GET SET — Members of the Buffalo Wings Flyball team and their canines participated in a relay event, during the WNY Dairy/Agricultural Festival in Springville. Photos by Leo Mrugala.
SPRIMNGVILLE — Members of the North American Flyball Association brought their sport to Springville, during the WNY Dairy/Agricultural Festival, with a stated goal of expanding their efforts, into the area. The team is based out of North Tonawanda, but members play in tournaments, all over the country.
Flyball, which originated in 1984, is a sport that is growing, throughout North America. Flyball is a dog sport, in which teams of four dogs race against each other.
During the race, the dogs leap over hurdles, with a goal of reaching a box, which will then release a tennis ball, for the dog to catch, when the animal presses the spring-loaded pad. The dog then brings the ball to its handler.
The race is operated as a relay. The course consists of four hurdles, placed 10 feet apart. Each dog must return its ball all the way across the start line, before the next dog from its team begins. The first team to have all four dogs cross the finish line, error free, is declared the winner.
The dogs can earn points and titles, based on their performances. These designations are sanctioned by the North American Flyball Association, which may be found at www.flyball.org.
According to the association, flyball is all about human interaction with dogs. Buffalo Wings Team Captain Toby Emo said that flyball stresses the bond between man and dog. “Flyball is a sport that is concerned about the well-being and quality of life for dogs with their owners,” he said.
“We follow guidelines issued by NAFA, regarding the care and handling of all dogs. Dogs thrive in this sport, because it provides an outlet for many of the instinctual drives, which make up the canine personality. It is everything a dog loves to do: run, jump and catch a ball.”
The Buffalo Wings Flyball team traveled to Indianapolis in October, to participate in the National Flyball Championships. The members also attend tournaments in Canada and New England.
“It’s the ultimate team sport,” Emo said. “Both the human and the dog have to be on the same page, in order to have success, in flyball. Owners who compete with their dogs, in this sport, enjoy a companion who is more obedient, healthy and confident.”
Emo said that he believes flyball’s popularity is going to increase, as time goes on. “Flyball is great for everyone that is involved in it,” he added.
“It’s healthy exercise, for both the human and the dog. It’s entertaining, for spectators. The sport brings out the best in your dog and allows them to have fun, in the process. The competition of the tournaments is also a nice bonus, but the relationships built with the animals is the best prize.”
For more information about the Buffalo Wings Flyball team, visit www.buffalowingsflyball.org or visit www.flyball.org.