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Frisbee-Catching Contest Just Made for Sassy, Owner

September 25, 1998|CHRISTINE CASTRO

Ping Latvong and Nasty Sassy know how to "get jiggy with it."

They grooved to Will Smith's hip-hop tune at a Frisbee competition last weekend. With Latvong's chest as a springboard, the 2 1/2-year-old border collie leaped and soared 7, sometimes 8 feet in the air, catching Frisbee after Frisbee in her mouth.

Sassy twirled and flipped. She walked backward and then sat pretty. With spunk and sass, she performed every trick in the book--and then some.

"The crowds were going crazy," said Latvong, 31, a dog trainer and hair stylist. "They were getting jiggy too."

That is how the duo snatched the first runner-up title and a $500 savings bond at the Friskies ALPO Canine Frisbee Disc World Championships. Sixteen dog-and-owner teams from across the country qualified for the finals in Washington, D.C., and were cheered on by about 15,000 spectators.

"We didn't win this time, but we were still the crowd's favorite," Latvong said with a grin.

This is the second year Latvong has placed in the contest, which judges a dog's leaping ability, showmanship, difficulty and execution. Last year, Latvong and his dog Miss Trixie placed 10th.

But when Trixie died two months ago, Latvong passed the Frisbee to Sassy. They trained for two months, 20 minutes a day.

"I wasn't sure I was going to make it," Latvong said.

But Sassy is a star.

Her black ears perk up when she sees Latvong grab his duffel bag filled with Frisbees. Instead of munching on dog treats, she likes to gnaw on that plastic disc. And she doesn't just jump: She flies.

"She's pretty nasty with that Frisbee," Latvong said.

He talks about Sassy as if she were his daughter. He proudly wears a black "Team Sassy" baseball cap and a Friskies ALPO T-shirt stained from muddy paws.

"Sassy has taken me places I never thought I'd go," Latvong said. "There's no stopping us."

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