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The fur will fly

(ran TP edition)

Hyperkinetic dogs will compete in a relay race this weekend.

Get ready to see lots of flapping ears. Bassets, beagles, spaniels, dachshunds and other breeds will run, jump and fly after tennis balls this weekend in a flyball tournament.

Flyball is a relay race with four dogs on a team. The course consists of a starting line, four hurdles and a spring-loaded, ball-shooting box. Hurdle heights depend on the height of the dogs.

The North American Flyball Association Flyball Tournament will be held at KETCH, the K-9 Educational Training Center of Hillsborough.

"This is a fast and fun sport," said Wendy Pape, co-captain of the KETCH team of dogs. "The dogs get so revved up. If they could high five each other, they would."

Ten teams of mixed breed dogs from Ohio and Florida will compete in the tournament.

"This is the only flyball tournament in Florida," Pape said. "All people have to do is try the game and they'd really, really like it."

Flyball is open to all sizes and breeds of dogs. Pape said all a dog needs to compete in flyball is a drive for the ball. One of the fastest dogs on the KETCH team is a Great Dane.

"He's so fast," Pape said. "Those border collies better be moving or he's going to whip their butt."

The average dog takes 1.3 seconds to turn around at the box and catch the ball.

"It's so fast, you'd have to play it in slow motion to see the dog catching the ball," Pape said.