Highlights from the NAFA Virtual AGM

Steve Corona

Highlights from the Virtual AGM held on Saturday, January 16, 2021 are posted below.

Flyball stats from 2020 season:
It was certainly not an ideal flyball year, having only raced for 7.5 months across NAFA. However, here are some stats from the past year:
● 104 events hosted
● 29 different states/provinces hosted events (35 in previous years)
● 2422 teams that raced across 242 clubs (288 in 2019)
● 356 new iron dog titles
● 1138 dogs earned titles
● 121 different breeds earned points

CanAm Update:
NAFA is forging ahead with plans for CanAm 2021. We are all very hopeful that life is completely back to normal by then and that many of you are excited to attend this fall.
We will be sending out a brief survey to club owners to gauge attendance and help us plan for the event.

Exciting updates from AKC TV and ESPN. I know there was an announcement a month or so ago that created some confusion. To be abundantly clear, the event you saw posted by EPSN/AKC was in fact NAFA’s CanAm event. The naming on that announcement was simply an error on EPSN’s behalf which will be corrected.
● AKC TV: We will be working with AKC TV throughout the year and plan to have a few regular NAFA events livestreamed on their site. They are also planning to livestream the CanAm racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
● ESPN: We are excited to say that after the huge success of the ESPN Dog Days event last year, ESPN will be filming the NAFA Championship Races at CanAm on Sunday for broadcast a couple days later.

There are many logistics to finalize, but this is a great opportunity to showcase NAFA Flyball!

NAFA Tournament Re-opening Plans:
NAFA will open for flyball tournaments on April 1, 2021.
Right now, we are well aware that COVID conditions vary wildly across the Canadian Provinces and US States. In that regard we plan to have “Transitional” Flyball in effect for a number of months.

Phase 1: Transitional Flyball Period
This will allow clubs and teams the ability to play, based on local laws and regulations, perhaps in a limited fashion. We will be publishing a set of requirements and recommendations in the next couple of weeks for host clubs and tournament participants to follow during this transitional phase.

During Phase 1:
● There will be no Regional or NAFA Championships at stake.
● We will remove the need for line and box judges. This removes 4 people from the ring, providing better social distancing and safety.
● The addition of a 7th dog slot on the C.2 form for warm-ups ONLY. Some people have expressed concern about introducing new dogs to flyball, and in some cases they have a number of young dogs that have not been allowed to become acclimated to the tournament environment. To help in that transition we will be allowing a 7th dog to be listed on the C.2 timesheet with a valid CRN. This slot is ONLY for a warmup dog, and it cannot run in a heat. We welcome your feedback on this during Phase 1 as we may consider adding this 7th slot, and even allowing them to race, once we return to normal racing. This would require some scoring and database rework; therefore, we will see how it is received before making a final decision.

Phase 2: Normal Flyball
● Once restrictions on large gatherings are lifted in all regions, the US/Canada border is open and the vaccine is available to everyone we will move into Phase 2 Normal Flyball. We are hopeful that this will be October 1, 2021.
● When we enter Phase 2, all normal rules of racing will return.
● Bonus Points - To try and mitigate all the lost flyball and dog points, when we enter Phase 2 Normal Flyball and for a period of 12 months, the same amount of time we lost to COVID, dogs will accrue double the dog points per each heat. For example, instead of 1, 5 or 25 points based on team time the points awarded will be 2, 10 or 50 points based on team time. Bonus points for first place will still be awarded.

Iron Dog Exception:
We are extending the exception that any eligible dog that didn’t get to compete because of COVID will get credit towards their iron dog title for the 2021 season. Note, this won’t appear in the database until the beginning of the 2022 season.

While many of our plans to demo a new device were derailed in 2020, we took the opportunity to task a Special Measuring Committee to evaluate and make recommendations to the NAFA BoD on the current processes and rules around measuring. We are excited to report the following changes that the committee recommended and that have been accepted and approved by the NAFA BoD.
● New measuring device consisting of a standard self-leveling laser (typically used in construction) used with a NAFA designed ruler. This device will continue to measure a dog at the withers. This device has been extremely well received and is safe!
● We are encouraging handlers to measure their dogs on a table (typically a grooming table) but note, this is strictly the handler’s choice to measure on the floor or a table. This has a number of advantages, in particular the judge doesn’t need to be on their knees leaning over the dog. Even dogs who experienced issues in the past with the wicket have done well with the new device while being measured on a table.
● See the NAFA website for a brief video demonstrating and further describing this device.
● Devices will be sent to all RDs as soon as possible.
● Create measuring training videos with new measuring device for competitors, judges and regional directors.
● Implement a measuring certification program with the new measuring device for all judges.
● Regional Directors will be trained and play a larger role in measuring, working as a team with judges to minimize conflict of interest concerns.
● Mandatory Measuring will be implemented.
● Prior to the age of two (2) years, a dog only needs to be measured once giving them a Temporary Measurement. Handlers may opt to measure more frequently for practice before the age of two.
● After the age of two (2) years, dogs whose height will determine the jump heights for the team, are required to measure until they have a Permanent Measurement.
● A Permanent Measurement is obtained with 2 matching measurements from 2 different judges. A Permanent Measurement is good for the life of the dog - they will never have to measure again.
● Dogs over ten (10) years of age at the time Mandatory Measuring goes into effect are exempt from measuring.
● The Certified Measuring Judge position/program is being eliminated. All judges will be trained and certified to measure for Permanent Measurements.
● Challenges from competitors and judges are being eliminated.
● Implement a one-time Owner-Initiated Remeasure process.
● If the dog has a Permanent Measurement, they will not need to re-measure in the case of a world record heat. All other requirements set forth in the rulebook for validation of a world record, including video verification, will still be necessary.

New Measuring Rollout Timeline:
We understand that this will take some time for training and practice. Therefore, we have a roll-out plan that allows for plenty of time for this adjustment. There is an infographic on the NAFA website that outlines this rollout timeline.
● Phase 1: April 1st, 2021
● Judges will be trained and become certified on using the new device and measuring
● Competitors are welcome to measure their dogs on the new device. They do not need to be “official” measurements for the purposes of racing.
● During this phase the wicket is still the official measuring device and all current rules are still in effect.
● Phase 2: Normal Racing Resumes (exact date to be determined but we are hopeful this can begin October 1, 2021
● 12-month training period starts before mandatory measuring takes effect
● The laser level and ruler take over as the official measuring device.
● Competitors are encouraged to try the device, and practice measuring as much as they choose.
● Measuring is not yet mandatory however the Permanent Measurement can be obtained from a judge certified on the device.
● Phase 3: End of Training Period, Mandatory Measuring in Effect (exact date to be determined but we are hopeful this will be October 1, 2022)
● Mandatory measuring will be in effect and dogs running as height dogs will be required to measure until they obtain their Permanent Measurement.
● Dogs over the age of 10 years of age at the beginning of the mandatory measurement period are exempt from measuring. However, if they run a height that is clearly not accurate as a height dog, they could be subject to unsportsmanlike charges.

The board has agreed on the high-level concepts for this new measuring program and is working on finalizing the details and specific wording for the 2022 rulebook. We plan to publish the details around this new measuring program prior to April 1, 2021.

Thank you,
Neil Flood - Executive Director
North American Flyball Association