Euro Puppy is fascinated by Flyball… What is Flyball? Well, Flyball is a relay dog sport in which teams of four dogs run a race against each other from a start to finish line. They have to jump over a line of hurdles, to reach a box. When the dog presses this spring-loaded box-pad, a tennis ball is released and caught by the dog. The dogs then run back over the hurdles once more; to their handlers while carrying the ball. Flyball was invented in California in the 1970s, and mostly took off during the 1980s when the first flyball organization, the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was created. Their aim was to promote the sport and to design uniform competition rules. A second for-profit organization has emerged in the last few years. They go by the name of United Flyball League International (U-FLI). There may be slight changes in the rules in the US, the UK and New Zealand, where Flyball is very popular.
A Flyball course consists of four hurdles placed 10 feet (3 m) apart from each other, with the starting line 6 feet (1.8 m) from the first hurdle. The flyball box is placed 15 feet (4.5 m) after the last hurdle. This creates a 51-foot (15.5 m) track length. The hurdle height is determined by the shoulder height of the smallest dog in the team. The North American Flyball Association stipulates that that hurdle height should be 4 inches (10 cm) below the withers height of the smallest dog, to a height of no less than 7 inches (20.3 cm) and no greater than 14 inches (40.6 cm). Each dog must return its ball all the way across the start line before the next dog crosses. Ideal running is nose-to-nose at the start line. The winning team is the one that has all four dogs cross the finish line without an error. If the ball is dropped or the next relay dog is released too early, teams are penalized.
Flyball is one of the non-hunting dog sports in which dogs are essentially pet dogs with a hobby, rather than dedicated sporting or working dogs. Flyball is not limited to the size of the breed since smaller dogs such as Whippets and Parson Russell Terriers have also been known to compete with great success in mixed-breed teams, which consist of various sizes and breeds. Smaller dogs are often a happy addition, since the hurdle height is based on the height of the smallest dog. Smaller dogs’ only disadvantage may be that they have to fully jump on the release-pad, to release the ball. One of the reasons that Flyball is so popular is due to the fact that it is one of the dog sports that mixed-breed dogs are also allowed to play. Rescued Pavement-Specials are given the chance to shine next to their purebred canine friends. Herding dogs, like Border Collies currently dominate the courses; although many champion teams have mutts on them. Even a Shar-Pei has been known to be a champion at Flyball! Flyball enables owners and dogs to actively interact with each other. It is not only fun, but the dogs are allowed to enjoy exercise and praise. For dogs with a high drive to work; like the Border Collies and Terriers, it is an especially great way to burn off energy. These days there are many dedicated people who have created teams and portals of useful information on the internet, so that lovers of Flyball can unite in their experiences. One of these can be viewed on i-flyball. Many interesting facts can be viewed here, with also a list of Flyball Associations around the globe. For more fun information, check out this video on Flyball!