Might As Well Jump

For all their amazing traits, there is a single-mindedness to dogs that is especially enviable. Their owners may lurch from one obsession to another in search of happiness and fulfillment, but something as simple as food, a toy or a morning walk can take members of the canine set to the point of delirium. Of course, some dogs prefer to get higher than others, and, for such daredevil pets, chasing flying discs through the air with acrobatic flair is the ultimate drug of choice.

Perhaps you think basketball players have great vertical leaps, or that football players are great at making the tough catch. You can keep your pampered athletes -- better yet, trade them in for the athletic exploits of the four-legged Frisbee freaks set to blast off at the 2003 Skyhoundz Hyperflite Canine Disc Championships.

While some may consider it to be the exclusive province of disc-obsessed dogs and the people who love them, the sport continues to grow in popularity worldwide, thanks largely to the efforts of Skyhoundz. The world's largest canine disc competition series, Skyhoundz sponsors more than 100 local championships each year, including this weekend's Phoenix competition.

Saturday's event will feature dogs of all sizes and abilities competing in two categories: Distance and Freestyle. Distance competitors can travel up to 50 yards on the ground and in the air in pursuit of the disc, while dogs who prefer to freestyle often provide high-flying antics worthy of an Olympic gymnast (only with significantly stronger teeth). In the end, the sum of the equation adds up to a pastime that virtually defines the term "spectator sport" -- and one worth seeing up close when the leashes come off and the dogs start flying over Phoenix.

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Craig Wallach