Some dogs living in Sun City have learned to fly thanks to Deb Blum.
Blum drives to Goodyear every morning to work at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center, sometimes not coming home from her job as medical staff coordinator until after 11 p.m.
But even following a long day, at least 30 minutes a night are spent training her dogs to soar through the air with speed and agility.
Blum and her dogs are competitors in the North American Flyball Association, a sport that judges speed and perfection on a 51-foot-long course where dog relay teams jump over hurdles, make turns and catch tennis balls.
“In 2007, I saw flyball at Cynosports, and I was mesmerized by these dogs that would compete in a relay and come back to their owners without leashes,” Blum said. “You could tell they were racing to win, and I said ‘I have to do this!’”
A year later, Blum received a call from the Arizona team Heat Wave offering a spot to her Cairn terrier Samee.
“From the start, I thought Samee would be great at flyball because he’s smart and obedient, but at his first practice I realized, he couldn’t do this,” Blum said.
Samee was a barker and easily distracted, so Blum spent the next 2½ years training Samee to fly as well as his teammates.
“I’m very competitive, and when I say I’m going to give 100 percent, I do,” she said. “I wasn’t going to give up until we won.”
Every evening and Sunday morning was devoted to working with Samee, and in April 2011 their years of effort were rewarded when Samee earned his first title.
“Over a two-day tournament, Samee finally won a flyball title and was listed as number 45 in the nation on the NAFA website,” Blum said. “It was exhilarating!”
Since Samee’s victory, Blum has adopted two puppies in hopes of future flyball wins.
“It’s not easy, and you have to be dedicated for both you and your dogs.”