NAPERVILLE, Ill. – For nearly 45 years, dogs and their owners have been competing for the Irv Lander Cup– the so-called Stanley Cup of the K-9 Frisbee world.
The 43rd Annual Ashley Whippet K-9 Frisbee World Championship kicked off in Naperville on Saturday.
Saturday was the last chance qualifier and Sunday is the world championship.
More than 100 dogs were in Naperville from around the world. Some are from China, Japan and Canada.
And they are competing for the coveted Irve Lander Cup. A Wamo exec that helped founder and 1974 champion Alex Stein got the Ashley Whippet on the map.
So what is Ashley Whippet? It’s a lot of cool tricks dogs do with owners and Frisbees. There are different events but the most entertaining is the freestyle, which is two minutes of tricks set to music.
The competitors are judged on style enthusiasm and it’s not just the dogs getting a look. Somebody’s got to throw those Frisbees.
But before Ashley Whippet won the first competition, his owner, Stein, brought his act to Los Angeles with hopes of breaking into show business.
“I got a lot of doors slammed in my face, phones hung up on me,” he said.
Not one to give up, Stein decided he’d make his mark in-between the top and bottom of the 8th inning of a Dodgers game in the early 70s and he did it by running onto the field with Ashley.
“They came back live and I got eight minutes of playing Frisbee with my dog. The crowd went wild. My dog was like the M.J. of K-9 Frisbee,” he said.
Stein was arrested, fined $250 but he was noticed, got sponsored by Wamo toy company- and he and Ashley started preforming the country which eventually led him to start this competition.
The competition has allowed Lawrence Frederick to play Frisbee with his buddies for a job.
“The whole joy of playing Frisbee has been with me since I was 12. Dogs take it to a whole new level bond the fun the excitement,” Frederick said.
He performs around the world and now has 18 dogs along with five world championships, not to mention a knack for training.
He said it takes an adult dog about three to six months to train. It takes a puppy about a year because of obedience and bone and muscles structure.
While the competition is serious, it’s also as friendly as a game of Frisbee with your good friends.