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An Interview with Kirby McNab

Wanna meet an amazing, inspiring girl today? Well here’s your chance! This girl is a total force to be reckoned with! 

Today I introduce to you Ms. Kirby McNab of Huntington Beach, California.

 

I first saw Kirby in February of 2013 and immediately thought, “I need to meet this girl and see what she’s all about!” After seeing her perform a disc routine I knew exactly why I had that feeling when I saw her. I soon found out, not only is she ridiculously talented, but she’s a kind spirited young lady as well.

She does everything from agility, to disc, flyball, dock diving, and oh yeah she’s a full time college student!

Let’s hear a little bit more about her story from the lady herself…

Kayla B: Please tell us a brief history on you involvement in the performance dog world:

Kirby McNab: I started agility with Lucky, my Shih Tzu, when I was 9 years old. A year later, I added a Border Collie, Sketch, to compete in agility. Then we took a frisbee class with Sketch and learned about the disc dog competition world. After our first competition in 2006, we were hooked. Sketch and I played flyball for a couple years. We never did compete in agility, but we took some classes.

Kirby & her second family

KB: Last summer you were able to go on tour, can you tell us a little bit more about that?

KM: Sketch, Flash, Torch, Spirit, and I went on a show tour with Lawrence Frederick and the Disc Connected K9′s (http://www.k9frisbee.com/). We travelled for almost three months doing shows in Mississippi, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York. It was really cool to see the Northeast area, since I had never been there before. I learned a lot about doing shows too. We also went to Stowe, Vermont for a week and hung out with Alex Stein (owner of one of the first frisbee dogs, Ashley Whippet; more history here ) which was really cool.

KB: What challenges have you faced in the Disc Dog World?

KM: Blitz has probably been my biggest challenge in my disc dog career so far. Being under socialized and abused in her previous home, she came to me with a lot of issues (frisbee being the LEAST of those issues…unfortunately. Although she had a lot of disc issues too) She was afraid of people and dogs. She had no clue how to meet a dog and usually would just snap and try to attack them. She was even worse off leash. She would freak out and run if you moved a chair or another large object. She was food and toy possessive with the other dogs. When she played disc at competitions, it was always a huge production just to get her on and off the field with the other dogs being around. She would always be looking around her like something was after her. After 4 years of working with her, she’s finally come out of most of her issues. She had a breakthrough in disc at the end of 2012 and now she has even been giving Sketch, Flash, and Torch a run for their money at competitions! She has some great freestyle skills so who knows, maybe there will be an IDC in her future….

6 Year old Border Collie ‘Blitz’ Rescue Pup Princess Blitzen & Kirby

KB: This year you were able to qualify to compete in the finals at the Incredible Dog Challenge How do you prepare for such an event?

KM: We’ve been slowly changing and brushing up our routine since March (well, technically since we started playing, so I guess it’s always been in progress). But we’ve been doing some major practice in the last month or so. We’ve been adding difficulty as well as flair since the Las Vegas PPPIDC to prepare for this. Lately we’ve just been doing run throughs of the routine, making sure everything is perfect and our timing is in sync with each other.

Kirby and ‘Torch’ Rockin’ KR Red Raging Torch in Las Vegas at an IDC Qualifier. Photo Courtsey of Steven Donahue

KB: I know you practice multiple sports with multiple dogs, tell us what what events and what dogs?

KM: I mostly just do disc stuff with Sketch, Flash, Torch, Blitz, and Spirit. I’m working on dock diving and agility with all of them, but it’s hard to find time for other dog sports because of our commitment in disc and school.

KB: What do you aspire to do in the future both with your dogs and in general?

KM: We’ll see whatever opportunities that come our way. I would love to continue competing with my dogs as the whole atmosphere of the competitions is incredible. I love the bond I get to build with my pups while training and preparing for a huge event. I would love to do more things to promote rescue dogs and the idea that dogs (as well as other pet animals) are not just toys to be thrown away once the “new” has worn off. It would be great to see all of the animals in shelters have loving homes instead of being euthanized at an alarming rate because the shelters are full.

KB: What has been your best memory in the sport so far and what would be your dream moment?

KM: I can’t think of a particular memory that pops out when you say “best memory,” but there are so many great memories from playing in disc dogs, on and off the field. From the amazing times with dogs to the camaraderie of all of the disc doggers, there are so many wonderful times that I’ve experienced in this sport. I wouldn’t say I have a dream moment, but I do have goals with each of the dogs. With Sketch, I am hoping to win a world championship, but I know he is coming to a point where he is starting to slow down so I don’t expect that from him. But he has done quite a lot in his career, one of which being a 10x Quadruped Long Distance Winner and another being teaching me how to play and putting up with my awful throws for years! Blitz just accomplished my big goal for her this year, which was qualifying for a world finals event. A new goal for her would probably be making the finals at a Quadruped Long Distance competition. For Spirit, I would love for him to play at a PPPIDC and qualify a few more times for the Microdog World Championships. I would like to set a long distance record (hopefully farther than 80 yards) with Flash since he loves to do distance and he is so fast. With Torch, I would like to win the Ashley Whippet Invitationals and the PPPIDC. (Not in the same year of course, but if it happened that way, all the better!) These dogs are so ambitious, I think they can accomplish anything as long as I throw it okay.

KB: In your free time, if any, what do you enjoy doing?

KM: Since I am a full time college student, I spend most of my free time studying. When school is out, I usually draw, paint, or do something artsy in my free time. (Hence, the name of my dog is “Sketch”) I also like taking pictures, especially just random shots of my dogs yard playing or at the park.

KB: What advice do you have not only for girls your age that may be interested in the performance world, but young handlers in general?

KM: One of my biggest tips is to not overwork your dog. Work on things in short, small sessions and build up to the biggest and the best. Also remember that you are doing this (whatever sport it is you’re doing) to have fun and build the relationship with your dog. They want to play with you because they think you’re awesome, not because they want to win and you should feel the same about them! Most of all, don’t be intimidated/discouraged by the other competitors and don’t focus on winning! Instead, work at trying to master the skills required to do well in your sport, rather than focusing on how you’re going to pose on the podium. The beauty of having a talent is in the performance itself, not the biggest trophy or title you have.

KB: Who has been your biggest inspiration & support system?

KM: My biggest support system has been my mom and step dad, Dave. They are always so helpful and supportive of my passion with the pups. Another huge supporter and coach of mine has been Tony Crumley. He used to compete in Southern California and taught a lot of what I know about disc dogs. And of course, my biggest inspiration is my dogs. They’re always there for me no matter what, and they’re always up for a good game of disc. Obviously they’re the reason I get to have as much fun as I do and without them, who knows where I’d be.

KB: Any last words?

KM: Thank you for choosing to interview me! Torch and I are super excited for the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge. It will be live on www.barknetwork.com! My website is www.flyingcanines.com if you want to see more pictures and info about Sketch, Flash, Torch, Blitz, and Spirit.

Proving again, that Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
Comments
  • heather
    Heather rife dvm October 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Great woman! Thanks for highlighting her…an inspiration to us all!

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