Spectators watched as a lithe, black dog twisted into the air, flipping backwards to catch a Frisbee in her mouth at the Douglas County Fair this week.
After landing, Whoopsy, a border collie-McNab mix, excitedly waited for another flying disc to be thrown her way, tail wagging and tongue lolling.
The pup is part of a traveling act called the K9 Kings Flying Dog Show and the man behind it is JD Platt, a former professional snowboarder living in Bend.
A seed was planted in 1996 when Platt met a man while hitchhiking home from the mountain one day.
He had just started teaching his German shepherd-Labrador retriever mix to play with a Frisbee.
“Lo and behold a week later I met this guy,” Platt said.
He got hooked and started competing in dog Frisbee tournaments.
Eight years later, he took the show on the road full time.
“As I joke, the dogs are now catching the air,” he said.
Platt said he and his dogs have performed for just about everything: fairs, festivals, birthday parties, bat mitzvahs and TV shows.
He said the job he has now — traveling and performing with his canine friends — has been an accumulation of his life story.
Platt said he’s been dancing and entertaining since the age of 9.
“It’s always kind of been in my nature,” he said. “I’m very blessed to do this. And the dogs love it, that’s what’s most important.”
During one of his acts, Platt takes a Boston terrier-Australian Shepherd mix named Carnival and stretches her like an accordion.
Most of the other dogs perform acrobatic tricks, leaping into the air to catch flying discs or weaving through Platt’s legs.
Some of the dogs are rescues, like Zilo. During one of his shows, Platt said he got a call from an animal rescue, saying they thought they had the perfect dog for him.
Since then, Zilo has been excitedly jumping into the air, catching disc after disc. At one point, Zilo refused to drop the disc that was already in his mouth while chasing after another Frisbee in the air. Platt said that’s all part of doing a show with animals — it can be pretty unpredictable.
Platt said he likes to use his shows as a way to inspire people to exercise their dogs.
“Building a bond with their dog is something we like to encourage people to do,” he said.
He currently has 10 dogs in his care, but he said he’s had as many as 15 at one time.
This is his second generation of dogs, which he said is completely different than the first pack.
He said each dog is uniquely different, with their own personalities.
“It’s something I love being challenged by,” Platt said.
Tyler, a 15-year-old male transgender Sutherlin High School student, received some unpleasant news last month after his mother read in the newspaper that he had been called out by name in a lawsuit over who should be able to use the boys’ bathrooms at school.
The lawsuit was brought by another Sutherlin student, identified in court documents only as T.B. T.B. and his mother Summer Eastwood alleged the school district was violating T.B.’s privacy rights by letting Tyler use the boys’ bathroom. T.B. and Eastwood voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit this week, partly because similar court cases have recently been rejected by the courts.
Tyler wasn’t a defendant in the lawsuit, but was mentioned prominently in it anyway. That’s one reason LGBT advocates have called this case “bullying by lawsuit.”
Tyler opened up about how this case has affected him in a blog post published Thursday on the ACLU of Oregon’s website. ACLU of Oregon took Tyler on as a client after the lawsuit was filed. The organization was also involved in a similar federal case brought against the Dallas, Oregon school district. A group of parents sought in that case to overturn a school district policy similar to Sutherlin’s. A judge dismissed the Dallas lawsuit in July.
The conflict between Tyler and T.B. began Jan. 31, when Tyler walked into the boys’ bathroom during his fourth-period class. Tyler wrote that he remembered seeing someone there, but didn’t pay attention to who it was. He said he heard someone say, “Isn’t it weird,” but didn’t recall what else was said. He did remember that the people talking referred to him as “she” — a pronoun he doesn’t identify with, and that was also used by the plaintiff’s attorney both in the lawsuit and in conversations with the press.
“I didn’t realize at the time that this bathroom visit was going to end up in court,” he said. “I didn’t even know anybody cared until I was called out of class later that day and sent to the vice principal’s office,” he said.
Tyler said the vice principal showed him security camera footage of him going into the bathroom and told him he had received a complaint. Tyler said the vice principal asked him why he didn’t use the girls’ bathroom.
“Because I’m a guy,” Tyler said. “I’ve been this way my whole life.”
Tyler wrote that he knew from a very young age that he felt male. He played baseball instead of softball. He played football. He wore his hair short. He didn’t relate to girls. In fourth grade, he learned what being transgender meant. That helped him understand himself, but it didn’t prepare him for the reaction of his peers.
“When I was still seen as female, people stood up for me. But after I came out, things just switched,” he said. He got bullied, he said, and called names he wouldn’t repeat on his blog post.
“Feeling unaccepted and like an outcast can really put a toll on you emotionally. I became more secluded, more isolated. This past year, my sophomore year at Sutherlin, was rough,” he said.
He said some other students thought it was funny to call him by the female name he previously used, which he calls his “dead name.” They also used female pronouns when referring to him.
“It just turns into a big laugh fest, seeing how far they can push me, the weird kid,” he said.
But his therapist was supportive, and so was his mother. He also said he’s received a lot of support from advocates since the lawsuit was filed.
“I hope other transgender students in Oregon know that they are not alone. I hope this lawsuit getting dropped means real progress and acceptance,” he said.
ACLU of Oregon Legal Director Mat dos Santos said the organization is “gratified that this meritless, mean-spirited suit was dropped.”
“All students have the right to a safe and inclusive learning environment. Transgender and gender diverse students are free to be who they are at any public school in Oregon and we will be there to protect these important rights should future suits be brought,” dos Santos said.
Shayna Medley, an attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project said courts around the country have rejected cases like the one filed against the Sutherlin School District.
“It is disheartening that transgender and gender nonconforming students are still being targeted by these frivolous lawsuits, but we’re grateful this suit was dropped and will continue to defend trans students’ right to be treated equally in schools,” she said.
Several Roseburg streets are scheduled for grinding and paving in the next few weeks. The schedule for day and nighttime construction is below:
Daytime repairs are scheduled from the corner of Garden Valley Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue to Stephens Street for Monday through Thursday. Expect lane closures and flaggers.
Stewart Parkway south of Valley View Drive is scheduled for nighttime construction on Sunday. Nighttime paving on Valley View Drive from Stewart Parkway is scheduled for Tuesday.
Nighttime grinding and paving for the corner of Garden Valley Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue to Stephens Street is scheduled for Aug. 19 through Aug. 27. The construction on Aug. 19 will include a full closure of the intersection of Stephens Street and Garden Valley Boulevard, with detours in place.
Edenbower Boulevard and Renann Street from Steward Parkway to Newton Creek Road will have nighttime construction Aug. 28 through Aug. 30.
The left turn lane project at the intersection of Edenbower Boulevard and Stewart Parkway is scheduled for paving on Sept. 4 through Sept. 6.
No work is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. The City of Roseburg Public Works Office advises caution and planning on delays when traveling during these times in these zones.
For more information, contact 541-492-6730.