Dock Dogs regional championships held over weekend
Nobody was doggin’ it this past weekend at The Shell Factory’s Aqua Dog Sports facility as more than 100 dogs, their owners, as well as hundreds of spectators showed up for the Dock Dogs Southeast Regional championships, with trips to the world championships in Iowa at stake.
It was a day for dogs from around the country to bring their “A” game as they leaped, jumped, ran and swam their way to glory in numerous events.
The teams (handler and dog) compete in the disciplines of Big Air, Extreme Vertical, Speed Retrieve and the all-new Dueling Dogs.
Vicki Tighe, owner of Aqua Dogs Sports, said despite the lightning and rain Friday that put them a little behind schedule, great weather the last two days more than made up for it.
“We’re back on schedule. Dueling Dogs is a ton of fun to watch and everything is going good,” Tighe said. “We have people from Texas, Missouri, Ohio and all through the Southeast here.”
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 is similar to a triathlon, where teams compete in each of the three disciplines to achieve the most points.
This event also debuted a new event called Dueling Dogs, which is much like drag racing. Two dogs race to retrieve the bumper at the end of the pool.
Friday and Saturday was dedicated to qualifying, with Sunday being the finals.
Crystal McClaren, of Cape Coral, who owns Bo, world record holder in the Iron Dog, brought him and six other dogs to the event, much to the chagrin of her big star, who may soon have some competition.
“Bo is a little jealous, but he’s doing good. He ran in Dueling dogs for the first time and did real well. He had one of the best times,” McClaren said. “My other dog, Timber had a six-flat, but this is Bo’s home pool, so he’s doing it all.”
McClaren said the new event, which required a second pool to be built next to the first one, was something the dogs had to get used to.
“It’s really exciting, but a little different. Once they did it one time they ran a second faster the second time,” McClaren said.
McClaren said she was confident she could put all seven dogs into the World Championships this November in Iowa.
The Dock Dog community is said to be a large family. Shannon Conner, from West Des Moines, Iowa, brought her dock dog, a golden retriever named Bella, to compete, as she does for many of the competitions. She said she logs some 18,000 miles per year just to have fun with her dog.
“We have people from all over whom we network with. It’s just something fun to do with your dog,” Conner said. “She’s an active dog and we knew someone who did this and introduced us to it.”
Spectators, especially those who saw it for the first time, were impressed. Jackie Machacek, from Erie, Penn., said she came for the flea market on Saturday, but loved what she saw when this event was happening.
“The dogs are great. We had a chocolate lab who loved to jump into ponds, but this draws your attention,” Machacek said. “It surprises me how far the smaller dogs can jump. They all do well.”