it was finally here - the day we travelled to Crufts. After completing our respective journeys, the team regrouped at our hotel. Spirits were high and optimism was in the air. The pre-Crufts party went into the wee hours of the night and some things are better left unreported!
Morning came far too quickly and breakfast was served with a side of nerves and excitement. In convoy style we travelled the short 8 miles to Birmingham's NEC and set up camp for the day. We were prepared with juice, lunch, cake and crisps - the diet of flyball champions. The day seemed to drag in, with the dogs getting plenty rest in preparation for the race of their lives. We could really do it this year, and we knew it.
All of a sudden, it was 3:45 and flyball time. Crowds were flocking to the arena to watch us.....it was so overwhelming. The queue of human traffic was stopped and all the flyball teams made their way backstage. It was as if this was what everyone was waiting for....no pressure then!
Backstage, we had a couple of minutes to get our heads together and get a grip of ourselves, then we were called to line up in race order. The club we had been sitting next to all day, ‘Wild West’, were racing first. Despite great racing they were beaten whuchvmeant elimination. Now it was our turn.
We entered the arena with our hearts in our mouths, the crowd roaring. The dogs already had an inkling about what was going to happen as they had been harnessed up but when they saw the jumps and box they knew what they were there to do. Our boxloader Scott stood isolated behind the box at the other end of the arena ready for the action to start. He had the most important job as he had to be prepared for anything to happen. The whistle sounded to indicate we could start our warm up. Nikki released Shady but he lost his footing and stumbled…a terrible start time and the only practice shot they'd get. All the other dogs ran well and then it was over. The whistle sounded…boxloader ready, line judges ready, handlers ready……
Race 1- Shady got a start time of 0.16 and ran faultlessly. Stark was next followed by Solo and finished by Silva. We won the race….wait what? We won the race……oh my goodness.
Race 2 – BOOM…0:00 perfect start by Shady, Stark zipped down and back, Solo flew then sadly Silva just caught the ball wrong and it slipped out of her mouth. Our opposition raced to victory. This was it…one a piece….
Race 3 – Shady was starting to get excited and was jumping about the start line. Lights, action, noooooooo, a false start of -0:16. The rest of the team ran perfectly but, despite lining Shady up on tgeviff chance of an oppositions fault, so did the other team. They won the race and heat which meant our dreams of being semi-finalists were all too quickly over.
Deflated, we returned backstage, oblivious to the nerves of teams still to race, and celebrations of winning teams. All of our hard work over the last year judged on a 2 minute performance.
We have the insider knowledge though that we have developed so much as a team, building relationships with each other and most importantly, with our dogs, and it's that reward which is priceless. Until next year, we go back to being the fun loving club who drink to excess and party hard.
‘Mon the Flyers
Well, that's it.....our last show before the big day is now complete. There's nothing more the team can do other than surround our four legged friends in bubble wrap and keep them safe and injury free!
What an entertaining show it was....emotions were high and our excitement has now built.
See you at Crufts!!
Fast forward 10 months and the end is almost in sight!!
The team have been working really hard on start times and crossovers. We've been using the recent indoor shows to really practice our techniques and hone our skills. Millie (Anne) and Shady (Nikki), have been perfecting their start times, Stark (Marc), Solo (Josie), Silva (Alison), and Fletch (Dawn) have continued to improve their crossovers resulting is super tight, squeaky bum moments now!
Along with Scott (boxloader) and Natasha (runner), we've become a team we are all really proud of. One more indoor show to go then we're ready, ready, ready to take on the world at crufts - EEEEK!
The sun was shining, the dogs were barking and the team were in high spirits, optimistic about the day ahead. Some teams had travelled up from England to attempt qualification but we weren't going to let that psych us out!
To qualify in first place you have to win every single race of the day so there was no room for error. Warm up began for our first race and Shady was start dog. He'd been out of flyball for the last 8 months due to an illness which almost saw him run over rainbow bridge but that was in the past and he only had eyes on the prize. He ran like a bullet up to the box and then run out??? You have got to be kidding me Shady. Another attempt to reassure ourselves it was just nerves......he run out again. Warm up over and the sweat was on!
The team lined up in running order.....cue manic dog barking and racing hearts (of the handlers!). Jenny blew the whistle and they were off. Shady bolted up the line and Nikki (his handler) worked him so hard she almost burst a lung......clean run. Stark was next with Marc on his tail and was faultless. Third up was supersonic Solo who is Josie's champ. As usual, blink and you miss him and then completing the foursome was Silva with Alison working her like never before. We won!
Throughout the day, the team was rotated with Millie (Anne) and Fletch (Dawn) completing the fabulous 6 to to win our races until we were victors of the day. There was some really tight racing and we were pushed to our limits and couldn't quite believe it but it was fact.....we were off to crufts!!