Dogs | December 21, 2016

People Behind the Pets: Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball Team

Catherine Mazurenko
By: Catherine Mazurenko
Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball team

People Behind the Pets showcases specific members of the animal community who have amazing stories to share. Today we are featuring Val Culpin, longtime employee of Petcurean and former member of the Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball team . 

If you’ve ever emailed Petcurean’s customer service team you have probably been in contact with Val Culpin, one of our amazing customer service representatives. But for years, when Val wasn’t answering consumer questions or giving pet parents great advice, she was on the field playing flyball with the Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball team.

Val was the last original member standing until she recently retired from the team, shortly after they celebrated their 30th anniversary this past November. So, we thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on Val’s journey with the team and to talk more about the sport.

Firstly, what is flyball? Flyball races match two teams of four dogs each, racing side-by-side over a 51ft long course. Each dog must run in relay fashion down the jumps, trigger a flyball box, releasing the ball, retrieve the ball, and return over the jumps. The next dog is released to run the course but can’t cross the start/finish line until the previous dog has returned over all 4 jumps and reached the start/finish line. The first team to have all 4 dogs finish the course without error wins the heat.

While the Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball team has definitely evolved and grown over 30 years, so has the sport. With the advances in flyball technology and training methods, it has become even faster.

“When I started in the sport, the world record was right around 21 seconds for 4 dogs to complete the course cleanly. Now, in 2016, it is 14.18 seconds!! Yup, that is four dogs running over four jumps in a 51 foot course, triggering the flyball box, catching their ball, turning and jumping back over the 4 jumps with the ball in their mouth, and yep that is an average for each dog of just over 3.5 seconds,” says Val.

The Dogwood Pacesetters have seen quite a bit of success in their time. From 2003-2006 they were the North American Flyball Association’s Regional Champions. They also have the reputation of putting on excellent tournaments, and a number of flyball seminars and workshops over the years to help grow the sport.

When you hear Val talk about the joys, memories, and friendships she has made through flyball, you can understand why she participated in the sport for so long.

“Flyball has brought me lifelong friendships that I will always have. The flyball community is very tight and we look after each other, especially when one of us is in trouble, loses a dog, or has challenges that make life difficult” says Val.

She also highlighted the importance of proper pet nutrition for these canine athletes. Val and a good portion of the Dogwood Pacesetters Flyball team fed Petcurean GO! DAILY DEFENCE Chicken recipe.

“Good nutrition is absolutely paramount to dog athletes just as it is to humans. A human athlete cannot perform at his or her best without proper nutrition, and neither can our dogs. Feeding inferior food and asking your dog to perform at his best would be like a human eating junk food and expecting to win the 100 meter dash. Our dogs are athletes and deserve the best nutrition we can provide for them,” reminds Val.

Way to GO! Val and the Dogwood Pacesetters, and here’s to another 30 years!

If you have a People Behind the Pets story to share, or know someone who does, please contact us at [email protected].