As a spry one-year-old, border collie “Sophie” took second place in the 2012 Wrightsville Beach Bark in the Park, a canine athletic competition challenging dogs to catch flying discs thrown by their owner. Now a veteran six-year-old, the speedy herding dog was ready for her moment, catching discs thrown nearly 40 yards by owner Andy Mitchell of Charlotte.
“She started when she was a puppy and we’ve worked on it every day,” Mitchell said of the dog’s win in the competition.
The 2017 Bark in the Park brought nearly two dozens dogs to compete in disc catching and costume contests. Catches are scored on the distance the disc is thrown, with points added for catches made as the dog jumps.
Following “Sophie” in second place was “Bear”, handled by owner Patrick Smith, while “Charlie” and owner Aaron Taylor placed third.
Mitchell said that the border collie was a talented breed in catching discs, partly because of its natural instincts as a herding dog, but added that any breed could be trained to compete. “Bird dog” breeds also made good disc catchers, he said, but said they were generally better at chasing the disc than returning it.
One dog, “Lincoln,” demonstrated the dilemma, as owner Chris Bagley struggled to get the dog to return the disc to him, with the dog instead bringing the disc to anyone he thought might throw it. Though Lincoln didn’t place in the competition, his antics won the “Best Personality” prize.
In addition to winning the competition, Mitchell, Sophie and another of Mitchell’s border collie named Kayleigh demonstrated the dogs disc catching skills in a choreographed show.