Friday, May 3, 2024

K-9 at Work

This week - ahead of tomorrow's election, which I wrote about here - I swapped my Tuesday and Friday posts. High Five for Friday will return next week!


Last week I shared a post (about cats) I'd meant to write seven or so months ago, and this week I'm sharing a post (about dogs) I meant to share even before that. Tis the season for animals and catching up!

My boys are big disc golfers. Big disc golfers know that from time to time - and no matter how good you are - you're going to lose discs. They get caught in trees, lost in thick brush, or hidden in tall grasses, or perhaps most frequently for my boys, discs sink to the bottom of the ponds and streams that pepper the courses they play. 

Losing a disc golf disc is a bigger deal than losing a regular golf ball. Discs are much more expensive than golf balls, in addition to being much more specialized; discs are all weighted and shaped differently, designed for different distances and types of throws and to fly in different wind conditions. When you lose a disc, you can't necessarily just replace it with another disc from your bag, so as a result, disc golfers tend to look for their discs at length when one goes missing and do whatever they can to collect their discs from wherever they might land.

For example... Tom has gotten poison ivy at least 10 times after recovering his discs from wooded areas. Both Will and Tom regularly come home from rounds covered in scratches after retrieving their discs from angry, thorny shrubs. And Will frequently "goes swimming" in bodies of water I'd NEVER go anywhere near to find discs that he, Tom, or friends have thrown "into the drink." Disc golf sounds fun, doesn't it? 😂

Disc golfers usually write their first name and telephone number on the back of their discs, and it's customary in the disc golf community for players who find someone else's disc (perhaps you come across one, while looking for your own, that someone else couldn't find) to call the phone number and try to return the disc. Whenever Tom loses a disc and someone else reaches out to let him know it's been found, he attempts to keep the karma positive - and motivate people to keep returning discs - by delivering a candy bar to the finder. In communities where there are disc golf stores, owners usually have a "lost and found," where finders can drop off discs that aren't theirs and seekers can go look for discs they've lost. These systems generally work pretty well, and while you don't get all of your discs back, you definitely get a few returned to you. 

For fun, here's Will on his very first disc golf outing. This was
taken in spring 2007, so he was probably about six months old.

But now, more and more discs are finding their way back to their original owners...

My dad, brother-in-law, and nephew play disc golf regularly as well, and when we're all together the disc golf group heads out to a course at least every other day. Last summer (yes, we're going back that far), my BIL lost a disc while playing in Madison, Wisconsin. No one could find it, so eventually they had to move on to the next hole and leave it behind.

A couple of days later, however, my BIL received this text, along with a photo:

Hello, this is Tim Barlow, owner of Chance's Disc Golf Search and Rescue. Chance has found your Cloud Breaker* and we would like to get it back to you!

* Cloud Breaker is a disc - they all have names.

The text went on to explain how my BIL could connect with Tim to pick up his disc, but that's not an important detail. The important detail is that a dog.

Chance has been trained to sniff out disc golf discs, which he apparently does so well that he has his own business, along with business cards and a Facebook page. From what I can tell, Chance finds multiple discs every time he goes out, and his "people" - at least based on their many Facebook posts and Reddit threads reviewing his work - are incredibly grateful. Chance has been learning new skills too - he now knows to sit by a found disc and wait for his humans to "pop it up" with a stick so he doesn't damage the disc by trying to paw it out of a tricky spot.

He's SUCH a good boy.

Hallie and I don't usually join the boys when they play disc golf (except when they play on a mountain in Sedona, Arizona), but if there were a chance I'd run into Chance on the course, I could be convinced.

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