Friday, September 20, 2013

ten years of flyball

This weekend, specifically September 22, will mark the ten year point since I became involved in the sport of flyball.  On that day in 2003, my friend Christy and I went to the Gig Harbor "Harbor Hounds Walk the Town" event to check out this dog sport called flyball that I'd heard of, as the Jet City Jumpers flyball club was putting on a demo.  We did the walk back and forth, watched the flyball demos and talked to the club members, and even taught Jadzia the basics of the game - run over the jumps, pick up a ball, and run back over the jumps.  Christy took this photo of her, the very first one of her playing the game that would define her life.

We joined JCJ after this demo, and began Jadzia's flyball training in earnest.  After about six months of training, most to get Jadzia over her fear of the loud noise the box made, we debuted her as a 14" height dog at Cloverdale at the Kings tournament in March 2004.  She earned her FD in her first heat, her FDX in her first race, her FDCh by the end of the first day, and her FDCh-S at the end of her first weekend - over a thousand points in her debut weekend, an impressive feat.  Jadzia was the first member of JCJ to earn FMCh through FGDCh-40k, and earned up to FGDCh-60k and her Iron Dog award before retiring in May of 2013.

A few weeks after joining JCJ, one of the members helped me find a litter of border collie puppies with a male available, and in December we brought home little Curzon at just eight weeks of age.  Curzon taught himself to play flyball at the age of five months after watching Jadzia's debut, and he debuted himself in October 2004 just two days after his first birthday.  Despite time off for boxturn retraining and his rib resection surgery, Curzon raced nearly his whole life, running his last races in March 2013 before we lost him in May.  Curzon was the first dog on JCJ to break 4.0 seconds, and he earned his FGDCh-40k and had he lived a few more months, he would've earned his FGDCh-50k and his Iron Dog award.  He went with me to NAFA Can-Am Nationals twice, once in 2010 and once in 2012, and ran beautifully both times.

In March of 2008, we took Phoebe from her previous owner who was no longer able to care for her.  Phoebe was our "little tank" of a height dog, setting 7" jumps in NAFA and running savage through her thirteenth year of age until she retired in February 2013.  She was the first dog on JCJ to earn her FGDCh-50k and 60k titles, was the Region 7 MVP for 2011, and retired ranked in the top 30 of Jack Russell Terriers.  She's now living with a retired couple in eastern Oregon and enjoying her well-deserved retirement.

Later that summer, my long-awaited red merle girl Ezri was born in Chicago, and came home in September of that year.  She debuted just three days after her first birthday at a tournament in California, and soon became one of the fastest dogs in the club.  Ezri is a joy to run, takes her job very seriously, and has been on a team that broke 16 seconds in UFLI competition with her own time of 3.83 in that race.  She will be earning her FGDCh-40k next weekend, and my goal for her is to get to HOBBES before she retires (100,000 points).  I've taken her to the NAFA CanAm Nationals twice along with Curzon, and she's raced in Arizona, California, Indiana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia so far, and we'll be adding Utah to that list in October.  Next year we plan to go to UFLI Nationals in St Louis, Missouri.  I'm looking forward to many years of racing my beloved redhead.

Last but not least is little Martok, Ezri's nephew and our also long-awaited baby boy puppy who was born on February 27 and came home just eleven days before we lost Curzon.  He's very intense, drivey, and focused, and is doing great in his flyball training.  I expect that he'll be debuting in March, the first tournament after his birthday, and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do as he grows up.

Of course, the dogs don't tell the whole story of our time in flyball, because there is so much more.  We've made many good friends over the past ten years, and have been part of two wonderful flyball clubs in that time as well.  We've traveled cross-country with teammates, gone on vacation with them, had parties and dog playdates and pool visits with them, and generally had a great time.  Our lives would be very different today if I hadn't looked into the sport of flyball ten years ago, and I'm ever so glad that I did.

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