Skip to main content

Thunder Paws provides haven for flyball enthusiasts

Nov 29, 2016 03:53PM ● Published by Travis Barton

Bandit, a Jack Russell terrier, leaps off the springboard during practice. Thunder Paws competes in competitions in Las Vegas and Hurricane. (Nikelle Perkins/Thunder Paws)

Gallery: Thunder Paws [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com


Flyball is a dog sport and Thunder Paws, a local club, is aiming to take flyball by a storm. 

The sport sees teams of four dogs compete in a relay race. Dogs jump over four hurdles to a spring-loaded pad where the dog releases a tennis ball for them to catch and return over the hurdles to their handlers. 

“I just love working with the dogs. You become close to the dogs, you feel their passion,” said Jenny Woods, president of Thunder Paws. 

Thunder Paws holds practices every Sunday at various parks. The location generally rotates between Midvale City Park, Bluffdale Park in Riverton, Browns Meadow Park in West Jordan and at one of the member’s houses in Herriman. During the winter the club utilizes space in the Intermountain Therapy Animals building in Holladay for practice. The team also goes to competitions in places like Hurricane and Las Vegas. 

Dianne Roberg is the Thunder Paws vice president and has been involved with flyball since 1998. She said they discovered it at a National Guard event before the club’s founder, Lori Thomson, eventually started Thunder Paws. 

“We just started it as something fun for us and our dogs,” said Geri Rich, whose participation also began in 1998. 

The club was officially put together as a nonprofit about five years ago with Woods becoming the president. Woods initially got involved in the sport due to a rambunctious blue heeler named Ralph. 

“(Ralph) was a fruitcake, a nut job and drove us crazy. He wouldn’t settle in the house and I thought, ‘this dog needs a job,’” Woods said. Members said the sport is great for canines with a high drive and boundless energy.

“It gives the dogs something to do,” Rich, who’s had four dogs participate, said. “You get these high-bred dogs where they have to have something to do or they get destructive. To them it’s like a job and they thrive doing it.”

Woods said the sport can go against typical obedience training, but it is useful for herding breeds. 

“(Normally with obedience) you’re all about keeping them quiet and mellow and calm. Here we’re building up their energy, then they’re tired at the end of the day,” Woods said. 

Nicky Perkins is new to flyball with her Australian shepherd, Callie. She said Callie fell in love with the sport the first time she did it. 

“Running and balls is perfect for her; it’s everything her world revolves around,” Perkins said. 

A bond is forged through the sport between owner and dog. Woods said flyball helped her develop a stronger relationship with Ralph. 

“It’s with dogs that will drive you crazy, but it unites you so you learn to really love your dog. That’s how it was with Ralph, but by getting into this I learned to love him,” Woods said. 

It’s not only herding breeds or dogs with high energy that participate in the sport. One dog, Apache, is deaf and does the sport by seeing hand signals from his handler. Poodles, dachshunds and Shar-Peis have participated with the Thunder Paws. Perkins said it doesn’t matter if it’s a purebred, rescue, tiny or big dog. Any kind can do it, even breeds typically known as lap dogs.  

“If I can teach my little Chihuahua to do it, any dog can. It just depends on your dedication,” Woods said. Woods has four of her five dogs playing flyball. 

Woods said the experience can be a really good way to bring rescue dogs out of their shells. It helps them build confidence and get used to random people. Dogs are kept in kennels when not participating to avoid disruptions. 

“It’s a good way of getting dogs to socialize with each other without forcing them all to be together,” Woods said. She added that it doesn’t require dogs to be super obedient, but it does help if they have a good recall or if the dog comes when called. 

Originally invented in the early 1970s in Southern California, flyball became official when the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was established in 1984 with its first official rule book written in 1985. Thirty-one years later, there are more than 400 active clubs and 6,500 competing dogs. 

Thunder Paws has about 15 members with about 30 dogs. It’s that team spirit that Woods appreciates. 

“I like that it’s a team event rather than just you and your dog. I like the team camaraderie with everyone,” Woods said. Sunday afternoon practices can serve as a dog community with the animals and their owners. 

“It’s fun to do with my friends and make new friends and seeing all the dogs,” Perkins said. 

Woods said people are always welcome to come watch and they’ll even work with anybody’s dog for three free sessions. In order to maintain equipment, which includes hurdles, gates and springboards, the club has a yearly fee of $75. 

“Come out and watch, see what your dog loves to do. If they love balls or if they love to run or tug, you can come see if you like it,” Perkins said. 

To learn more, go to thunderpawsflyball.com. 

Sports Thunder Paws Flyball
  • Get into the River Festival

    09/22/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/22/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/23/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Garden Adventures - Migration Station

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Did you know the Great Salt Lake is a huge stopover station for migrating birds? Animals have to ...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Day for Kids

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Join your local Boys & Girls Clubs of Day for Kids - a celebration for kids... and kids at heart!...


  • Oktoberfest

    09/23/2017
    03:00PM — 09:00PM

    September 23, 2017 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Sandy, Utah's very own, Grace Lutheran School i...


  • Bumble Bee Bash

    09/23/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Imagine What You Can Beecome! Saturday, September 23 | 5 - 8 pm Adults: $35 | Children: $20 | ...


  • Community Square Dance

    09/23/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us for a Community Square Dance Party with the Rocketeers! We're a Square Dance Club that's ...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/24/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/25/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/25/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/20/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/20/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/21/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Aging Mastery Program

    09/21/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Join the ten-week health and wellness program, Aging Mastery at Millcreek Senior Center. The clas...


  • Doctors Without Borders presents a special screening of KEO Film's Exodus (2015). This film tells...


  • Tawnee McCay for Riverton City Council

    09/21/2017
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Come meet with Tawnee McCay to discuss the great city we live in, Riverton.


  • Instruction Classes

    09/21/2017
    07:45PM — 09:00PM

    Has your child, grandchild, friend ever ask you why Catholic believe this or do that? Can you exp...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/22/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/22/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/22/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/23/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Garden Adventures - Migration Station

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Did you know the Great Salt Lake is a huge stopover station for migrating birds? Animals have to ...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Day for Kids

    09/23/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Join your local Boys & Girls Clubs of Day for Kids - a celebration for kids... and kids at heart!...


  • Oktoberfest

    09/23/2017
    03:00PM — 09:00PM

    September 23, 2017 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in Sandy, Utah's very own, Grace Lutheran School i...


  • Bumble Bee Bash

    09/23/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Imagine What You Can Beecome! Saturday, September 23 | 5 - 8 pm Adults: $35 | Children: $20 | ...


  • Community Square Dance

    09/23/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us for a Community Square Dance Party with the Rocketeers! We're a Square Dance Club that's ...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/24/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Presented by Doctors Without Borders, Forced From Home is an interactive exhibition and tour that...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Salt Lake City Gem Faire

    09/24/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Sep. 22-24, 2017, South Towne Exposition Center, 9575 S. State St., Sandy. Fri. 10am-6pm, Sat. 10...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/25/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/25/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/26/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Every day, Doctors Without Borders aid workers from around the world provide assistance to people...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/27/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/27/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/28/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • Aging Mastery Program

    09/28/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Join the ten-week health and wellness program, Aging Mastery at Millcreek Senior Center. The clas...


  • Instruction Classes

    09/28/2017
    07:45PM — 09:00PM

    Has your child, grandchild, friend ever ask you why Catholic believe this or do that? Can you exp...


  • Get into the River Festival

    09/29/2017
    08:00AM

    Celebrate, restore, recreate and explore the Jordan River Corridor 16 cities, 3 counties, 30 d...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    09/29/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Fall Bulb & Native Plant Sale

    09/29/2017
    01:00PM — 07:30PM

    Find a wide selection of flowering bulbs, organic garlic bulbs, ornamental grasses, flowering per...


  • HCS Fall Festival

    09/29/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00AM

    Hilltop Christian School's annual Fall Festival is a great time for the whole family. Pony rides,...


  • Fall Bulb & Native Plant Sale

    09/30/2017
    01:00PM — 07:30PM

    Find a wide selection of flowering bulbs, organic garlic bulbs, ornamental grasses, flowering per...


  • Community Square Dance

    09/30/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us for a Community Square Dance Party with the Rocketeers! We're a Square Dance Club that's ...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    10/02/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • Attend the YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast

    10/04/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    You are invited to our Annual YMCA Camp Awards Breakfast at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake C...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    10/04/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Aging Mastery Program

    10/05/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Join the ten-week health and wellness program, Aging Mastery at Millcreek Senior Center. The clas...


  • Instruction Classes

    10/05/2017
    07:45PM — 09:00PM

    Has your child, grandchild, friend ever ask you why Catholic believe this or do that? Can you exp...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    10/06/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Art for the Arts

    10/06/2017
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Support Granite School District art programs AND save up to 50% off framed, limited edition art. ...


  • Kickoff your Halloween celebrations by planting a spooky miniature garden in this special Garden ...


  • Community Square Dance

    10/07/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us for a Community Square Dance Party with the Rocketeers! We're a Square Dance Club that's ...


  • CUMC 2017 Annual Health Fair

    10/08/2017
    08:30AM — 12:00PM

    Our annual Health Fair will include flu and pneumonia shots (with insurance card), Salt Lake Coun...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    10/09/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    10/11/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


 

Online Edition
Follow us on Facebook
Online Edition South Salt Lake
Advertise with us

 

City Journals 9500 South 500 West, Suite 205, Sandy, Utah 84070 801.254.5974