A local dog flyball team have been reflecting on their glory at Crufts as well as what the future might hold for them as they look to repeat their success.
The Muttley Crew fly ball team are based in Brigg and are often found training on nearby paddocks as dogs of all breeds run the length of a track to grab a tennis ball placed on a board at the end before running back with it in their mouth. The team have enjoyed measures of success over the past 12 years, but their biggest accolade has to be coming third in this year’s Crufts fly ball competition.
The group competed against the best of the best from around the country to make it to the semi final where they beat off stiff competition to gain a spot on the podium. For team captain Mary Carter-Bathgate, the past few years have been great fun.
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She said: “One of my friends that I went to obedience classes with asked me to come along and watch a fly ball competition one day and the rest is history. After a bit of training, I got used to it and the team my friend , Lindsey Hamleton-Rudd, was in disbanded and moved down South.
As a result, we set up our own team about 12 years ago. She started out as team captain, but in 2011 she left and I took up the mantle.” Speaking about the sport, Mary said it is much harder than it looks. She explained: “It looks quite simple on TV, but there is much more to it.
“You have to go through basic training before you do anything else to make sure the dog can turn around on the box without injuring themselves for starters.” Reliving their time at Crufts, she said they never even expected to make it to the event, never mind get a medal.
Mary said: “We never expected to even get into the finals. That’s made up of the best 16 teams across the country and we’re quite small compared to others. We got very lucky as others made mistakes, but we just did what we We may not have the fastest dogs, but we know they can do a job.
“That year, we’d beaten the favorites already and we couldn’t really believe it. We’d not planned for it at all so we were quickly booking hotels for another night when we knew. It was a little bit exciting to say the least and it was such a rewarding moment for us all.”
Looking ahead, the team are hoping to repeat the success of this year by qualifying for next years championships in June. Mary explained: “We’ve got the qualifiers in June for this years Crufts and the Young Kennel Club Team will also be hoping to win some competitions this year too. While it is exciting, it’s also a very tense time for us.”