Lawrence and Jodi Frederick started out with two great passions: Playing Frisbee and caring for dogs. Together, they have directed those passions into the creation of a troupe of performing dogs known as the "World Famous Disc-Connected K9's" that is a combination of grass roots rescue and acrobatic dogs.
It is all done in the name of raising funds to keep their mission going. The rescue was founded in 1992 with Allie, a Border Collie/Lab mix who was the very first in a long line of subsequent rescues.
Every canine team member started out the same, as a homeless animal taken from the street or an animal shelter, or surrendered by an individual. Some were saved from abusive situations. All receive food, shelter and veterinary care, are taught basic obedience, and most importantly, provided with love. Some go on to become stars of the Frisbee circuit, traveling worldwide as well as all over the United States appearing in fairs and other special events. Some have even gone on to win awards and championships.
It is obvious the Frederick's put their heart and soul into their work. It is a mission founded on doing what the couple sees as right and good. It is the saving of lives that would otherwise end up destroyed. It also appear to be about what is good for their own spirits.
Jodi Frederick regularly takes time off from her job to travel with her husband and their team of high energy performers. She sews bandannas of every size, small enough for a Chihuahua or large enough to fit a Saint Bernard. There are T-Shirts bearing the group's logo and a rainbow of flying discs galore in sizes ranging from teeny-tiny to standard. Some even glow in the dark. Each disc bears the "Disc-Connected K9's" signature logo.
As for Lawrence Frederick, training the dogs has become his full time occupation since retirement. It is obviously a job he is well-suited for. Many years of playing Frisbee has transformed this man into pure grace in motion. His performance is fluid, he and the dogs at times seem as one with the flying plastic. They leap and roll around the field performing all manner of acrobatics. The Frederick's use their bodies as props in the show, engaging the rambunctious dogs, inviting the animals to use them quite literally as a platform for their antics. Their performance is the finest kind of honest entertainment complete with gaffes, spoilers and humorous asides.
A favorite event at the conclusion of a performance is the chance to purchase one of the "jaw-tographed" Frisbees used in the show. For $2 (money that goes directly into the rescue fund) the audience can receive not only a jaw-tograph, but also a paw-tograph, signed with the names of the dogs featured in that day's show and dedicated to whoever is chosen for the honor.
I am pleased to say I obtained my second Frisbee this year, autographed by Mrs. Frederick on behalf of Mars, Jaxson and Flash, complete with tooth marks from the same dogs along with a "jaw-tograph" thrown in by the ever enthusiastic Lawrence Frederick! I always choose a disc that was used in the show. It just has more meaning after watching what these dogs can do.
After the late afternoon show my friend and I had the privilege of sitting down with the Frederick's for a more candid look behind the scenes while Jodi Frederick shared the story of the founding of their rescue group. The Frederick's have studied dog training and believe in positive reinforcement, putting it into practice with all of their dogs. When choosing a dog for Frisbee training several important characteristics are sought, including high energy and an intense prey drive. A typical "interview" technique is to bounce a tennis ball in front of the dog to see if its eyes follow the ball closely. If that is the case, the dog possesses a high level of energy and may be an excellent candidate. Of course, the process entails much more, but the tennis ball test makes a good starting point. Border Collies and Jack Russell terriers often make the best Frisbee players.
Ever gracious and accommodating, the soft-spoken Mrs Frederick allowed us to tour their RV, the vehicle that is creatively decorated on the outside with photos from their many performances. Inside, a number of dogs were resting in their crates and most were quite vocal about the intrusion into their private domain. But Jodi handled them with aplomb, remarking that she hoped we didn't mind the barking. Indeed, it felt like home to me.
For more about the Frederick's, their dog rescue mission and their canine troupe's travels, be sure to visit their Facebook page.
Author's Note: The "Disc-Connected K9's" are one of only a few summoned back to the Jefferson County Fair for a repeat performance. It was so rewarding to enjoy a family-oriented event in Watertown that included canines. Hopefully they will be asked to return again next year.
Also: A huge thank you to Angelia Roberson for getting so many great shots and allowing me to use them here!
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