Dogs say, ‘Let’s play ball’ |

Dogs say, ‘Let’s play ball’

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Cyrano flies the hurdles to retrieve a tennis ball during a Fly Ball assembly at Fremont Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon. Members of the Silver Streaks Fly Ball club demonstrated the dog relay to promote the club and responsible pet care. Photo by Rick Gunn.

Two-year-old Drake caught a fly ball on the run Tuesday as elementary school students cheered him on.

The border collie has been running on a four-dog relay team for about a year with his owner Kyle Kurtz, 15, a sophomore at North Valleys High School in Golden Valley.

“It’s really fun,” Kurtz said. “He gets exercise and we bond.”

Members from the four Silver State Fly Ball teams met for a demonstration at Fremont Elementary School on Tuesday morning to teach students about the sport.

Becky Ellis, an adaptive physical education teacher at four Carson City elementary schools and Fly Ball member, organized the demonstration.

“We’re trying to promote responsible pet ownership,” she said. “There’s a lot of things people can be doing with their dogs that they don’t know about.”

As part of the relay, dogs must clear a series of hurdles, then bounce off a springboard which releases two tennis balls — one from the left and another from the right to accommodate the dog’s preference. The dogs catches the ball in its mouth as it spins in the air to race back over the hurdles.

Once the dog crosses the finish line, the next dog begins.

“I like how they get the tennis balls and stuff,” said Tyler Barrette, 6. “All they do is they put their teeth on it and they grab it and run back.”

The winning team completes the course the quickest without making any mistakes by missing a hurdle or returning without the ball.

Stacey Coleman, president of the club, said the course gives energetic dogs something to do — dogs that often end up in the pound for being too hard to handle.

“If they were just given a job they’d be happy,” she said. “They have purpose in life. This is a great family sport.”

And it’s fun for the spectators.

“I really like it,” said Chelsey Childers, 8. “The dogs are cute and they race good and they look good.”

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