Dock jumping, aka dock diving, is a sport in which dogs compete in jumping for distance and height from a dock into a body of water. The sport recently became popular and is growing fast in parts of the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
All for the thrill of finding out high and far dogs can jump off the end of a dock and into a body of water while chasing a toy.
"Barefoot" Bob Sorenson of New Ulm grins ear to ear and just keeps on talking when "Shadow," his 4-year-old Lab retriever races down a 40-foot dock, jumps, swims and retrieves a rubber decoy.
Professional athlete Shadow competes in the both the “Extreme Vertical” and “BigAir” competitions.
Earlier known for his water skiing and boat racing exploits, Sorenson and "Shadow" quickly became a crowd favorite, climbing to the top of the dock jumping world in this part of the country last July at the Redwood County Fair in Redwood Falls.
Shadow jumped 23'1" the first time out, later jumped 23'8" and finished second in BigAir Finals Pro competition.
The dog's leaps at the Redwood County Fair can be found on youtube.com
Sorenson and Shadow have competed among the best at the Scheels are going to world dock dog competition in Ohio on Labor Day weekend.
Wondering just how far and high Shadow can go, Sorenson's friends urged him to enter more and more competitive competition.
Shadow out ran and out jumped the Belgian Malinois, usually considered to be the favorites in the jumping competitions, among other breeds.
Earlier this summer, Shadow high jumped 7'4" in Cheyenne, Wyo. Extreme Vertical competition.
The owner of Riverside Garage on a Minnesota River bluff northwest of New Ulm, Sorenson trains Shadow by racing and retrieving up and down steep hills on his property.
He said Shadow naturally took to the water and seems to thrive on competition.
Sorenson added he's looking for sponsors to help him finance the trip to Ohio in a few weeks.
Dog dock jumping competition began in 2000 with the ESPN 2000 Great Outdoor Games on Lake Placid, N.Y.
Ultimate Air Dogs was founded in 2005 by former Major League Baseball player Milt Wilcox.
U.S. dog dock jumping records were set at Lake Placid, at the ESPN2 Super Retriever Series in Northfield and at other events in Baltimore, Little Rock, Indianapolis and Richmond, Ind.
Smaller and older dogs (8 years and older) have their own divisions.
Docks are usually 35-40 feet long and covered with artificial turf, carpet or rubber mat for increased traction and safety.