Saturday, August 5, 2017

Who Started This Sport of Disc Dogs?


Have you ever wondered who started this sport of disc dogging? I know I have wondered about the history of this sport of disc dogs, or more specifically, why on occasion I experience the occasional claw in the back of the neck ending up oozing vital life fluids?

I wondered if kings and queens had some kind of entertainment with dogs and discs?  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, yes, broke out onto a sporting event field, a nationally televised baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds, with his dog, whose name was Ashley Whippet, and started doing tricks on the field.

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

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

At the end of it, Alex was arrested and hauled off for trespassing on the game. 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 reportedly was 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 their latter years.}

Aside from that, Alex spent a lot of time taking his pup to the college greens and having fun while crowds gathered.

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Back to it...



Ashley Whippet, the first famous disc dog

So while Alex was trying to figure out how to get him and his dog famous, he had tried television and other resources, but was met with resistance when folks who weren't familiar with disc dogs didn't think it was something that would sell to advertisers or what not.

In an attempt to crack open that can of fame, Alex thought he'd try something crazy, and that crazy was breaking into the nationally televised baseball game, at the bottom of the 8th inning.




After that demo, Alex ended up performing shows at football games and TV shows and later had a hand in bringing about the Frisbee Dog World Championship series.  And later, you may have heard of the Ashley Whippet competitions.

The rest is history.

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And that's the basis for what we disc dog competitors enjoy today. Now you know!

This is a cute, OLD, news piece that focuses on Alex and Ashley.   (Wow, look at the hair and fashions!)


Sources:

.wikipedia., LA Times, (<-- great piece), Ashely Whippet Museum., Great, detailed piece over on Mental Floss.

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