May 17, 2021

I CAN AM

 

I recently attended my first CAN AM event.  It was an amazing experience.   The event, hosted by the North American Flyball Association  (NAFA),  is the largest flyball event in North America.  Over 172 teams and over 5000 dogs participated.   As a newbie to dog sports this was the first flyball event I ever attended and it will be one I will remember for a long time.

 

 

Day 1 – Set Up

I arrived on Thursday so I could watch how the rings were set up and how our Tuff Spun mats were installed for flyball tournaments.  I learned just how much work it takes to layout mats for 6 flyball rings and tape them together.   Each ring was built using 12 rolls of our Tuff Spun 3/8 inch matting.  Mats were then taped together to hold the mats in place.  Each ring was taped with a different color tape to distinguish it from the other rings.   I’m not sure how many rolls of tape were used for the event but I am sure it was at least a case.   Setting up my booth was a piece of cake in comparison.

Race Day

Friday morning was race day.   When I arrived, the parking lot was full of vehicles that were loaded with dog travel crates, tarps, coolers and toys.  I think my truck was the only vehicle in the lot that didn’t have a sticker with a dog or flyball saying.   I could hear the dogs barking from the parking lot across the street and it got louder and louder as I approached the event.  Once inside, and after I adjusted to the barking, I was introduced to several NAFA representatives who were all very welcoming.  The teams and handlers were also very friendly and helped explain the rules.

It was so much fun to watch the races and to see how the handlers worked with their dogs.   I was fascinated by how focused the dogs and handlers were.     For the dogs, it was all about the ball.  Getting it and returning it.  The environment was very charged with all the people and dogs.  But even with the distractions, the dog in the run never lost focus.  They all seemed to have such great temperments even though they shared such a small racing space.  My chocolate lab would have been very stressed which in turn would have made me very stressed.  I was also impressed with how the individuals on the teams worked together.  What stood out the most to me was the amount of coordination each team needed to have with all the other team members.  They made it look so easy.  I can only imagine the number of hours spent training and preparing for this event.  By Sunday, the fastest dogs were racing and in the final heat team Rocket Relay and team Instant Replay faced off against each other.  It was the most exciting sporting event I think I have ever attended.  If  you were not able to attend you can watch the race on Facebook at  World-of-Dog-Sports .   Team Dan Phillips  did an awesome job of capturing the excitement.

Take Away

Driving home as I thought about the past few days,  I was struck by how big a role our mats have played in the evolution of  flyball.  I felt proud to represent a company that has been such a big part of how the sport has evolved.   With the use of anti-fatigue mats, flyball practice and tournaments can occur year round, in hot or cold climates.  The mats work to protect both the canine athletes and the handlers and have also played a role in improving the dogs performance.   I also discovered several areas where we can improve our products and services, which is where I will focus my attention in 2012.   Many thanks to NAFA for their support of Crown Mats and dogagilitymats.com and to all the teams who stopped by my booth to share their thoughts about our products and their flyball experiences with me.  It was a tremendous experience and I am hopeful I can attend next years CAN AM.

 

 

 

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