From Olive Garden to Frisbee fame: The incredible journey of Troy Mool and his canine companions

Troy Mool and his first Frisbee dog Jazmin playing outside.
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Troy Mool, a general manager of Olive Garden by profession, has carved himself a unique niche in the world of competitive Frisbee dog sports.

Balancing his day job with his passion for training and competing with Frisbee dogs, Mool has traveled across the United States, showcasing his skills and those of his canine companions. Among his many accomplishments, winning the 2017 Sky Hounds World Championship with his dog Jazmin stands out as a significant milestone.

Mool’s journey began in 2009 with his Australian shepherd Jazmin. Initially, he sought a dog for hikes, beach outings and everyday companionship. However, Jazmin’s natural talent for catching Frisbees quickly became apparent when she caught her first throw effortlessly. This special moment sparked Mool’s interest in Frisbee dog sports.

One of Mool’s newest dogs Zeplyn catches a Frisbee in midair.
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“I started throwing tennis balls and things like that to her and, of course, they all got pretty tired. After a while, I found an old Frisbee in the garage, literally threw 20 yards and she ran out and caught the first throw I ever threw to her just like she had been doing it all her life, kinda like she was born to do it. I’ve learned since then it’s not quite that easy to train. It’s pretty easy and most dogs catch a Frisbee pretty fast, but not usually the first toss like that. So, of course, when your dog goes out and does that right away. It’s kind of like the most amazing thing ever,” Mool said.

To hone his skills and train Jazmin, Mool turned to YouTube videos and then joined the St. Louis Disc Dog Club. He immersed himself in learning various techniques and tricks, gradually building an impressive performance.

Frisbee dog sports has a variety of formats and events, from long-distance throws to target games. Mool and his dogs have participated in numerous competitions, including the Sky Hounds World Championship and the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge. These events highlight the versatility and athleticism of the dogs and how well they respond to their handlers.

Mool’s competitive spirit has taken him from Missouri and Tennessee to Florida and California, participating in prestigious events such as the Incredible Dog Challenge at Huntington Beach. His dedication to the sport is evident in the extensive travel and rigorous training schedules he maintains.

“It is kind of a busy hobby for a weekend warrior. So we do a lot of training. You know when we’re home and during the week and on weekends we are not competing and then like every weekend, like pretty much travel around the country and compete,” Mool said.

The relationship Mool builds with his dogs through training and traveling is his favorite part. Each dog, from the late Jazmin to the current competitors Zeplyn and Dozer, shares a unique bond with Mool. This bond is strengthened by the countless hours spent training, performing and traveling together.

“The relationship you build with your dog along the way, you know, everybody’s got that dog, and even if even if you don’t do a lot of things with your dog, even if the dog is just your best friend and follows you around and is a great companion for you, you build a great relationship with that dog. Then every other thing you teach it, you know, our dogs need to learn so much. And my dogs weren’t so much in the fact that they can travel. They traveled the country with me it’s not even just when we compete. No matter what they do even go on vacations, they travel anywhere. They know how to live out of hotels and live in cars and (it) just doesn’t matter where I go, they went. That’s where they want to be and they just learned to really like the lifestyle and be anywhere with us,” Mool said.

Beyond the personal connection with his dogs, Mool has found a sense of community among fellow competitors. Despite the competitive nature of the sport, camaraderie and friendships flourish. Competitors often share tips and support each other, and Mool said they even dine together after events, fostering a tight-knit community.

“We kind of have a competitive drive for, like, sports and we can’t play some of the regular sports we grew up with anymore. Our bodies kind of give out on us, but the dogs are such great athletes. It’s kind of a cool sport because there’s a lot of camaraderie. I mean, the very people that I want to make sure don’t beat me so I have bragging rights and things, are the same people that are my best friends and going to dinner later that night,”

In Mool’s twelve years of being active in the Frisbee dog community, he said he has helped well over fifty people train their dogs.

“I’ve trained over the years. Sometimes my training is formal, we do some seminars and things like that. You have a group of people that will come and you’ll teach a group and there’s a lot of informal things, too. We’re just friends and we message each other and say hey, ‘I’m having trouble teaching this trick or I’m having trouble teaching that trick.’ Or we’ll send videos back-and-forth to help new members of the club. So, I would say, you know, I would say well over 50 people, throughout my 12 years for sure,” Mool said.

Mool has had five personal dogs in the 12 years he has been competing. Jazmin was an Australian shepherd and the first that got him started. She passed away a few years ago. He currently has a 10-year-old named Paizley who is retired from competing. His current dog that is performing is named Zeplyn, and she is a 2-year-old 50% border collie and 50% Australian shepherd. His newest puppy is named Dozer. He is an 18-week-old Australlian shepard and Australian dog mix. At just 18 weeks, Dozer caught his first Frisbee and is learning other tricks.

“Anything where it’s a toy-driven sport, all the herding breeds are the ones that are very easy to train like that just because they have that natural drive and that natural toy instinct. Australian shepherds are up there. Border collies, Australian cattle dog, you see a lot of those competing in the sport and then, after that, there are a lot of other brands that compete as well and perform like German shepherds. I’ve seen a couple of great danes over the years and a lot of, a lot of different types of dogs and a lot of sport mixes you know, that compete as well. But those are the three main one’s levels herding dog mixes, makes for great Frisbee dogs.”

If you would like to see Mool and Zeplyn compete or would like to learn more about the community of disc dogs, go to their Facebook page, St. Louis Disc Dogs Club.

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