Wednesday, February 23, 2011

On drama...

I should be writing another installment of the Flyball Book project, but I can't stop thinking about the drama going on in Flyball Land right now.

Here's the story in a nutshell. I'll leave club names out of it. I wasn't there to witness any of this, so if I get any of the facts wrong, please correct me (I know you guys will).

So you've got two clubs, Club A and Club B. They do not like each other. Old history, bad blood. Both very fast, respected clubs at the top of their game right now.

Club A has some fast green dogs that have a tendency to run into the other team's runback area. They are not aggressive dogs, but they get in the way. Club A knows this and tries to manage it (they have put an extra person into the runback area to block those green dogs from crossing over, etc.).

Club B has some green dogs, too, and they are trying to run their best, too. They are getting very upset and irritated because throughout the weekend, Club A's dogs (and handlers) keep running into their runback area. At one point, one of Club A's dogs is standing in Club B's runback area and almost gets hit by a Club B dog swinging on the end of a tug. At another point, a person from Club B runs to block a different Club A dog from crossing over on her dog (he is in the process of doing so).

Club A interprets these actions as malicious on Club B's part and accuses Club B of intentionally trying to harm their dogs (saying Club B tried to swing their dog into Club A's dog while it was in Club B's runback area, and tried to kick Club A's dog when it crossed over. No contact was actually made in either instance, but Club A says there was intention.). So Club A officially accuses Club B. By filing charges with NAFA (for "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of Flyball," per the NAFA rulebook. See section 5.2, page 23:

So now both clubs plus witnesses will be traveling to the Detroit board meeting for a disciplinary hearing in April.

It gets a little stickier. Club A also happens to have two people in NAFA leadership positions -- one is a board member and is actually on the NAFA Disciplinary committee (the committee that investigates complaints like this one and determines whether there is a need for a hearing or not. Since this person just joined the committee in 2011, he may not have been involved in the pre-hearing for this particular incident.).

There are two sides to every story, right? (My boyfriend likes to say there are three sides to every story -- mine, yours, and what really happened). Club A's perception is that Club B was trying to hurt their dogs. Club B's perception is that they were just trying to mind their own business in their own lane and protect their dogs from unprovoked crossovers. Add in all the NAFA connections, and now you've got the perception of unfairness/entitlement at a higher level as well.

Everybody involved might be telling their truth and doing what they think is best/fair/allowable. But I don't see anything good coming out of this situation. Club A's going to get hurt, Club B's going to get hurt, and NAFA's going to get hurt. There will be accusations and mud slinging and nastiness all around. Drama just leads to more drama, and once you're on the drama train it's hard to get off.

Not that I'm always the drama-free innocent bystander, full of wisdom and insight. I've been on my share of flyball drama trains, too (perfect example: Just Call Me Lady Gag(a)). But it always leaves me feeling like shit.

This past summer I went to a really cool shooting camp where I was instructed by two of the top women pistol shooters in the U.S. Between the two of them they've won multiple national and world titles in a variety of pistol shooting competitions. Both are highly skilled and highly respected.

The History Channel's new reality show, Top Shot, tried to talk them into auditioning for Season 2, and they both declined. "But WHY????" I asked them. "It's such a great show! And you would be awesome!"

And one of them said, "Nothing good can come out of me being on that show." She went on to say how the cameras were always on the contestants, looking for drama -- the show pitted people against each other in very stressful situations, then captured all the drama that unfolded and made a TV show out of it. And the show's editing (geared towards entertainment and viewership, of course) could really make the contestants look like idiots, or villains, or both. Many of the Season 1 contestants, touted as the most talented, respected shooters in the world, walked off that show with seriously damaged reputations.

My shooting instructor already had a stellar reputation. And she was smart enough to know it, and appreciate it, and protect it. And went out of her way to avoid the spotlight and the drama, and just focus on what she is great at -- competing and teaching others.

It's not too late for Club A, Club B, and NAFA. Take the high road, people.

All of this reminds me of something I saw at a tournament this past weekend. I was sitting on the sidelines and watched a little red Border Collie cross over to chase after a dog on the other side. Her handler was there in a heartbeat -- she scooped the dog up, marched her out of the building, and motioned to her team to run the backup dog. The judge never even had to get involved, the other team was satisfied, and everybody was happy (except probably the little red Border Collie).

I'm thankful to play in a region where, aside from the snarky comment here and there, we all get along and are respectful of each other. My teammate Kristie's favorite flyball saying is "Safety first!" and our region is a really good ambassador of that philosophy.

This is how flyball should be. Right?


Kim said...

Unfortunately, I think this situation goes beyond the "Drama" category and moves more towards the "Slander" category. Just by filing these charges, the accuser has tarnished the reputation of a person and a team with only the statements of five of the accusing team members as evidence. No one from the accused side was ever contacted, not even the judges, prior to this heading to the hearing, despite the bylaws stating that all parties would be contacted. This could have been resolved long before it became so public.

Glenn said...

Well stated Lisa.

Perhaps the good (if any) that can come from this hearing can include:

- a better process for reviewing the facts in a pre-hearing. Let both sides be involved to avoid the slander aspect and public debate of an event that shouldn't be heard by the board in the first place
- identify the rights of handlers to protect their dogs from aggressive behaviour by others
- confirmation that intrusion on the other team's runback can be considered as interference

I am curious if the judge at the event felt there was a need for a call against either party and if so was it made? Sounds to me like this event, that took place in the racing lanes, should have been capped off right there.

Linda said...

Good post, Lisa.


Anonymous said...

The Flyball drama in the above unnamed region kinda reminds me of:"Days of Our Lives" meets "Desperate Housewives" and they all end up on "Cops".

Although, since there was no police report filed at the time of the incident, Club B is then hoping they can solve their differences in front of "Judge Judy". At least she would be fair and unbiased.

Boy, if our dogs understood all this - they would be ashamed of the direction their favorite "game" is heading, thanks to "The Human Factor"...

Anonymous said...

"Days of our lives" is team B then and "Desperate Housewives" reallly fits team A.. and oh yeah they the cops too,who are masquerading as "Judge Judy"...LMAO

Anonymous said...

It's all incredibly sad and a collosal waste of time. I just left visiting at the shelter. Now there is a place full of drama that is worth getting involved in. I feel bad for all parties involved in this latest episode. It seems like the more competitive club you are, the more you become focused on the "win" and forget that it is a game to play to have fun with your dogs. When club A is part of the NAFA board and all their friends are on the board.......well, there is no unbiased venue to move the "trial" to is there?

Kate said...

Has anyone heard from the judge from this tournament? I'd be interested to hear his/her take.

Kim said...

The judge did not call anything in the ring nor did she determine there was any wrongdoing. From what I have heard, the judge will be writing a statement in support of Team B (the accused). As I stated before, the judge wasn't even consulted during the pre-hearing.

Kim said...

People can make fun of this and even infer references to episodes of television. But in the long run, this accusation could potential harm the livelihood of the parties accused, not just their reputation in the Flyball community. There is much more at stake here than the ‘he said, she said’ crap. This is not frivolous drama anymore. This is serious.

Anonymous said...

Kim was not trying to make fun of the situation. I know the parties involved and think it is terrible what team A is even accusing team B of. This is serious and think the flyball community should see what is going on.... JMO

Kim said...

Ok...thank you for clarifying. I'm sorry that I took your post incorrectly :-)

K-Koira said...

Wow. The drama really is everywhere. Seems like I can't check my email or look at any flyball related webpage/blog without seeing some sort of drama about this.

Seriously, we play this game to have fun. Its my fun activity to get away from what is not so great in the other parts of my life. Having all this drama being drug around makes it way less fun for me, and I don't even know anyone who is involved in it.

Between the election results and this incident, there seems to be no peace in the flyball world right now.

Not that my opinion is going to count for much, but I think everyone except those specifically involved need to just take a step back, take their dogs out for a walk, and let the parties involved deal with this in the nicest, least messy way possible.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I would have absolutely NO problem if someone PREVENTED my dog from attacking another dog by ANY means. Better that, than my dog INJURING another dog. Team A has balls of steal to complain when THEIR dog was crossing over. To me, right there, that ends the argument. It's happened both ways for us, we are EXCEEDINGLY apologetic and pull the dog who crosses. Likewise if we are crossed on, we act like adults and don't go for the throat. We understand it happens, but if it happens again, we WILL complain politely to the judge.

I have dogs who aren't going to be attacked & just let it happen, they are going to fight back if another dog bites them in the @ss. I would get between YOUR dog & MINE to prevent BOTH dogs from getting injured. Or potentially prevent one or BOTH of our dogs from getting KICKED OUT of the sport. I guess if you race against TEAM A the safety of your dogs isn't as important as their dog running fast.

I am also amazed that TEAM A gets away with double handling. Or can we all have an extra "runner" out there to put out of control dogs on the mats sooner? I guess since the runner doesn't touch the dog it's okay right? But if the dog can't run safely without a 2nd person, how is it NOT double handling?

Chris said...

gee, Lisa.. with ALL the details you posted, why leave out club names? It doesn't take a genius to figure out by process of elimination who the clubs are when you describe NAFA BoD connections.

>>It's not too late for Club A, Club B, and NAFA. Take the high road, people.

Unfortunately, it's all up to Club A to pull back. Club B has to defend itself or be found guilty by "default". They have no control over the future course of this case.

Since I live in this Region, I have a front row seat to all the drama. The HIGH ROAD in this case would be for the Board connected people to invoke the "best interests of NAFA", withdraw the complaint and train their dog!

Going to the mat with a Disciplinary Hearing only makes them look petty, vindictive and narrow-minded. Even if Club B is vindicated following the Hearing, will it serve the best interests of flyball?

They didn't think about that because they didn't care! It's ALL ABOUT WINNNING for Club A and THAT's why NAFA is going to lose.



Anonymous said...

No one from team B did anything except run their dogs. The runback is VERY congested with handlers, dogs, substitutes, shaggers and Mattress holders. Add a handler in hot pursuit of their crossing dog and the natural reaction is to protect/shield your dog from approching dog with your body. I don't want this hearing to end up like the "Rodney King" trial did. Let just all get along........

Kristie Pope said...

@Chris, there is a vast group of people who don't know who is on the board or not. I have no idea who Lisa is talking about, so it worked for at least us "out of the know" folks.
I agree a little with what the anonymous person above Chris said about dog fights. My dogs are not aggressive in flyball. However, if a dog repeatedly crossed into my team's runback and herded, stared down or just got all up in my dog's face I would worry about my dog snapping at it and getting fed up. Then my dog could be the one called for aggression and kicked out.
I do not agree about it being double handling to have someone there to make sure that the dog does not cross over. I think with more and more people playing flyball we end up squishing more rings into smaller spaces and sometimes I feel we are all on top of each other. I think it is responsible to have someone there and the team with the dog who crosses should provide that someone.
I'm curious if the dog in question was running in anchor. I am assuming so. If I was judging I would ask the team to either provide a blocker or not run the dog. After repeated crosses even after racing I would start calling interference. It frazzles the other team and their dogs to have another team's dog over there in my opinion.

Kim (different one) said...

The situation is crazy. Sorry to say but I would do what it takes to protect my dogs. I have a dog or 2 that would defend themselves. A dog that is crossing into the other clubs runback needs to be stopped. Once or twice in a weekend you can try to justify but if that happens almost every tourney it gets old. No one really knows what the dog that was crossing had in its mind.

At the same time, the judge should have stepped in and told them to pull the dog if it kept happening. Why did the judge allow the dog to keep running? Was the judge afraid of repercussions? I don't know who the judge was and am not in that region so not sure of everything going on.

If current rules state that for a pre-hearing that the accused needs to be notified and that club was not notified then rules are broken and the complaint should be dropped.

Under current rules I believe that double handling took place BUT personally I think it is ok to have a runner BUT all clubs should be allowed to have a runner. Then comes the question of defining when a runner can be used. Many clubs would take advantage and use a runner to help the dog run faster instead of stop a dog from crossing. Again I am ok with it as long as all clubs were allowed to do it.

It is amazing how some clubs can get away with things but others can't ie; a club goes to a different region uses runners like they do in their home region but get called on it out of region... yes this has happened.

Pete said...

I agree with Chris. If a handler or handlers from Spring Loaded have filed an official complaint, this is now a matter of public record.

Kristie Pope said...

@ Different Kim,
I have noticed that most of the judges in my region (9) allow a stander more than a runner. It's all about intention. You can not run with the dog if you are that person, but you can move as needed to keep them in their runback. I wouldn't call the position a "runner" the way I have seen it used.
I am proud to agree with Lisa when she said that our region does seem to make safety a priority. I also think most of the judges that I run with would call interference if it kept happening.

Anonymous said...

Is club B getting charged with the 2 incidents? If so, why did club A continue to run if they thought club B tried something on the first incident. If i thought a club/person tried to hurt my dog i would not have raced again and taken the issue to the judge, so the judge had it on record. Club A must have thought racing was more improtant than safety. That says a lot for club A. Who won the race? Is this why they decided to do this? Sore losers?JMO

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

I didn't want to put the names of clubs or individuals in the post b/c of the likelihood that Google would index it and this post would come up anytime somebody searched on those names(for info about their seminars, etc.). I'm pretty sure comments aren't indexed, just the post. Seemed that people in the flyball world who cared enough to know would know who I was talking about, and the rest would not, and that was a-ok.

As for the comment about the pre-hearing, i am pretty sure NAFA followed the rulebook on that, although the rule is pretty vague. See, page 23 for the Pre-Hearing rules. It doesn't say anywhere in there that the accused has to be notified during the pre-hearing stage. I really hope that NAFA's investigation of the incident consisted of more than just taking a fellow board member's word for it, though.

I think the rules are going to need to be revised after this. Also on p23, section 5.2 (c), it says, "Accused individuals who are also members of the Board of Directors may not vote in such cases of discipline." Well, I interpret that to mean that the person who filed the charge CAN vote on it -- because they are not the accused, they are the accuser.

Anybody out there have a different interpretation of the rules?

Kim said...

Lisa...I agree that the rules don't state they need to contact all parties, but if you read the bylaws regarding the committees, the Disciplinary Committee specifically states:

"(h) Disciplinary Committee. The Disciplinary Committee shall consist of at least three (3) members and
shall consist solely of Board members. The Committee will consider all charges brought forward to the
Board, gather information and consult all parties in the dispute and investigate the charges. The Committee
will make a formal recommendation to the Board on actions for this dispute as well as recommendations to
the Executive Director regarding any immediate action required."

Maybe I'm interpreting it wrong, but it makes it sound like it's the responsibility of the committee to contact all parties involved and investigate the charges. How can they say they investigated the charges prior to sending it to the full board without even consulting anyone other than the people who filed the charges. And as I understand, the bylaws should take precedence over the actual rules. I'm no attorney though :-)

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

Ah ha! The bylaws! I forgot to look there. ;) You're right, based on that it seems like contacting the judge, RD, and other witnesses would have been part of the initial investigation into the charges. (Rule geeks - it's on p 43 of the rulebook).

Anonymous said...

The really sad thing is this has nothing to do with a dog being harmed but, Team A showing this Region and the rest of NAFA who is really in charge. NO reasonable person would bring these type of charges and expect them to be sustained. Hopefully the BoD will do the right thing. The question becomes how does this region heal from such an ordeal? How does the NAFA public accept such a petty display from our "leadership"? But, most important as Glen noted that perhaps we can implement a "pre-hearing" and hear from both sides before charges can be made formal. So to prevent this from happening again.....

Anonymous said...

The two Club A members in NAFA leadership roles must step away - major conflict of interest here. Please tell me this will or has happened.
I have faith that NAFA's BOD will handle this complaint with complete fairness and without bias.

If there is a history of bad blood between these two teams, guys just need to get over yourselves. Don't ruin it for the rest of us that know this is just a game.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Club A should train their dogs better and not run them until they are broken from chasing! Trust me... if a lower ranked team's (ie: the non-elite) dog crossed over onto one of their dogs... there would be HELL TO PAY!!! Just sayin'

Unfortunately this IS a sport that includes plenty of drama. ALL team sports have drama, look at the crazy soccer moms and the irate hockey dads out there... this sport really is no different. Most of us just roll with the punches and live to play another day with our dogs.

Anonymous said...

Hey Team A - Train your dogs!! Problem solved!!...and if they cross there should be consequences and not allowed to continue. What are they learning, otherwise?

Green dogs are great, but if they are unable to hold it together they should not be racing. Period.

Pete Ness said...

Too bad some people throwing out accusations and criticism won't even ID themselves.

Chris said...

For clarification and sticking with the "issues" I pose the following questions:

1.) The term "Double Handling" is never used in our Rulebook. There is no Rule prohibiting "Double Handling". The Rule that should be examined is Training in the Ring. We all know that we do NOT allow "Training in the Ring". Problem is, do we have a clear definition of exactly "what" behavior "Training in the Ring" is? And, if we do not, can we adopt language that states it clear enough to make it enforceable?

2.) So many people have "trust" in the Board to do the Right Thing. THAT means different things to different people. To Team A, that means finding in their favor and sustaining the charges. To Team B, that means finding in their favor and dismissing the charges.

To me, it means that any BoD member connected to this case recuse themselves from any vote and leave the room during discussions. The only time they should be in the room is to offer testimony. Will the public know for sure if this happened? I don't know. If the facts come out, can we discuss it, as a community, with respect and civility? Again, I don't know.

There is no end to the number of people willing to defend the integrity of the Board with or without "facts". Whatever the outcome, I hope we can express our opinions on what the "facts" mean in a civil & polite way.


Anonymous said...

Just some calrification from the intitial post.

First Quote:

"Club A has some fast green dogs that have a tendency to run into the other team's runback area. They are not aggressive dogs, but they get in the way. Club A knows this and tries to manage it (they have put an extra person into the runback area to block those green dogs from crossing over, etc.)."


Niether of the dogs in question (the ones that cross and need to have a "runner / blocker" to compete) is green. Club A does, however, have to place that runner / blocker in the ring as stated.

One began racing 4 months before the incident in question (which occurred in November) and has earned over 3,000 NAFA points.

The other began racing 8 months before the incident and has also earned over 3,000 NAFA points.

Both dogs also ran warm-ups, but did not compete, in NAFA events prior to earning their first NAFA points.


After that much experience, these can hardly be called 'green' dogs anymore. As sight hounds, they do have a lot of prey drive (chase drive)that needs to be controlled, but they are not 'green.'

No, they are not aggressive. They are not, however, safe. Running into the other team's runback, and having people chasing them when they do, is putting those dogs, the other team's dogs, and all the people on the floor in danger. It soes not take an agressive dog to cause injury. Merely tripping over an unexpected dog in you runback can cause serious injury to the dog and the person.

What is in question is why dogs with that much experience continue to cross? Why do they need to have runners / blockers in order to keep them from crossing into their opponents dogs?

If Team A cannot control these dogs' prey drive without additional people in the ring to cut them off, should they even be running in tournaments? Is doing so safe?

Quote 2:

"Club B has some green dogs, too, and they are trying to run their best, too."


On the weekend of the incident, none of Club B's 'green' dogs were in any lineup. One of the 'fast green dogs' that Team B is bringing up was old enough to compete, but was not at the tournament. The other did not begin competing until January (two months after this incident), when it was old enough to begin running.

The least experienced dog on Team B's lineup that waws involved in the incident had been competing in NAFA tournaments for over a year (and had run in many U-Fli tournaments as well). The two backups during the race in question had been running for 8 and 5 years in NAFA tournaments (as well as many U-Fli) events.


Whatever else may be in play, this incident had nothing to do with 'green' dogs being run - by either club.

Training / readiness of the dogs running, and the desire of Team A to win (and have record runs) at all costs had everything to do with it.

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

See, i knew if i got the facts wrong i could count on somebody to correct me. ;) Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

As a visitor to Can-Am this year, I must say I was not impressed with how Spring Loaded handled their dogs or themselves. The way they handle their whippets - by catching them with a mattress and several people grabbing the dog - would get them kicked out of competition in the other regions I have competed in. If the dog cannot be trusted to recall to its handler, then it should not be raced until it is - even if it is a 3.6 second whippet.

I was also deeply shocked and disappointed to see the Executive Director himself holler to his team "Hey guys - STALL THE RACE!!" as he picked up his video camera and ran down the lane to reposition it. That is not sportsmanlike behavior, and it certainly is not the example I think that the officers of NAFA should be setting.

It will be very interesting to see how the hearing in April plays out, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

When you look at the bylaws it does state what the Disciplinary Committee does but it does not state the order it is done in. You go to the rules for that.

In looking at this situation I can not believe that a top member of the BOD (oh wait it is higher than BOD) would allow his team to run dogs that cross without extra runners to keep the dogs in their lane. Are record times that important? My understanding at one time they were even using mattresses to direct the dogs...well I guess then that they have improved. Well they got their fast time. But is it really legit? Yah sure it doesn't talk about double handling in the rulebook. What about training in the ring? Well judges have been told that you can't prove that...maybe they are just using the extra runner for the dog to focus on.

The April meeting will be interesting that is for sure. I hope that Team B has alot of supports show up for them. Good luck to Team B.

Anonymous said...


that is incorrect. the ED reports to the board, not the other way around.

K-Koira said...

If this was being recorded (as someone mentioned someone from one of the teams repositioning a camera location), is there not a video of the incident? Plenty of videos from CanAm are on youtube, and I am sure other sites as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with mattresses being used. The concept is to teach the dog to drive all the way through and by doing so you need something to stop the dogs beside a wall, table, etc... with the way some of these dogs drive they would hurt themselves if they hit a tug so I think a mattress is actually safer. Club B uses mattresses for some dogs.

It would be great if there was some video out there.

K-Koira said...

For that matter, I don't think I've ever seen what you guys are talking about with the mattress either, and would love to see some video of that

Anonymous said...

But the ED can veto decisions of the bod. So then that is sort of like the president and House of Reps. So in the long run the ED makes day to day decisions for the BOD and in the end actually has final say so.

Anonymous said...

If you read the Bylaws correctly the ED does not have Veto power. The ED can only force a 3/4th Majority vote, but the Board has the final say on all matters.
The ED reports to the Board, not the other way around

Ruth said...

It's been months since the charges were filed one would hope that the complaintants would wake-up from their feelings of intitlement and "drop their charges" afterall their crossing dogs were a majority contributor of fault in all this and no dog was touched let alone injured. Had Team A pulled their crossing dogs after they set their best time we would not have this blog post and Lisa you would be plugging away on your book. No matter the outcome this April we will be left with healing the damage these charges have wrought on all of us in Region 1 and NAFA. It is really sad our sport has come to this....

Russ said...

My dog raced on team B for a couple of years. I enjoyed racing team A because it brought out the best in our dogs. We did pretty well and enjoyed success. I still get to race against team A(and now team B), and did so on the weekend in question. The offending dog(s?) crossed on us a couple of times as well. It's hard enough keeping track of 3 other dogs and handlers, let alone dogs I don't know. On one ocassion, when we were unable to rerun a dog because of it, the judge called interference, and a member of team A, who's in a leadership position with the sanctioning body, loudly expressed his displeasure with the call, saying that they had already beat us, and it didn't matter.

I'm not sure what's considered double handling, and what isn't, but have said since the first time I saw team A do it, that the sole purpose of the person at the start/finish line is to block the dog from crossing into the opposing teams runback area. If it was to build speed the person would be running as soon as the dog hits the box, not when it's halfway back. The dog ends up catching the person at about the 10' mark.

I wish I knew what the purpose of rushing these dogs into competition was(I'm guessing a record). I used to respect how they raced, and didn't really care about the interpersonal conflicts that others had with some of their members.

What I really like to know is how this rule came to be: section 3, C. it's says they can have helpers but that they can't in any way assist the dogs in navigating the course. i believe they then defined the 'course' as the area from the start/finish line to the box, and this assists the dog from the start/finish line in the opposite direction. ok, I'm done rambling.

Glenn said...


The "navigating the course" change came into effect recently when a clearer definition of training in the ring was sought. Complaints had been made that teams were using people as props in the start up lane either as fixed posts/pylons or actively steering dogs with legs/knees/what have you, ie., training.

The "course" is defined as the 4 hurdles and the box but appears to exclude the run-off area. By assisting in the re-run, that extra recalling handler action doesn't count as assisting in navigating the course. On the face of it, the extra handler meets the criteria of the revised rule.

The problem occurs when the extra handler is not available for whatever reason and the dog returns out of control and resorts to the unwanted action and intrudes on the other team's space chasing their dogs. That action is interference at best and aggression at the worst.

Hope this helps explain a possible reason for the extra handler.

Ruth said...

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."


Anonymous said...

Now I see why U-FLI was started. I hear in Australia if a dog crosses over the center line anywhere either in the racing lane or the run back they get bounced from the tournament. Probably is a good idea since it would eliminate all the CRAP that is going on here. It's a shame that two good teams with good people have reduced themselves to the Little Leagues.

Russ said...

"It's a shame that two good teams with good people have reduced themselves to the Little Leagues." team chose to go there,and the other got dragged into it.......

Anonymous said...

You know you guys give no credit to the board we have elected. We have a judge, and another a state supreme court justice that sit on the disciplinary committee. Leerie is the chair and from my experiences he is willing to give 110% to NAFA. I have no doubt that Dana as I know her personally, would ever sacrifice her ethics to give anyone an upperhand! She is just not like that.

I dont beleive for a second that they would allow "interested parties" to be a part of the committee. Thats a no brainer and we should really be putting more faith in to our system!!

If there is a hearing and there are board members that are "interested parties," they
would be completely excluded from the entire process. From the moment a complaint were filed, through a hearing, if it came to that. It's only fair and is a no-brainer!

This is a disagreement between Team A ans Team B and we have never heard a peep from Team A and we dont even know what the "actual complaint was" Obviously we have heard some of the events leading up to the "incident" but we dont have any idea what the actual complaint and reasons for the complaints are. I dont think Lee would allow Team A to file a unsubstanitated complaint , knowing that this whole thing would blow up. Clearly there are is info out there that we dont know. There are alway two sides to every story.

Whatever the outcome, I have faith that the board will take the appropriate steps to handle this situation.

Linda said...

So, this alleged incident occurred in November and it is now February...that is 3 months; and now another 2 months will have to pass before the hearing takes place to settle the issue...combined, that is 5 months of unnecessary tension, aggravation and needless upheaval in the flyball community.

The title of this post is 'drama' which brings along another facet to the issue. Lisa, I like the post but I don’t like the title. The word drama to some folks leads them in a different direction and in my opinion skews the seriousness of this concern. The flyball community should definitely be told about this issue because we are all in this sport together no matter where we live and play flyball. However, the word drama adds an unnecessary emotional backdrop and I believe emotions need to be removed from this issue. The flyball community needs to be told the facts.

To the falsely accused this entire situation has already caused and will continue to cause harm and upheaval in their life for 5 months...count them...5 months! This is completely uncalled for and I believe NAFA leadership needs to do something now to stop it. There are hundreds of accounts and/or supporters of the innocent who have stated the obvious and yet NAFA leadership is continuing down this path. To what end? I think we all know who and why and yet we are dancing around the truth.

Dragging an innocent person through the ringer for 5 months is not only poor judgment, but displays abhorrent character. Why are all of us waiting for the April BoD meeting and why don’t we make NAFA stop this ridiculousness immediately?!


Anonymous said...

What do you suggest we do to stop them Linda?

Anonymous said...

There's things that you DON'T know about the Board we have elected. You DON'T KNOW what it is you don't know. There are people who DO know that have not been ALLOWED to reveal what they know.

One of the "things" you don't know: One of the "complainants" IS on the Disciplinary Committee. He is an ACCUSER and our Rules for a "Hearing" (there is a hearing scheduled, NO "IF") only exclude someone from the committee if they are a defendant. While I agree that sitting on the Disciplinary committee and also "pursuing" your own complaint through that committee should be a "no brainer" conflict of interest, the deliberations will be held in Executive Session and unless this person is also sent out into the hall with the defense witnesses, we will NEVER know if this person exercised a vote deciding the matter. Personally, I don't think they should even be included in committee "discussions" on any of it. We also already know that the DC member who is also an accuser was affirmed at the Feb 8 teleconference. NOTHING in our rules excludes this person from the DC "pre-hearing". This person has been a part of the process all along.

This is NOT just a "disagreement". These are Ethics charges that have serious consequences in our sport and as some people have pointed out, serious "real-life" career consequences as well. You don't know what the complaint was/is because you weren't there but, there are other commentators that were there and have read the complaint. Don't say "we" when you only mean YOU cuz YOU don't know!

What I am wondering is this: When the hearing is over, is the NAFA community going to learn the FACTS about this case (Who, what, when, where, & WHY?)...or, is it going to be swept under the rug so that NAFA insiders with very POOR judgment will still continue leading NAFA?

There are two sides to every story...sometimes more than two. Each "side" in this case has the same desire: That the NAFA Board will take appropriate action. Just remember, this means different things to different people. There are a substantial number of people who have gone before the veteran members of this Board with GREAT FAITH only to have that shattered when the Board sided with persons who held "influence". There are events that have not been allowed to become "public knowledge". I think what will "damage" NAFA is that these folks are going to start talking about what they know and stop protecting certain NAFA "individuals".

Anonymous said...

Why aren't those who are aware of the facts/complaint 'allowed' to say anything about it? Is there some sort of gag order about pending matters in the rules? If you have read the complaint, why don't you shed some light of what it is actually about? Not being antagonistic here, just asking.

Anonymous said...

Potential eyewitnesses have been advised by a professional not to say anything public. Its not about our "rules". It's about an effective defense and fairness to all parties.

That should be 'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

too bad it took this long to exercise some discretion. to the ones squawking about NAFA defaming someone's character, think again. NAFA communicated only with the person against whom charges were filed. the only inclusion of third parties, and subsequent "ruining of someone's good name" came after that, when the "falsely accused" shared the info.

Linda said...

I disagree completely with 'anonymous' above who says too bad it took so long for discretion. There have been way too many times gravely important issues have been swept under the run or discussed and handled under the table rather than on the table and in front of impartial participants in flyball. There have been way too many accusations and twisting of the truth and wrongly accused and skewed perceptions of who is the bad guy in given situations. This issue needed to be brought into the public flyball community and discussed so that innocent people might have a chance to defend themselves and for others to see what actually happens.


Anonymous said...

Throw me under the bus for this one... The people that were there and actually witnessed what happened know the situation... or they know what they choose to believe.... this has turned into a lot of he said she said and its really unfair to blame NAFA for being corrupt over a decision that hasn't even been made yet! Because they don't air the dirty laundry on the DC to the public Joe Shmoe off the street would have never known what was going on or had these false ideas about NAFA planted in there head if it wasn't planted on facebook by the "accused" party. If you believe you were accused falsely why do you need to make a "support so and so group" on facebook, you shouldn't need other people who weren't there to say, i support you and i will sign a petition or what have you even if i only know the story you told me. Come on now! We are all adults, why does this have to turn into, who did what and who said what high school nonsense. I am personally convinced that there is more to the story.

Honestly both clubs are in the wrong in my opinion. If club A had a problem in November it should have been addressed then and not 5 months later. IF it is about the dog crossing, that is a training issue, don't blame others for protecting there dogs. Club B, there was NO need to create such a public uproar! You know who was at that tournament that may have seen what happened on the floor or in the crating area and you could have gone to them directly, the way you put it out there is an epic fail!

There is nothing any of us can do about it now, whether you support them or not is your own deal but there is always 2 sides.

Okay i'm ready for people to attack now but i'm just so SICK of this blame NAFA blame NAFA nothing has happened yet! Be mad at the people YOU elected after they made a decsioin you don't like!

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

At least you'll go under the bus anonymously. ;)

I do agree with you that it's premature to blame NAFA for any wrongdoing.

I would just urge NAFA to be really transparent with this one. The 2011 Disciplinary Committee consists of 4 people -- one is one of the accusers (his dog was involved), and two have dogs from Spring Loaded breedings and are quite friendly with that club. I am NOT accusing them of anything. I know everybody on the committee and believe that they are fair people. But I am saying that NAFA needs to be really careful here, and make sure they do everything by the book.

I don't blame Club B at all for getting loud and public -- when you feel you are being falsely accused and quietly railroaded (whether you really are being railroaded or just think you are), going public is the best way to make sure both sides of the story are heard.

(PS, a couple of the comments got caught up in Blogger's spam folder, sorry about that. I'll check more often for those!)

Anonymous said...

Well said "Throw me under the bus". I am also tired of hearing that NAFA is making bad decisions. And you are so correct in that nothing has been even decided as of yet. We dont know the whole story IMO. Disciplinary isses are closed door so unless the "parties involved" say what happened we wont know what happens publically. And really I have full faith that our BOD will make the correct decision. People keep bringing up the horrible things people did in the past, but seriously move on we have a great board now and I think people give way to much credit for this "secret cheating society" that you think exists. Seriously!

Russ said...

Since I set up the facebook 'Support' group, I'll respond. I did so to lend support to a friend and team mate. I did so on my own, and without the knowledge of the accused. It simply states that I have never seen the accused take action against a dog that would be considered abusive or injurious. It gives others who know the accused an oppotunity to support that indvidual, and have it presented en masse.

I'm expecting the committee to make a fair and infomed decision, but I'm expecting it to do so with only 3 members, due to a conflict of interest with it's 4th member. Anything less than that would be truly disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the board has done everything by the book according to the minutes just out...

"Lee recused himself from the discussion and left the room.
Leerie moved we enter Executive Session to discuss Disciplinary Charge #2011-1.
The Board entered Executive Session at 2:25 p.m.
The Board exited Executive Session at 3:00 p.m. In Executive Session the Board determined that the alleged misconduct, if proven true, would be prejudicial to the sport and that it occurred at or in connection with a NAFA sanctioned event. A hearing will be scheduled at the next meeting with notification to the accused.
Lee Heighton re-joined the meeting."

Greg wasnt at the meeting so it looks as if things are being handled properly so far!

Lisa Pignetti Murnan said...

Yep, i just read that, too. Two thumbs up!

Linda said...

Having blind faith in others to make the right decisions is not always possible. Some questions I believe everyone can ask themselves are why did some folks believe this situation needed to become public rather than kept behind closed doors, why some people believe NAFA needs to be transparent and really careful with this specific situation and why some might feel there have been false accusations or that the accused might be quietly railroaded.

In looking at recent events over the past couple of years, perhaps patterns of behavior by some in leadership have become apparent and resulted in these specific concerns.


Anonymous said...

Curious to know;
1) How often has this charged been made in NAFA history?
2) A pre hearing consists of a 30 minute discussion? No talking/background to both sides and/or judges present?

Anonymous said...

I truly understand both sides...we are passionate about the sport and emotional about our dogs. We form close friendship with the people on our team and with those we relate too on other teams.
Let's have a little faith in our leadership..they may be able to reach a decision that will satisfy everyone.

d roberts

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell from the rule book, the 'pre-hearing' isn't about if the alleged act is true or not, only that if it WERE proven true, would it be 'prejudicial to the sport' and if it occurred at a NAFA sanctioned event. At least that is the way I interpreted it. I could be completely wrong.

Anonymous said...


is this the same Team A vs Team B too?

Anonymous said...


is this the same Team A vs Team B too?

Funny you should ask. YES...and an "illegal team shall keep its wins." ....according to NAFA Rules.

Anonymous said...

Did the kept Wins affect Regional Points and Standings?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Team A's dog that crossed over in the run back the same dog that was double handled when they won at Can Am? (Forgive me if I'm wrong but I don't believe that's fair/appropriate racing especially of their status)

Anonymous said...

I would absolutely block a dog that crossed over in the run back at my dog. I've trained too long and too hard for my dog to be put in a situation that I could do my best to stop. This is about irresponsible training IMHO. Train your dog properly or don't race them until they are ready. Bottom line. Mistakes happen, sure, but sounds like this isn't a mistake, but a dog that is not yet ready to race. I'm betting the dog is fast and they are greedy for wanting to race it prematurely. Not fair to the dog or the other competitors. Have some respect people!

Anonymous said...

when my son was in minor hockey kids would get hurt when the ref didn't make the hard but fair calls.

why didn't the judge give the team with the cross over in the run back green dog a heads up that if the dog wasn't running back to the handler/tug then the dog wasn't ready to play the game? Nothing mean just a quiet little chat?

Also the team that is having to tolerate the cross over dog the Captain should talk to the judge.

My point is a Judge needs to keep control of their ring in a nice, firm, fair way without being over the top about it.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have any video posted that shows what this team does (handlers and dogs)? If a picture is worth a thousand would speak volumes....

....I thought people commented during the CanAM 2010 LiveStream about this team with all the extra handling.....but no video was saved?

Also, does anybody have more information about a tournament that one judge allowed the double handling who happen to be from that same club but another judge (MJ) who is not on that club did not allow it (all the extra handlers and props in the run back area)?

And when the judge that did not allow it, that team got upset and called Dana N.(BoD member)during racing to please inform the judge that is was OK what that team was doing?

leerie said...

Anonymous said...

That is not the video. SL was in the left lane and AH was running with the dog in the run back. I believe they were running against RR. But that video is not the one that was removed when comments were made about the double handling etc.

leerie said...

I was just posting a video that shows the additional runner and what it looks like. I thought this is the process being questioned.

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is not about the right or wrong of double handling, this happened in region 1 where what rules get enforced and/or clarifed go pretty much as Team A's feels the need. This is about charging a person with a reprehensible act, a room full of people watching say it didn't happen, the judge said it didn't happen, the alternate judge said it didn't happen. Yet still the charges. That should say something about the NAFA process of charging teams and/or persons with offenses. Got $100? Mad at somebody? Go ahead....

Anonymous said...

I was at the tournament where the judge (MJ) did not allow the props in the ring. Props being 2 mattresses held by 2 people in the run back area between the 2 racing teams. A call was made shortly after to Dana N (BoD) who tried to explain to the judge that it was ok for team A to do this blocking technique. The judge still stood her ground and did not allow it. The result was that Team A handler ended up running out of the building to get the dog to follow him and had teammates blocking him from coming back in to cross to the other teams lane.

The bottom line is that there is still team B waiting for a trial all because team A can not keep their dogs in their own lane. Even if the head judge, relief judge, TD, other teams, etc. say that the only thing that happened was one person trying to protect 2 dogs from injury. Charges should be dropped by NAFA board and encouragement should be made to Team A to try to put safety first and run the dogs when ready.

Anonymous said...

If that is the case that Team A does all this crap.....and Team A has two BoD members....maybe it's time that Team A be put on Probation for conduct prejudicial to the sport of NAFA Flyball. They are using their BoD powers unfairly!

Maybe it's time to change the By-Laws to add a RECALL option.

Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed that a member of the NAFA Board who is also a member of the disciplinary committee would comment on this blog and point to evidence on an issue that may be brought up in executive session.

this is why people do not feel this board will try this fairly.

leerie said...

I posted a video someone asked about, regarding "double handling" (whatever that means). I have certainly NOT commented about any alleged hearing or disciplinary matters.

Anonymous said...

One major factor that has not been mentioned here is alcohol. Team A once they set their "best time" broke out shirts that read: We Play Hard and Party Even Harder. They had to live up to their "NEW" slogan. I understand they were told to take their alcoholic beverages out of the ring and building as it is not allowed at this venue. This impaired Team A's judgement. The RD had to physically restrain and pull off a Team A member who is also a BoD from continuing this fight in the crating area, this altercation was also started by Team A. One question after witnessing this why didn't the RD put team A on notice or excuse them for breaching the code of ethic's? It's their duty, and perhaps would have stopped these charges. Why didn't the RD protect Team B and the Rest of the Region?

Anonymous said...

I share the concern that a member of the Board and the Disciplinary Chair is even READING the comments on this blog.

When you are reading all the criticism of the BoD and details of what happened at this tournament and other tournaments that show a pattern of disregard for public safety, how can you NOT form an opinion that predisposes you to "bias"? There is a reason that real judges sequester juries from listening or watching or reading the "news".

The Board will be acting in the capacity of a Jury at this hearing and the Chairman will be an "acting" Judge. People have been questioning all along whether or not the Board can render a fair verdict.

Knowing the CoB is reading this blog/comments is reason to stay concerned.

Anonymous said...

hey, i have an idea! lets elect a board of directors, not pay them, disrespect them, question their integrity, publicly insult them, and also lock up in a room away from anyone and anything so they surely could not be influenced in any way. while we're at it, lets make them work 40 hours a week for NAFA to keep our organization running. oh wait, lots of them already do!
you people are being reactive idiots.
if you hate this board, RUN FOR THE BOARD and actually get yourself elected. oh did you try that already? how'd it work out for you?
and you hate NAFA so much, GO PLAY U-FLI! no one will miss you!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad it is being read by BOD, worried hearing can be steered a bit towards one side. Don't know that many BOD actually play a lot of flyball with both teams so that they would know how each team plays, their sportmanship and their integrity in general over a period of years. If you only know what you see at Can Am and/or in meetings, would be human nature & expected to find it all hard to believe. Region 1 has gotten much smaller lately, you really get to know the teams your running with over the years.
No matter the outcome, my region is already suffering. Could be the end of NAFA flyball for awhile in this area. Very ironic.

Anonymous said...

let's also look at some numbers....did you know that one of the BoD members was paid over 9k last year.

Before they became a BoD member that position was paid on average 2,500 per year not 9,500. Did they vote themself a raise....I wonder......

Anonymous said...

What has actually happened and going forward is being hi-jacked to bring up all the other specific pet peeves or issues with NAFA. Maybe there are things like the above or double handling, or whatever someone may not like that need to be addressed at some point....BUT A person/team is currently being charged with something riduculous for whatever reason. If it was you being charged, don't think you'd want to change the focus to BOD monies. Or maybe that's the secret plan of Team A. Take all the attention away what is actually happening, so that the charges can just keep going on quietly.
Why isn't there more of a pre-hearing process?
How is the hearing conducted? Its private as clearly stated on, will the accused have every opportunity to defend themselves? Who decides what they get to present?
Who will be the deciding BOD persons?

barbara said...

While I appreciate the ease with which anyone can comment pro or con about this subject, I am always annoyed when people take the easy way out and refuse to sign their posts in ANY way...
If you don't create a google *account* that recognizes YOU, you certainly put your name and identity in the bottom of the message... like THIS !!

barbara craig
Florida Flash

Anonymous said...

As my region suffers the consequences of this mess, I personally cannot see how we can recover from this one. We were torn before but this has really drawn a line.
What most don't realize is that this issue with the crossing dogs from Team A has caused several dogs to shut down completely at tournaments in our Region, is that fair?
This issue with the crossing dogs from Team A has put several judges in a position where their calls are challenged and they are forced to take a phone call from a NAFA rep to have a rule re-interpetted to them, is that fair?
This issue with the crossing dogs from Team A has caused several loud public verbal altercations at our tournaments (even by a current BOD member) that we are all subjected to, including our children, is that fair?
This issue with the crossing dogs has cast a new light on a team in our region that once was well respected and one that we all looked up to. Not the case anymore, infact the term "Lead by Example" has left the building with the owner & handler & runner(s) of the crossing dog.
Those of us from Region 1 that complain about the abuse our Region and our Teams are being subjected to keep getting the same advice "If you don't like it, go play (insert any non-Nafa org name here)", is that fair?
Much like the defendent/victim in this diciplinary case from Team B, we are not giving up in our hopes for a fair chance to continue to enjoy NAFA flyball in Region 1.


Anonymous said...

"I have certainly NOT commented about any alleged hearing or disciplinary matters." Alleged hearing? I know i'll be at the alleged hearing!!!
March 25, 2011 - A working agenda for the April 16-17, 2011 NAFA BOD meeting has been posted. The board meeting will be held at Marriott Detroit Metro Airport, 30559 Flynn Road, Romulus, Michigan 48174. The meeting is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
Please note that the first item on the agenda is a disciplinary hearing which is closed to the public pursuant to Section 5.4. The meeting will be open to the public at the conclusion of that agenda item. The meeting is currently scheduled to be held over two days and is expected to conclude early Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

scenes from the Future NAFA Board Meeting

Kim said...

Well said Shannon!

leerie said...

Sorry, I meant hearing or alleged disciplinary matter.

Anonymous said...

Shannon I love what you said!

I'm in Region 1 and I'm new to flyball (less than 8 months). I was at this tourney and saw what happened. I don't feel I have a bias towards a particular team since I don't really know many people.

I agree with your comment about dogs shutting down when things like that happen. Actually this whole altercation made my dog shut down for the weekend. He is very sensitive to angry voices, angry yelling...needless to say I was upset that our weekend was ruined. I was embrassed for the people involved and just found alot of it in poor taste.

My dog started crossing at a tournament and the second time he did it he was done for the day. He didn't do it the next day but to me its not fair to my teammates or the team we are running against! I would never want my dog to pose a risk to anyone, or himself for that matter!

I do hope that things are decided fairly and I know neither team, or have even met anyone on those teams but I have to side with Team A. I hope for the best outcome possible and will continue to partcipate in NAFA events and hope the board gives everyone their chance to speak and defend themselves.

Maria T.

Anonymous said...


After reading yiour comment I think you meant to say that you would have to side with Team B. Team A is the one whose dogs crossed.

Anonymous said...

>angry voices, angry yelling<

Team A is also the ones who started the fight in the crating area which required the RD to physically restrain them.

I'm so sorry that your weekend was ruined. Really, flyball isn't like that 99.99% of the time its really a lot of fun.

It wasn't fair that the whole Region was subjected to this kind of behavior and I am embarrassed that you had to witness that as a new person to flyball. I hope that you chalk this up to something highly unusual and continue to participate.

Thumbs up to Shannon and DITTO! I hope the Board comes to a fair and reasonable decision!

Anonymous said...

Opps! Sorry guys-glad you know what I meant! That's what I get for staying up too late looking at flyball stuff! :)

Oh and I agree I don't see this as a norm at all- I enjoy playing with my dog, he has fun and I have fun. I meet new people and he meets new people!

Maria T.

Anonymous said...

This will be my first and only post.

It used to be more fun when we could settle our differences on the go-cart track on Saturday nights in Ionia after flyball racing was done for the day.

I have two punches left on my ticket, whose in?

Mark - Ballistics

Anonymous said...

Please read the following findings from the 4/16/11 Disciplinary Action hearing.

From the Home Page of NAFA.ORG

Why did the BoD feel that this had to be on the home page of the website? Has this ever been done before on disciplinary actions? it was sent the night of the meeting to NAFANEWS NAFA becoming a reality tv show/ FOX news

......say turned for more late breaking events.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight... when the BoD doesn't communicate, they get slammed for being a secretive conspiracy out to destroy flyball. When they do communicate, they get slammed for how they do it, when they do it, or some other sinister motive behind the whole thing?

Wow. I wouldn't be saying much in their shoes either.

Russ said...

It's not slamming them for communicating, it's what was communicated. The policies and procedures state:
"(c) After the committee makes its decision, the Chairperson shall;
(i) if possible, immediately notify the accused of the committee's decision and any
discipline taken;
(ii) notify the accused, in writing, by registered or certified mail, of the committee's
decision and any discipline taken, and;
(iii) prepare a complete report of the proceedings for the records and send a duplicate
copy of the report to the accused"

It does not state that the decision will be made public. Please don't counter with section 5.8. It would be a very week argument.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who were not there on Saturday you don't know what went on. You didn't have to sit there for hours watching friends get questioned by the board like they were on trial just for defending the accused. You are not aware of the countless number of statements for the accused stating that she only tried to prevent the crossing dog from hitting hers. You did not talk to or hear from the judges that stated nothing happened except the dogs crossed and chased another teams dog. You were not there to see only a handful of people that said something did happen, and of those most said the dog was never touched. You have not seen what this has put the person and her family through for the last several months.

So I do understand why some people are upset that the news was out to the flyball public faster than most peoples drive home that night. This should have never happened and for a reprimand to be given was good reason to get upset. Why this was done I will never understand. I have not played flyball long and at this rate I won't

Linda said...

The BoD should have also explained to the flyball community how they arrived at their decision and what the inappropriate correction was specifically. The published outcome is inadequate and incomplete and as such it is contributing to the issue continuing to be unresolved and not over yet.

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