Finding the Perfect Dog for Canine Disc Play
An excerpt from Disc Dogs! The Complete Guide by Peter Bloeme and Jeff Perry, Co-founders of Hyperflite, Inc.
Getting started in canine disc sports means finding the perfect dog. If you already have a dog, then congratulations are in order. Your family pet is a perfect companion for canine disc play. That may seem like a surprising statement. But, if you are like most dog owners then right at your feet sits a loving companion that wants to please you and likely prefers your company to just about anything with notable exceptions reserved for food, water and an occasional romantic inkling toward the opposite sex.
If you don’t already have a dog, then consider an animal shelter canine or a rescue. We have said for years that animal shelter mutts make great disc dogs. Most shelters offer beautiful dogs for little or no money. The venerable mutt can be a great selection as long as he or she has the mental and physical attributes necessary for participation in vigorous athletic activity. To date, at least five former World Canine disc Champions were rescued from the pound. With the many unwanted dogs available, saving a dog from the pound can be an especially rewarding experience.
If your heart is set on a purebred dog, check with your local rescue organizations first. Many rescue organizations are breed specific and were created by enthusiasts of that specific breed. For example, there are many purebred Border Collies who were purchased by people who became enamored with the breed, only to learn that a hyper-energetic BC was more dog than they could handle. These dogs wind up in shelters even though they possess attributes highly sought after by disc dog enthusiasts.
Each purebred or mixed-breed canine has different physical and mental characteristics as well as certain inherited qualities and weaknesses including size, speed, stamina, leaping ability and intensity. The same qualities that make a great herding, sporting or retrieving canine, may make for a great disc dog, but not necessarily a wonderful family pet. For example, Australian Shepherds, with their inexhaustible supply of energy and intensity can make phenomenal disc dogs. Unfortunately, these dogs may not be a good fit in families with small children since their strong herding instincts might cause them to herd and nip the wee ones as they might sheep!
Be sure to also consider the characteristics generally associated with a particular breed. Canines with long snouts and long legs, have a better chance of catching a flying disc than snub-nosed dogs or toy breeds which are not well suited to disc play because of their physical limitations.
Once you make a selection, part of your responsibility as a dog owner and trainer is to learn to recognize and work with your dog’s unique characteristics and special qualities. For example, a hound will be a great tracker, a working dog will be tireless, a pointer will be focused, etc. A good resource for investigating the characteristics of the various breeds is Simon & Schuster’s, Guide To Dogs. The same characteristics applicable to purebred canines will be found in mixed-breed shelter mutts in varying degrees. The experienced shelter staff will often be able to hazard an educated guess as to the likely breeding of the dogs that are available for adoption. This information coupled with your own personal experience and observations will help you find a dog that will be a good disc dog and a great family pet.
With an eager canine at the ready, your disc dog adventure can begin. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t extend to you this warning: DISC DOG PLAY IS ADDICTIVE! Once you introduce a dog to disc play, in all probability, it will become hooked and may show little interest in activities that it formerly found interesting. Your canine’s obsession with plastic may cause you to drive or fly hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to attend disc dog extravaganzas and hobnob with other like-minded disc doggers. Your life may well change in ways you could never have imagined. Just ask some of the, doctors, lawyers, software engineers, teachers, secretaries, business owners, and people from all walks of life — even a few perfectly normal folks – who have been bitten by the disc dog bug. Some of these people have even given up their comfortable lifestyles to tour with the circus, start rescue organizations, or become veterinarians. It’s impossible to tell how your disc dog experience will affect your life, but it most definitely will.
Reprinted with permission from Hyperflite, Inc. www.hyperflite.com.
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About the Authors
Hyperflite co-founder, Peter Bloeme is currently director of the Skyhoundz Championships. In this role, he manages more than 100 Local Championships, 10 World Championship Qualifers, and the World Championship — reaching millions of consumers with messages of canine health and fitness.
Bloeme’s career of tossing, skipping, bouncing, spinning and twirling a plastic disc into the air began in 1974 when he won the Junior National Frisbee Championships at the age of 15. In 1976, at the age of 19, he won the World (human) Frisbee Championships at the Rose Bowl in California before 40,000 disc fans.
In 1983, Bloeme added a new element to his sport – a black and white Border Collie named Whirlin’ Wizard. The two went on to win the 1984 World Canine Frisbee Championships making Wizard, at less than 2 years old, the youngest dog to ever win the title. At the same time, Bloeme became the only person to win a world title both by himself and with his dog.
In 1990, Bloeme added a little magic to his routine – literally – with the addition of Magic, a black and white Australian Shepherd. Over the years, Bloeme, Wizard and Magic performed hundreds of disc dog demonstrations at sporting events including Major League Baseball, National Football League, World League football and National Basketball Association games.
Bloeme and his canine companions have also performed numerous times before sold-out stadium crowds all around the world. They have performed half-time shows at sporting events and have made public appearances in countries including Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Sweden. Perhaps his most notable appearance was at the 1995 Japanese Baseball All-Star Game in Hiroshima, Japan where, after the seventh inning, the game was stopped for a ten minute exhibition by Bloeme and four Japanese dogs. Bloeme’s performance was viewed live by a sold-out crowd of 40,000 fans plus an estimated 26 million people on television through the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
During the 1970’s, Bloeme served as technical advisor to CBS Sports for a half-hour television special on Frisbee and toured Europe as a representative of the International Frisbee Association.
Bloeme and his dogs have appeared on television in the U.S. hundreds of times, including featured appearances on shows such as “Good Morning America,” “Late Night with David Letterman,” and on CNN and ESPN. You may remember seeing Wizard opening the Disney movie, “Flight of the Navigator.” In a Miller Lite television ad, Bloeme was responsible for the on-camera Frisbee action. Wizard even had a walk-on role in the spot. Bloeme has also served twice as the color commentator for Animal Planet in their one-hour show on the World Championships.
In 2001, Bloeme, Jeff Perry (1989 World Champion & Hall of Famer) and Greg Perry founded Hyperflite, Inc., a company dedicated to developing advanced disc technology. Their first disc, the K-10 for dogs was introduced in July of 2001.
Bloeme is author of the book, Frisbee Dogs: How to Raise, Train and Compete, a 192-page paperback, illustrated with over 300 photographs and the book, Skyhoundz Images, an 80-page hardcover photo book on the sport with captions in English, Japanese and Spanish ($19.95 U.S.).
Bloeme also co-produced, along with Jeff Perry, the internationally-acclaimed Disc Dog Training DVD, the top-selling disc dog training DVD of all time and Disc Dogs! The Complete Guide. At 360 pages, and featuring more than 600 color photos, Disc Dogs! is the most thorough and authoritative canine disc publication in existence.
Hyperflite co-founder Jeff Perry and his mixed-breed, animal shelter adoptee, Gilbert won the 1989 Canine Disc World Championship in Dallas, Texas. Prior to taking the World title, Perry and Gilbert won the Southeast Regional Championship for three consecutive years. Gilbert and Perry went on to be featured on NBC’s top-rated “Today Show,” along with numerous appearances on CNN and ESPN and other national and international media over the years. As a member of the ALPO Canine Disc Celebrity Touring Team, Perry was a media spokesperson for the 10-year period in which ALPO sponsored the Canine disc Championships.
Throughout the years, in countless interviews and public appearances Perry has extolled the virtues of adopting shelter animals. According to Perry, shelter mutts make wonderful companions and great disc dogs.
Perry and his canines have performed hundreds of times before sold-out stadium crowds at professional football and baseball games all over the world. Internationally, Perry has performed before huge crowds at Olympic Stadiums in Berlin and Barcelona and has made public appearances in Canada, China, Spain Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Gilbert and Perry were featured entertainers at the prestigious “Colare de Oro,” the Italian equivalent of the Westminster dog show.
While performing in Japan, Perry met the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan (the future emperor and empress of Japan) after one of more than 200 shows that he performed in Japan over a five-month period at the Animal Kingdom in Nasu. While in Japan, Perry and his dog Cosmic K.D. also entertained thousands of spectators in the Tokyo dome.
From 1990 to 2005, Perry served as the Chief Judge of the World Canine Disc Championships.
Perry, along with Peter Bloeme and Greg Perry, co-founded Hyperflite in 2000 and, shortly thereafter, designed and patented the revolutionary K-10 disc, the first canine disc designed exclusively for canine competition.
Perry, along with Peter Bloeme, co-produced the internationally-acclaimed Disc Dog Training DVD, the top-selling disc dog training DVD of all time. In addition, Perry co-wrote Disc Dogs! The Complete Guide, the most authoritative book ever written on canine disc sports.
In his spare time, Perry also serves as a Contributing Editor for Flying Disc Magazine.
A strong proponent of the health and fitness benefits of canine disc play for dogs and owners, Perry founded one of the first canine disc clubs in the country. Over the years, Perry has taught countless canine-disc aficionados to throw flying discs and helped even elite-level competitors improve their throwing abilities.
In addition to his canine disc activities, Perry still finds time to engage in some of his other favorite pursuits, climbing, backpacking and flying. Perry, a skilled pilot, has flown powered aircraft and hang gliders for more than 25 years and has logged more than 2000 hours in many types of aircraft. In fact, his aeronautical experience and understanding of aeronautical principles were instrumental in the design of the Hyperflite K-10 disc.
Perry received a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in Journalism from the University of Maryland, a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from Mercer University and a Master of Laws in International Law (LL.M.) from the University of Miami.