I made it out to New’bark’et 2019, which is a dog festival held in Newmarket, Ontario. There was a variety of events scheduled for people and their fur kids to enjoy. There was a pool open for canine swimming, there was a lure course and tons of vendors with everything your dog could ever need. One of my favourite events on the day was the Aqua Dogs Dock Jumping Competition.
Trying to capture the dogs mid flight was a challenge. First of all each dog has a different style and that makes them unpredictable. Some dogs explode off the end of the dock like a missile with hardly any hang time while others will spring off the dock and bounce into the stratosphere. So when I get that perfect shot, that dog frozen in time and space, I am more than a little proud of myself.
If you have never seen a dock diving competition you really need to, it is a blast. Dock diving does not seem to be limited to any particular breed, as long as the dog likes to jump and swim they are good to go. However, Aussie Shepherds, Border Collies and Retrievers are usually well represented.
In Go Long, the discipline I was there for, the dog leaps off the dock and is scored on how far he or she travels from the base of the dock. The distance is measured from the end of the dock to the base of the competitors tail. The handlers have one of two ways to encourage their pup into the water. They can either launch the toy in and have the dog go get it or throw the toy in front of a dog racing along the dock.
Along with high flying acrobatics you are guaranteed to see at least one dog slam on the brakes at the dock edge. Each handler has a minute to verbally encourage their dog into the pool or try a restart in order to come away with some measure of a score. But there are some days the dog just isn’t having it and he or she will stand on the edge and bark or pace around frantically, trying to figure out how to get their toy back without getting wet.
But whether they go in or not every competitor gets some love from their handler as they are lead off the dock.