• Planes, Ferrets and Skittles

    For reasons known only to the organisers we were invited back for a second year to the South Yorkshire Shooting and Game Fair held at Doncaster Racecourse. This is an odd event since it tends to revolve around shooting and hunting, two things which don’t have that much association with Flyball. Still, it gives us the opportunity to do a bit of training in a different venue.

    Well, I have to admit that initially I wasn’t keen on doing a write up for the event, partly because it’s not a competition and partly because – well, you’ll see as you read on. Let’s just say it was…. Entertaining. And that’s probably an understatement.

    When we do demo’s at the event we do it in the ‘main arena’ – a grassed area at the side of the racecourse which is fenced off. During the two days we were scheduled in to do four demos, 1 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon of each day.

    Now I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that the environment is nothing like a flyball arena. The dogs obviously knew this as well, and being next to the racecourse, various stalls, cooking food, ferrets and shooting it was clear that this was going to be a challenging day. Add into the mix that this was pretty much like a training session for the dogs since all of their doggy friends were there.

    And so the carnage ensued. It’s fair to say that pretty much none of the dogs stayed in their lanes or ran round jumps and generally misbehaved. Thankfully the crowds weren’t massive at that time of the morning, although the dogs seemed to have had a whale of a time.

    By the afternoon the crowds had swelled a little, although the ferret man had been in before us, as had the bird of prey demo. The ferret man had also left his fake rabbit burrow in the ring – no big deal it was at the side.

    And the afternoon went pretty much the same way as the morning. Domino decided he wanted another go and raced Fizz up the lane, thanks to deft box work by Alex they both got a ball. Not content with this though Dom then followed Fizz back down the lane and while Fizz was jumping over the penultimate jump Domino jumped over Fizz. Yes, really. This could be a new variation on the sport, piggy back flyball.

    Angel who had been the only consistent dog in the morning decided to check out the rabbit warren, and the other dogs just kind of ‘mingled’. In each others lanes mainly. Only concern was a slight bowling issue involving Melora, but she brushed herself off and was fine.

    Still, the crowd were highly amused, and trust me, trying to do a commentary while judging wasn’t an easy task.

    Arriving the following day thinking it just had to get better we discovered that centre netting had been put up in the arena. Probably a good idea and it would at least solve the dogs issue that it was actually playtime.

    Unfortunately the day didn’t start too well when Sparky – Mr Consistent himself – decided having missed the activities of the day before he was going to jolly well join in and run round the jumps during some practice sessions. Hmmmm, when Sparky does that you know you’re in trouble. The issue was compounded by Domino deciding to belly flop onto one of the jumps squashing it flat (lucky escape there Fizz). Fortunately some duck tape sorted that out.

    We changed the format and did a race first, followed by commentary and introduction of each dog, some example training with Jenna at the box and then Lamorak came out to do a few runs, only zipping off for one quick circuit before coming back to Julie. He's coming on really well and Juie must be really pleased with his progress.

    Some more racing followed, which went better. Don’t get me wrong the dogs still weren’t on their best behaviour, but to be honest with all the distractions it wasn’t ever going to be easy. Some of the dogs were also a little nervous or distracted by the guns going off.

    The afternoon was pretty much the same as the morning if I’m honest, although again the crowds were bigger again which was nice. Thankfully despite all the issues with pretty much all the dogs it was all taken in good nature by everyone with no real finger pointing going on. In fairness, you’d probably run out of fingers anyway if you tried.

    All in all an interesting weekend!

    And the extra special awards for the demo :

    The ‘Boeing 777’ award for flight and a crappy undercarriage-less landing goes to Domino

    The ‘WTF’ award for doing the unexpected completely out of character goes to Sparky

    The ‘Balls of Steel Despite Being A Girl’ award goes to Fizz

    The ‘Faultless’ award for not joining in with all the wrong doing goes to Nakhohe

    The ‘AMF’ award for bowling goes to Melora

    The ‘Fastest Loader in the West’ award goes to Alex

    And apparently the organisers were so pleased, we’re booked in again next year! And for anyone who's interested, yes DogStar did buy most of Harvey's Venison Sausages. And I believe they're nearly all gone they are that good!

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