Gahanna's Sidney Ryan is flying high after he and his Australian shepherd, Paisley, won the youth division in the Skyhoundz Disc Dog World Championships.
Ryan, 14, and Paisley, 18 months, beat eight other teams to win the world championship title Sept. 23 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"It's a lot of fun," Ryan said. "I like it. It was my first time at worlds."
He said he often has to explain his sport to friends and staff at Lincoln High School.
"I tell them I throw discs to my dog," he said. "I tell them I won and they say, 'That's cool.' "
He qualified for the world championship event by placing second among four teams at the Dog Bowl disc competition last spring in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
The top two teams advanced to the world championship.
Sponsored by Hyperflite Flying Discs, Skyhoundz stages the event, billed as the largest disc-dog contest in the world.
The Skyhoundz series features more than 100 disc-dog competitions held throughout the world.
Ryan won from the best of two rounds in freestyle, distance and accuracy with points accumulated from various achievements, such as the dog jumping and catching a disc and a point for every 10 yards of distance.
The Gahanna duo scored 1.5 more points than the second-place team.
"It's like golf," said Ryan's father, Wesley Ryan. "Distance and accuracy are where you end up with a championship," he said.
Sidney Ryan said his other dog, Hendrix, made worlds by default because no other dogs showed up to compete in his category at Frankenmuth.
Hendrix placed fourth at Chattanooga.
The dogs are named after musicians Brad Paisley and Jimi Hendrix, but Paisley is a female.
Ryan, a Gahanna Lincoln High School freshman, said he became involved in the sport through his uncle, Bob Ryan.
He first tried out with a dog owned by his uncle's friend, Beth Watercutter of Grove City.
"I beat Beth with her own dog; then we got our own," Ryan said. "We got Paisley first, then Heni (Hendrix).
"We have leagues every week and come out and play against people from other states," Ryan said.
He said Paisley is very interested in catching the disc.
"She had more of a toy drive," Ryan said. "Heni is more into getting praise after he's done playing."
It took Ryan's mother, Carrie, some time to warm up to the sport.
"I thought, 'Oh no,' the hair and the work," she said.
Now she's attached and sees all the hard work has paid off.
"They love to have a job," she said. "They love to play and look forward to it the entire day."
Sidney Ryan belongs to the Southern Ohio Flying K9s, a group that originated in Cincinnati but moved north and the name stayed the same.
Ryan said Matt Bilderback of Delaware is his coach.
"He used to live in Westerville," said the elder Ryan.
That is why they continue to meet and practice at the Alum Creek South Park in Westerville.
Ryan said it isn't natural for a dog to bring back a disc or to catch one in the air, so he has spent a great deal of time training with them.
Wesley Ryan said they start training dogs with a fabric Frisbee or toy and give it a short toss.
They also do a tug-of-war with the disc, and Sidney Ryan said he lets the dog win.
"It builds up their confidence," he said.
He said there's a lot involved in the training.
"You have to think about which way is the sun (so the dog can see the disc) and what way the wind is blowing," Ryan said.
One of the more difficult moves he has accomplished is the foot stall.
It's achieved when the handler lies on his back on the ground with his feet toward the sky and the dog jumps on the feet and stops before launching off.
Foot-stall training "takes a long time," Ryan said. "It's extremely unnatural (for them) to jump on your feet and stay there."
He said he started with a crate on his lap, then a book on his feet, followed by a towel.
"Once you get them on your feet, they can do a lot of neat things," Carrie Ryan said.
Sidney Ryan said he enjoys traveling to different places to compete with the dogs.
As a result of winning the championship, he and Paisley received an heirloom-quality trophy and had their names permanently inscribed on the Skyhoundz Cup, the Stanley Cup of canine disc sports.
Wesley Ryan said the goal next year will be to earn the title of "two-time champion."
In addition to the disc-dog sport, Ryan plays trombone for the Golden Lion Marching Band and is involved in underwater robotics and Build Club.