Monday, September 14, 2009

An early Fall day in Vermont

Thelma & I (and Lolita) traveled to Shelburne, VT yesterday to compete at the VT State Disc Dog Championship at the Shelburne Museum Goes to the Dogs event. I think it's important with young dogs to take them to multiple environments to encourage their focus and test the progress of their training. This would be a small event competitively but with thousands of spectators and hundreds of dogs surrounding the field of play. Definitely a test for a young dog, but a wonderful venue to show off a high-drive, frisbee-centric pit bull.

Thelma was entered in the Pro Division and competed in freestyle. She was so excited to be there that during the competitor's meeting with the judges, when I was just out of her sight, she tried to bust out of her crate. Blood and warped pieces of plastic were the only signs of a struggle.

Teams would have two attempts to impress the judges on four basic elements based on Skyhoundz rules: Presentation (person), Athleticism (dog), WOW factor ;), Success (how many catches per attempts). Her first round was a bit of a nail biter, with lots of people and dogs watching from the perimeter of the field. She was fast and furious, catching and racing around the field. She was unrelenting on the discs and showed promise of great things to come.

The day was made complete by the arrival of Alex Stein, owner of the original disc dog Ashley Whippet and the person responsible for bringing canine disc to the mainstream with his stunt in Dodger Stadium in 1974. Alex lives in Stowe, VT and it's always fun to hang out with him and get his insight on today's game. He was excited to meet this pit bull ;)

There are times in the midst of a routine when a handler feels like they are really connecting with their dog and flow and success just happen. I felt that during our second round, during an entire minute and a half. It didn't matter what the judges felt at that point. I was thrilled with our performance! Thelma wowed me, Alex and apparently the judges.

The end of the day was awesome. As the scores were being read from bottom to top, I realized that Thelma's name had not been called out. As the announcer got to the hardware, Nadja Palenzuela and Thelma in third place. Amidst the experience of other teams, amidst the chaos of the venue, our drivey little pit bull was taking home a plaque and the adoration of many Vermonters. As we posed for photos with Alex, the smell of fall was in the air and the curtain is falling on this year's competition season. I can't believe where this little girl is at after only 4 months...


Hanna said...

Yeah!!!! Congratulations!

Ellen said...

Awesome! The MSPCA in Methuen MA is hosting a Pit Bull Awareness Day on Oct 25th and we would love to have Thelma strut her frisbee catching self as our guest of honor. What do you say? If interested please email Ellen for details at

Beth said...

Thank you Nadja...for letting this little froggy girl shine!!! Well written, well felt. She is a true ambassador for her "kind".

Helene said...

Congratulations to Thelma and Nadja - I have tears in my eyes having seen T when she first came to rescue at AFF. You've come a long way baby Thelma!!!

Anonymous said...

These little guys truly are athletes who just want to please. We have a rescue pit "Bob" a two year old pit female. A powerful little bundle of sqirming "lovebug". She is a perfect example of her breed, and we cannot imagine a life without her.

Hurray! for Thelma, she found her niche in this oft-time cruel world .