The dogs...

Boot Hill Gang

  • Ryver, FDX
  • Sophie, FMX
Anna at a Flyball Demo

Anna Oakley, "Little Sure Shot"

Flora's Lady Eva Annelise, TFU-II, FMX, NW1

Breed: Danish/Swedish Farmdog
Color: Tri Color
DOB: August 20, 2003
DOD: August 18, 2014

U-FLI™ Breed Standings:
#3 Fastest Danish/Swedish Farmdog
#1 Highest Point Danish/Swedish Farmdog

U-FLI™ All Breed Standings top 500 dogs: #1 Highest Points all time. Anna has held the Top Dog ranking since July of 2005

NAFA® #8 Top Titled Danish/Swedish Farmdog

Note: statistics as of 5/4/2014

U-FLI™ 1st Dog to Achieve

Top Flight Expert Plaque (20,000) 7/09/2006
Top Flight Ace Plaque (35,000) 10/21/2007
Top Flight Champion Plaque (50,000) 1/17/2009
Top Flight Specialist Plaque (75,000) 10/23/2011

Top Flight First Class Pin (20,500) 7/9/2006
Top Flight World Class Pin (35,500) 11/10/2007
Top Flight Extreme Pin (54,500) 10/24/2009
Top Flight Ultimate Pin (77,500) 2/11/2012


Racing Debut: April 30, 2005
Touch N Go - Spring Flyball
Logandale, NV (U-FLI™ Tournament No. 1)
Team: Lickety Splits Stealth Standard Div 1 (places 6th)
(Chance, Holly, Diva, Anna, Heart and Rowdy)

Singles: July 8, 2005 - Wags For Wishes, Del Mar, CA
Pairs: September 24, 2005 - Fully Loaded, Mare Island, CA.
(Farmdog Frenzy 1st and 10 with her father Solo)

U-FLI™ Racing History

Title: TFU-III
Fastest U-FLI™ Single Time: 4.464


Racing Debut: August 28, 2004
Team: Lickety Splits Stealth Regular Div 1 (placed 1st)
(Pagan, Ida, Chance, Austin, Holly and Anna)
Touch'N Go / Touch This
Logandale, NV

Title: FMX

NAFA® Racing History

More about Anna ...

Anna Doing what she like best! This tiny Danish Swedish Farmdog maintained her outstanding record of earning U-FLI racing points and titles by being the first dog in the history of U-FLI to achieve nearly all of the title pins and plaques. she was only 2,700 points away from achieving the final milestone plaque. We thank all of the dogs and handlers who have supported her in maintaining the U-FLI Top Dog standing since 2005. In October of 2013, Anna was voted as the "Most Valuable small dog" by the tournament participants at the Touch N Go - Jumps N Jackpots flyball tournament. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this recognition! In my heart, I always knew that she was my "Most Valuable Small Dog", but did not realize that others felt the same. Thank you to everyone that voted for Anna. You will never know how much this touched my heart!

Anna was quick and very focused on flyball. Her first tournament was fantastic. Excluding the first heat, she ran the entire tournament flawlessly. She looked cute too. She was "Awesome Anna", a steady consistent dog that could race in any lineup, location and on any surface. Her first six flyball tournaments she earned her NAFA® FM title (in 3.5 months, at 15 months of age!).

In addition to Flyball, Anna participated in Obstacle and field Lure Coursing, and Canine Nose Work®. She passed her Herding Instinct Test in 2004 at the age of 10 months. And she participated in a little Canine Freestyle Dancing and Earthdog (Go-to-Ground). She hated dog shows; thought that was for sissy dogs and was very happy she didn't have to do that silly foo foo stuff.

October 12, 2006, Anna's full-blood brother Flora's Cool Hand "Luke" was born. He came to live with us in January, 2007. The two were an even match for tugging and played every chance they could get. It was not uncommon to find them both tugging on the same toy at a stand-off. The longest I had seen them do this was about 45 minutes non-stop. Luke plays flyball for the Woof Gang and has the same focus, drive, and consistency as Anna. He is so very handsome too.

We are all very proud of Anna! You can learn more about Anna on her Website -


Leona Norton and her Batman joined The Woof Gang shortly after we formed the club. Batman brought his experience in the game to a fledgling team and successfully got them through their first tournament. Before moving on to more exotic, and snowy locations, Batman ran tournaments with The Woof Gang. He livened up every practice with is enthusiasm. No ball was safe from the “Black Flash.”

Batman was also an Agility dog, a Canine Good Citizen, and a Licensed Registered Therapy Dog. He was featured in the year 2002 on an NBC Television News Program about Cloning. His DNA has been successfully preserved and is awaiting further developments.

We are sorry he is gone. But even Heaven needs Flyball dogs.

Nikki Myers
Co-founder, The Woof Gang

Cowgirl Callie

Cowgirl Callie

Breed: Golden Retriever
Color: Blonde
DOB: December 1998
Raced: 2002 - 2004


Racing Debute: December 8, 2002
Team: Wranglers (Tess, Callie, Rodi, Max, Wizard and Maggie)
Lickety Splits
Chula Vista, CA

Title: FDCH-S

NAFA® Racing History

More about Callie ...

My sweet Callie has been with me since February, 1999. She was 8 weeks old when I brought her home. She is truly a special dog. Callie is a very fast learner and always eager to please. She is the ultimate Therapy Dog! She is certified through TDI, Delta Society and the OCSPCA. She loves everyone she meets. Callie enjoys visiting patients in hospitals as well as listening to children read in schools and libraries. She has a large repertoire of tricks and loves to entertain.

Since retiring from flyball, Callie has been doing freestyle and rally obedience. She earned her RN title in her first three rally trials.

Callie loves the beach, walks in the park, and most of all, treats, treats, and more treats!

As of January 1, 2014 Callie was fifteen years old and living with her sister Meggie, an eleven year old Golden Retriever. They are both doing well and expect to live another fifteen years.



Tamed the Wild West.
Also Known as OLD IRON EYES
his steel color eyes look right through you.


Cody had been our token border collie.  In a sport that is dominated by border collies Woof Gang was unique in that we only had our one and only faithful Cody.  He is also known as Old Iron Eyes.  He would stare you down until you eventually give in and threw the ball. 

He was ever so steady and rarely made a mistake.  You could always trust him to get the job done.  

You can identify him by his one blue eye and his pink nose (inside).  

An unusual Habit that he had was he will get into any car if the door was open.



Ranked the #3 Labrador Retriever in U-FLI
Ranked the #18 Labrador Retriever in NAFA

Daisy is a rescue of sorts, she was living in a crate in a condo. There was an add in the paper for this 5 month lab with crate, Molly and family went to look. Well, Molly really didn't care one way or another so we brought Daisy home not the name I would have chosen.  Daisy came to the house and ran in circles in the backyard till she no longer could move. Molly thought she was crazy! How could this high drive lab live in a crate.

Daisy took to flyball like a duck to water she is ball crazy and wants all the toys. At the time she was the fastest dog on the Woof Gang and was the first dog to earn an onyx and flyball grand champion in NAFA for the Woof Gang.

Daisy's other hobbies include dock diving with her longest jump over 23' and to date she has made every final being the oldest dog now. Daisy did great in agility too but opt for more family activities like going in the RV and flyball.

Dodger the One Eyed Jack

Breed: Parson Russell Terrier
Color: Tri Colored

Raced: 1998 - 2002


Racing Debute: April 5, 1998
NAFA, Inc. - San Diego, CA
Team: Woof Gang Regular Division
(Keeper, Rodi, Max, Keesha, Tika and Dodger)

Title: FDCH

NAFA® Racing History

Note: statistics as of 12/31/2013

Crazy Ida


Ranked the #1 Chesapeake Bay Retriever in U-FLI

Ranked the #4 Chesapeake Bay Retriever in NAFA


Big Money Keeper

Ranked the #1 Chesapeake Bay Retriever in NAFA

Keeper the First Flyball Chesapeake Champion

Keeper is my first Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I adopted her at about 5 months of age and at the time, I was looking for a dog that loved water that could be a wonderful family pet and go spend time at the Colorado river with us. We learned immediately that she was POSSESED by the almighty tennis ball and playing fetch with it was her 24/7 obsession. I was watching the news on TV one morning and they did a segment on this really wild dogsport called flyball. I did some research and found some people who belonged to a local flyball club and went to watch a tournament....well, I was hooked!

I was determined to find a way to get a club going and spoke to a friend and co-worker at the Animal Hospital where I was working about it. Nikki had a ball crazy Silky Terrier named Rodi so she and I both agreed that we needed to get involved, so, I talked my husband into making our first Flyball box, and Nikki got her father to make our jumps. Nikki and I sat down at a restaurant one day to decide on a club name, if she had her way, we would have been called the "Flying Purple People Eaters and have Purple shirts, balls, jumps etc...LOLOL!!! But after some discussion we agreed we would be the Woof Gang with a western theme. We talked another co-worker, Melinda, into joining us with her Shepherd mix named Tia, so with Keeper, Rodi, and Tia, we had a team of 3. Although we really knew nothing about training for the sport back then, we just did what we could to get our dogs to go down the course, get the ball and come back, it seemed so easy.... As luck would have it, we were contacted by 2 people from another club who wanted to join us, Darlene had a Golden Retriever named Lani and Leona had a lab mix named Batman. The 5 of us trained for awhile together and entered our first tournament in Las Vegas in 1996 and The Woof Gang was off and running.

Flyball is a great relay racing, tennis ball catching, K-9 and people socializing dog-sport for dogs that are absolutely ball crazy Keeper excelled in this sport, through her years of racing, she was extreemly reliable and relentlessly ran the course in 4.5 seconds from 1996 up until her early retirement in 2001. Keepers body broke down at an early age due to a very poor box turn and years of compressing her spine, several years in the sport has taught us to train a better turn on the box (for the dogs sake).

Keeper was ranked the #1 Chessie for points for several years, and even held her #1 ranking for 2 full years after her retirement. She is the first Chessie ever to earn the Flyball Master title and the first Chessie to earn the Flyball Master Excellent title in the North American Flyball Association. She wan a special award at a Touch and Go tournament in Las Vegas for being clocked the Fastest Female Retriever at the tournament.

Keeper and I also had a lot of fun with Agility, a sport which dogs have to jump through tires, over jumps, weave through poles, race through tunnels and play teeter-totter. We trained with Stuart Mah for a few years but due to my inability to properly work a course with both a right AND left foot, we only got her novice titles before retiring from the sport altogether and concentrate on flyball.

One of Keepers biggest trademarks is her smile. She has had her smile plastered all over the web, as well as being used as the logo for a T-shirt for a club called Brown Dog Central. Over the years her photos have been used in 6 Chesapeake Bay Retriever Calendars. She was also used in a tryout video for a "Survivor", as she plays a great "Dead Dog" with the command :BANG!" She also has a Canine Good Citizen certificate.

Keeper has graciously donated blood 3 times to help save the life of someone else's canine companion. Eleven years old now, Keeper is retired from athletics and is enjoying her new life as the queen bee couch potato of our household.

Lisa Heitmiller




Lani was always a dignified dog. One of the 2 dogs that joined our team in its infancy, it helped to have an experienced dog and handler come along at that time. We needed Darlene’s experience and Lani’s steadiness.

The first of a handful of wonderful golden retrievers to grace our team, Lani is missed by family and friends.

Nikki Myers
Co-founder, The Woof Gang

Hop-a-Long Maggie

Magpie Maggie

Fastest Australian Terrier in U-FLI - 2007
Remember Heckle and Jeckle the cartoon magpies? I did when I looked
at this puppy.

She holds titles in agility and still competes at age 9.

Maggie is a desert gal, born in Buckeye, Arizona. She traveled across
the wasteland when she was very young.

DOB 6/22/1998
height 10.25 in.
wt 13 lbs.
color blk and tan
favorite activity: catching birds


Break-Out Milo

No jail strong enough or posse fast enough to keep him in. He flies high and stretches long.

Identifying Marks: His big Boston smile
Unusual Habits: He must have Judy's rice cakes after racing flyball and walks on his hind legs from the flyball ring until he find her; He likes to snort
Other Activities: long walks; jumping on the kids
Last Known Associates: Beans (a.k.a.  Franks & Beans, our rescue pug mix)

Breed: Boston Terrier
Color: Black and White
DOB: May 2000
Raced: 2002 - 2009

U-FLI™ Breed Standings: 4th at retirement
#1Fastest Boston Terrier (2005-2006)
#13 Highest Point Boston Terrie

Note: statistics as of Milo's Retirement


Racing Debute:
Singles: October 8, 2005
Pairs: August 9, 2008 with Porter
Team: Woof Gang Standard Div 2 Finish 1st
(Molly, Bear, Daisy, Rio, Pebbles and Milo)
Lickety Splits' You Fly in October
Ramona, CA

U-FLI™ Racing History

Title: TFE-III
Fastest U-FLI™ Single Time: 4.707


Racing Debute:
May 5,
Team: Woof Gang Outlaws Reg Div 3
(Shelby, Milo, Rocket, Jack, Molly and Daisy)
Orange Crush
Orange County, CA


NAFA® Racing History



Known for Stealing Dunked Hot Dogs

No sausage is safe in the water with this gal on the loose.

Molly first learned to love swimming at a young age of 7 weeks when she came home. Even when she slept at night she had an ice bag for her tummy to keep her cool. Started out in agility and soon thought that was too boring so we started flyball. Molly would only take the ball if there was peanut butter inside and learned to do the box with a high five. The only motivation we could find for her to come back was her training duck. Which after hitting mom with the duck's head and hurting her fingers we moved up to the goose, it has a longer rope on it so fingers are out of the way.

Molly loves her goose and after racing runs to the pool to get cool and lay down pushing everyone out so she can lay there with her goose. Molly does a lot of training of young dogs at practice. 

Molly's other hobbies include dock diving which swims more that she jumps and going on vacation in the RV to the lake and catching fish. Yes, Molly has caught a salmon.

Madam Peach


Pixel the Illuminator



Raced 6/98 through 8/2004

Pixel and fellow teammate, Molly, were littermates. Both took to the water immediately, Pixel a true blue Retriever, grabbing whatever she could and carrying it away. Pixel taught Jeff and I the game of "trade", if you want it back, give me a cookie.

Pixel was an accomplished athlete, agility dog, FMX in Flyball, Canine Good Citizen, and disc dog. Aside from flyball, Pixel's greatest joy was her pool and Frisbee.

Pixel was always more of a comedian than agility dog. She enjoyed playing to the crowd, occasionally leaving the ring to visit the spectators or running up to the judge just to say "hi". On more than one occasion I was told Pixel's exploits were the height of the trial. Nonetheless she managed to title in both AKC Jumpers and Standard Agility.

Pixel's true love was flyball. She never crossed lanes, rarely dropped a ball, and was all business when it came to flyball. Although diagnosed with hip dysplasia at two years old, Pixel continued to compete in flyball until age eight.

Caroway's Ragtime Gal, FDCh, CDC

Too Long Tongue, "Rags"

Too Long Tongue, Rags

Raced from: April 10, 1999 to March 9, 2002
Retired as the NAFA 19th Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Breed: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
DOB: February 19, 1994
DOD: August 31, 2006
Place of Birth: Lake Forrest, IL
64 lbs.
Hair Color: Brown
Identifying Marks: Airplane Ears and very long tongue

Unusual Habits: Rags carried a purse and loved to kiss all the dogs as well as people. She was very ball crazy and has been known to demolish at least two or three balls per practice.

Other Activities: Field trained, Some beginning agility, some Freestyle dancing and tugging with his sister Anna.

More about Rags ...

Anna and RagsRags was a member of the Woof Gang flyball team. When she retired from flyball because of an illness in March, 2002. I wanted to continue to play flyball so I became a perminate boxloader and began my researched of three years to find another dog for our family. If it wasn't for Rags finding flyball there never would have been an Anna in our home.

I first met Rags in Lake Forrest, IL when she was seven weeks old. I flew to Illinois to spend three days with Rags and her nine siblings just one week before she flew to California to live with our family. At eight weeks of age Rags was out in the fields of Prado Dam training to retrieve birds. She continued to field train for the first three years of her life. Rags earned a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title and she had some Canine Freestyle lessons. Rags and I took agility classes from the local Parks and Recreation Department and it was there that we were introduced to Flyball. Rags loved Flyball more than agility and she would often finish an agility run and then head straight for the Flyball jumps.

I met Lisa Heitmiller (the Woof Gang) and her dog Vanna at a Chesapeake team obedience practice in 1998. RagsWhen I heard that Lisa played Flyball with her dog, Keeper, I asked if there was a place that I could have Rags participate in the sport. She told me to go to the practice and introduce myself and see if Rags could tryout for the team. Rags played Flyball for over four years and earned her FDCh. Rags had a short Flyball career. She was diagnosed with OCD in 2002. Rags was in pain for most of her life and as she got older she became very stiff after each race. Since her Flyball retirement she worked the Demos and sold raffle tickets. She was best known as the dog that carried her purse.

Before Rags retired she had one great adventure. The following is her story:

The Big Break

By Caroway's Ragtime Gal (Rags)

We woke up early Saturday morning and drove to Ventura with Peach and her mom. My master plan was already in the works. I was a good little dog and didn't bark at humans on motorcycles, bicycles, or skateboards. And when we approached the tournament site at the Ventura Harbor Village I didn't tell anyone that Peach informed me that we would be surrounded by water. Nobody knew of my big plan and things just seem to be falling in place. We were not in the first race of the day that gave me more time to plot my big break.

Rags, Peach and PixelWhen it was almost time for the race my mom and I walked over to ring one. Mom was so busy dancing like Groucho Marx to the funny music of the silent movie era that she didn't notice me whispering to Rio . I think she thought that we were kissing like we usually do. Rio and I worked out a great diversion for my plan. Then to my delight, we had a rather long break while we waited for the other team to finish racing in ring two. Mom made me dance some more to this goofy 60's rock-n-roll music. The whole time I was pulling her toward the box so she would think all I wanted to do was play flyball. Wiz and I did a little dancing and kissing while Maggie wiggled in her mom's arms. The plan was working the humans were distracted. Then it was time to warm-up. Rio went into action. He sat in front of the box and waited for his mom's recall. I knew if my mom saw him being so good it would remind her of how I used to do that too. It worked and I gained her trust. She told me to sit and then she walked away. I waited until she was at the other end and then I took off down the lane. I ran full steam toward her and grabbed the ball running as fast as I could. Mom watched me run. I knew that she was thinking that I would turn to the left and come back to play tug-of-war like I always did….…….NOT!

Too Long Tongue RagsThis was my big break. I ran all the way to the end and made a sharp turn to the right heading full speed towards the bay. She couldn't have caught me even if she was Wilma Rudolph (That tells you how old my mom is). I could hear her screaming my name but I pretended not to hear because the music was so loud and all the other dogs were cheering me on. I could see them with paws in the air and hear them chanting "Woof, woof, woof" just like Julia Roberts in "Pretty woman". Max and Sophie were screaming, "Go for it Rags". Rocket yelled, "Rags, you are the bomb" and Tess shouted, "Brown dogs rule!"

I made it to the edge of the sidewalk and could see that the ten-foot cliff was steep and there were large rocks at the bottom. It was just like Molly and Daisy said it would be. Within seconds I was at the bottom and made a flying leap into the bay. My form was a perfect 10. You know the kind that only Chessies can do. Water splashed up on both sides. I was in heaven. There were commercial fishing boats to my right and left but open water straight ahead. I was on my way out to sea when I faintly heard my mom's voice calling my name. I was going to ignore her until I heard those bone chilling words. "Okay Rags, I'm leaving. Good-bye, I'm getting in the car". I turned around just in time to see her disappear over the cliff.

I was alone. I hate when that happens. I could see a crowd of people standing on cliff laughing. Were they laughing at me because my mommy left me, or were they laughing at me because I was a "brown clown"? I couldn't take it. I love the water more than anything, but not more than my mommy. I climbed out of the bay and scampered up the cliff searching for my mom. I remember one day a few years ago I swam in the bay at home, mom ran away from me and when I reached the top, she came back to get me. That time I waited until she almost reached me and then jumped back into the water. That was a really neat trick. I wonder if I would be able to pull it off again?

When I finally arrive at the top of the cliff, I couldn't see mom through all the laughing-humans. All I could see were legs. Then suddenly I heard mom's voice yelling out to someone in the crowd, "Grab her". I turned to leap back in the water, but it was too late. Someone grabbed my harness and I was hooked like a fish on a gaff. She tricked me again.

Mom took a hold of my harness and marched me back to the starting line. She was so relieved that we didn't miss the start she didn't seem to care that she was as wet as I was. She must have worried about me because the rest of the day she greeted me with open arms and treats at the end each races. She looked like a Greco Roman wrestler, there was no way I could have gone around her. Rodi later told me that her mom and the rest of the team's humans didn't even notice that I was AWOL, but when they found out they were all put on "Grab the Rags" alert.

The first ten races I ran down to the box got the ball but on my return I would glance over at the bay. It was so tempting. Maybe if I was racing in ring two I might have tried it again. That ring was much closer to the bay. But I had it pretty good the way it was, mom was hugging me and feeding me all day long.

Rags, Pixel, Peach (back) Max and SophieLater that day while we were getting ready to race another race a big loud voice called my name (I think humans call it a PA system). It said that I had just earned my FDCH title. That must be a big deal because my mom was petting my head, kissing my ears, and rubbing my belly. All the humans were yelling my name as they clapped and cheered. My mom was so nervous that she let me go too soon on the next race and I almost bumped into my good bud Rio . I could see him coming and realized that there would not be enough room for both of us to go through the jump together so I went around and let him finish. I was proud of my new title and glad I decided to play flyball that day. I can always try swimming another day.

Rags, November 10, 2002

Anna misses her sister Rags but now she has her brother Luke to keep her very busy.  We are not sure but we think that Rags spirit has come back to us in the form of Luke and that makes us all very happy! 

Rags, Pixel, Peach (back) Max and Sophie

You can see Anna's tribute to Rags here.

Rio the Rodeo Clown




Ruthless Toothless Rodi


Ranked the #1 Silky in NAFA

Tribute to Rodi

Rodi's tiny legs have covered many more miles than any other member of Woof Gang.  Never the quickest draw, but most certainly the heart and soul of flyball.  A true icon, raising cheers, smiles, and laughter from spectators, judges, and adversaries alike.  In our eyes you are by far the cutest little gunslinger to ever cross a hurdle.  Your fellow Outlaws thank you, as without your tireless dedication there would never have been a Woof Gang.

Nikki and I formed the Woof Gang back in 1995.  We managed to get 4 dogs together and raced in our first tournament in Las Vegas in February of 96.  Of those original dogs, Rodi is the only one still racing at 11 years of age and her spirit and eagerness to play flyball to this day amazes me.  I can't count the times this little dog has been chased down by competitors dogs, they just think she is so interesting, trampled on by dogs crossing over the lane, stung by bees at a tournament, rolled terribly hard in collision by our own club dogs, stepped on by us, poked in the eye... and still she drives on... many little dogs would have quit after one of those incidents.  

This little dog has been such a wonderful ambassador to the sport.  I know that anyone who has ever watched her run the course, has immediately had a huge smile come across their face, and usually laughter follows.  It is almost uncontrollable : )  As many heats as this dog has run in her career, I STILL smile every time I watch her.

She has been the heart and soul of the Woof Gang for it's entire existence, and all of our club members are proud of her.  It has taken 7 years, some very creative lineups, and a few tournaments on mats (she loves mats, no grass to run though that is taller than her legs) and in June Rodi threw this little body of hers over the 10,000 point hurdle at the RUFF flyball tournament in Denver Colorado.  

Lisa Heitmiller, 2003




AKC/NSDTRC/IABCA CH Swiftcreek Autumn Ryver WC, CGC, TDI, FDX, RA, CD, JH, VCX July 16, 2003 - May 19, 2014 My beloved Ryver passed on Monday afternoon. She was my heart dog. She was the once in a lifetime dog that we all hope to have at some point in our life. Ryver had so many accomplishments and titles but her most outstanding quality was she was (till the very end) a willing worker! She also left us with two of her boys which is a wonderful legacy. Ralph and I will miss our little girl so much. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.



Arete's Sophie's Choice, FMX

Sophie, FMX

They say that 17 years is a very long life for a Golden, but it is not long enough. August 11th we made the heart wrenching decision to let Sophie move on... She went peacefully at home, surrounded by love. Our “Mama” Sophie, the Grande Dame, was the core of our family. She was the heart and soul, the serious one - there to take care of all of us. She was in our lives for 17 years, and she will be in our hearts forever... We miss you Sweet Pea... Run Free...

Tire;ess Tess


Ranked the #8 Chessie in NAFA




The Flyball Dog That Started it All

I purchased Tia in the summer between my sophomore and junior year in vet school. My older dog (a Doberman named "Rose") had health problems and was no longer able to accompany me on long walks or bike rides. I needed the exercise as a mental health break from the pressures of school but my schedule was such that it was difficult to arrange to walk or bike with friends. I was not very comfortable being out alone without a large dog along with me. So, I needed another dog. The problem being that Rosie was old, grumpy and not very dog social. So, I needed a large dog to walk at night with me but a "submissive" dog that would never challenge Rose's place as Number 1. But, not a dog that acted submissive to people, one that looked like something that could guard a college co-ed. So, I put out the word among my vet school classmates in the spring that I was looking for a large dog and explained what kind of temperament profile I wanted. Sadly, it was soon apparent that none of my classmates knew anything about temperament testing or the concept of "matching pups to people" and I was rapidly frustrated by being met outside of class by people with the "perfect" rescue dog that was SO obviously the wrong match for Rose and me. So, it was with great skepticism that I agreed to go look at a puppy offered to me by a freshman vet student named Robin.

The original story from Robin was that this fawn puppy was from "a small Great Dane" and sired by "a retired police canine officer". I thought it odd that a retired police canine would be allowed to sire a mixed breed litter and kept that in mind. Supposedly, Robins' landlord had found out about the puppy and didn't allow dogs, thus the need to place her. Robin did seem to know about puppy testing and her description of the pup did sound promising, however, the plot thickened rapidly. I arrived at Robins' and was greeted by her fairly angry roommate, who didn't know where Robin was or when she would be home and knew nothing about the dogs. Yes, dogs- there were 2 puppies in the yard, neither of which matched the description of the pup I was there to see. They were very believably Dane x Shepherd mixes, classic black and tans but huge, coarse, blockheaded and ugly. Also very independent and "dominant" personalities. Absolutely NOT what I wanted. More plot developed with the arrival of 2 other girls with another pup, this one fawn with a black mask and very petite and feminine in structure compared to the other pups. An argument soon arose between the girls and the roommate- turns out the girls had purchased the pup from Robin and were there to return it- they had been "found out" by their landlord, who didn't allow dogs. The roommate was insisting they couldn't return the pup- landlord problems, she wasn't refunding any money to the girls in Robin's stead...the dogs were Robins' problem and to be out of the house before they too were evicted. In the meantime, I was running the fawn pup through the temperament tests and very much liking what I was getting. Into the midst of all this Robin materialized. After a short screaming match her roommate slammed herself into her room and the girls disappeared, leaving the puppy. Now the quandry. Robin was brokering puppies. Now the pup was for sale, not for rescue..." I need to recover my costs in food and vet bills". I knew from talking to the girls that they had had picked up the pup from Robin as soon as Robin had picked up the litter and they had done the first shots and deworming...Robin had little investment in the pup. I felt that Robin was dishonest and was not pleased that she was a fellow vet this day I have nothing nice to say about puppy brokers. The pup was 7 1/2 weeks old and if I took her, mine would be the third household she had been in already. But...I liked her. And for Pete's sake, how many times would she be sold to people who didn't have their own home or their landlord's permission? ( I was renting but I had the OK from the manager and the extra security deposit). So my first, last and only "brokered" pup came home. I don't remember the name the girls had given her. I called her Tia.

Tia was exactly the right dog. She was perfectly content as second fiddle to Rose and they never squabbled. Tia always got out of Rose's way or gave up the toy. She looked more Shepherd than Dane and matured at a perfectly reasonable but guardian sized 80 pounds. She was bright and she was a pleaser- very easy to train. I frequently took her with me to class my junior year and she would barely be noticed lying at my feet despite her size- she was that quiet. We were never asked to leave the lecture hall:) It was easy to locate good training classes living in Davis, but we were rarely able to attend... she had horrible recurrent episodes of panosteitis as a young seemed as soon as we started a class we'd have to withdraw as she'd go lame. Maybe a forewarning of things to come. The family that had purchased her littermate sister moved into my apartment complex later that year. Her sister, "Indy" was a wreck...horrible, horrible skin problems. They moved again the next summer but I would see Indy again my senior year at the teaching hospital.

My senior year in vet school kept me away from home for incredible lengths of time...I had to hire a pet sitter to care for my dogs! There was another first! But she had a great sitter in an undergraduate student who needed a big, tough looking dog to jog with her every afternoon. I found a training class in the nearby town of Dixon, where you paid $5.00 for an hour and the instructor worked with whatever she had in the way of students that showed up that wasn't a set series of classes. For me, that was great, since school invariably interfered with series of classes. The instructor, Ellen Haro, also did agility classes that way. Ms. Haro bred Belgian Sheepdogs and surprised me with another first when I took Tia up there for a class. Tia had a lot of sable color in her coat as a younger dog and as we joined the group there that day, Ms. Haro demanded to know who had sold me my "Malinois" puppy! She was indignant that any responsible breeder would dare sell a Belgian to a vet definition the least responsible choice for a pet owner. Having met Robin, I cut her some slack on that opinion but I was never her favorite student. I'm sure there was some embarrassment on her part over the breed misidentification. In my entire senior year, I was able to get Tia "my faux Malinois" out to 5 classes with Ellen. She had a great agility setup with this incredible suspension bridge obstacle that Tia adored loping across while it swayed. I greatly regret that Tia didn't have more opportunity to learn agility with Ellen. However, both Tia and Rose earned their Canine Good Citizens certificates before school ended that year. Tia was also registered with the Mixed Breed Dog Club of America and I still maintain my membership with the MBDCA.

I graduated in 1994 and looked for jobs in Northern California. I grew up in SoCal and did NOT want to return there. However, the best job offer by far came from a animal hospital in La Mirada. So, I packed up my pets (2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 snake, 5 guinea pigs and roughly 30 cage birds) and moved to my current home in Whittier. At that first job I met 2 other employees that are still my friends: Lisa Heitmiller and Nikki Myers. The following fall I took my one week vacation and returned north to show Tia at a MBDCA event. Her first place plaque for SubNovice obedience is on the wall and is my very first "show" trophy. I am ridiculously proud of that little plaque and rosette. I had left Rose with my parents that week and returned to find she had fallen ill while I was gone. Within a week of my return Rose was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and euthanised. Tia's littermate sister, Indy, had died my senior year in vet school from the same cancer. Definitely a forewarning of things to come.

That same year Lisa and Nikki saw a flyball demonstration at the Mission Circuit dog show and the idea that became the Woofgang flyball team began to develop. You need at least 4 dogs and handlers for flyball, so Lisa and Nikki asked me if I would be interested in training Tia for flyball. I was frustrated in not being able to get Tia involved in agility due to constant conflicts with work schedules and was delighted to be asked...if any group would be able to accommodate my work, it would be a group started at my work! Our boss, Susan Tripp, and her Border Collie "Wonder" were also asked but never really got into the sport...Wonder had some definite space issues and Susan had other priorities for her time. Nikki and Lisa were able to tempt 2 experienced dogs (Lani and Batman) and handlers ( Darlene Kellerman and Leona Norton) away from the Orange Crush flyball team. So, we were off and running with 5 dogs and handlers. Tia, Rodi and Keeper all earned their first flyball titles (FD) at their very first tournament...Las Vegas in February 1996 and the 3 of us were hooked (apparently forever) on flyball as well. Tia earned her next and final flyball title, FDX, in May 1996.

In October '96, I took a week's vacation but didn't travel anywhere. Every day I was out with Tia...hiking in the foothills, playing frisbee at the beach, chasing tennis balls on local schoolgrounds before the kids arrived. By the end of the week Tia was looking a bit stiff on arising in the morning. I brushed it off to overexercise and expected it to go away when we returned to our "normal" work schedule. It didn't go away, really. Slowly, gradually it got worse. The progression seemed to stall when she was rested, then it would show again. It seemed to stall with rest + aspirin, then it would show again. I examined her, ran blood and urine tests and did some xrays, all normal. It progressed again. I took her to a local referral center. They took xrays...the radiologist identified very subtle and early signs of arthritis in her hocks...not enough to explain her lameness. We sent out titer tests for Valley Fever and started a round of progressed again. We rechecked more xrays looking for something to have changed that would explain the worsening lameness. Nothing. In late December she was limping so badly that even the most novice kid at work could see it. A bone scan was scheduled after Christmas. There was a clear positive mark on her scan in the tibia, the larger of the 2 leg bones below the stifle. There were 2 possibilities: infection of the bone (osteomyelitis) or cancer of the bone (osteosarcoma). She had never had a wound or injury to the leg. She had no rotten teeth to serve as a source of infection. We had checked her blood and urine for "hidden" infections. She had no skin or ear infections that might possibly spread to the bloodstream and just so happen to wind up in the bone. The breed of highest incidence of bone cancer is the Dane. She was a Dane mix.&nbs p; German Shepherds are in the top 5 breeds of high incidence of bone cancer. Her other half was Shepherd. Her littermate sister was dead of bone cancer. Her housemate sister was dead of bone cancer. Tia had to have cancer. She was 4 years old. I drove her back to the referral center closest to my home/work the next day. I had to plead with the surgeon to amputate her leg rather than biopsy it, but I was sure. A biopsy would "open the door" for the cancer to spread (metastasize) by opening the bone itself, leaving the bone intact and taking the leg off would at least keep the monster contained. Odds were, knowing osteosarcoma has nearly always spread BEFORE the primary tumor mass was found, that we were already too late. Her left hind leg came off that day. I spent New Years day 1997 alone with no dogs, curled up in my chair crying my eyes out. The surgeon would tell me later when I picked Tia up that it was the right decision. After the surgery and while preparing the bone specimen to send out for biopsy, the surgeon could clearly see the destruction of the bone and the mass within the marrow cavity eating it away. Waiting for the biopsy result was merely a formality, but the cancer specialist would not start her chemotherapy without it.

Tia went through chemotherapy treatment in the spring of 1997. I was told in vet school and Tia's specialist reiterated that animals have far fewer problems with chemotherapy than people. Well, if that is really true than God help people on chemotherapy. Tia was horribly ill after her treatments. There was to be a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 sessions. We barely got through 4...I very nearly quit after the third treatment. She had such severe vomiting and diarrhea and couldn't eat a thing for a week or more after each round of chemo. I dabbled with the idea of buying marijuana and burning it in the fireplace for her to breathe the smoke but chickened out. I would probably have had the most popular house in the entire city and no doubt the cops would have stopped by as well. I doubt I could have afforded that much grass after paying for the chemo anyway. Chemo was hell but in the long run it was worth it. Statistically, of 100 dogs treated for osteosarcoma with surgery AND full courses of chemo, 50 will be dead within 1 year of diagnosis. Of the 50 first year survivors, 25 will be dead by the end of their second year. Of the 25 remaining, less than 3 will be alive 3 years after diagnosis. Tia was lucky and got clinical cure of her disease, meaning (for dogs) that 5 years after diagnosis she was cancer free. She lived to be 11 1/2.

I spent her first year post diagnosis pretty depressed and basically wasting time waiting for her to die. I had bought my second and third flyball dogs by then (Wizard and Dodger) and they helped keep me going. Wizard (coincidentally born on the same date that Rose died) was a wild and flashy handful to run but earning titles steadily throughout '97. Dodger was titling by mid '98. When Tia reached her first anniversary and was obviously alive and well, hope began to spring eternal and the thought to try to take her back to flyball occurred. This was heavily encouraged and nurtured by Nikki, the Woofgangs' unsung guardian angel. To my utter surprise, this ignited an absolute firestorm of controversy in the flyball community over the place of "handicapped" dogs in sports and society. Luckily, as I did not own a computer and was not "online" at the time, I was blissfully ignorant of nearly all of what was said. Nikki did pass along a few printouts of web chat on the topic, much of which made me furiously angry. I did not extend Tia's life with surgery and chemo to just leave her on the sofa, nor to waste the time we had left together arguing and being angry, so I stayed for the most part out of the controversy and let the tide flow on by. I am grateful forever to those who took it on themselves to champion the cause of "handicapped" dogs being allowed to participate in flyball (Bob Long, you are forever a God) even though Tia did not return to participate herself. Bob himself christened her "the dog that started it all" a title appropriate in way more ways than one.

Melinda Dayhuff



Tough Guy Tonka



Valentine Cowgirl


Breed: Australian Cattle Dog
Color: Red
DOB: December 29, 2005

U-FLI™ Breed Standings:
#33 Fastest Australian Cattle Dog
#16 Highest Point Australian Cattle Dog

U-FLI™ All Breed Standings: #422 Highest Points all time

Note: statistics as of 5/4/2014 - as of her last race


Racing Debut:
Singles: July 4, 2009 - Bedlam in Bishop, Bishop, CA
Team: Woof Gang Green Horns Variety Div 1 - 2nd Place
(Zeb, Elly, Robin,Lucky, June Bug and Valyn)
Holiday ROCC
Ramona, CA

U-FLI™ Racing History

Title: TFP-II
Fastest U-FLI™ Single Time: 4.523


Racing Debut:
January 15,
Team: Woof Gang Wild Bunch Regular Div 2
(Bear, Niles, Elly, Lucky, MJ and Valyn)
OC Winter Games
Hidden Valley, Irvine, CA

Title: FDCH-S

NAFA® Racing History

More about Valyn ...

Valyn's Fantastic Save!



WizardWizard the Shoe Man

I have many wonderful memories of Wizard, the silent, black streak that was our start dog for many tournaments. We borrowed him when Melinda could not go to tournaments and no matter who was his handler he gave it his all.

One tournament in particular we found he'd had a scuffle with a housemate and ended up with a ¾ inch tear in his skin. It was pretty obvious to see. It didn't bother him at all. We didn't want it to get bigger while he was racing and stretching, so we pulled out the little staple gun and put 2 skin staples in his side. Then, all stapled up he ran all day and flashed that spectacular wide grin every heat.

A wonderful judge and friend in the very beginning, Clyde Moore, took a great liking to Wizard at his debut tournament. I don't suppose it had anything to do with the fact that Clyde had his own black, Doberman beauty at home. Clyde was very helpful and encouraging when our young Wiz was having some "greendog" tournaments. When Wizard realized he had a fan, he was more than happy to stop for a good head scratch.

Nikki Myers, August 4, 2001


Zoomin' Zebediah

Breed: Border Collie
Color: Black and White
DOB: August 9, 2006


Racing Debute: March 14, 2009
Team: Woof Gang Green - Placed 2nd in Variety Division 1 - 19.880
(Pebbles, Magic, Cash, Niles, Daisy and Zeb)
Lickety Splits' Fast Times at the ROCC
Ramona, CA
Singles: November 15, 2008 - 4.357

Title: TFE-II
Fastest Single Time:  4.357

U-FLI™ Racing History


Racing Debute: January 7, 2009
Team: Woof Gang Green
(Pebbles, Magic, Cash, Niles, Daisy and Zeb)
OC Winter Games IV
Hidden Valley, Irvine, CA

Title: FDCH-S

NAFA® Racing History

More aboout Zeb ...

Zeb was the right puppy for me at the right time. I was dealing with the heartbreak of having recently lost a very special dog and I needed a puppy to fill the void left by that loss.

Zeb was born in the high desert to working parents. He was still available at 12 weeks because of his color. That old wives tale about sheep not respecting white dogs was the reason. While not true, it was to my favor, because he was just perfect.

He is always willing to please: in border collies, its referred to as 'biddable'.  He will eagerly do anything for me, but he loves to fetch and he loves flyball. Zeb has been racing on the team since 2009 and we've been having so much fun racing!  He has been handled in team racing by Jr Hanler Wayne O. and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that he runs better for Wayne.

Zeb has a lot of eye and you'll see it in the racelanes. He's quite happy to stare at the box. ;No matter what happens in the racelanes to cause a delay, Zeb will wait patiently as long as he can stare at the box. When racing starts, watch out! Nothing stops
him. Downed jumps, dogs crossing into his lanes and even a loose dog grabbing onto his tug while he tugged hasn't phased him. He does his job and he's very serious about it. He wants to win and he really does race the other dog to get back first.

Zeb's other dog sport is frisbee. Frisbee is taking a back seat to flyball these days. We're having way too much fun racing Flyball