Fur to ‘fly’ at dog tournament this weekend

Published 9:52 am Friday, May 25, 2012

Seasoned competitors in the sport of Flyball know what it takes to advance from the go-fetch games to the big leagues.

It takes practice, teamwork and dedication—and a ride to the tournaments from their human owners, of course.

Dogs of all breeds and sizes can participate in Flyball, a competitive, action-packed canine sport consisting of a relay race between two four-dog teams.

The Dixie Flyers Flyball Club will host its first Flyball tournament in Clanton on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27 at the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center.

“The dogs jump four hurdles, trigger a spring-loaded box to release a ball and then carry the ball back over the hurdles,” ACES Regional Extension Agent Kirsten Holt said. “The first team to finish with the fastest time wins the heat.”

Holt said teams receive tournament points for heats won, and points are tallied at the end of the tournament to determine rankings in each division.

Dogs can also accumulate title points toward individual titles, she said. Title points are awarded based on the team’s total time, regardless of a win or loss per heat.

According to Holt, the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) and United Flyball League International (U-FLI) offer Flyball tournaments all over the United States, all year long.

“This weekend’s event is a NAFA tournament,” Holt said. “The American Kennel Club just recently announced they will recognize three NAFA titles.”

Holt said the Honor Flight Tournament will see Flyball clubs from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, and about 36 teams are expected to compete.

Holt said her dog will be competing too.

“For me, it’s an opportunity to do something with my dogs and be active,” Holt said. “It is a competitive environment; however, it is the most friendly competitive environment I’ve ever experienced. It’s like a big tailgate party.”

Essentially, the Clanton tournament will be two one-day tournaments, with races starting at 8 a.m. both days. Awards will be given out each afternoon.

Holt said if enough people express interest, a 4-H Flyball club could form in this area.

“If someone wants to try out Dixie Flyers, we can definitely take on new members,” Holt said. “If a club wanted to come from Clanton, we would gladly support anybody to get started. We just wanted to create an awareness that it’s out there.”

For more information, contact Holt at (205) 913-4593.