Friday, May 24, 2013

On October 31, 2012, our 8 year old Keeshond, Raff, ran out of the backdoor and straight into a tree trunk (no doubt with an assist from his loving Aussie brother, Wyatt), exploding a disc in his neck and severely bruising his spinal cord--nearly ending his life, and utterly destroying his Flyball career.  In the months following, he has come back from paralysis to being able to run and play, but he will never run Flyball again.  So while I am beyond grateful that he is still with us, that I did not lose my Raffy on that day, I do still mourn the loss of running a Keeshond in Flyball.  At the time of his accident, Raff was the #3 active Keeshond in the North American Flyball Association...a distant 3rd, but still!  Considering that there are usually no more than 5 Keeshonden doing Flyball in all of North America at any given time, having a Flyball Kees is a rare and special thing, and I enjoyed that silly little status.

Raff wasn't my only Flyball dog, so his accident did not end MY Flyball career.  Wyatt, my 9 year old Australian Shepherd, is what many would consider a REAL Flyball dog. 
He has his ONYX, his best time ever was a 4.01, and even as he approaches retirement, he can run a full-time position on a team, and his times are consistently below 5 seconds.  But given his age, I did adopt a new little girl to be my next REAL Flyball dog. 

Enter Neena, the ACD JRT mix, psycho girl, who learned a rock solid swimmer's turn in about 4 weeks.
While I'm apparently all set to have many more years of Flyball happiness ahead of me, neither Neena nor Wyatt (as you may have noticed) are Keeshonden.  Not even close.  Both of them have a natural ball drive (not too much, not too little...just right), both of them love running and playing, both of them find playing with ME to be the best thing ever.  They're both smart and up for a game of, well, pretty much whatever I've got going on at any moment.  These are herding dogs.  Break two of their legs, and they'll still keep running.  Getting them to stop is more of a challenge than anything else!  But is that really a challenge?  Not in my book.

Give me a dog that could care less about a ball.  Give me a dog that would rather go play in a swimming pool on a hot day, leaving his handler alone in the lanes, embarrassed and ashamed.  Give me a dog that presents every Flyball training issue known to man (won't retrieve, prefers to go around the jumps, wants to chase the other dogs, won't hold up their swimmer's turn without props, etc.), and will make up a few new problems while their at it.  Meet Dancer!
Dancer belongs to my friend, Judi James, who owns the training facility where my Flyball team trains.  She is also Raff's breeder and a long-time Kees fancier.  She is generously allowing Dancer to stay with us this summer for a series of Flyball Summer Camp weekends.

Now, I should qualify those previous statements. I have no idea if Dancer will present me with all of those problems--just because that's what I faced with Raffy doesn't mean that Dancer will do the same. However, she currently does not retrieve balls, so we're off to a good start. And given the Keeshonden are known for embarrassing their handlers in every dog sport they've ever participated in (Kees people refer to this as the Keeshonden sense of humor...yeah, freakin' hysterical it is), I think it's safe to say that Dancer will give me a run for my money. Am I the trainer I think I am? We're about to find out!

Let the games begin!

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