The third Olympic Pet Special report is looking into the sport of Frisbee / Disc dogs. In 1975 Irv Lander, Alex Stein and Eldon McIntire organised a World Championship for flying-disc catching dogs and their handlers.
Since this time the event has continued annually and in the 1980’s it was converted into the Ashley Whippet Invitational World Finals Championships.
Early tournaments were “Throw and Fetch” contests. The judging varied, in some cases style was judged as the most important element while other competitions focused on distance or the accuracy of throwing and catching within designated areas.
Peter Bloeme got involved with the disc dog sport in the early 1980s, after winning the 1976 Men’s World Frisbee Championship and won a Frisbee Dog World Championship in 1984.
Peter “retired” from competition and began to work for AWI as a judge and event co-ordinator. He pushed the sport in the direction of multiple disc “Freestyle” contests, which changed the disc dog Championships forever. Over time the World Finals Championship was modified to include a freestyle event (sometimes known as “Freeflight”), and a timed throw and catch event (known as “MiniDistance,” and later as “Distance/Accuracy”).
Not all dogs immediately understand the concept of the game. A dog may not instinctively know to turn and chase after a disc that is thrown over its head.
To begin, the disc should be thrown straight to the dog at a short distance. Once a dog knows how to catch, it can learn the additional concept of running to catch the disc.
The disc should be thrown at increasing heights, gradually throwing the disc higher, until it finally goes over the dog’s head. At that point the dog instinctively follows the disc all the way around.
In 2000, Skyhoundz staged its very first World Canine Disc Championship, sponsored by Hyperflite (www.hyperflite.com). The Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championship Series (www.skyhoundz.com) is now the largest disc dog competition series in the world and features, each year, more than 100 free Local Championships held in the U.S. Seven International World Championship Qualifiers, a European Championship, a World Championship, Xtreme Distance Challenge events, and DiscDogathon competitions.