Drawing from her experience as a disc dog trainer and competitor, Melissa Heeter has penned her first book, “Champion Disc Dog! — The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Dog Airborne in 18 Days.”
“What the book covers is it describes why dogs chase things and why catching a flying disc is a natural job for a dog,” Heeter said. “So it turns the dog into their natural predator and their natural predatorial instincts kick in when they see moving objects like flying discs that look like a bird or a tennis ball. ... So it takes a simple game of fetch and turns a dog’s bad behaviors into a positive behavior.
“I hope [this book] impacts pet owners’ lives by having them get up, out and active with their own pet, whether it’s in the backyard or entering a competition. From what I’ve found, it’s changed my life and my dog’s life. It takes the destructive dog and gives them a natural job so they become a well-mannered pet because they get to run, jump, chase and bite something. Instead of cars and kids and bikes, they can actually [channel] that energy into chasing a toy.”
For Heeter, her lifelong passion for animals has turned into a successful career.
Since entering the disc dog sport, the Rydal resident has become the first female to win a world championship, a member of the Purina Incredible Dog Team and, as the owner of WOOF! Sports USA, she organizes events, such as the U.S. Disc Dog Southern Nationals and the U.S. Disc Dog National and World Finals, that draw top competitors from across the world.
“Any dog can learn to fetch and what the book describes is it goes through a variety of why dogs chase things to how to get your dog to chase a disc to toss and fetch competition to freestyle competition,” Heeter said. “And then we also talk about stretching your dog, building core body muscles. So if somebody has a dog who’s not interested in the disc at first, there’s lots of interactive games and drills that they can play with their own dog.
“What I found is by bringing the world finals here to Cartersville, there were so many people that would come and bring their pet and they would constantly say, ‘Well, my dog can’t do that.’ One of my goals was to show them that any dog can really do this. It just takes a little time, patience and practice and any dog can learn the fundamentals of a simple game of fetch.”
Published by Cider Mill Press in December 2013, “Champion Disc Dog!” retails for $18.95 and can be purchased at area bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
According to a news release for “Champion Disc Dog!,” “From fetch to fancy tricks, catching mid-air to clearing hurdles, the disc dog sport is on the rise, and Melissa Heeter is offering dog owners the chance to embrace it. In her new book, ‘Champion Disc Dog!’ ... Heeter details the sport from the most basic training introduction, to advanced skills and tricks worthy of competition. The book includes a free instructional training DVD, ‘Toss and Fetch 101,’ adding extra value to the package. Yet what gives ‘Champion Disc Dog!’ the complete edge is the expertise and over 30 years of experience behind it.
“Melissa Heeter is a world champion disc dog trainer and competitor, and produces six of the largest disc dog tournaments in the world. In 1997, she and her dog Ariel Asah made history by being the first woman to win the world championships title. She is also the first woman to set the indoor and outdoor canine disc distance records. Since winning she has dedicated her life to teaching pet owners how to have fun with their dogs, and her new book does just that. While the book and DVD provide thorough instruction on every phase of the sport, Heeter also emphasizes the benefits of exercise, safety and bonding with the dog.”
For more information about Heeter and her book, visit www.woofsports.com.