There are a lot of different customers who rely on Nite Ize gear, but few have cuter co-workers than Mike Hanson. Mike is a member of the Nite Ize Field Team, a disc dog trainer and has traveled the United States competing with his various dogs at flying disc competitions. We caught up with him for this interview…
Q: Right off the bat, all your dogs are female: Jordan, SiZZle, and, MaggEY. Why female? Are they better at catching or staying focused?
I prefer females based on personality. They have a touch of individualism that when trained correctly, makes for a good team.
Q: Tell us all about your dogs! Tell us their names, ages, how they joined your family and their personalities.
MaggEY – 12-year-old Border Collie mix. She is my first dog and the pack leader of the house. She has the best personality and is the best dog I have ever owned. She was rescued in Colorado Springs, CO. Her litter was thrown into a field, and she was the only dog that made it. When a group went out to look for them, they found her under a tree stump whimpering. She went on to win five Colorado State Championships, three World Championships, and has performed before hundreds of thousands of people. She has performed for all of the major Denver sports teams and local colleges. I am truly lucky to have her come into my life.
Cooper – 11-year-old Border Collie mix. He was rescued in Paonia, CO. His disc career was cut short due to a freak accident in which he jumped off of a third floor balcony of an apartment complex. He survived the fall, but his budding disc career was over. He now has the best life a dog could have at our house--chasing squirrels and ensuring there are no monsters under our daughters bed.
Jordan – 8-year-old Border Collie. She was rescued in Gunnison, CO. She is the smartest dog I have ever owned. She learns so fast and is always willing to work. She might be cross-eyed, however, because she can’t catch a disc very well at all. She enjoys going for hikes and playing disc golf with me when she is not pretending to be a disc dog.
SiZZle – 2-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie/Cattle Dog mix. She came out of the birth canal chasing a disc. She has so much energy, and is always willing and wanting to please. She is our “up and comer” and is turning into an amazing dog. I can’t wait to see where she takes us.
Q: How did you get into training your dogs to catch flying discs? Most dogs live for fun, but bringing a stick back is a lot easier than jumping up and catching something mid-flight!
We went to a competition in Littleton, CO for the Colorado Disc Dogs. MaggEY and I spent the day watching them and at the end of the day, they gave us a disc and a couple of tips. The next day I took her out, gave her a throw, she ran it down, and we were hooked. From there we went and learned online from watching YouTube routines. The rest is history.
Q: What competitions have you participated in with your dogs?
We compete in freestyle competitions where you do a two-minute routine with tricks set to music. You are judged on style, athleticism, teamwork, and overall presentation. We also do a “Toss and Catch” competition where you have a 40-yard field with different bonus zones and try to get as many catches as possible in one minute. A fast dog can get five throws to the furthest zone in one minute. One of our favorite competitions is a long distance competition called “The Hero Cup” where you throw as far as you can and have your dog catch it. I have had catches past 87 yards before.
Q: When you're not tossing discs for your girls to catch, what's your day job?
I run a youth sports program for kids age 3-14 in Littleton, CO. We take kids that have never played sports before, teach them, and give them and opportunity to play. We help over 5,000 kids play sports each year.
Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product?
The Pack-A-Poo® Bag Dispenser is a game changer for a guy that picks up a lot of dog poop. The fact you can wind your poop bags back up into the dispenser is pretty awesome. I also use the Gear Ties® in my cars for everything. I especially like them to tie the dog bowls to the front of the crates. The SpotLit® is great to have on road trips to keep track of your dogs at night as well.
Q: Back in 2015 you and your dog did the NFL halftime show during Broncos vs. Colts. What did you do and what was that experience like?
My friends and I did the halftime show for the opening night of the NFL season. When MaggEY and I got out to the field, there was no one else on the field- just her and I under the lights at Sports Authority Field in front of 80,000 people doing what we both love to do the most. She didn’t drop a single disc that night. It is an experience that leaves me with goose bumps every time I think about it or tell the story. It is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
Q: Ever thought about training cats to catch flying discs? How do you imagine that'd go?
I am allergic to cats, LOL. I am sure someone could train them to catch a disc. Good luck on them bringing it back, though!
Mike adds: I love my family and the fact that this sport can be enjoyed by all of us. My daughter, Emma, won the 7-and -Under World Championship with MaggEY last year. This sport allows us to travel and meet friends we would have never known if it wasn’t for our dogs. It is amazing how much these dogs have changed my life and all it took was rescuing one. I encourage everyone to go out and rescue your next pet.