Canine Dog Disc Championships return to downtown Naperville

  • Dogs of all shapes and sizes will compete Saturday in the Canine Dog Disc Championships along the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville.

      Dogs of all shapes and sizes will compete Saturday in the Canine Dog Disc Championships along the Riverwalk in downtown Naperville. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer/September 2013

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Posted5/5/2015 12:45 PM

There may be more than one "can-hardly" dog at the Canine Dog Disc Championships set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 9, along Naperville's downtown Riverwalk, Tom Wehrli says.

Wehrli says that's his nickname for mutts, as in, "You can hardly tell what kind of dog it is."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He says there will be plenty of mixed-breed pooches competing Saturday alongside a goodly number of purebreds, all of which share a single passion: chasing a whirring, flying disc and trying to snag it before it hits the ground.

Wehrli, whose affiliation with competitive dog disc throwing goes back 35 years, will be on hand as one of the judges at the Naperville Park District contest sponsored by the Midwest Disc Dog Club.

Dogs and their owners will show off their speed, agility, accuracy and sheer joy in the sport that got its official start in 1975. That was the inaugural year of what is now known as the Ashley Whippet Invitational, the worldwide competition organized by Ashley Whippet's owner, Alex Stein.

In 1974, Stein and his dog sneaked onto the field during a televised Dodgers game in Los Angeles and performed disc tricks to the crowd's delight. The next year, the competition was launched.

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Qualifying events for the AWI are scheduled throughout the spring and summer in places such as China, Portugal, France and Switzerland and in several stateside locations, including a qualifying contest Sept. 5 in Naperville. Wehrli is hosting that event. For more information about the AWI, visit www.ashleywhippet.com.

Wehrli said Saturday's event is not a qualifier for a larger, more intense competition. It's intended for anyone who has an interest -- and a dog with a willing attitude.

Wehrli said one notable competitor expected to take his dog through its paces Saturday is Mark Faragoi, a Plainfield man who has appeared with his dogs on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

There are three divisions for competitors. The novice division is for first-timers and the registration fee is $5. The intermediate division, which carries a $10 entry fee, is for dog-and-owner teams that have competed in the past. And the open division, for dog disc veterans, requires a fee of $15. On-site registration will be available at 8:30 a.m. at the Grand Pavilion. Registration is also available at www.napervilleparks.org.

Competing dogs must be leashed and current with immunizations. Female dogs in season may not participate.

There is no fee for spectators.

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