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SKYHOUNDZ WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP HOSTS DISC-JUMP­ING DOGS

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - FRONT PAGE - STAFF WRITER Con­tact Yolanda Put­man at yput­man@ times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6431. BY YOLANDA PUT­MAN

High-fly­ing, disc-chas­ing dogs wil l r o mp through Coolidge Park this week­end when the 2018 SkyHoundz World Ca­nine Disc Cham­pi­onship is held.

This is the fifth year the cham­pi­onship has been held in Coolidge Park. Some 150 con­tes­tants with an es­ti­mated 600 dogs will be at the park Satur­day and Sun­day, Sept. 22-23.

In the cham­pi­onship, mu­sic plays as high- en­ergy hounds and their own­ers show off their ath­leti­cism and bond over dis­plays of dogs catch­ing air­borne discs. Pet han­dlers throw the disc and their hounds sail through the air to catch them. There are al­ways tricks in­volved — such as a dog run­ning up the back of his squat­ting owner then leap­ing into the air — and the high­est jumps and best chore­og­ra­phy get ap­plause and points.

The cham­pi­onship rounds of­fer lots of good f am­ily f un, and t hey are free to watch. The com­pe­ti­tion in­cludes a youth divi­sion for ages 15 and younger. Dogs are grouped into divi­sions based on size.

There’s no mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for this week­end’s cham­pi­ons, just brag­ging rights and a big tro­phy.

“The sport started back in the early 1970s as Fris­bee, the toy, was be­ing de­vel­oped. Many peo­ple said, ‘This is kind of neat; let me throw it to a dog.’ Over time, it turned into this sport that we have now,” says Peter Bloeme, co-founder of the Hyper­flite disc used in the com­pe­ti­tion.

“The best part about the event is play­ing with your dog in front of an au­di­ence and show­cas­ing your dog’s abil­ity,” says Bloeme, who won the 1984 World Cham­pi­onship.

That cham­pi­onship com­pe­ti­tion had only 12 par­tic­i­pants, and ev­ery­body was from the United States, he says. Since then the com­pe­ti­tion has ex­panded to in­clude com­peti­tors from around the world.

Bloeme of­fers an on­line free down­load­able re­source called “This Dog Rocks,” that shows own­ers how to throw a disc and train dogs for the sport. The re­source is avail­able in seven lan­guages at the Skyhoundz web­site.

SKYHOUNDZ CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Dogs of all breeds and sizes will com­pete in SkyHoundz World Ca­nine Disc Cham­pi­onship this week­end in Coolidge Park.

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