Eyes set on the frisbee
REEVA, a three-year-old Australian Koolie, loves playing frisbee - and she has such a talent for the sport that last month, with her owner Natalie Armstrong, she became a national frisbee champion winning the Australian National Canine Disc Championship in the Freestyle Super Pro Division.
Natalie, who lives in Emerald with Reeva and her eight-year-old Border cross Collie named Toohey, said that although she has trained her dogs, Reeva is "a bit of a natural”.
Natalie, who takes part in about eight canine disc competitions a year, says, "Reeva doesn't know that she's the national champion - she just thinks she's had a great two minutes playing frisbee.”
She says the sport, which is relatively new in Australia, doesn't have a training group in Emerald, and hosts competitions around the state.
"I love it because it keeps me motived to keep my dogs fit and it's a great way to get out and do something with your dog. It's a great sport and you make great friendships.”
Natalie, who is now on the Canine Disc Australia board, competed with both her dogs at the Brisbane Championships last weekend, where Reeva placed fourth in the Throw and Catch division and fifth in the time trial, and Toohey placing second in the Freestyle Super Pro competition and seventh in the team time trial.
"Reeva catches a frisbee very well, she times herself well. Toohey is the total opposite - he's crazy. I just go with it. You could ask him to do something and he'll do the opposite,” she said.
Natalie began competing while living in Murgon in the South Burnett Region in 2013.
"I was looking to get into something as a hobby and I chose canine disc because all you really need is a frisbee and a park - you don't need anything else.”
She said competitors were judged on the distance of their throws and the height of the dog's jumps.
"There's four judges on the panel for the Freestyle events and for the Games format and for Throw and Catch there's one judge on the field and one line judge.”
Natalie says that for Throw and Catch, there's a field marked to 40 yards, and competitors are awarded points based on distance and catch.
And within Throw and Catch, there's five levels ranked from juniors to masters.
Currently the youngest competitors are about seven years old.
"They compete in junior and then progress through as they get better. At each level you have to achieve a particular score four times and then you can apply to move up the next level.
"There's also different games that are played and scored depending on the different sequences.”
The Freestyle format includes plenty of tricks, the dog rebounding off their owner, jumping, and flipping all performed to music.
"The dogs are on a diet to maintain their conditioning and level of muscle so they have plenty of energy for a three-day competition,” Natalie said.
"Supplements play a big part in how they're prepared. They're like little athletes.”
People in Emerald interested in the sport or in the formation of an Emerald training group can email canincediscaustralia@ gmail.com.