Friday, August 1, 2008


Here is an article about our team Tail Blazers and Flyball training:
People and their pooches from throughout Salt Lake and Davis counties are redefining summertime's dog days. Their summer pastime is flyball, a competitive and fast-paced dog sport created in the 1970s. Its appeal lies in its openness to dogs of all breeds and sizes, including mixed breeds. The only requirements: being "ball-driven" and energetic. Flyball's basic concept is fairly simple: The dogs pass over hurdles, press on a spring-loaded box that dispenses a ball and bring the ball back to their handlers, all in a relay race against dogs from another team running just 12 feet away from them. But as Bountiful resident Cyndi Conwell said, flyball looks a lot easier than it is. The dogs are highly trained. She said the average dog trains about one year before it is ready to compete in a tournament. Conwell has participated in flyball for nine years. She first learned of the sport at Strut Your Mutt, a popular annual fundraiser for No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Conwell's Jack Russell terrier, Lucy, saw a flyball demonstration at the event and said the dog "just went nuts." Lucy is still participating, along with two more of Conwell's dogs. Conwell and her canine clan are members of the Utah Tailblazers, one of Salt Lake City's two flyball teams. The Tailblazers practice at Jordan Park in Salt Lake City, but the club's members hail from Layton, Draper and everywhere in between. There are no team boundaries so flyball enthusiasts can participate with either the Tailblazers or their local rival, Thunder Paws. The newest members of the Tailblazer squad are Taylorsville residents Gil and Lynette Padilla and their 1-year-old border collie, Bocephus. They were "recruited" by a member of the Tailblazers who spotted Bocephus at Millrace Park and recognized his flyball potential. The Padillas are grateful. As Lynette says, "He needs a job. He's just so hyperactive. And since we don't have sheep, flyball is perfect." Gil Padilla confirms the perfect fit of Bocephus and flyball. "He knows - when we're at home and we say 'flyball', his ears perk up and he looks." The Tailblazers and Thunder Paws meet often at regular tournaments held in the Western United States. The tournaments illustrate the camaraderie that flyball facilitates among its participants. Tailblazer co-founder and president Gosia Skowron of Salt Lake City says the team has bonded through twice weekly practices and regular tournaments. The members spend most of their tournament time (usually three to four days) together, having barbecues and engaging in what Skowron calls, "Dog talk - lots and lots of dog talk." Flyball's benefits extend to its canine competitors as well. Skowron lists several perks for flyball dogs including exercise, training, and mental stimulation. She adds it's also a major confidence builder for them, not to mention their sheer enjoyment of the sport. The dogs show their flyball zeal during competition races - they almost always run faster than during practice. "When they see the dog in the other lane, they turn on the afterburners," Skowron said. For Conwell and others, the flyball passion peaks at competitions. "Watching the light come on in a dog . . . it really pays off."

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