Niagara Gazette

August 2, 2013

K9s in Flight is a hit at this year's Niagara County Fair

By Bill Wolcott bill.wolcott@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — The audience loved it. The rescue dogs loved it more. The canines couldn’t wait to get out of their trailer and perform at the Niagara County Fair on Thursday for trainer Ed Jakubowski.

During the show, kids were asking if their dogs could learn the tricks. After the show, dog owners asking for information from the hall of fame trainer.

Jakubowski, 62, still sweating from the workout, was accommodating. His “Disc Dogs A2Z,” which were abandoned and adopted, came into his program without training and now are entertaining. They are part of K9s in Flight.

Jakubowski, who has appeared on ESPN, Animal Planet, the Great Outdoor Games, Discovery and Wide World of Sports, explained the disc differences. Some discs are durable and can be used in practice. Some are too brittle and may break in a dog’s teeth. There are small discs for small dogs and smaller discs for tiny dogs. Some are used for water shows.

“In the wind, a disc will have a mind of its own,” Jakubowski said.

Stella, a newly trained dog, didn’t having a problem chasing the discs down and returning them to the trainer. The veterans of the show could fly off the ground, putting all four paws in the air to snatch the prize.

Children cheered.

“It’s a great show, fun. The kids are loving it,” said Michelle Hickman of Lockport who brought her four boys, Joel, 6, Maxwell, 5, Benjamin, 3, Jacob, 1.

“My 3-year-old was asking if we can get our dogs to do these tricks,” Michelle said. “We’ll try.”

Elaine Thompson and friend Kim Knuutila brought their daughters to the show. Mixed breeds and a chocolate lab may soon be training for the frisbee tour.

Jakubowski and his K-9 teams have been show stoppers since 1978. He retired from UPS after 33 years and has received Hall of Fame honors and a lifetime achievement award for his work.

Jakubowski has performed at NFL games and major league baseball games. This week, the Connecticut native is a pinch-hitter in Niagara County, replacing a colleague who was unable to make it.

Disc Dogs A2Z perform three and four times a day at the fair. Shows on Saturday are at 11 a.m., 3, 5 and 7 p.m.

That “works out” fine for Jakubowski.

“Four times a day keeps me in shape,” he joked.

INSIDE More photos of Thursday's action at the Niagara County Fair. LOCAL, 8A