ATT Field turned into a major playground for dogs and their owners Saturday as the Hyperflite Skyhoundz World Championship competition got under way.
Maty, a three-legged Australian Shepherd mix wagged her tail as she waited excitedly for her owner and partner Troy Kerstetter to throw a flying disc during a brief practice session before the freestyle competition started.
Maty, who is about 8 years old, is the first tri-paw disc dog to make it to the world competitions, which has made her “semi-famous in the disc-dog world,” said Mr. Kerstetter, who traveled to Chattanooga from Bend, Ore., for the Hyperflight contests.
“People come up to us all that time and say she brings tears to their eyes watching her out there compete,” he said. “When you know that your dog can have that kind of effect on people you have to be out there and show her off.”
About 26 dogs and their owners competed Saturday in the freestyle and distance/accuracy competitions of the Hyperflite Skyhoundz championships, which are being held in Chattanooga for the first time, organizers said.
“We decided to give Chattanooga a try because we’ve been coming for many years to enjoy the recreation opportunities here,” said Jeff Perry, wtih Atlanta-based Hyperflight. “We think it’s a great town.”
This year’s championship includes the top teams from eight U.S. regions as well as teams from Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Japan and the Netherlands, organizers said.
Bob Evans, who has won six world championships with his Australian shepherds, Nick and Luke, said the main aspect about the competition is to bond and have fun with the dogs. Nick is 9 1/2 years old and Luke died last year, Mr. Evans said.
Although Mr. Evans, 76, is not competing this year, he still enjoys watching the action.
“It makes me feel great when someone comes and say, ‘You are Bob Evans,” the Georgetown, Texas, resident said.
Mr. Evans is the oldest individual to have competed in the world championship, and his dogs were the first father-and-son team to have won world championships.
About half of the canines, including Maty, that compete in the Hyperflite World Championship have been adopted from animal shelters or rescue organizations, Mr. Perry said.
“At this championship it doesn’t matter if you are a mixed breed,” he said. “Anybody can come out and potentially be a world champion.”
Today about 100 dogs are expected to compete in the sport division, microdog division and pairs freestyle, organizers said.
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...