“I’ve always said money may buy you a fine dog,
but only love can make it wag its tail.”
Every year hundreds of canines and their human companions travel to Indianapolis, Indiana to compete in the North American Flyball Championship.
What is flyball you ask? It’s the canine equivalent to the horse steeplechase event. The North American Flyball Association, Inc. (NAFA) was established in 1984, when 12 flyball clubs in Michigan and Ontario banded together to guide the development of flyball in North America.
Flyball got its start in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a group of dog trainers in Southern California created scent discrimination hurdle racing, then put a guy at the end to throw tennis balls to the dogs when they finished the jump line. It didn’t take long for the group to decide to build some sort of tennis ball-launching apparatus, and the first flyball box was born.
Herbert Wagner is credited with developing the first flyball box, and apparently he did a flyball demo on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson that got a lot of people’s attention. Subsequently, the new dog sport for dog enthusiasts was introduced in the Toronto-Detroit area by several dog training clubs. After a few small tournaments were held in conjunction with dog shows, the first ever flyball tournament was held in 1983.
Today, there are over 400 active clubs and 6,500 competing dogs, NAFA, a nonprofit organization is recognized as the world’s leading authority on flyball and the sport’s top sanctioning organization.
If you want to see the dogs in action, here’s a short documentary about the sport and the ruff competition.