I’ve known for a long time that Dublin is a world class athlete. It’s been apparent for much longer that I am not a world class athlete, and so it’s been frustrating for me that I have failed to properly showcase his potential because of my own shortcomings as a Frisbee thrower.
After finding our niche in (rare) Long Distance events and regularly challenging for the finals in the prestigious QUADRUPED competition (where we finished 5th this year just outside of the finals), Dublin and I qualified for the United FrisbeeDog Organization’s World Cup Finals in Long Distance during the final competition of the year last weekend.
We were one of only three men’s teams to earn the honor out of an amazing field of competitors that have multiple state and national titles, sponsorships from Disc companies, legendary dogs with trophies named after them and rooms full of accolades.
I’m so proud of my boy Dublin and I’m thrilled that he finally has the hardware commensurate with his abilities. He performed brilliantly and I didn’t screw up my end.
There are Frisbee teams that succeed because the human has considerable skill with the disc and can place a perfect floater right over the running dog’s shoulder every time and the jumping dog puts an extra 10 yards on every catch and gets bonus points for a mid-air catch. There are also teams where the dog runs just as fast to bring the disc back as they run on the way out to catch it, allowing their throwers to get off 5 or 6 throws during timed rounds when other teams settle for 4 or fewer catches to rack up points. This is not our team.
Dublin loves distance and so do I, but I’m not amazingly consistent with accuracy (like one of every three throws goes perfectly straight for 40 yards before taking a 90 degree turn into the tents…. half the time Dublin still catches it, but out of bounds catches don’t count for most competitions like they do in distance and the time it takes to play agility through hostile tents precludes high scores in timed rounds. Distance events are never timed. Despite booking it out at great speed, Dubin takes his own sweet time to bring the Frisbee back and this limits the number of throws we can get in during D/A events. No such problem in Long Distance where a leisurely return pace saves energy for the next run out.
Top D/A teams can progress to top Open teams by adding a Freestyle routine. Again, not our strength. Dublin is too large to do vaults and I’m not really the song and dance type. A light dog that can do vaults with some handler skill at creative throwing styles and a little flare for performance and a solid D/A team can excel in Freestyle as well. Given that the Open level of competition combines one Freestyle routine with the best of two D/A rounds, and given that the differential in points between two competitive teams is often greater in the D/A portion than it is in the artistic and showmanship elements, a good D/A team can often beat a better freestyle team. Since Open is combined genders, you’ll often see male teams leading due to the comparative advantage of D/A scores being more significant than the differential the women teams might make up for in Freestyle artistry.
I’ve known for a long time that there’s only one athlete on our team and his name is not Christopher. Christopher is the one who broke both bones in his leg in three places going 3 miles per hour on the bunny hill during ski school the day before Christmas. Christopher is the one who broke his writing arm after the first day of 5th grade (getting a much worse grade in penmanship because of it) riding his brand new bike after falling over, again going less than 3 miles per hour. Christopher is the one that has broken his coccyx every single time he’s tried ice skating, roller blading, or skate boarding and at least once a month he breaks his pinky toe on a door jam.
But out of sheer size and wrist flexibility, I can fling a Frisbee down the field a respectable distance and Dublin makes amazing catches that other dogs don’t even try to land. This is because he’s been chasing my horrible throws since he was a puppy and has figured out strategies to triangulate otherwise uncatchable discs.
It’s the difference between catching a perfectly thrown pass from Peyton Manning–who makes all his receivers look like all-stars–and trying to catch a live grenade shot out of a rusty old bazooka fired by a blind epileptic during a hurricane. Dublin’s amazing ability to catch errant discs makes me look better than I am.
Since Long Distance events like the Quadruped or the UFO Long Shot come around only once a year (versus D/A events which happen several times a month all spring and summer) there are not many chances to compete and I’m glad that 2012 was the year that we finally finished on the podium instead of just outside.
Bravo, Dublin, bravo.
And thank you to all of you who sponsored our 2012 Frisbee season by purchasing our discs using the links on the blog, we both appreciate the competitive edge you gave us with fresh plastic at each event. It really made the difference. Thank you.
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