- BC Games
Dogs digging dock diving
For Coal, it truly is a dog’s life. Wake up, eat a little food, go for a swim, roll in the sand, sniff some other dogs, then home for dinner and a good night’s sleep. Get up, do it all again the next day.
Who wouldn’t want to trade places?
For Coal, it’s just another day at the beach.
But what this seven-year-old black Labrador retriever doesn’t know is that he’s in training. And judging from the wag of his tail, he doesn’t care.
For Coal’s owner Donna Kloc, a day at the beach is one of the fringe benefits of her new-found passion with her four-legged friend — dog dock diving.
Kloc has been involved with training agility dogs in the past, but with Coal, she’s taken a different, more laid-back route.
The two recently competed in DockDogs Canada’s first B.C.-sanctioned event in Whistler.
“He was a little fearful of jumping off the dock at first,” said Kloc.
“But as he gained confidence he started to get the hang of it.”
So the two spend time along the shores of the Alouette River as Kloc trains Coal to target the frisbee as soon as she throws it.
The seven-year-old black Labrador retriever sits along the shores of the river bank waiting for Kloc to give him the signal, its eyes never leaving the frisbee.
As soon as she motions ‘go,’ the dog hurls himself towards the water chasing the soft disc. A quick swim back to the shore is always followed by a joyful roll in the sand, then a good shake to clear the dust. It’s the dog version of lather, rinse, repeat.
“Unfortunately there are no docks down here so I have to improvise,” she laughs.
But while dog dock diving is a competition, the spirit of the event is about having fun, says Kloc.
The rules are simple.
Simply throw your toy off a 40-foot dock and see whose dog can leap the farthest. There’s no limit to which breed can enter, but it’s doubtful many bulldogs or chihuahuas will be taking part. Competitors must be at least seven years old and can’t shove or throw their dog off the dock, which makes sense. And of course, it’s a poop and scoop world, so come with bags.
For Kloc, the idea of giving the competition a try was just another way to bond with her dog. . She had been doing agility training with Coal, she wanted to find a new way to spend time with her black Labrador, a rescue dog she’s had for the past five-and-a-half years. Her former old dog Hank, trained in agility, recently passed away
Friends of hers had competed dog dock diving in the U.S., where the competitions have been held for more than 10 years.
Forget prancing around a ring with a $500 haircut and manicure.
Coal, like most first-timers, didn’t quite get the grasp of the sport on the first try. He ran down the dock, stopped at the edge, and then reluctantly leap in after the toy. Hence the daily trips to the shores of the Alouette.
But as the competition wore on, Coal slowly picked up on the cues. Part of what helped was as much the crowd as it was just getting use to the format, Kloc says. It’s one of the reasons she said she’s drawn to the event.
“It’s a great relationship between handler and dog. You can feed off each other for energy,” she said.
“The crowd at Whistler was just awesome. All that support and encouragement seemed to give him the confidence to go over the dock.”
DockDogs Canada is looking to expand in B.C. offer more events in 2014. So Kloc intends to keep up his training improving on his results.
But for Coal, it’s just another day at the beach.