Its Jet-tastic!

21 11 2007

Marin Running Riot Flyball Club holds its practice Sundays at the Marin Humane Society in Novato, Ca. Its a commute for Jet and I, because it takes us about 2 hours to drive there. But its worth it, and Riley comes along in order to help train new dogs in the classes.

 This particular practice was special, or i wouldn’t be putting it on the blog. You see, sometimes all of our team mates do not attend practice because they live to far away. One comes from Sacramento, and another from Reno, a whole state away. JJ has 5 dogs, most of which are fast and good dogs. One is Riot, a Border Collie/Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix, who’s fastest time is around 3.9 seconds. JJ came to this practice, and Jet was able to race against Riot for the first time.

 Let me remind everyone about how Jet’s Flyball style works. He LIVES to race the other dog. Before he gets ready to go, he stares at the dog in the other lane and runs his heart out racing them down to the box. He will be watching them all the way, even if it is only small eye glances, always to see where he is compaired to them. The faster they run, the faster he runs.

Box work usually happens first in practice. This is so that the dogs can focus on the right box turn even when full of energy and also have the energy to do their best. Jet did his box work against Jinx.

Box work usually works like this: The dog is released from the handler and takes one jump and then the box, then the one jump back to the handler to grab the tug. We do side by side box work, so that the jumps and boxes are about 6 feet apart, and the dogs are released at the same time.

Jet was fired up to race Jinx in box work. He was stareing at her and barking, and doing his play bow, which means he is all set to go. They went at the same time, and Jet was neck and neck with Jinx, the other border collie. Sometimes, he pulled ahead to hit the box first, and reach his tug first. This is a wonderful step, because both of these dogs run around the same speed.

The main event was the best. We had enough people at practice to do what we call Pairs Racing.  Before i explain it, keep in mind that we are running two sepearate teams in two seperate lanes, and each lane needs a box loader at the box, loading balls.  Pairs means that instead of running a full teams of dogs, we raced a team of two dogs against another team of two dogs in the other lane.

The teams were:

Riot(Border/Staffy at 3.9 seconds) and Bailey (BOrder Collie at 4.5 seconds) In the left lane.

Against:

Jet (Border Collie at 4.1 seconds) and Jinx (Border collie at 4.1 seconds) In the right lane.

I started Jet at 55 feet from the start line and the first jump in the course, and JJ did the same with Riot. Jet was already staring at him, and Riot was barking like a maniac. I felt Jet tense up as he looked, and then moved into his trademark ‘ready bow’. Another team member said ready, set, go, and we both let the dogs go on ‘go’.

I have never seen Jet run so fast. At least, not since he ran his fastest time of 4.1. I thought he was going to stop his heart with the adrenaline and intensity that he used to charge towards that box. Jet and Riot were neck and neck, paw by paw, nose by nose, stride by stride towards the lane. Jet’s tounge was flying out of his mouth, split flecking his mouth, and a wild look in his eyes. He was a wild animal. When the dogs hit the jumps they did it at the same time. So fast was their speed that both dogs were hitting the jumps with their front legs as they flew over them. You could hear the loud SLAP of wood on contact. I thought they would crash into the jumps and knock them over, but they didn’t. I hardly saw Jet hit the box. He was on it, and then off. And suddenly he had a ball. Thats how fast. And Riot hit it at the same time, and both dogs turned at the same time. I knew they were running almost identically, because when I yelled Jet’s name as he hit the box, JJ screamed at Riot at the exact moment. It was hard to tell who was calling who.

And they left the jumps like they had entered them: at the same time. And i only had time to process one thing before Jet slammed into his tug, and my arm that held it was almost pulled out of its socket: Jet just raced against a 3.9 dog, and met him equally. Technically, we had no stop watches and had no exact time, but i knew as i flung Jet around on his tug that there was no doubt that Jet had met his fastest time of 4.1 seconds, and SMASHED it. Into the DUST.

A little added note: When you race your dog, you start him at a certain foot behind the start line, so the dogs gains speed towards the jumps. When you let your dog go, you run after it towards the jumps, and when the dog hits the box, you yell its name and turn and RUN AWAY LIKE HELL. Your dog drives back at you like a rocket, and runs you down for the tug toy. I started Jet at 55 feet back, same as Riot. Then i ran up with him as he ran. By the time I got from 55 ft to 35 feet, (i moved a  distance of 20 feet) Jet had hit the box and was RACING BACK. So that means i was turning around and calling him and running away.

Lets think about this. The Flyball course is 102 feet total, 51 feet there, and 51 feet back. I had Jet 55 feet back from the start line (the begining of the 51 feet). So, Jet ran 55 feet to the jumps, then 51 more feet to the box, in the time it took me to run 20 feet. And i was not walking, i was running.

Lets see: Jet ran 106 feet in the time it took me to run 20 feet. If that doesnt say something about the speed here, i dont know what does.

And then we ran them 5 more times, and Jet and Riot had identicaly awesome races like the first. At some points Jet was actually ahead of Riot on the way to the jumps, but they were neck and neck the rest of the way.

Jet was able to keep up this blistering speed over and over only because of the conditioning that i have given him, and the level of fitness his body is at. And because of it, Jet broke his fastest time ever. I know he at LEAST did a 4.0.  The fact that i reached this level of competition with this dog is amazing. I went from training my mixed breed Riley and struggling for 3 years, to this amazing creature. I am proud to have him.

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