Alpha Dogz Flyball Team

Sponsored by Ashbourne Canine Hydrotherapy Centre

           Never give up… "Bobby's Story"  
                           (Published in the BFA Flyball Record in May 2009)

       (Tobey 2004 -2005)
In June 2005 we lost our beloved Border Collie Tobey to hip dysplasia. We had him PTS on the 14th June 2005. We were obviously devastated but needed another dog for our Maxie, who had become quite used to a friend in the house. A few months passed and at the Championships in 2005 we saw a poster “Border collie for Sale”. We immediately enquired and found out about Bobby. We went to Yorkshire to see him on the Sunday and fell in love with him. It was like fate because he had been born two days after we had Tobey PTS… It was obviously meant to be. 

Over the coming months Andy and Bobby developed a very close bond. He was a very demanding puppy but he was well worth all the effort, after all we loved him.

We were doing flyball with Max, but decided not to even try to train Bobby until he was 12 months old. So in June 2006, the training day arrived. We were very excited to start training our baby boy. It was Bobby’s turn. We held Bobby on the box for a recall; Andy ran over the four jumps and called Bobby… Bobby proceeded to jump over the four jumps and cleared the netting at the end of the arena. Ten minutes later we were still trying to get him back. Eventually, he was put in the car and we vowed never to train him again.

In August 2006 we moved to the Mansfield Marnicks and with their support and encouragement decided to give Bobby another go. The training went well but Bobby clearly had the chase instinct. The day for Bobby’s first starters tournament arrived. It was at Sutton Fields in Sept 2006. It was not the debut we had expected from our boy and from this moment we realized he was going to be a challenge. We had many months of starters, and many whistles blown for interference. We tried everything, Andy running him, me running him. Andy on the box etc. He was slowly improving but the interference was going to be difficult to crack.  

In April 2007 at Carlton Towers, it was decided we would give him a try in the Mansfield Ifits team. We all began to think
 he would make a flyball dog after all when he gained his first 40 points. We were thrilled. From his debut in open competition in April until a week at Anglesey he gained 165 points. Every one of them hard earned and deserved. During the week in Anglesey we had some very intense training with Peter and Delia and the Pods. We discovered Bobby’s trigger point to make him interfere and worked on this all week. Towards the end ofthe week Bobby was successfully completing runs in the blue lane. We are truly grateful to the help we received from Peter and Delia to achieve this massive step.

We returned from Anglesey filled with hope and enthusiasm. Bobby continued to complete runs in the blue lane and over the next few weeks became faultless in this lane.We ran Bobby in the blue lane for all of the 2008 season, and were thrilled when in July 2008 he broke the four-second barrier at Rotherham running at 3.96 seconds. Even though we were overjoyed with this, we would have swapped his speed for a consistent dog who would do it in both lanes.

In September 2008 we returned to Anglesey with all the Alpha Dogz and carried on where we had left off, but this time in the red lane. The red lane however was not going to be so easy to crack. He did very well in training but when we went to Sheffield after we had returned from Anglesey it was not as successful. He continued to interfere, even though we only let him do it once and then ‘pulled’ him.

The Alphas were determined to crack the problem, and even though Andy and I were happy just to run him in one lane, they persevered with training. With the help of our close friends the Steelers we did three-lane training with Bobby, with him running the middle lane and a dog running either side of him. Thanks mainly to Gemma (Alphas) and Macauley and Fin (Steelers) for your patience with the mad dog in the middle. This proved to be very helpful and we continued doing this for a few weeks. He was getting better and better and to Finlay and Macauley’s relief he was not interfering. 

At Stocksbridge in February 2009, much to our trepidation, the team decided the time had come to try him again in the red lane. This had been tried on a few occasions already - thanks to teams letting us run against them - Rotherham, Pods and High Flyers (thanks guys) but had not been successful. We noticed we were racing against Rotherham Rockets who knew Bobby very well. As always, we asked their permission to race him and they very kindly agreed. We lined up full of doubt, but to our utter joy Bobby went on to run two full legs in the red lane. Dare we start to dream???

More training and a few tournaments passed and Bobby had not put a paw wrong in training. The time
had come to try him again, but this time we were confident as a team. The whole team lined up filled with anticipation at Stocksbridge March 2009 - would this be the day??? Bobby as always was running lead dog. The light sequence started and he was off. He completed a full leg in the red lane, but was it a fluke? We lined up again and to our utter joy he did it again. We had two races in the red lane at Stocksbridge and he ran every leg flawlessly. It was like Christmas, I shed a tear of delight. To top the day off Bobby was presented with his Flyball Dog Advanced award. 

We dare now, to think that Bobby has cracked it and are confident with him running both lanes. This has taken us three years of determination and the constant support of our team who believed in Bobby and Andy. We could never thank people enough. Bobby is a success story of the association. Thanks to the support of past team members, Peter and Delia, Rotherham Rockets, High Flyers for granting us permission to try him, and of course our training partners the Steelers, he is now a fully fledged Flyball Dog.

The last word must go to the Alpha dogz. Andy and I are privileged to have such great Team Members and friends. Without their continued support and perseverance, Bobby would not be where he is today. We could never thank you enough, and Bobby’s success is down to you guys. Well done and thanks. We are very proud indeed to be Alpha Dogz!!!!