Features June 2009 Issue

High-Energy Canine Competitions

High-energy dogs have a blast in “flyball,” a fast, loud sport.

Woof, yap, scream, yodel, bark, yip. Go, go, go!” Dogs on the sidelines and in crates and exercise pens barking at the top of their lungs. Dogs tugging and growling, tugging and growling. Handlers yelling over the din to their teammates. Handlers recalling their dogs over jumps, H-e-r-e! Event officials blowing whistles and announcing the next race over bullhorns or speaker systems, and start-line lights and passing lights flashing on and off. Flyball is a cacophony of sights and sounds. It is exhilarating, over the top, adrenalized hyperstimulation. This is not a sport for the introverted, timid, or sound-sensitive dog or handler. The adrenalin level is off the charts and you can hear that from hundreds of yards away. The first time I experienced flyball was as a spectator at an obedience trial held at a park. Suddenly, shattering the decorum, was an ear-piercing scream followed by rabid barking. Certain that an obedience dog had left the ring and treed a critter, I raced over to watch. No critter. No mayhem. Just flyball. The teams had just set up for their first race and the dogs were ready. I had never seen dogs so keen to get going.

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