11 August 2008

Riverside Woofstock Puts Dogs to the Test

There was no pause in their paws as the Flyball Maineiacs demonstrated the popular dog sport at the annual Woofstock celebration here Saturday. In flyball - and there is an American Flyball Association with rules and regulations - dogs jump hurdles, grab a ball from a spring-loaded box with their mouths, and run a return route over the hurdles. It takes a matter of seconds to complete the course, and once the dogs get the hang of it, they take to the challenge enthusiastically.

"Once dogs get exposed to it, they really love it. And, if humans love their dogs, they get dragged right along," said team member Lisa Lane. "They get so focused on the task that they won’t run off the track."

Billed as "one day of wag, drool and love," Woofstock drew more than 1,000 people and scores of dogs to Lincoln Home park on the banks of the Damariscotta River. The event was sponsored by the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club and Animal House, a holistic food and supply store for dogs and cats, and has grown in popularity over the last few years, according to Aubrey Martin of the Animal House.

The celebration featured pet-related seminars, demonstrations of agility, a Family Fun Dog Show, with categories such as best kisser, dog with best paw shake, dog who sits the longest, and dog with the waggiest tail. There also were a Parade of Breeds, pet-related vendors, activities and games. A photographer was on hand to take pictures of family dogs, and one shelter was fitting dogs with microchips that contain pertinent information in case they become lost. Others provided grooming, toothbrushing and nail-clipping.

All proceeds and donations from the event will be distributed to the 11 animal shelters in the region and Rotary charities. "It’s strictly for rescue, but it’s also a lot of fun," Martin said. "It gives the dogs an opportunity to be seen, promoted, pampered and do some fundraising for themselves."

Despite the presence of more than 100 dogs of varying size and breed, uncontrolled barking was infrequent and there were no dogfights. Most of the dogs seemed to simply enjoy smelling and sniffing each other and hanging around with dog-loving humans. "For the most part, people who bring dogs here know that they have to be well-behaved," Martin said.

Flyball is relatively new to Maine with only two organized groups in place. The Flyball Maineiacs were formed by the late Monica Roberts, who picked up the sport in Minnesota and brought it with her when she moved to Bar Harbor a few years ago. "She made it her mission to recruit as members people that would be willing to commit themselves and their dogs to the team," Lane said. The Flyball Maineiacs will unveil their latest Flyball Maineia show at the Boothbay Harbor YMCA the weekend of Nov. 8-9.

[Source: Bangor Daily News]