Search and Rescue Dog Performs Disc Dog Actions at Halftime Shows – American Kennel Club

Some dogs can catch a Frisbee. But it takes a really special dog to handle catching one out of the hands of a wild green Phillie Phanatic without running the other way. But Phame, an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever, is ready to take on the challenge, performing Disc Dog routines at hangout shows around the country.

Phame is used to keeping calm during intense situations as a certified human remains search and rescue dog with her handler and owner Dr. Jennifer Brown, DVM.

Frisbee is Phame’s reward for this important and often exhausting work. She began competing in Disc Dog with Brown friend Gary Duke in 2015 and has qualified for and participated in every UpDog Challenge international final since its inception in 2016. This year, Frizgility, Time Warp and Greedy have taken part in the competition, which will air like the Disc Dog Challenge on ESPN2 On Friday, December 9th at 2 PM EST.

Go wild with Frisbee

Despite Phame’s ability to wow an audience, she wasn’t actually a huge fan of disc sports as a puppy, or any game for that matter. But after watching her mother, Phanesse, enjoy playing puck with a few months of practice and perseverance, she transforms into what Duke refers to as a “Frizbeast” and goes to play if there’s a puck in the vicinity.

Duke came into contact with Dr. Brown for her veterinary services and became Phame’s lead handler for these competitions.

“I’ve been sparring with it ever since and had a nice little ride along the way,” he says. “It’s great to see how a dog who didn’t really show the natural ability right away on the bat is finally getting over it and starting to enjoy it.”

Since Phame lives with Dr. Brown, most of her training takes place at home and is perfected before competition. In the Disc Dog Challenge, Duke takes her a week before the show to work on the games. The two then drove from Tampa, Florida, to Charlotte, North Carolina, to compete.

However, Phame is happy to go where the frisbee is.

“She used to go out with Gary, she loves Gary,” says Dr. Brown. She’s one of those types of dogs that will accompany anyone she loves, like, ‘You’ve got the disc, I’ll go with you. No problem.'”

Greedy is Duke’s favorite game to play with Pham because it requires the most movement from the wizard. Phame is the first Labrador retriever to be awarded the Disc Dog Unobtanium Elite title, and based on her past performance, Duke thinks she can place it in the top 10.

Fun with fishing

Duke first got involved in Disc Dog halftime shows with a local club run with some of the local Tampa sports teams. When his fame became known, the disc company Hero Disk USA eventually sponsored him, which opened the door to more shows nationwide.

This has shared him with Phame showing off their skills during halftime shows for NFL, AFL, MLS, MLB and NWSL teams. But perhaps the highlight was the Philadelphia Phillies’ halftime show where Fammy played the iconic (but fearsome) Philly Fanatic in the 40’s mascot.The tenth birthday.

“We were invited to come out and do pre- and in-game entertainment, and Fame even went so far as to let fanatics throw her two Frisbees during one of the mid-rounds,” says Gary. “And I caught two or three discs that he threw while he was in a costume. So, that was really cool.”

While some dogs might be a little wary of the giant green outfit, Famie has remained unchanged as long as there is a disc to catch, which is what Duke has contributed to her focus as the human remains detection dog. Although they are steady and accurate hunters, he says that doesn’t always translate into every dog ​​doing well with the camera and cheers in the mix.

Phame proves to be an excellent performer, and Duke wants to keep performing with her for as long as possible.

“The backlog on the field, which is quite large compared to the fields we’re used to playing on, translates well when you get the backlog on that puck-chase,” he says. “As soon as the dog takes it out of the air, the crowd explodes and moves.”

An important job off the field

Phame has another important job. She is a FEMA Certified Urban Search and Rescue Human Remains Detecting Dog with Florida Task Force 2 and has done the work to find missing bodies and provide closure for families and loved ones. They were deployed in response to disasters such as the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in 2022 and the collapse of Champlain Towers in 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Dr. Brown first got involved in search and rescue initially as a responder on the veterinary side as an equine surgeon. Although she never thought she would be a dog trader, she learned about search and rescue from her friend Cindy Addo and found Maranatha Farm Kennels in Maine.

She now has five certified dogs.

Testers begin their training at Maranatha and Dr. Brown and keep them sharp at home. Then you do the hard work of going through the deployments.

“We have a lot of emotions surrounding what we do because we’re trying to help people in need whether they’re alive or dead and it’s a catastrophic situation,” says Dr. Brown. “So, there’s always a lot going on in that regard. But the dogs know it’s just a game of hide and seek. We just tell them, ‘Go find. And their expectation is I’m going to get a reward at the end.’”

Although not as good as Duke, she still feels equally proud of all of Phame’s accomplishments.

Frisbee is still a reward for this hardworking dog, and for anyone willing to participate, Duke recommends going to your local club, which he believes is one of the most welcoming communities around. In addition, all you need is a disk and a dog.

“My most athletic days are behind me,” says Duke. “So, my favorite part is living vicariously through my dogs athlete by letting them do the hard work. I just deliver the goods to them and let them do all the bragging.”

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