Let the games begin
BY MELANIE WILTSE
WISCONSIN RAPIDS KENNEL CLUB
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — There’s barking – lots of barking. Excited dogs pull on harnesses waiting for the release, eyes fixed on the prize. The prize is a ball, four jumps and 61 feet from the starting lane. The ball is held in a spring-loaded box that will release the ball at high speed when the dog performs a “swimmer’s turn” and catches the ball while making the 180-degree turn. The dog returns with the ball to the handler, and as the dog crosses the start/finish line, the next dog passes on the way to the box. Two teams run at once in parallel lanes. This is the canine sport of Flyball.
Flyball is a relay race for dogs that requires running, jumping hurdles, catching balls, and high-speed turns. Six dogs make up a team, with dogs alternating positions so only four are running each race. There might be six opportunities for a team to race during a day of competition. The height of the hurdles is determined by the height of the smallest dog on the team (the “Height” dog). Many teams on the course are made up of one small dog and three larger dogs. Top division teams can complete the four-dog relay in 15 seconds or less. But even teams who average 25 seconds or more can earn points toward titles and awards. The divisions are arranged so teams will compete with other teams of similar abilities.
You can stop at the Wood County Recreation Center (Hockey Rink) on Friday, May 5 from 6 – 8 p.m., Saturday, May 6 between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and/or Sunday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to enjoy watching some of the racing. The tournament is hosted by the Wisconsin Rapids Kennel Club and will feature our local team, as well as teams from several Midwest states. Admission is free.
There will be a huge basket raffle, open to the public. Not all the raffle items are pet-related. You need not be present to win. The winners will be drawn at noon on Sunday. Any donation to benefit the Wood County Humane Society will give you a pick from a table of gently-used pet items to take home for your pets to enjoy.
During Sunday’s competition, a special guest – Miss Wisconsin Rapids Outstanding Teen Rubi Marti, an eighth grader at WRAMS – will join the Rapids Intens-a-Flyers to try her hand at running a dog for the Rapids team. Rubi loves dogs and owns a Boxer mix named Memphis.