2002 Racing Season

Henry Happenings 30-Sep-2002

The River City Flyers flyball team hosted their fall tournament at the Henry, IL fairgrounds September 28-29. Black Sheep Squadron fielded two teams for only the Saturday tournament. The Aces were made up of dueling height dogs Ally and Clark; youngsters Chaz and Carson; and veterans Mr. Peabody and Molly. Their seed time of 23.2 placed them in Division 7 with a break out time of 22.1 seconds. The Bombers consisted of height dog Scout (coming back from a foot injury), start dog Bogey, and core dogs Milo and Simon. Jake and Shea filled out the 5th and 6th dog spots but their help wasn't needed this day. The Bombers seed time of 21.4 put them into Division 4 with a break out of 19.90 seconds.

The weather couldn't have been any better! Sunny, blue skies, mid 70's temperature and a light breeze; we camped outside in our familiar tent city. There were only forty races in the two lanes so the day started at a reasonable 8:30 and we were on the road by 4:30. That included a lunch break where brats, hot dogs, and pork sandwiches were available.

The tournament was organized into four races of five heats each for a total of 20 heats for each team. This setup allowed each team to really get organized and work in a consistent pattern. The Aces used a six dog rotation initially, but Carson's heart wasn't into racing; so midway through the tournament she sat out and the other five dogs rotated in and out. The focus of the team was moving Ally and Molly closer to their FMX titles (only a tournament away now!) and to keep building Clark's confidence. Clark looked good going to and from the box and as long as he got a catch off the box, ran with enthusiasm all day. The Aces had a rash of no finishes and one break out early in the tournament; but got their act together in the remainder of the tournament. But since they were close to the 24 second 25 pt limit, ended up in 3rd place but didn't chalk up too many points.

The Bombers ran the same four dogs in the same positions all day long. This setup allowed the team to run cleanly and competitively. Racing High Fives in the final race, after winning the first heat, the last four heats were lost by fractions of a second - we were all cheering for Scout on the final leg home! This race also included our fastest heat of the day: 20.663. The team was running as well as it could. Other good news was that only three heats didn't receive any points; so all four dogs earned 425 points for their day's work. The Bombers managed to get into forth place.

It was really a relaxing tournament; there were no surprises or injuries, everything went smoothly and we all had a great time!

Team Practice Back at Avondale 1-Sep-2002

September finds the Black Sheep practicing back at the gymnasium at Avondale park at 7:30 PM on Tuesday evenings. Looks like Fall is here!

Flyball at the Fairgrounds 24-Jul-2002

Urbana-Champaign Illinois based Hit Squad held an unusual out-of-state tournament at the Dane County Fair Grounds in Madison Wisconsin this past weekend. The County Fair was open during both days of the tournament; so not only did we have a substantial number of spectators, but we were able to enjoy the health food at the Fair. While the weather outside was near 100 degrees and humid, the crating and racing took place in cool air conditioned comfort. There were two rings of racing; one run by Hit Squad and the other by Ulti-Mutts.

On Saturday we fielded two teams: the Aces consisting of Simon, Milo, Scout, Chaz, Clark and Jake with a seed time of 22.3 seconds in Div 7 and the Bombers made up of Ally, Molly, Bogey, Carson, Zamboni, and Mr. Peabody with a seed time of 23.3 in Div 9. Both teams ended up as the fastest seed times in their division; making break outs a real concern.

Apart from running "clean" and winning, one of the goals of the Aces team was to get Clark more experience in competition. He and veteran height-dog Scout anchored the team. The team ran a five dog rotation with Jake only running a few heats. The team was winning races but not running particularly well. When running with the three Border Collies we were too fast and had two break outs by the third race. A fair number of bobbles required rerunning and the team ended up with five 28+ second heats in the first fourteen heats. A balance was struck by placing Chaz in a middle position in the team so she wouldn't run as fast as she does when she is the last dog. Surprisingly, the Aces were winning enough that they took 2nd place!

A question mark on the Bombers was Mr. Peabody, this was his first tournament back after his injury in Henry seven weeks before, and we weren't sure how he would react in competition. Consequently, the team seed was based on him not running full time. However, he was looking good and ran most of the tournament. But this also put the team in jeopardy of breaking out. All the dogs on the team were veterans except for youngster Carson; so the team ran well. The team was very competitive but if there was any dawdling or late passes the team was over 24 seconds (and too slow for 25 pt heats). But just like the Aces, the opposite was also true, in racing Ulti-Mutts the three Border Collie line up caused a break out - and our banning of that lineup!

The excitement of the day occurred just as the team entered the ring to race Rainbow Runners. We couldn't find Jill and Ally! It turned out the hot weather outside had taken its toll on Jill and she had collapsed! Fortunately, Jill was OK and just need to cool off and get hydrated. In a desperate"show must go on" move, Karen took Ally and we ran back to the ring. Karen handled Ally and, with a little bit of Ally wrangling by Mary, we beat RR in three heats. We all raced back to see Jill recovering amid three handsome paramedics...hmmm. Apparently their aid did the trick and Jill was racing Ally the rest of the day.

There seems to be a trend in the past few tournaments, the Bombers ran more smoothly than the Aces... they also earned a 2nd place and a set of red leashes for each dog.

After a full day of racing towards her FMX 10 year old Molly wasn't available on Sunday and youngster Shea was added to the mix. The experience of running almost too fast on both teams all day Saturday caused a slight change in team lineups. Chaz and Jake were switched from the Aces to the Bombers and Bogey and Zamboni took their place. Shea was the sixth dog on the Aces.

A big challenge for Sunday was the race schedule. Both teams were in the same ring and all twelve of their races were within the first 36 races of the day. So we were racing one team or the other every 2-3 races! No resting for the handlers... and not much for the dogs.

The Aces were primarily running Simon, Milo, Scout and Bogey all morning long with Zamboni and Shea taking some turns. The racing was close all day and D.A.R.T. pushed us to a break out early on. In a strange race with Canine Sports we had dual no finishes and then broke out and they had a no finish. This race ended going to seven heats to sort out the winner. The dogs were getting tired toward the last races and some bobbles caused us to give away some heats and ultimately some races. While the team felt like it was running better we were only able to get to third place due to a three way tie for first place. The dogs earned nice green leashes for their efforts.

The Bombers line up balanced the speed of Mr. Peabody and Chaz with the steady pace of Clark and Carson. Ally was the height dog and Jake provided backup for the whole team. This plan had to be modified when, during the first warm-up, Ally took a dislike to and chased a cocker spaniel on the All Breed's team and was excused from the tournament. This put Clark in the height dog spot and the other four dogs alternated in and out. The racing the previous day served Clark well as he held up to running every heat that morning. Veteran Jake also got a lot of runs in switching off with Carson; we were really grateful to have this veteran jump in and run so well. The full day of racing earned Mr. Peabody his FMX title (10,000 pts). A record of three wins out of six races earned the Bombers a third place finish and their very own green leashes.

The tournament was in a great location and was run very smoothly. It will be a pleasure to compete there again next year!

Henry Illinois 1-Jun-2002

Black Sheep Squadron traveled to Henry Illinois for the DART hosted tournament. There were two rings setup and one ring sported the new timing lights; a first for us. The weather was hot and sunny and we all crated outside in a little tent camp. The Aces team consisted of height dog Ally, start dog Bogey, Mr. Peabody, Allie, and Chaz; with Zamboni sharing a spot with Bogey. The team raced well throughout the tournament and earned a third place win in Division 8. The Bombers were made up of height dogs Clark and Scout, BCs Milo and Simon, with flyball upstarts Carson and Kegan. The team also ran well and the youngsters all got more tournament experience. The Bombers earned a third place finish in Division 9.

In a rare example of team organization we had a delicious barbecued lunch; cooked by our own Grillmaster Tony. In fact we had enough food to feed a whole 'nother club. The racing finished at a reasonable hour and those of us staying in the area went into Henry for dinner at the Marina.

Sunday started with thunderstorms threatening and rain falling. Our tent city added some more tarps and managed to keep most of the bad weather out. The teams were changed so the Aces could take a stab at the club time record with core dogs Scout, Mr. Peabody, Milo, Chaz backed up by Zamboni. Milo was the start dog and his handler, Steve, spent a good amount of Milo's energy trying to get consistent fast starts. Consequently, the best the team could pull off was 20.37. It seemed we just couldn't get the whole team firing at the same time.

The scariest moment of the day happened when a dog from the other team crossed over to our lane as Mr. Peabody was released. The two dogs collided head to head with Mr. Peabody running at full speed. The impact stopped them both in their tracks. The other dog and Mr. Peabody both checked out OK and continued to race; although Mr. Peabody was tentative at the run in of each heat; as if waiting for another collision. When he got home it turned out Mr. Peabody had damaged both lungs and they were collapsing; a week of intensive veterinary treatment got him out of immediate danger and he began the road to recovery.

The Bombers were staffed by Ally, Bogey, Molly, Carson, Shea, and Jake; four experienced competitors with two youngsters. This team ran well and Carson showed a faster performance on the second day. Shea got some fast clean runs in too! The team earned 356 points and took fourth place in Division 8.

Although we didn't know it at the time, a big brag of the tournament was Simon attaining his FMCH (Flyball Master Champion) title for earning 15,000 pts!

Aces and Kamikazes in Iowa 18-May-2002

Three fully loaded vehicles containing eighteen Sheep Squadron members (seven handlers and eleven dogs) and their equipment made the trip to Amana Iowa for the Jammn' K9s' tournament. It was held at the Amana RV park with two rings of racing side-by-side in the larger building. Crating was available in the smaller building but the weather was nice enough to crate outside. It was warm in the sun (~ 60F) and when you were out of the breeze it felt great.

Going in to the tournament our hopes were to get some points on the older dogs and further proof the new dogs so we can always field two teams (and if all goes well three teams). The cool weather really had the dogs revved up.

On Saturday the Aces were made up of seasoned campaigners: Scout, Mr. Peabody, Milo, Bogey with newest height dog Clark and sixth dog Jake. This team should have had no problems running clean and being competitive. In fact the first two races were won in five heats each with close racing. However either the dogs or the handlers were too excited - early passes and bobbles at the box all lead to seven heats w/o finishes and losses in the final four races. So the Aces really beat themselves. The good news was that Clark got some good heats in and we ran competitively when we were running clean.

From a team performance perspective, the Kamikazes should have been called the Aces. A six dog team made up of: Ally, Molly, Simon, Chaz, Zamboni, and Carson ended up running too fast when young speed demon Chaz was in the lineup. So after accumulating two break outs in the first two races, veteran Zamboni took over for his sister and the Kamikazes ran smoothly the rest of the day. It was good seeing Molly and Simon racing over eight inch jumps, both veteran dogs were having a great time and running in the low 5s all day. The Kamikazes' clean running earned them a fourth place finish.

Sunday's racing saw the Aces running a four dog line up all day of Scout, Mr. Peabody, Chaz, and Simon. They ran well all day with only three heats lost due to handler or dog errors. The Aces earned second place and would have taken home first place if they had only won one more race. It's great to still see eight-year-old Mr. Peabody and ten-year-old Simon running flat out on the second day of racing.

Sunday afternoon the Kamikazes' were made up of Ally, Bogey, Milo, Clark, Carson, and Jake. All six dogs got their chance to help out the team. The team ran into problems when both Clark and Carson got suspicious of the box judges who, due to the narrow layout of the rings, were only 2 feet to the side of the boxes when we were running in the left lane. So veteran Jake got to step in for some heats.

The disaster of the weekend occurred late in the day when an early pass with Milo caused him to be resent as the fifth dog into Clark. Only Nancy, the boxloader, got a clear view of what happened. As Clark was coming back in the release area, a dog from the other team crossed over to our side. This dog got Clark's attention enough that he drifted slightly towards the center mat. At the same time Milo was released to re-run and he took a step to his left. Milo hit Clark on the side and threw him into the air spinning on his axis; poor Clark landed on his back on the mats. Milo, as only a ball-crazed BC would, stumbled slightly and rocketed down to get the ball and back for the win. It looked like Clark was OK from the incident as he didn't show any injuries and ran later on in the day. It was a really scary moment.

In spite of the collision and the concern of the two youngsters with the judges, the Kamikazes placed third. With a performance like that there is no need to call them the Kamikazes anymore!

The only title brag of the weekend was Milo earning his FM (Flyball Master) title.

Success for Aces and Kamikazes 22-Apr-2002

Black Sheep Squadron took part in the Springfield, IL tournament co-hosted by D.A.R.T. and Gateway Clubs on April 20th and 21st. We entered two teams each day: the Aces and the Kamikazes. The Aces were made up of experienced team members Ally, Milo, Mr. Peabody, Bogey and rookie Kegan on Saturday and Ally, Milo, Mr. Peabody, Simon, and rookie Chaz on Sunday. The Kamikazes were a group of two experienced dogs supporting three less experienced dogs each day. On Saturday it was old pros Simon and Scout supporting Clark, Carson and Chaz. On Sunday pros Bogey and Scout supported Clark, Carson and Keen.

The Aces, seeded in Division four, raced seven teams in three of three heats. The Division five Kamikazes raced four teams in five of five heats. With a guaranteed number of runs each team could be more creative in the lineups that they ran. The quick three of three races left the dogs eager to stay in the ring and keep racing.

Some highlights were:

The Aces were very competitive both days and were close to taking first place on Sunday - a few errors and losing some very close races were what made the difference. The Kamikazes were geared towards getting the team members competition experience and all team members contributed to this successful young team. Getting these young dogs more experience will be the key to Black Sheep Squadron being able to consistently field two or even three teams.

Sign-up for Beginner Flyball Classes 8-Apr-2002

Black Sheep Squadron, in conjunction with Lincolnwood Training Club, are offering a beginning Flyball class on Tuesday evenings starting June 11th. Class details and an application can be downloaded from the Lincolnwood Training Club website. Get your applications in soon; class size is limited!

First and Last 10-Mar-2002

Ulti-Mutts put on a well run first tournament in Madison WI the weekend of March 9 and 10. They have a nice new facility with separate crating and racing areas. They had just the right amount of space for a limited tournament.

On Saturday the Aces team was made up of founder Simon together with veterans Ulu, Allie, and Ally and young "upstart" Clark. Mary Potts volunteered to come early with Scout to help out as needed - but the core dogs all did their part. The lineup was a little unorthodox for our team with start dog Ulu followed by Ally, Simon, and running "clean up" Allie; so Larry had to get used to passing into little Ally.

All the dogs (and handlers) contributed to clean, fast runs all day. Clark got in a few runs in preparation for the April Springfield tournament. Seeded in the middle of Division 3, the experience of the dogs and handlers earned a first place win! The Black Sheep Squadron philosophy of running clean first and only then pushing to go for the win paid off!

On Sunday the Aces were made up of veterans Ulu, Bogey, Mr. Peabody, and Scout with Milo sharing Mr. Peabody's slot and Kegan. completing the roster. There were hopes that this team could set a new Black Sheep Squadron record (currently at 20.01 seconds) based on these

performances at the end of last season. The 20.8 seed time placed the Aces as the slowest seed in Division 2 with break out set at 19.30 seconds; so we knew we'd be in for some serious competition.

Our five handlers weren't enough to run fast with close passes, so Flash Back graciously helped out all day calling passes and shagging balls. They were a huge help!!

The first race was against Milwaukee Dogs. Ulu, Bogey, Scout, and Milo were the lineup for the right lane all day. In the first heat we later found we ran our fastest of the day at 20.02! But lost - an indicator of things to come. The only commotion of the day occurred in the fourth heat where we were behind two to one and on our way to a win when a ball was accidentally kicked across Milo's path by one of the dogs on the Milwaukee Dogs team. Milo was just about to cross the finish line when he decided to go after the ball but came back over the jumps (a minor miracle) for a clean run at 26.89 secs. Much heated discussion with the judge occurred as to whether or not this was interference and Milwaukee Dogs were given the win of the heat and the race. Subsequent discussion caused the 4th race to be called interference and a 5th race was scheduled at the lunch break. We ran a 20.32 and lost by two jumps.

The line up running in the left lane was Bogey, Mr. Peabody, Ulu and Scout, which should have been a little faster, just couldn't beat that 20.02 time. In the race against Jammn K9's Riptide the passes were very good and the dogs ran cleanly every heat. It was really the best the team could run. They set their best times of the day at 20.11 and 20.16. Of course toward the end of the day the dogs were losing that little extra it would take to break under 20 seconds.

We were seeded 5th (out of five teams) in the single elimination with no wins. We went up against fourth seed Bordering On Insanity, who had beaten us in three heats previously, and lost to them in four this time.

We had gone in to the tournament with hopes for a new record but found that more conditioning and practice will be needed to succeed. There's always next tournament!

Sunday Race
Download Time
File Size
56k Modem
Fastest Heat
940 kb
120 sec
20 sec
Interference Call*
1.1 Mb
135 sec
26 sec
895 kb
110 sec
22 sec
*this wasn't such a big deal - I just wanted to play around with my new video editing software :^)
To get smoother playback, right mouse click on the link and choose "Save Target As.." (in IE) to save the file to your PC; then play the clip from where you save it.

We didn't realize it at the time but Bogey earned his FM (Flyball Master) title during this tournament. Congratulations!

New Flyball Box 15-Jan-2002

Black Sheep Squadron purchased a new three hole flyball box for the new year from Mike Frieda of Willoughby Workshop. This new box adds to the Chris Knowlton three hole boxes the team has been using for the past season. Prior to that we used single hole boxes built by Larry Banks. With some practice this new box could help Black Sheep Squadron set a new team record.

Experienced and Inexperienced Team Members Trying the New Box

See Them On Video!

Format Milo Chaz Simon
Get Windows Media Player Real Time Real Time Real Time
Slow Motion Slow Motion Slow Motion
DownloadPlayer Real Time Real Time Real Time
Slow Motion Slow Motion Slow Motion
To get smoother playback, right mouse click on the link and choose "Save Target As.." (in IE) to save the file to your PC; then play the clip from where you save it.


Hawkeye Hustlers Flyball Fall Fling 20-Oct-2001

A small Black Sheep Squadron team made its way to Amana, Iowa for Hawkeye Hustlers' Flyball Fall Fling tournament. The Hawkeye Hustlers team ran a very well organized tournament. There were almost no delays, even with two rings running simultaneously. Racing started at 8:00 AM and finished by 5:00 PM each day with ~65 races per ring. A wide range of tasty, hot food was available on site for breakfast and lunch. While indoor crating was pre-staked out for each team, the beautiful 65 degree weather and sunny skies made camping outside the preferred choice.

The weekend's racing consisted of two one-day tournaments. We were placed in Division 3 with a breakout time of 20.2 seconds (although our seed time was 21.8). Seed times for our division had two teams at 21.2, one at 21.6 and three other teams at 21.8 seconds. So we knew we'd be in for some very competitive racing - the teams and schedule were identical for both day's tournaments.

The core line up was start dog Bogey followed by Mr. Peabody, Milo, with height dog Ally setting the jumps at eight inches. Fifth team member Zamboni provided the core dogs with valuable rest - although all five dogs would have run all weekend! Our team had only five humans - four handlers and Anthony Montagano drafted to be our box loader. With this lineup there was only a slim chance of breaking the 20.2 time barrier. Adding to the challenge was the racing schedule - we were the only division 3 team to have two races separated by only one race. The remainder of our races were separated by 8-12 races - giving the dogs (and handlers) a good hour rest between races.

Saturday's racing started against High Plains Drifters Tumbleweeds - we had our act together and won three straight heats right at 20.6 seconds. Don Laferty from BC Boomerangs graciously volunteered to help us so we could bring Zamboni into the ring and switch him into the rotation. With his help we were able to rest Mr. Peabody (although we should have rested Milo). The two almost back-to-back races against Animal Inn D and BC Boomerangs Outbacks both went to five heats (with two heats in each race too close to call visually) and we ended up losing the fifth heat in each. Animal Inn C (flirting with breakouts all day) and Milwaukee Dogs Great Balls of Fire (already at three breakouts by our race) were thought to be unbeatable - so Zamboni rested one core dog in each heat in preparation for our final race. With Don calling passes for the core dogs, we beat Hawkeye Hustlers When with times almost a second faster than we had been running without his help (20.9 vs. 21.4-22.5)! A good pass sure looks terrible from 20 feet back from the line! With only two wins we took fifth place.

Sunday was another day and a better strategy - rather than asking Don to hold dogs - we'd ask him to call passes so we could run more competitively. Our first race against High Plains Drifters went to five heats, we set our fastest time of the weekend at 20.45, and was barely lost by our improving passes. We tried to rest Milo using Zamboni in two heats against Animal Inn D but probably should have been watching our passes instead - running ~21.0 seconds wasn't fast enough to win this five heat race. Then again, Milo looked fresh throughout our four heat race with BC Boomerangs (where of course we couldn't ask Don for help!) but we won with times at 21.1. Animal Inn C was visibly surprised when we took them to four races this time with three of them too close to call visually - but with times of 20.7 we couldn't get the win. This time when we raced our core dogs against Milwaukee Dogs we won in five heats - losing two heats by 0.006 and 0.015 seconds! Hawkeye Hustlers were winless when we faced them at the end of the day - we ran clean and won in three heats. We were right in the thick of the action throughout the day, ran very well, with good pass calling, and only one early pass all day. Our fourth place finish gave us yellow medallions to take home along with Hawkeye Hustlers pins.

This was such a well run and friendly tournament in a fine facility - already looking forward to next year!

Indoor Flyball/Agility Training Starts 02-Oct-2001

The end of outdoor training led into the start of indoor Flyball/Agility training at Windy City Canine Club. Veteran Flyball competitors Karen and Larry Banks are training small groups of beginner and intermediate dogs and handlers in a unique two-part class. Half of the one hour class is spent on Flyball and the other half on Agility training. The format of the class allows handlers to find a canine performance sport that best fits their dogs and themselves. The small class size allows for personalized training with a focus on safe and efficient handling.

Outdoor Flyball Training Complete 02-Oct-2001

Tuesday night marked the end of a second season of outdoor Flyball training conducted by Black Sheep Squadron members at the Lincolnwood Dog Training Club. Over a dozen beginner and intermediate dogs and their handlers joined in the training. This class was proof that Flyball is for everyone; as dogs (and handlers) of all shapes and sizes practiced recalls, retrieves from the chute, and worked on triggering and taking the ball from the box.

We were fortunate to have good weather most nights - only a couple rain-outs. In fact, the cooler fall weather brought out great performances from some of the beginners over the last two classes. Thanks to all the doggie Moms and Dads who took our class! Special thanks to the Black Sheep Squadron members who volunteered their time to make this class possible!

2001 Racing Season

A Cheddar Odyssey 9-Sep-2001

Urbana Woe and Win 5-Aug-2001

Iowa Road Trip Success 15-Jul-2001

Scout Earns ONYX Award 01-Jul-2001

Black Sheep Squadron Wins! 01-Jul-2001