Pedigree Name: Valkrista Princess Madaline.  Known As: MANDY. Bred By:Mrs. Rose Madsen

 Owner: Mrs. Sylvia Lord. Location: Pukekohe, New Zealand.

Mandy’s First Flygility Competition

by Sylvia Lord

 Photographs by Ewen Cafe (click)

It was a freezing cold day in October when we set off to Kumeu for our first competition .The flyer said racing started at 9.30am so I am all interested as we had only raced against the clock before in the NALA competition which happens on training days. We arrived in plenty of time as we had to enter on the day. I found out where we went to do that .I explained this was our first try. A very helpful lady showed me what to do .I had to enter our names on a list and when everyone had entered a draw was made. Two dogs at a time compete from the draw and the winner of those two goes on to compete against the winner of the next race and so on until a overall winner is established. . The helpful lady also suggested that I join the Flygility association in case I got points .Points are earned as each dog wins a race .Once 20 points are gained your dog is entitled to have FD[Flygility Dog] after her name.

There are several classes .We entered in elementary and beginner’s .There was intermediate and open as well as a class for the advanced dog if there was time .The courses are set up side by side with a little fence separating the runs. The Intermediate class was first so we had a long wait until it was our turn in elementary. I had time to get familiar with the rules from observations and the helpful members from our club. The competitors are allowed a practice run then it is best of three. The handler stays at the start/ finish line and directs the dog from there. There is a 3- 2-1 count and the white flag goes down. The handler releases the highly excited dog if there is a fault a red flag is raised and that team have to repeat the course again but the handler can run with the dog. If the race is finished correctly a checked flag is raised. A judge has the final say who the winner is. Faults are knocking off jump poles, failing to take the correct obstacle, failing to trigger the ball and trying to pinch it from the back of the box, dropping the ball and completing the course without it .Someone with a yellow flag renews the ball between dogs and puts up the flag to indicate faults to the judge.

The obstacles are a narrow jump made of palings threaded though the uprights which are designed to fall over if the dog hits them, regular pole jumps, and a tunnel .Sometime weave poles are used but I think they are only used in the advanced class.

The degree of difficulty is the way the jumps and tunnels are set. The intermediate course had a curve in it so the handler has to direct the dog round the bend. The open course was hard as the dog had to enter on an angle; turn left and then right through the tunnel collect the ball and return back to the start. There were a lot of re runs and only the most skilful handlers managed to complete it without faults and even they dropped rails and made errors. In the elementary course the handler is able to run with the dog but in the beginners the handler has to stay at the start line unless a fault is made then she can run on the re runs. The paling jumps are the first and last jumps.

The elementary and the beginners the course was set in a straight line, the skill is to get the dog over the paling jump on the way back. The jumps are adjusted for the dogs height, ie maxi, midi and mini

It was soon our turn. I thought it would be best if I ran with Mandy but she was totally confused and failed to trigger the box then dropped the ball so we were out.

We had a long wait again until our next turn in the beginners. I sent her down on the practice run and she was perfect. She was up against a Doberman, the flag went down and she was off as fast as her little legs would go, meanwhile the Doberman was loping along in the other lane. She came out of the tunnel spotted the Doberman and rushed to the fence to bark at her ,saw she was hitting the box so she rushes over ,springs her box and returns perfectly  .We had another go but she was again distracted by the other dog so that was the end of our day, no points!

Flygility is a fun sport, the dogs are so excited and keen. The winners have to work really hard by the time they have had four turns of four runs you can see them getting tired. There are not so many mini dogs doing it but there are a variety of dogs all enjoying what they are doing. The handlers are a varied bunch from children to those of us past our prime and every one in between. One of the competitors is blind. Her mother helps her but she has to interpret what her mother tells her and direct her dog herself. Her mother does the re runs. So now I am looking forward to our next competition, Te Aroha .On the 21st November.  I shall keep you posted.