July 31, 2013 - Frisbees, dogs and kids.
Brian Hayes, co-founder of Flying Aces, does some tricks with Bad Lad, an 11-year-old Australian Cattle Dog or Red Heeler. (click for larger version)
The three elements of a fun summer evening were all at the Oxford Public Library July 25 as Brian Hayes, cofounder of the Flying Aces: Professional Flying Disc Team, presented a program filled with Frisbee demonstrations and tricks for humans and canines.
"The more tricks humans can do, the more fun they'll have with their dog," he said. "I like to share knowledge with the audience, so they feel like they can go home and try some of this stuff."
Based in Grass Lake, Michigan, Flying Aces has performed about 7,000 shows in all 50 states, plus Canada, Puerto Rico and Saudi Arabia. In 2007, the team began doing shows that incorporate dogs. About 400 canine shows have been performed in four states.
"I probably do 100 shows a year with my human partner and maybe 15 or 20 with the dogs," said Hayes, who's been doing this as his full-time profession since 1977.
Hayes started doing Frisbee performances in 1974 as a student at Eastern Michigan University. He then began doing shows during halftime at Detroit Pistons games.
"People really enjoy it," he explained. "We've been to a lot of schools and libraries, and a couple football halftime shows."
Two border collies and two Australian Cattle Dogs (or Heelers) were used in the Oxford show. All four – Ulysses, Bad Lad, Maggie and Joe – are rescues owned by Hayes and his wife, Teresa.
Over the years, the couple has rescued about eight to 10 dogs and fostered another seven or eight. "We just love animals," Hayes said. "My wife was raised on a farm and I've had dogs all my life.
"When I saw how many dogs were abused and needed homes, I decided I would never buy another one from a breeder or from a pet shop, especially. We find our dogs through shelters and rescue groups."
Bad Lad, an 11-year-old Red Heeler, is technically retired, but he still comes to the shows and does a few tricks.
"He gets so upset when he sees us packing up the truck," Hayes said. "He knows what's going on. He starts tearing around the house, so we just bring him."
"He used to be like (Detroit Lions wide receiver) Calvin Johnson – the guy you could hit with the long pass," he added. "Now, if I throw it more than 10 or 15 feet, he just looks at me like, 'Hey, dude, I'm retired.' But it's still fun for him."
For more information about Flying Aces, please visit www.flyingaces.com or call (734) 428-2100.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.