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Archive for Monday, May 4, 1998

FRISBEE COMPETITION FEATURES DOG CATCHERS

May 4, 1998

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Twenty-one dogs and their owners competed in a flying disc-catching contest on Sunday afternoon.

Whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks hasn't met Blazin' Bernie.

``I received him when he was 3 -- he was in a real abusive situation,'' said Blazin' Bernie's owner, Tony Kelso. ``I just threw it and he went after it.''

Kelso and his dog, a border collie mix, won the 1998 Alpo Canine Frisbee disc Championship from among 21 entries Sunday in South Park.

In the competition, points were awarded based on how many catches each dog could make of a flying disc, and other tricks.

``You start by feeding your dog out of a Frisbee,'' said John Thompson, a participant and announcer for the event, which drew several hundred spectators.

``You should start off slow, with short throws ... and don't throw the Frisbee directly at the dog because one good hit on the head will kind of turn them off from playing,'' he said.

Participant Bill Cherry, 36, Olathe, said his dog, Piper, a border collie, didn't need to be fed from a Frisbee to learn to run and catch it in his mouth.

``I kind of agitated him with it (by waving the disc in front of the dog's face) until he bit it. Then I started tossing it and he went after it.

``Once he did that, he thought it was one of the coolest things he had ever done.''

The crowd got a kick out of some contestants, such as 6-year-old Camden Wittenauer with a neighbor's dog, Mortie, a Labrador retriever that was larger than the boy.

At one point, Camden attempted to retrieve the flying disc from the dog but the dog wanted to keep it. Several moments of tug-of-war ensued, with the dog taking advantage.

Other dogs catching discs included boxers, German shepherds and even a tiny Yorkshire Terrier.

``It's interesting that dogs can do that,'' said Laura Parkinson, 10, who came to watch the show with her mother, Mary Parkinson.

``They all put forth such a good effort,'' Ms. Parkinson said. ``You can tell that all the dogs have different personalities.''

Sunday's event was sponsored by Alpo and Friskies, and coordinated by Lawrence Parks and Recreation.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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