FDDO 2009 Championships (Desert Disc Funktion)
This is a long post, but it was crazy and intense weekend out in the desert, so please read on. First, I need to thank Jenn for all of her help. I was having all kinds of physical problems and she managed to do most of the heavy lifting and leg work the whole weekend.
FDDO is a really great competition because it really tests the disc dog handler to the full extent. We were out on a MLB spring training field, which was absolutely the most amazing field I’ve ever seen in my life. The first event was an obstacle course where you throw discs through hoops, tunnels, around vertical poles, skipping, etc. The 2nd event on Saturday was distance pyramid. It’s a field 60 yards long that gets more and more narrow towards the 60 yards. Sunday started with speed disc where you have to get catches into a box at 15 yards, 20 yards and 30 yards and you’re timed (up to 60 seconds). The last event on Sunday was a 2 minute freestyle routine with music. They combine all 4 events for the overall FDDO champion. The competition was solid, with several past FDDO/Cynosports champions attending.
Jenn competed in the Advanced Division, which is mostly people who don’t do freestyle. She did really good in the obstacle course and got a 3rd place with Tooney. She was only 1 point behind with Enzo. On distance pyramid, she (and Enzo) had problems with the wind and didn’t get many points with either dog. On the speed disc, everybody struggled because the wind was just nasty, especially for the 15 yard box (head wind kept taking the disc out of the box). Despite that, Jenn managed to get a 2nd place with Enzo and a 3rd place with Tooney!
I entered the pro division with both Tooney and Enzo. For the obstacle course, I always get good scores. It’s because I am pretty good at throwing and I’m accurate. I managed to get high scores for both Tooney and Enzo, and Enzo was only 1 point out of 1st place with his score.
Next was distance pyramid. I have been throwing left handed for anything requiring distance this year because my right arm is not 100% (though it’s doing better). I was throwing into a head wind, which made things really tough. I went out with Tooney and because the wind was also blowing left-to-right and in practice my discs were being blown out of bounds, I put myself on the far left side of the pyramid and threw the disc with absolutely no hyzer (completely flat). I let it rip and the instant it left my hand, I knew the throw was going to be something special. It went so straight I was getting concerned it would roll over to the left a bit and go out of bounds. It kept going straight… past 40 yards. Then I was concerned it was going to go out of bounds due to being thrown too far! Luckily, Tooney snagged it about 1 foot from being out of bounds. It was clocked at 47 yards. It was good enough for 2nd place (short by about a foot). Enzo ended up with a solid catch after missing my first 2 attempts and having to go a bit conservative on the last chance throw.
I entered speed disc on Sunday knowing that I was probably in 2nd place overall with Tooney and possibly as high as 3rd place overall with Enzo for the championship. I kept it cool. Enzo went out in speed disc and unfortunately, struggled with the 15 yard box because he likes to jump out of it. He landed outside the box on about 3-4 throws. I ran out of time and had a low score. I knew that could have removed him from the running. Tooney finished with a high score, and got 2nd place! At the end of the round only 4 people finished within 60 seconds I think. That means Enzo was still in the running! I knew Tooney had to still be 2nd overall, with Enzo still possibly 3rd. After a bit, we would be doing our freestyle. I ended up finding out Enzo was tied for 3rd place overall and Tooney was in sole posession of 2nd overall. I was pretty excited.
After doing some math in my head, I figured out that Tooney had to be 4.5 points in front of Enzo. A 4.5 point lead going into freestyle is HUGE. As long as Tooney had a solid freestyle round, she’d get a placement. I told Jenn “I’m going to score a 39 in my freestyle with Enzo and finish ahead of Tooney for 2nd place”. She thought I was nuts… We dressed Tooney up as a bumble bee and ended up having a really solid round with only 4 drops (about 85% catch ratio). It was really fun. Here’s her round. Because she covers so much area, Joel (thanks!) ended up having to zoom out a lot to get the video (click HQ to watch in high quality):
I came off the field with Tooney and knew she had a really good score – better than I could have dreamed. I felt I had to absolutely rock the house with Enzo to catch her, and more importantly to keep him in position for 3rd place at least (keep in mind, he was tied for 3rd overall at this point). We dressed up as skeletons and put on some cool creepy music. Enzo and I clicked on virtually every single throw and it was a thing of beauty. The crowd and Judges loved his routine and more importantly, Enzo, myself and Jenn loved it. I left the field knowing he only had 3 drops in a difficult, innovative routine. I felt I did as good as I could have hoped. Here’s his video (click HQ to watch in high quality):
They did the placements for freestyle and said there was a tie for 1st place. Enzo tied Bella, and after all the tie breakers, they were still tied! Bill said it was the toughest decision he’s ever made as a judge and after almost an hour of discussion, 1st was given to Bella. We both scored a 38.5 (out of 40). I guess Jenn was right – my prediction of 39.0 was too high 🙂 We haven’t seen the final resutls yet, but I think we both scored a perfect 10 in all the judged categories and then had an 8.5 in the catch ratio (objective category). If that turns out to be the case, I consider it a huge compliment from the judges and the crowd who helped cheer us on. Bella’s routine is big with air and lots of linear movement. Enzo’s routine is complex with close work with unique / difficult throws and moves. It’s nice to see judges appreciate both styles.
Then they did the most important results of the day… overall FDDO champions. For 3rd place, they called out Enzo and I was really happy with that. They said 2nd place was separated by just a half point. They called Tooney’s name. I cried like a baby – I couldn’t help it. This little girl has come so far, I can’t even put into words how much work and effort we have devoted to her disc dog play. From a cute little fluffy dog that for several years wouldn’t even look at the disc unless we gave her treats to 2nd place in the FDDO championships – it was special. I also have to thank Jenn because 6 months ago, she decided that I should take over Tooney’s disc training and take her to the next level. It has been an absolute blast playing with Tooney since that time.
Tooney has proven to Jenn and I that she is truly the best k9 athlete in our house – sorry Enzo. She can’t jump as high or run as fast as him, but at this point, she has proven herself to be good at everything she does. Agility, frisbee, herding, course-a-lure – you name it, she will do it and do it at a high level.
Final picture – this is another good reason to love Tooney so much. It doesn’t get cuter than this: