A Day for the Dogs

by May 29, 2019Brunswick County Life, North Brunswick


DockDogs, a canine aquatics competition, is coming to Brunswick Forest on June 1 and 2.

Dog competitions in jumping, swimming and diving have captivated sports fans and dog lovers since they were featured in the late 1990s. The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge began in 1997, and ESPN included DockDogs Canine Aquatics Competition in 1999 as part of its Great Outdoor Games.

Today numerous organizations around the world offer canine sports events, and one of them, DockDogs, Inc., which bills itself as The World’s Premier Canine Aquatics Competition, is coming to Brunswick Forest June 1 and 2.

Brian Sharenow, vice president of the company, explains that DockDogs holds about 250 events each year. He’s not sure how many teams (a team is comprised of the handler and the dog) will compete at Brunswick Forest, but teams have an opportunity to enter three different events: Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve.

  The list of rules and regulations is outlined at dockdogs.com but briefly, Big Air, the most popular competition, is referred to as “long jump for dogs.” A dog runs down a 40-foot dock and dives into a 40-foot-long by a minimum of 20-foot-wide pool and retrieves an object, usually a favorite toy. The jump is judged electronically, and the dog with the longest distance wins. 

  Extreme Vertical is the “high jump for dogs” and tests the dog’s vertical jump to knock down a suspended bumper. With each jump, the height of the bumper is increased by 2 inches. Whichever dog jumps the highest and gets to the bumper wins.

In Speed Retrieve, a dog runs down the dock, jumps in the water and swims to the end of the pool to retrieve an object. The dog with the shortest time wins. All breeds and mixes are accepted for competitions as long as they are at least six months old. DockDogs has established divisions and classes to accommodate dogs and handlers at various levels. A Youth Handler class includes handlers who are 7 to 14 years old, while a point system determines winners. A dog can earn top honors as an Iron Dog. 

  In 2017 the team of Sydney Mackey, a teen from Olympia, Washington, and her five-year-old whippet Spitfire, “Spitty,” won the DockDogs World Championship Spartan Finals then came back and won it again in 2018. Spartan is the top class of Iron Dog.

   “Teams are scored according to the progressive table points system,” says an email sent from DockDogs, Inc. headquarters in Medina, Ohio. “Each score in Big Air®, Extreme VerticalTM, and Speed RetrieveTM corresponds to a point total. As teams compete, they earn points.”  

  “We are very excited about DockDogs coming to Brunswick Forest,” says Jerry Helms, director of sales at Brunswick Forest. “One of the things that we hear the most from potential buyers and residents alike is that they want activities for their pets. We encourage that furry pet outdoor lifestyle with our big bark and little bark Dog Park, but an event like this really enforces what a pet friendly community we are here at Brunswick Forest.”

  Beth Burgee, marketing manager at Brunswick Forest, explains that Brunswick Forest administration reached out to DockDogs to have the event there. “This is our first year hosting,” she says. “We thought since our community is so pet friendly, we would bring it here.”

  Registration for these competitions is available online until one week before the event begins. Teams may register on-site at 9 am the morning of the competitions. Costs vary. Sharenow explains that he and Grant Reeves, chief executive officer of DockDogs, Inc., have been working with the company since 2006. Other information he provides indicates that in 2014 DockDogs had more than 3.5 million spectators and participants, 80 percent of whom own dogs. Of the handlers 46 percent were women and 54 percent were men.

     Several websites on dock diving emphasize that to compete a dog must like the water and like to fetch things. According to proplan.com, Labrador retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Doberman Pinschers and Belgian Malinois are among the breeds that take to water. “But you simply need a dog that takes to the water and enjoys a good thrill,” it states.  


Want to watch or compete?
DockDogs – Annsdale Park, Brunswick Forest, Leland
June 1 & 2
Online registration at dockdogs.com/events/events-list On-site registration and practice, 9 am
Big Air Wave begins, 10 am
Complete schedule of events is at
dockdogs.com For more information call (330) 241-4975