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Dock Dogs championships coming to Shell Factory

By Staff | Mar 27, 2015

Get ready to see some of the most athletic dogs in the world run, jump and leap their way to victory, including a hometown favorite.

The 2015 DockDogs South/ East Regional Championships will be held at the Shell Factory’s Aqua Dog Sports facility today through Sunday, March 27-29.

It will be the first of three big events scheduled over the next three weekends at the historic destination, with Easter and the Taste of North Fort Myers coming after that.

Rick Tupper, CFO and marketing director at the Shell Factory, expects this event to bring in several hundred people, many of whom have never been there.

“We have 100 dogs and those competitors have done a lot of advertising themselves. It’s a big deal,” Tupper said. “People are going to see a lot of cool stuff.”

Vicki Tighe, owner of Aqua Dog Sports, said the event should have a positive impact on all involved. The Best Western hotel is booked solid this weekend with people from all over the Southeast.

“This is part of the ‘Road to the Worlds.’ The top three in each event will get invitations to the World Championships,” Tighe said.

More than 100 teams will compete to win one of three invitations in each division to the 2015 DockDogs World Championships held in Dubuque, Iowa in November and perhaps become an Iron Dog just like Bo, the world champion Iron Dog who lives in Cape Coral.

DockDogs has quickly become the premier canine aquatic sport in the world, where the teams (handler and dog) compete in the disciplines of Big Air, Extreme Vertical, Speed Retrieve and the all-new Dueling Dogs.

Big Air is the long jump equivalent for canine athletes. Extreme Vertical is a high jump contest, and Speed Retrieve is a sport where teams’ swim against the clock to retrieve a bumper.

Iron Dog, in which Bo owns the world record, is similar to a triathlon, where teams compete in each of the three disciplines to achieve the most points.

This event will also debut a new event called Dueling Dogs, which is much like drag racing. Two dogs will race to retrieve the bumper at the end of the pool. Only teams competing at regional championships will have a chance to win invitations for Dueling Dogs inaugural World Championships in Dubuque.

A separate dock and pool will be set up specifically for Dueling Dogs, and will be onsite at each regional championship event.

“This is the first time it will ever be held competitively. They did a demo at last year’s world championships so people could see what it’s about,” Tighe said.

Bo, along with many of the winners from last year’s World Championships, will also be competing.

Tighe said in recent months several dogs have come forward to give Bo a run for his money. Another dog recently broke Bo’s previous record in Extreme Vertical with a jump of 8 feet, 10 inches.

Tighe said the sport has become more competitive due to more dogs getting into competition and the seriousness their owners are taking toward competition.

“Everybody is upping their game. People are conditioning their dogs, they’re conscious about supplements and diet and dry land work. People are treadmilling their dogs now,” Tighe said. “The sport of dock dogs is taking off.”

Competition starts at 8 a.m. each morning and will run throughout the day, with the finals in all events set for Sunday.

There is no admission charge for spectators.

The Shell Factory is at 2787 N Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.