Former human champ now raises canine world champs

Enterprise file photo — Jordan J. Michael

Flipping for Frisbees: Disc-connected K9s will perform all sorts of tricks, three times a day on the infield, at the Altamont Fair. The pack of rescue dogs includes four world champions, and the owner of the program is a former Ultimate Frisbee world champion. 

Lawrence Frederick was a world champion in Ultimate Frisbee in 1979 and 1980, before he blew out his knee and could no longer compete in the sport.

“I turned to the dogs,” he said.

Frederick and his team of K9 Frisbee dogs — along with a few other humans — will perform their Disc-Connected K9s show at the Altamont Fair next week.

“The format of the show is presenting the dogs in a choreographed routine that emphasizes each dog’s unique physical and mental talents,” said Frederick.

In addition to catching Frisbees, the dogs jump off the handler’s backs, chests, and thighs, and they do flips.

The K9 Frisbee team, based out of Florida, currently consists of 16 dogs and four of them are world champions. All of them are rescued dogs.

“Every single dog has been adopted,” said Frederick. “The best dog is a rescue dog. It’s that simple.”

The “pack,” as he called it, includes many different breeds — border collies, Australian shepherds, a Jack Russell terrier, a mini Australian shepherd, and more.

“You name it, we have it,” Frederick said.

There is no need to go and spend thousands of dollars on a purebred dog to bring a canine companion into your home, he said.

“That’s one of the premises of our show,” said Frederick. “It’s telling people, ‘Look at these dogs, people gave up on them, and all we did was give them a little love and training and here they are.’”

Most of them, upon adoption, either have had very little training, or had been trained to have negative behaviors.

“In a lot of instances we’re both training and un-training,” said Frederick.

The first order of business for a rescue dog is getting a clean bill of health. After that, he said, the dogs go through basic obedience training.

“Once we know they respect us, will listen to us, and understand that they’re going to have fun, we start training them in the Frisbee skills,” he said.

An adult dog, he said, can usually be trained to perform in a show within four to six months of adoption, but a puppy will take a bit longer, since it needs to build its strength and endurance.

Frederick doesn’t adopt dogs just to turn them into the stars of his show though.

“They’re all indoor dogs,” he said. “They sleep in our bedroom with us and have doggy doors so they can come and go as they please; during the day they have free range of our horse farm, with a pond they can swim in whenever they want.”

They even have a motor home, which serves as a tour bus, and was specially built to carry the dogs.

The K9 Frisbee Dogs travel and perform 42 to 46 weeks out of each year.

“We do festivals and state and county fairs,” said Frederick. “It’s great; we get to see parts of the country we wouldn’t normally get to see, all because of the dogs.”

The biggest question people have, he said, is whether the dogs actually enjoy the performances.

“They love what they are doing,” he said. “We just go out and play with them and see what they like to do, and once we find that out, we incorporate it into their routines.”

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Disc-Connected K9s will perform three times each day of the Altamont Fair, in the infield, at 12:30, 4:30, and 6:30 p.m. 

More Altamont Fair

Teams of Belgian draft horses, owned by Kurt Johnson of Knox, will pull around the grounds some of the big wagons owned by the fair that have not been taken out in years.

An average of 26 dogs per year are rescued and adopted through the organization, which operates solely on donations.

ALTAMONT — Lisa Seypura has knit a pair of mittens that, when the wearer puts her hands side by s