Do you like to travel to far away places for the purpose of attending athletic events? Plenty do. Look at the popularity of NASCAR, the Superbowl, the Bassmasters Classic and even the Olympics. Not only do these events feature the “best of the best” competitors and competition, but they also feature fans who have traveled from around the country, often from around the world to watch the event itself, as well as to savor the ancillary events and activities that go hand in hand with the main events.
Do you have a particularly athletic water-dog. It doesn’t have to be a Labrador or other breed normally oriented to working in and around water. There are plenty of hounds, terriers and mixed breeds that are comfortable around water, dogs that love to take a swim and always eager to fetch a stick or floating toy.
What started as a competition between retrievers (or retriever owners) has now become a semi-mainstream sport. Many serious waterfowl hunters wouldn’t think of heading to their duck blind without their canine companion and occasionally, since waterfowl hunters, like ducks often flock together it’s not uncommon for more than one retrieving dog to be in a single duck blind.
No doubt, more than once, both dogs have jumped from the same blind to fetch up a single downed duck or goose and more than once, the whole thing turned into a dog race with each owner cheering on their own pup. More that once, other retrieving dog owners met up at landings or boat ramps and set up impromptu competitions to see which of the dogs could jump farther, higher and swim faster.
From that sprang DockDogs Worldwide, an organization which organized these competitions and codified a strict set of rules to insure events held in different locations all played by the same rules and standards. The organization grew and now events are held in many locations in the US, Canada and Australia during the year, ending with the DockDogs “superbowl,” the World Championships this year planned for October 28/29 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Three different competitions are highlighted at each event - whether it’s a regional contest or the world championships.
BIG AIR - This is the premiere event and the one that made the doggy sport what it is. It’s similar to a long jump event at a human track and field contest. The dogs get a running start, then springs as far as possible as it races to retrieve a float tossed into the water by its handler. The longest leap wins.
SPEED RETRIEVE - In this event the fastest dog wins. A retrieving toy is positioned a set distance from the end of the dock. The dog is released to jump into the water, swim, grab the float and get back to the dock as fast as possible.
EXTREME VERTICAL - This event is equivalent to the high jump contest at human events. The retriever toy is suspended over the water eight feet out from the dock, then lifted higher and higher to which dog in the event can jump the highest to grab the target.
Just as some olympic events name gymnasts, skiers, or other competitors who compete in a variety of disciplines as an “overall” medalist, the DockDogs canines that compete in all three events get their scores recorded and compile points toward the Iron Dog medal awarded at the end of the event.
More information about DockDogs Worldwide and the World Championships can be found at their website www. dockdogs.com . If you are interested in places to stay and other activities in Knoxville, visit www. visitknoxville.com.
If you own a dog you think could become a superstar in the DockDog world, bring it along. The local chapter - Smokey Mountain DockDogs - will be on hand to evaluate dogs and train the handlers on proven techniques to produce competitive winners.