Canine athletes sought for flyball


IT'S the sport described as drag racing for dogs.

Teams of canines jump over four hurdles, grab a ball, and race back to the start, in a relay competition against the clock.

It's known as flyball and is recognised across the globe.

Flyball recruits from Launceston yesterday tried their paws at the fast paced activity for the first time, in the hope that a dedicated Northern team will be able to one day compete with the best.

Up to 24 dogs and their humans, including poodles, kelpies, border collies, fox terriers and a French bulldog, participated in a training session at Summerhill.

Northern Tasmania Flyball organiser Lani Smith said the aim was to organise teams from the North, who could compete and practice with the Hobart's Tassie Flying Paws club.

Tassie Flying Paws trainer Tania Virieux said the Tasmanian scene was organised for family pets and owners to have a bit of fun, but training was still held weekly.

Mrs Virieux said flyball attracted some serious competition interstate and overseas, with record times in the US sitting at about 16 seconds and Australian records at about 20 seconds.

She said special flyball breeds were being developed in the US by crossing whippets with border collies and staffordshire terriers.

"It suits extroverted dogs. You can tell which ones are going to go well, they need to have an optimistic, happy attitude," she said.

"Some smaller dogs tend to be a bit shy, especially when the bigger breeds are involved."

For more information contact Lani Smith on 63944586 or visit www.tassieflyingpaws.org.au

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