That’s right. There’s the Super Bowl, the World Series, and, yes, a National Championship for dogs, their owners, and the ever-elusive Frisbee. It’s called the Ashley Whippet World Championships, a legitimate series of exhibition competitions around the world. This year’s competitions have spanned from the US to Germany, and even to Japan.
If you’re thinking the dogs and their owners are judged on their skill and ability to catch the Frisbee, you’d be right, but much like Ice Skating in the Olympics, there’s a finesse component to the events. The teams have two minutes to wow the judges in a choreographed routine set to music. The points from that routine are then accompanied by a Distance Event, that as you might guess, features the contestants running as far as they can to catch their master’s throw, or as it’s called in the competitive world, “fling”.
The competitions started back in the 1970’s and the dog behind the name associated with the World Championship, Ashley Whippet, is quite famous. You may recall seeing the Collie, Ashley, during Super Bowl XII at halftime, the tonight show with David Letterman or, more famously, in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Floating Free. Ashley’s stardom rose so much that she even played with former President Jimmy Carter’s dog on the white house lawn. Ashley and owner Alex Stein are contributed with having started the popular sport and building its notoriety.
This year, the World Championships was held in Tochigi, Japan in June. Qualifications for next year’s competitors will begin in February.