Dock Dog regionals coming to Shell Factory
Some of the most athletic dogs in the country will converge on the Shell Factory in March to take part in one of the biggest Dock Dog competitions in the nation.
The Dock Dog Southeast regional championship will be held March 27-29 at the facility, and should be a financial boost for the Shell Factory and for Aqua Dog Sports.
Vicki Tighe, owner of Aqua Dog Sports, which runs the dock dog facility at the Shell Factory, said North Fort Myers will host one of seven regional championships throughout the country because it’s one of the few that has the facilities.
“Our closest facility is in Virginia Beach and they’re in the Mid-Atlantic. If there’s another facility in the Southeast next year, we’ll do a lottery,” Tighe said. “We were lucky this year to be able to do it.”
This event is expected to be big for the area. More than 50 competitors have told Tighe they plan to attend, with many of them from Ohio, Maryland, even Massachusetts.
“It will bring lots of money into North Fort Myers. They’re all booking room into the Best Western and will spend money at the Shell Factory,” Tighe said.
The event is expected to be so big that Dock Dog Worldwide will bring in a second pool to debut a new event called dueling dogs, where the dogs will drag race into the water.
“The new pool is specially designed with dividers so the dogs can’t get into each other because it’s like drag racing. It’s very new for us, but I think it will be really big.”
There will be other events such as big air (the long jump), speed retrieve, Iron Dog (the doggie decathlon), and extreme vertical (a canine high jump), with the top three dogs in each event and division qualifying for the world championship in Dubuque, Iowa in November.
Unlike other events where anyone can compete, beginners need not apply. Those dogs will have to come in January on Gumbofest weekend, when a qualifier takes place
“These are the best of the best. You can’t just walk off the street and give it a try lime at other events,” Tighe said. “You have to be titled.”
And those who win aren’t going to get rich, either. The top prize is expected to be $100. So it’s more about the prestige and having fun with your dog than the money.
The dock dog facility has gotten exposure previously. A British television crew came two years ago to see local dock dog Bo attempt a Guinness world record in extreme vertical.
Suncoast Dock Dogs, the local chapter has record holders, as well as 10 dogs who qualified for world championships, including Bo, reigning Iron Dog champion and world-record holder in extreme vertical, and two puppies who took the top-two positions in vertical.