Going to the dogs: Island club wins national flyball championships

Langford’s Corinne and Stan Andersen, dog, Power, part of winning team

A Langford couple and their four-legged friend have returned from the national flyball championships with some shiny new hardware.

Corinne Andersen, her husband Stan, and their five-and-half-year-old border collie/whippet cross, Power, were part of a team that won the North American Flyball Association’s CanAm Classic Flyball Tournament in Indianapolis last month.

“We weren’t nervous, it was more excitement than anything else,” Corinne said.

Flyball is a relay race with four dogs on a team competing against four other dogs on a opposing team. Each dog must jump over four hurdles on their way to a spring-loaded flyball box, which holds a tennis ball, grab the ball and then return over the hurdles and back to their handler. Once the first dog has crossed the finish line, the second dog and go and so forth.

The Andersens are part of Total Anarchy, a local flyball club that practices once a week for three hours out of Cobble Hill and consists of roughly 15 members from the Island and the Mainland.

Club members Kelly Knight and dog, Squid, Joanne and Brian Fryia and dogs, Risa and Pirate, and Christina and Matt Budau with dogs, Grytz and T-Rex competed in the national championships, which draws roughly 180 teams from across Canada and the U.S. every year.

The club competed in the highest division level one – for the first time in its history – and they didn’t disappoint. After winning several heats and posting a new personal best, running the 102-foot-course with a time of 14.803 seconds, the club defeated the opposing team to take home the championship.

“We were screaming before the dog even crossed the finish line,” Corinne said. “Everyone was proud of our dogs that competed

Corinne’s love of flyball started more than 10 years ago, when she was driving on the Pat Bay Highway and noticed a handful of dogs running over hurdles. It wasn’t until several years later, when she was living in California that she decided to give it a go.

Now, all three of the Andersen’s dogs, including nine-year-old Topo Gigio, a border collie, whippet and terrier cross and two-year-old Prima, compete in roughly eight flyball tournaments a year with the club.

“It takes a lot of commitment every weekend to go to practices,” Corinne said, adding it takes about a year to train a dog to compete in the sport. “It’s the excitement of the dogs having such a good time. The dogs love the sport. A lot of people think it’s so noisy, I can’t handle the barking, but the dogs are so excited to do this that they’ll bark.”

With a national championship under their belt, the Andersens and Total Anarchy hope to continue their winning ways during a tournament in Langley later this month.

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