Flyball: It’s loud! It’s exciting! It’s fun! But what is it? Flyball is a team dog sport that is run like a relay race. Typically two teams of four dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, jumping over hurdles to a box that releases a tennis ball. As one dog races back to their handler with the ball, the next dog is released to jump the hurdles and fetch another ball. The team with the best time and fewest errors wins. The sport was founded in southern California in the late 1960s and is now practiced in many parts of the world.
Flyball is anchored at TCOTC by its High Spirits Flyball Team, one of the oldest teams in the country. Founded by beloved TCOTC instructor Dale Weyhrich, who succumbed to cancer in 2002, the team hosts an annual tournament which it named his honor. The tournament brings teams together from all over the state and beyond, and also serves as a fundraiser for the club. This year’s tournament, held in September, hosted 42 teams over two days and raised more than $3,400.
Team member Lornell Brand got hooked on flyball after Dale encouraged her to volunteer at a tournament. It took a year to train her border collie/lab mix to compete, but it was easy to learn, and the social aspect especially appealed to her. “I like to do things with my dog,” says Lornell. “And the other team members become your friends.” Lornell’s daughter also participates, which is another plus. “It’s something families can do together,” she says.
People looking to join a flyball team in the Twin Cities metro have a lot of options. Lornell likes High Spirits because, while the team works hard and practices regularly, “we like to keep focused on making it fun for us and our dogs. It’s a nice way to build community,” she says, which is part of TCOTC’s mission. Even with the emphasis on fun, High Spirits still strives to run clean and be competitive. “It was exciting to see one of our teams take first in their division at this year’s Dale Weyhrich Flyball Tournament,” says Lornell.
If you are interested in getting involved in flyball, TCOTC can help. You can learn more about our Flyball Program at our Web site indicate your interest by filling out this form. When we have a sufficient number of prospective students, we’ll schedule an introductory class. If you and your dog are ready to join a team, High Spirits has a spot for you! Contact Lornell Brand at 651-415-9664 or email@example.com, or Karen Radford at firstname.lastname@example.org.