told her about the Boxloaders union and times under 16 seconds) Yeah, SF was SAN FERNANDO Park where we trained. Sorry. Can't believe a union for all this......gggg What kind of monster did we create!!! he he he Well, we had lots of fun, anyway.....even if our best time was about double what they run now..... Best, Cheryl

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"PRE- NAFAŽ" 1970-1983 years

Flyball moved from California and was then picked up by some dog training clubs in Canada/Detroit area. The Sportsmen's Dog Training Club of Detroit and McCann vs. McCann in the Toronto area, introduced Flyball to the Great Lakes area!

Flyball Prehistory (or at least pre-NAFAŽ)..the dogs were released on a whistle from a sit stay and the dog had to put the ball in the bucket before the next dog was released.... -Mike Randall

"Three Lanes"

by "Ruth VanWert"

All I know is when I started to train with the Ann Arbor Dog Training Club (Now Front Runners) in 1979, they were already doing Flyball. Once a year attheir Obedience Show we would do a "Demo" and Sportsman's Dog Training Club(Now, Pawsitive Attitudes) came as our competition. In 1981 there was a real tournament at Credit Valley Dog Show in December, (held in Toronto). InFebruary 1982 at "The Met" (held in Toronto again) we had another tournament (six teams in all) and the Ann Arbor DTC won. What was different and never has been done again was in the finals we had 3 lanes(left, right, middle) and teams that had placed 1-3 in the round robin raced against each other for the final placement. I do have "somewhere" a picture of my first Springer at that competition and you can barley make out the other two lanes,it was taken by "Dogs in Canada". So I don't know exactly how it migarated to Detroit/Canada, or when (but I'm sure glad it did!). The first "formal" competition was in 1981 in Toronto.
Ruth VanWert Received Jan 13th, 2003

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"Recalling the Old Days"

By "Beckie Randall"

I remember also when we were incredibly excited to run 27 seconds. Everyone used the free arm with a can style box back then. The team that won was usually the team that had 4 dogs that could do the run with the fewest mistakes. There were no passes - really. You just sent your dog when the other dog got back.

At the World Series one year, (a very long time ago) I seem to recall that Hamilton ran a team of all GSD and ran a very slick time of just under 30 seconds. We were all very impressed. This was the fastest time we had heard or seen. (This may have been 1980 or around then, maybe 81) A very good all Doberman team beat us in a race at the Sportsmen's Demo in Toronto one year - I don't remember their team name. This was also very early in history (pre-NAFAŽ days). I think there used to be an all Dobe team in California a while back (88?)
Thanks, Deb for recalling those old days - I'd almost forgotten.
Beckie Randall
North Carolina Blockade Runners
(formerly of Ann Arbor Front Runners)

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"The Birth of NAFAŽ" 1984

  • In November 1984, twelve teams from the Detroit/Toronto area founded the North American Flyball Association!
  • The first teams!
  • Front Runners from Ann Arbor, MI
  • ABC Odedience School from Okemos, MI
  • Canine Workshop (Canine Express) from Mt. Clemens MI
  • Hamilton Dog Training Club from Burlington, Ont
  • Tri-cities Dog Training Club from Birch Run, MI
  • Swansea Dog Obedience Club from Bramlea, Ont
  • J & J From Sharon, Ont
  • Companion Dog Training Club from Grand Blanc MI
  • McCann vs. McCann from Greenville, Ont
  • Train'em Dog Training Center from Paris, Ont
  • Silver Collar Obedience Club from Maton Ont.
  • Double D Dog Training Club, From Roseville, MI
  • The First NAFAŽ Executive Director -was Mr Mike Randall till 1991!
  • 3 tournaments held in 1985.
  • The First Tournaments; Swansea, Genisse Valley, and Credit Valley
    --- Credit Valley was started about the same time as the MI tournaments. The first ones in MI were held by the Eliminators Flyball team cocaptained by Mr Clyde Moore and Ms. Lonnie Olsen. Mr Herb Wagner hosted the World Series of Obedience shows, a big one a couple of months after.
  • The first head judge- was Mr Dave Samuels.
  • In the early days it was also, very very important to have good Line Judges too.
  • Team numbers weren't assigned until we started awarding titles - which were first proposed in August of 1987."Mike Randall"
  • Few top teams could barely break 25 seconds!
  • The first "official record" was held by Canine Express (Michigan) time 24.49 seconds.
    The record was broken by Pawbusters from Michigan (23.51) on 4/12/86 at The Genesse County Flyball Tournament with Jacob, Meka, Katie, Teddy and Breeze.
    There was no record of which four dogs actually ran in the record breaking race since this was long before titles were first conceived.
    Front Runners: 9/13/86 - 22.96 Seconds
    Animal Inn, (MN) set the record (22.01) on 3/15/87 in Louisville KY with Damien, Izzy, Cider, Powder, and Panther.
    Front Runners (Michigan) set the record (21.48) in Minnessota on 7/18/87 with Wyn, Zeke, Copper, and Trey.
    "Mike Randall"

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Early NafaŽ teams, their numbers, and contacts.

I'm not sure when of if they started dropping teams that were no longer active and "using" their numbers for new teams. " Mike Randall"
  • 001 Front Runners (originnaly Mike Randall)
  • 002 Animal Inn (Sharon Anderson)
  • 003 McCann vs McCann (Marti McCann)
  • 004 The Other Team (Ken Eldridge)
  • 005 Making Tracks (Bill Ciszar)
  • 006 ABC (Tula Mae Miller)
  • 007 Hamilton (Ann Penner)
  • 008 Pawbusters (originally Mark and Pam Jacobson)
  • 009 Swansea (Ron English)
  • 010 Canine Workshop (Canine Express - Kathie Duguid)
  • 011 Trainers Trippers (originnal Andria Roat later Carol McMahon)
  • 012 Marvic (John Baine)
  • 013 Fast Lane (Ginny Neher)
  • 014 Guelph (Jack Crosbie)
  • 015 Sportsmen's DTC (later the Road Runners - Cindy Arnold)
  • 016 Bark in the Park (Melody Daggs)
  • 017 Four on the Floor (Patt Wyatt)
  • 018 Sprinters (also Eliminators, Dog Choice, and Gold Rush - Lonnie Morgan)
  • 019 Canine Stompers (Pat McAuliffe)
  • 020 Renegades (Allison McIntosh - one very special person)
  • 021 Hi-Performance Flashers (also Border Patrol - Doug Smuck)
  • 022 Companion DS of Tulsa (Gail Braun)
  • 023 KS Poppin Paws (Bev Rumsower)
  • 024 Fun Runners (Pam Schultz)
  • 025 Pedal Pushers (Jerry Koszedner)
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  • 026 DTC of Champain-Urbana (Susan Borop)
  • 027 K9 Paw Power (Evelyn Sapyta)
  • 028 Santa Barabara Flyers (Lissa Thomas)
  • 029 Doberman Drill Team (Linda Nicholson)
  • 030 Happy Hurdlers (Dana Anderson)
  • 031 Air-O-Dynamiks (Sharon Wood)
  • 032 Flying Red Rangers (Jan Frey)
  • 033 Spring Fever (poc unknown)
  • 034 SLO-DOG (Eileen Harnedy)
  • 035 Hiawatha Dog Sports (Mary Anne Rath)
  • 036 Solid Gold Express (Kathy Erickson)
  • 037 Allsorts Dog Sports (Kevin Hughes)
  • 038 Canine Combustion (Darlene Woz)
  • 039 Loony Toonies (Elsie May Lang)
  • 040 Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue (Elizabeth Norolund)
  • 041 Cambell River Concords (Pearl Hardie)
  • 042 Dogwood Pacesetters (Margret Warren)
  • 043 COKC High Flyers (Carla Mortensen)
  • 044 Black and Gold (Gordon Simmons-Moake)
  • 045 Hot Dogs (Susan Pilkerton)
  • 046 Boondogs (Monica Burke)
  • 047 TCOTC (Mark Falk)

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"What it was like"

by"Sue Ethier"

There were no start lights and no passing lights. All of the starts and passes were called by the line judges, who also used hand-held stopwatches to time the races. The race was started by the head judge; the judge would do a basic "ready, set, go" and blow the whistle on the "go". As you can imagine, a lot of the dogs were very keyed into the whistle and got quite excited when they heard it! It was very strange running with the lights for the first time and not having that start whistle.

There were placements but, no divisions. Divisions came much later. Sometimes we ran round-robin for placements to a double elimination with a consolation round. Never dreamed of titles or points, it was fun to just get together and race "official".

When divisions did come they were Championship, Regular, and Novice, remember? And no multibreed in the olden days, no EJS, no running passes or 60 feet starts!
"Sue Ethier" member Companion Dog Training Club in 1985!
Sue is now a member on the Rude Dogs Team.

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A trip Down Memory Lane

By "Deb Norman"

I was on the first Swansea team that put on a demo at the Sportsmans Show in Toronto in 1982. We ran a single team consisting of a Boston Terrier, a Chow (really!), a Samoyed, a Mini poodle and a Belgian Tervuren. We all stood at the start line (then it was just 4 feet before the jumps) and let our dogs go when the other was past us. Our box was the arm/tuna can type. We were just glad when all the dogs did it. I remember being incredibly excited the first time we broke 27 seconds!

We practiced sporadically for a few years and ran in a lunch-time demo/tourney at the 1984 World Series. (That's Dog Obedience, not baseball) I believe 12 teams applied to go and they chose 6 at random. We were lucky enough to go, and ran a tean of 3 tervs, a minipoodle and a GSD.

I remember exciting close races between us and McCanns and us and the Ann Arbor Front Runners. Pam Shultz's wonderful "Cisco" was running then, and I remember it because when my own terv caught sight of him at the box he did a "double take" and almost ran into the first jump (Belgians are very aware of other Belgians). I remember Marty McCann calling dogs to the box. I think Alison MacIntosh , a wonderful person in the sport, was with them then.

The 1985 tourneys: I, a flyball fanatic, ran in only one, as I had moved to Philadelphia. I did come back for the Swansea tournement, held after the completion of the first day of their famous two-day obedience trial. It was held in a hocky arena and was incredibly noisy. Naturally there was the barking, but there was a thunderstorn as well. I remember it well because my very fast terv was too afraid of the thunder to compete. Our team was called "Reunion" because it was me back from Phila and another dog who'd also moved away combined with two Toronto friends. I remember shopping for our "uniform," matching flowered baseball caps! You can see we were not helped by our sporty apparel, as we were last. That was because my boy was too afraid of the thunder to run. At that tournement I also remember the all-GSD team of the Glen Saxon kennel, a sight I've never seen repeated. In fact aside from all BC teams, I don't recall ever seeing a team made up of all one breed. Has anyone else? I have pictures of the team from the World Series and racing at Credit Valley (1983) taken by photographers from "Dogs in Canada" if anyone ever writes a book... Thanks for letting me take a little trip "down memory lane."

Deb Norman, Philly Fur
You can E-mail Deb at---Normanland@aol.com

thanks Deb

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Grandmother of FLYBALL!

By Val Culpin

Back in 1985, Elsie May Lang decided it was time that B.C. (the province, not the breed! :) ) jumped on the flyball bandwagon, and so she and well known trainer Donna Bradley bought the first flyball boxes in this area...yes, the bungee cord / tuna can variety... and started teaching flyball. I was in the first class Elsie May taught with my Golden. After we all had our dogs running at what we thought was lightning fast speeds..(my dog was one of the fastest at a cracking fast 6 seconds!!), we formed a team called the Looney Tunes.

It was comprised of my golden, an Aussie, an ACD, a lab cross, and a whole passel of shelties. The team was named the Looney Tunes because we practised outdoors in all weather..for those of you who know our climate, it was usually wet... anyways Elsie decided that only a bunch of loonie tunes would be out practising in that weather and so the name was coined. It was later shortened to the Toonies. Most of us ended up going off and starting our own teams, but Elsie May's shelties were always at the core of the Toonies.

To this day, the Toonies have proportionately more shelties running on their teams than do most teams in this region. And I have to say that they probably have more fun than many others as well. Last fall (1996) after a Vancouver Island tourney, this raucious bunch had so much noisy fun in the ferry cafeteria, they cleared the joint!!

This is a good chance to publicly thank Elsie May for starting us all off on a great sport. I acknowledged her several years ago in a Dogs in Canada article I wrote as the 'grandmother of flyball in B.C.' and that is still the way I feel.
Val Culpin

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Playing Flyball in 1985

By Kim Eashoo; {received 1/9/2003}
I started playing Flyball in 1985 with the Flint Eliminators with a group of very talented and intense dog trainers. The team was formed from members of the local dog-training club. I started obedience classes and later Flyball classes with my good friend Sue Ethier and her Dachshund Doozer. I raced for years with my Keeshond Vashti. Nothing was more fun though than watching Doozer running just as fast as his short legs would carry him...ears flapping and the crowd loving it Sue and I were newbies ...the team was loaded with some of the most talented trainers I've ever met.

We raced with Lonnie Olsen, Clyde, and Char Moore, and Connie Crowley, all of whom have contributed so very much to the sport. Lonnie has been a master at introducing new people to the sport. Clyde worked tirelessly at the promotion of Flyball I will never forget the lectures I would get about getting my priorities straight so I wouldn't miss practice. Char was always there to support Clyde and the team in whatever direction we took. Connie is by far the most masterful and innovative dog trainer I've ever met. A single team produced a lot of great folks who are still in the game today and whose influence will remain with the game forever.

Do you remember when we all raced in an outdoor PawBusters tournament in Michigan, and it poured down rain the entire time. Dogs, handlers, balls, jumps, boxes, and boxloaders, were covered with mud. I think we determined that indoor tournaments were probably a good plan for unpredictable Michigan weather. It was great though I'll never forget how the boxloaders ended up covered with mud as the dogs would approach the box and as they left.

When McCann had a new...and often larger...Flyball box at every tournament. Oh...and that version that everyone copied for a while nicknamed the putting green. Oh man have boxes gone through changes. It seems like we replaced boxes every tournament.

That guy with the German Shepherds...I can't remember the team name I think Maverick was in the name who raced his own dogs releasing them all on voice commands His wife loaded the box...he handled all four GSDs. While they weren't the fastest they certainly had style. At each tournament, teams selected a team song that was played during team warm-ups and introductions. You saw your first incredible Flyball dog for me it was Cider from Animal Inn that just took your breath away who was your favorite

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Some Early Rules

Date sent: Thu, 27 Aug 1998 21:00:25 -0500
From: Ron English
Subject: Flyball rules A call for uniformity

The host club will provide two sets of jumps to be left set up for the duration of the races. (These could be borrowed from participating teams. The idea is to avoid delays in the action caused by changing sets of jumps.) Jump dimensions: Uprights to be 2'6" high, two feet apart. AS THE MINIMUM JUMP HEIGHT IS 10", it is advisable to have one 10" board, one 1" board and the rest can be 2" boards. The jumps should be painted white.
Jump height:
All four jumps shall be set according to the HEIGHT AT THE WITHERS FOR THE SMALLEST DOG RUNNING (not the stand-by, if the stand-by is brought in, heights are readjusted if necessary). The judges are to check the jump height before racing begins. An easy way to measure is to take one upright away and stand the dog alongside the jump, using a ruler or something similar as a horizontal measure from the jump to the withers. A dog standing 13 1/2", for example, is allowed to jump 13" - the nearest whole number on the low side (13 3/4 jumps 14).

Minimum jump height: 10"
Maximum jump height: 18"

These rules were in effect up until October 1984. I just came across an old rule book. It is 1 - 1 1/2 pages long.

Ron E Since '82

Start line:
NAFAŽ extended the start line 2 feet from 4 foot to 6 foot effective January 1 1988 dispite being vetoed by the the than President, Mike Randall. Mike Randall

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Date sent: on 07/25/2000
From: "E. Daniel Ayres" eayres@mw.mediaone.net
Subject: PC Board BBS System

FYI: Back in 1987-88 the schedules for tournaments for NAFAŽ were posted on a PC Board BBS System with a single dial-up line that answered at 2400 baud or lower. The BBS was named "The Dog House" and was located in Ypsilanti, MI and administered by E. Daniel Ayres, proud owner of "Josh" a young Chocolate Lab who got into Flyball class because all the Novice obedience slots were taken at the Ann Arbor Obedience Dog Training Club.
E. Daniel Ayres

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