Diving dogs to make a splash in Draper
Jun 25, 2018 02:47PM ● Published by City Journals Staff
A dog performs in the super air event at Splash Dogs. (Photo courtesy Tony Reed/Splash Dogs)
By Katherine Weinstein | Katherine@mycityjournals.com
If your dog enjoys swimming and playing fetch, then your four-legged friend might be a contender to participate in Draper Days Splash Dogs, a dock diving competition for canines happening July 13 and 14 at Draper City Park.
Dock diving, according Splash Dogs founder Tony Reed, is basically “dogs jumping off a dock into the water and we just created a competition with it.” Dogs compete for titles and can win ribbons.
Dock diving for dogs has become one of America’s most popular outdoor events and the sport has spread around the world. Dogs compete for distance, diving from a 40-foot dock into a portable, above-ground pool that holds 28,000 gallons of water. Reed has been bringing Splash Dogs to Draper Days for several years now and the event is a perennial favorite. Registration is open to all dogs in good health who are comfortable both in crowds and around other dogs and who like water.
The Draper Days Splash Dogs competition will consist of three basic events: the long jump or “super air,” the high jump or “super vertical” and the “super retrieve” in which the dogs are timed retrieving a “bumper” and swimming back. Training for newcomers will be provided and there will be time for practice between each Splash competition as time permits. The number of dogs participating varies depending on the venue, but a recent event in Rancho Cucamonga, California attracted 50 competitors.
Reed’s advice for dog owners who want to train their pups for dock diving is to first pay close attention to the dog. “You just have to mold your training after the dog’s ability,” he said. “Find out what he can do and how he does it and work around that.”
Reed’s great love for dogs inspired his career. More than 15 years ago, he was watching a dock jumping event on the Great Outdoor Games on ESPN and decided that his own black lab, Sierra, could do it too. He entered her in the Incredible Dog Challenge in San Francisco. Sierra didn’t win, but Reed could see her tail wagging and how much fun she was having.
After doing some research, Reed built a portable dock and pool and began promoting his first Splash Dogs event in December 2003. The number of canine contestants grew with each event and Reed now travels all over the country bringing Splash Dogs to eager participants and audiences. Reed’s current pets, Lil’ Buddy and Chaos, travel with him and are known to enjoy a jump or two on occasion.
Reed has seen many different breeds of dogs compete. Labrador retrievers seem to take to the water naturally. Belgian malinois dogs are especially strong jumpers as are greyhounds. The longest jump ever made by a Splash Dogs competitor was 30 feet.
Bountiful resident Cyndi Dowling has a 4-year-old female border staffy named Krackin who has competed with Splash Dogs since 2015. That year, Krackin jumped six feet on her first jump at Draper Days. She then went on to the Splash Dogs Nationals in Las Vegas where she took first place with an incredible “big air” jump of 24 feet 11 inches.
“Draper Days Splash Dogs was her introduction to dock jumping and I just love it,” said Dowling.
In addition to assisting with Splash Dogs registration and supporting the dog/handler teams at Draper Days, Salt Lake resident Theresa Foster also has eight dogs of her own competing in Splash Dogs. Proof that dock diving dogs come in all sizes, one of Foster’s pups is a dachshund/miniature pinscher mix who loves the water.
The bottom line is that participating in Splash Dogs celebrates the bond between a dog and its owner. “It’s just a really fun experience for you and your dog to share,” said Foster.
“It’s all about having fun with your dog and your dog enjoying something that he likes to do,” said Reed. “These dogs go crazy when they get around the pool. It’s the camaraderie, the bonding of you and your dog.”
Draper Days Splash Dogs registration begins at noon on Friday, July 13 and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 14. Dog/handler teams may also register online. All participating dogs must have their shots up to date and have tags or the owner must bring current shot and vaccine papers. Owners are responsible for the safety of their dog(s) and others. For information on fees and more details, visit the Draper Days Splash Dogs web page at https://www.draper.ut.us/797/Splash-Dogs.