Monday, July 16, 2018

Testing Hero Disc USA's Super Stars Vs. SuperAeros


I recently received a pack of Super Star discs from Hero Disc USA for some testing and I thought I would not only test the discs, but put them up against my favorite discs, Super Aeros. Super Aero discs are my preferred dog disc because they can stand the test of time against my hard biting dog, who nominally can destroy a fastback disc within a day or two.

This review is more for the new disc dogger because I suspect that some of what I'll be saying will be old news to seasoned disc doggers.

With that said...


I took my nine Super Stars and several other discs out to the park to play around with them and see how they work in comparison. My SuperAero's and Fastbacks all weigh around 110-114g, while the silver Super Stars weighed 131g and the orange Super Stars weighed 141g.


The bottom line: The heavier Super Stars were more predictable and stable compared to the lighter Super Aero discs and fastbacks in any appreciable wind.

Heavier discs traveled around 10-20% farther, and when it came to floating down to the ground at the end of a long toss, they didn't spend as much time floating downward as the lighter Super Aero's and Fastbacks did. That can be good, or bad, depending on what you need at the moment.

In a 60-second simulated Toss & Fetch round, that float time can feel like forever with lighter discs or it could be the difference between a 4 or 5 toss round.

Even with hand stunts (fidgets) the heavier discs worked the air better. Lighter discs like flying away in gusty winds when you're doing fidgets.

My problem is that my dogs mostly prefer the lighter discs. I have one dog that even prefers the softer Super Aeros and won't even play with harder Fastbacks. When I tried her on the heavier Super Stars she caught it, looked at me, dropped it, and walked off the field on me.

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Below is some of my more detailed notes when I was testing the Hero Disc USA discs:

It was around 65 degrees out, winds around 5mph.

-My first set of test throws had a 5pmh tail wind, and with an easy throw, my own collective od discs travelled ~80 feet, while the Super Star traveled about 100 feet or roughly 20% farther.

When I turned around and threw into the 5pmh winds, I saw a similar results.

-When I turned with the wind and powered the discs down field for some distance tests with the breeze, the Super Stars traveled 145 feet while my lighter Super Aeros's traveled on average around 135 feet.

In another, similar test, the average distance my Super Stars went 145 feet, the Super Aeros went 140 feet.

-My next tests consisted of what's called fidgets. Fidgets are just little gimmicks, spins and twirls you do with the disc. Sometimes fidgets can be tough in winds, but this first day, the winds were negligible and the performance of the discs were on par with each other in the light wind.

I suspect that in heavier winds, the Super Stars would be more stable, considering what I've seen in my various tests.

After the distance tests, I tried some accuracy tests, where I was shooting for a 6x6 square from 90 feet away, throwing with the wind. The wind had picked up a bit, with slight gusts up to 10mph.

I had more luck keeping the Super Stars in line with what I wanted versus the Super Aeros. The Super Stars turned or hooked as expected, while the Super Aero's were a little more a victim of the winds.

The curious observation was that the Super Aeros went much straighter despite my efforts to hyzer the crap out of them. They REALLY want to go straight unless you release with extreme angles.

But into the wind, all the discs performed as desired.

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A week after the first set of tests it was a 70 degree day, 10mph winds.

I threw long throws into the wind and found when I threw to a moderate height, 10-20 feet up, my Super Aero's would float down but get pushed back a bit in the direction they came from. The Super Stars would float down a bit faster, and did it straight down but no reversal of direction.

In distance tests with the wind direction, the average distances looked like this:

Grey Super Stars - 150 ft.
SuperAeros - 160 ft,
Orange Super Stars - 185ft.

Into the wind,

Super Aeros and grey Super Stars went about 120 ft. The Super Stars were not as susceptible to floating in the wind when landing.

The Orange Super Star went 140 ft.

The light Super Aeros were much easier to 'air skip.' Which is obvious, considering they react to wind much more than the heavier discs.

When I executed easy tosses the orange discs went the shortest, then the silver, while my fastbacks went the farthest, with a difference of about 15 feet. The orange Super Stars sank the soonest. To me this meant that you can't casually throw these discs, you need intent. But that's usually how we throw our shots, right?

But tossing into the wind, distance differences were negligible, while, again, my lighter disks floated longer.

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Overall I have a preference towards my Super Aero discs only because they last a ton longer than other discs with my hard biters. But rudimentary bite tests seem to show that the Super Stars are heavier, but just as sturdy as the Super Aero discs.

Friday, June 29, 2018

2018 Fourth of July - Preparations To Take For Your Dog

image via Castaic Shelter, SoCal.

The Fourth of July and Dogs.

The fourth is coming and it's that time of year where certain neighbors or neighborhoods are more prone to big illegal (or not) displays of fireworks, which, as many of us know, can be more dangerous for our pups or even cats.

63% of households have pets. Of all the pets that become separated from their families on July 4th, only 14% get back home safely. Up to 60% of pets that become lost end up getting euthanized.

When an animal is frightened, their instincts kick in and no amount of training can help recall them if they hit that "pure flight" mode.  They will run, unabated, not looking for traffic, direction or keeping track of their path.. they just run like hell to get away from what scared them to the core. They do not possess human logic. If they get petrified, they will run until they run out of energy, then run some more. Then when they're lost, if survived running across freeways, highways and other traffic venues, then they find themselves lost because because they did not track from whence they came.

That's how dogs end up in shelters, and if there's no identifying information on your dog,

Whether it's legal or not in your neck of the woods, as far as I'm concerned, it seems to be a piss-poor excuse to act idiotic (depending on the locale) but none-the-less, animal owners have to prepare for the worse because our non-animal owner neighbors just don't think about this. Nor do they care.

You not only have to be ready on the fourth, but you should be prepared the week before and the week after because idiots will be idiots and because of this need to set off explosives in their own faces, this "holiday" is the worse, or busiest time of the year at shelters. Thousands of dogs become lost each year due to this holiday.

Let's look at what pet owners can do to keep our furry family members safe:

ID / COLLAR TAGS

One great way to help get reunited with a lost pet is via identification. Collar tags are one great way to help being reunited. But it's not bullet-proof with the shadier human out there that may find your pup. Or the tags get torn off when the pup gets so terrified that the collar or tags catch on something and get torn off.


MICROCHIP!

If your dog survives running for its life through traffic (too many do not) from pure, stark terror, having your animal, dog or cat, being micro-chipped is one of the best ways to get reunited with your pet. If someone finds your pet and takes it to the vet for personal reasons, the vet might discover the chip and things can be corrected.


LEASH HIM/HER UP

This seems to be a no-brainer, but maybe keep your pup on a leash when you do potty breaks outside. You might even consider being leashed in your own backyard. You may have never seen it, but a dog, when motivated, can clear an 8 or 10-foot fence/wall easily.


INSIDE THE HOUSE

Don't get mad at the fireworks... your pups can key off your reactions, so just blow it off and make like it's no big deal. (You can go strangle people later!)

If your house is big enough, find a place as far inside as possible away from the noise. Help muffle the sounds. You may want to consider crating your dog, (covered crate?) but I'm not sure how effective that could be.

You might want to try and keep your dog busy and engaged with any kind of distraction you can come up with, whether it be games with them, puzzle toys, stuffed treat toys or what not.

You could crank up your stereo or TV to help mask sounds, but animals aren't stupid and it may or may not work.

Just talk to your pup in soothing tones. If they look to you for security, your example may make a big difference.


PREVENTATIVE 

Check with your vet and see if there's something they could prescribe to help calm your pup if need be. I've seen folks suggest things such as compression products called Thunder Shirts or similar type clothing to help, but I've heard 50/50 on if these things work or not.

If you go to see a fireworks show, do you really need to bring your dog with you? If not, are they properly secured in your house or a room in your house? Because the backyard is NOT a safe place to leave them. I know, you think they can't get out of your yard, but just because you've never seen them scale your wall or that you can't conceive that you or they can't scale the wall does not mean they can't. I watched a cat scale a 18-foot wall, straight up and over, to get where it 'needed' to be. It was impressive but also quite the eye-opener.

Don't let your dog play with fireworks. That seems to be a huge no-brainer, but apparently dogs have tried playing with and catching fireworks, only to have them go off in their mouths.

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REACTIONS

The biggest thing you can do is to not get mad at your pup for being afraid, it will only make things worse for them instead of being the support system they look to. Coddling isn't always your best approach but if they need it, be their support system, otherwise, just pretend the stupid noises outside are nothing to be upset about.

IN OTHER RESEARCH

I've noticed a few other resources making mention of other, non-fireworks related suggestions, like don't use bug repellent on your dog unless it's designed for pets, don't give your pet scraps from the barbecue (unless you've done your research on what foods are toxic to dogs. Like no beer, no chocolate, onions, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough are all potential hazards).

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https://www.petamberalert.com/blog/july-4th-fireworks-keeping-your-pet-safe/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/01/dog-safety-tips-4th-of-july-fireworks-run-away_n_7689108.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-infographic-more-pets-are-lost-on-july-4th-than-any-other-day-of-the-year-300108062.html

http://dogtime.com/trending/17994-fireworks-safety-and-the-4th-of-july-weekend

https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/evr_multi_top_ten_fourth_of_july_pet_safety_tips?page=2

https://www.google.com/search?q=fourth+of+july+and+dogs&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1





Saturday, August 5, 2017

Who Started This Sport of Disc Dogs?

Vader, the Disc Dog and the history of the sport of Disc Dogs

(first published Fri, May 2nd, 2014:)

I don't know about you, but I started wondering about the history of this sport of disc dogs, or more specifically, why I am experiencing the occasional claw in the back of the neck and oozing vital life fluids?

I started to wonder just how far back one has to go to see the first disc dog performance or information?  Did kings and queens have some kind of realm of entertainment with discs and dogs?  Will there be silent films or sepia tone pics of men in suits throwing discs for their dogs between fox hunts?

It seems the origins of the sport may not be quite that romantic.

Believe it or not the sport of disc dogs became a public thing on August 5th, 1974, when a 19-year-old named Alex Stein broke into a nationally televised baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, with his dog, named Ashley Whippet, and started doing tricks on the field.

While on the field he had his dog hitting high speeds and chasing 90-yard tosses and jumping high in the air to catch discs.

His demonstration started out in such an entertaining fashion that they stopped the game for 8 minutes and one of the TV announcers continued to announce... the dog action!

Alex was arrested and hauled off after his trespassing stunt. And true to form, no one from the PD bothered with the dog, but Ashley was caught by a kid in the stands and Alex and Ashley were reunited several days later. But it was worth it because they had made their mark on the world, letting people know what kind of fun people can have with dogs and discs.

How did this crazy idea of Alex's come about?

A few years before that night, a young man, a college student named Alex Stein received a dog as a gift from a girlfriend, and according to sources, when his dog was at a ripe young age of 3 weeks old, Alex figured his dog would be famous.  He named him Ashley Whippet.

While he was a puppy, Alex weened him using Frisbees to feed him.  Then as the dog got older and Alex would throw a disc, the dog would go after it! What's astounding is that at the ripe young age of 6 months, Ashley was reported to be able to get 12 feet in the air to catch discs.

{Safety Thought:

Now-a-days, there are age restrictions of 18-months on young dogs in competitions so they do not injure their growth plates at an early age.  A growth plate injury might not be evident right away, but will make its presence known in latter years.}

Aside from that, Alex spent a lot of time taking his pup to the college greens every day and having fun while crowds gathered.  (One of my favorite things to do is to hit up the Stanford quad and play with Vader.)

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Back to it...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dogs And The Fourth of July, Take Protective Measures


In a nutshell, if your dog does not like fireworks, keep them indoors for the few days leading up to July 4, and maybe even a day after. And microchip or double check that your microchip info is up to date. Just in case.

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The Fourth of July is coming and most dog custodians know that with July 4th, some dogs can get pretty frightened or skiddish from the loud bangs going off in the sky all around them.

To dogs, fireworks are unnatural, shocking, and downright scary. Like the sky itself is barking at them and ripping apart. And that ain't right!

The sad and scary part of this entire process is that it's not just the fourth of July you have to worry about, but the week leading up to and possibly a few nights after the holiday.

That's because sometimes people feel the need to 'practice' with their big loud bang-makers before the big night. And for me, that's when I think some dog owners can be at the most risk, those days leading up to the fourth and not expecting it. A peer of mine in the disc dog world lost his dog to testing that took place a few nights prior to the 4th. And if a well trained disc dog can be impacted by this stuff, you do the math.

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When fireworks and the like go off animals can react in different ways. Some don't care one bit. (If you're lucky.) Others will freak a bit, looking around, wondering what the hell is that!? Others will bolt for parts unknown in the house, hide under things or what not. They'll shake and shiver, possibly thinking the world is ending.

We know the world isn't ending. They don't.



Monday, June 5, 2017

Vader's Halftime Show Appearance At Avaya Stadium Over Memorial Day Weekend

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Vader, as part of the Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate Frisbee dog show team, took part in some of the halftime events at Avaya Stadium, while the SJ Earthquakes faced off against the LA Galaxy team! Unfortunately LA won, 4 - 2!

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But be it as it may, the disc dog show team went out and "played" with our pups and as always, we had quite the blast as we pulled off some moves and hearing the near-18k-strong audience cheering for each jump and catch!

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Maybe next time we can bring better luck to the SJ Earthquakes!

You can see all our pics over on Vader's Flickr Album!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Vader's Upcoming Slow 2017 Season

Team Vader's 2017 disc dog schedule

A lot is going on behind the scenes here at Vader's World and because of that, our participation schedule for some events are getting minimized. Hence, Team Vader's 2017 competitive season might be a bit shorter than past seasons.


At the moment, due to various reasons working against our calendar, we are looking at participating in ONLY four local tournaments this year, and the big one the dogs will miss will the season closer for our local, Northern CA disc dog club! That's it.  It's kind of a bummer, but it is what it is. That is fairly disappointing because it is minimizing Lark's chances to land on the podium at any of our local events. Unless of course, old man Vader decides to take a bow out and let Lark go in his place!

But we are considering on competing in the Purina ProPlan Incredible Dog Challenge (PPIDC) Western Regional Qualifier show on June 9th down in Huntington Beach, CA.  The PPIDC holds contest shows in agility, weave, diving dog, Jack Russell hurdle racing, surf dogs and of course, our corner of the world, freestyle flying disc dogs!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Vader's Cute Moment of the Week, If Not Ever

Disc Dog fans cab be so cute

So there we were, Vader and I were playing around in the local park. Vader was doing some spins, me some flips... OK, that's a lie. If I ever flipped it would be a one-way trip planting myself in the grass to sprout in the spring!

But Vader and I were practicing and there was a little girl, her name I later learned was Sarah, she was around eight or nine years old, and she was watching us from afar. She seemed interested but shy.

So I 'accidentally' tossed a disc in her direction and ambled over towards her and started chatting with her.


Turns out she comes to the park almost every day at this time and liked watching me practice with my dog.

I told her why I was practicing and she told me it was a good thing to practice things.

She then dug into her pocket, pulled out fifty cents and offered me her money, saying it wasn't ,much and probably won't buy much for dog toys but she really liked the show.

Tears almost welled up in my eyes... I'm sure it was just allergies, and I told her that we do shows for free for some people and that she should hang on to her money for something else for herself.

She said thanks and she hopes to see me and my dog some more at the park.

Some small fans can be so cute!