P.E.I. dogs fetching discs in hopes of catching world championship

P.E.I. pooches were blasting down a field in Bonshaw snapping up flying discs thrown by their handlers on Saturday.

Island finishes in top 50 in worldwide competition

A dog leaps for its handlers arms after retrieving a flying disc in Bonshaw P.E.I. for the 2020 K9 Frisbee Toss and Fetch Worldwide Championship. (Tony Davis/CBC)

P.E.I. pooches were blasting down a field in Bonshaw, snapping up flying discs thrown by their handlers on Saturday.

About 20 teams from the Isle Fly Disc Dogs club participated in the 2020 K9 Frisbee Toss and Fetch Worldwide Championship.

"This is our first year," says Amy Doyle, captain of the club.

Dogs and handlers start at the top of a diamond-shaped field cut into five scoring zones. The further a dog can catch a disc and return it to the thrower, the more points the team will get. Each team gets two 60-second rounds to toss the disc out and get dogs to return them as many times as they can.

"We're pretty pretty good. On a global level we are probably halfway in the pack," Doyle said.

"There are five clubs in the Maritimes and we are ranked second pretty consistently right behind Fredericton."

Amy Doyle, captain of the Isle Fly Disc Dogs club. She also participates in the sport with her six-year-old rat terrier named Annie. (Tony Davis/CBC)

The world championships were held virtually this year. On Saturday, teams from all over the world tossed discs for their dogs and tracked their scores live. P.E.I. ended up ranking 45th out of the 121 clubs that participated.

"We are happy to be in the top 50," Doyle said.

Typically, Doyle plays other dog sports like flyball this time of year — but she said many  dog sports can't accommodate physical distancing as well as disc dog.

"I mean we are playing on a big 150-foot field. Like, it's great for social distancing," she said.

Noah Murphy competed in the event with his border collie/whippet mix. He says the key to the sport is first figuring out how to toss a disc well. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Noah Murphy participated in the event with his three family dogs — two border collies and a border collie/whippet mix.

"Our family dogs all do dog sports regularly in a normal year, but because of COVID and all the complications, their dog sport league is cancelled this year," he said.

He said the family decided it may be a good idea to compete in disc dog for something to do and to keep the pups active.

Murphy said there is one key to the sport.

"You have to be able to throw before you can throw with the dog and you kind of build up that partnership with them," he said.

Murphy said his longest successful throw was about 65 metres.

Doyle said it doesn't typically take too long to train your dog to participate. She said the key is rolling the disc along the ground at first so dogs can understand how to grip it.

She said if your dog is having trouble bringing a disc back, you can start encouraging a game of tug-of-war to get the animal to engage.

Eight-year-old Tyler White was the youngest on P.E.I. participating in the event. He threw discs for his one-and-a-half-year-old border collie. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Eight-year-old Tyler White said he practiced to get good at the sport, but not a whole lot — maybe only a day or two.

"I just thought it would be fun for a little competition," he said.

Tyler said he wants to play the sport for at least a few more years.

"I'm hoping to throw it further and make my throws faster," he said.

Doyle said if anyone would like to get involved, they can send a message to the Isle Fly Disc Dogs Facebook group.

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