Canine flyers: Dog athletes wow fair crowd with acrobatic leaps
Dog athletes wow fair crowd with acrobatic leaps
NEW ULM — Dock Dogs made a splashy return to the Brown County Fair.
The show had been absent from the fair for five years, but on Friday, the canine competition made a return to the delight of dog fans.
The competition runs all weekend with different events throughout the day including distance jumping, vertical jump and speed retrieval.
On the first day, the competition focused on distance jumping. Each dog’s handler throws a toy off a dock and the dog leaps off after the toy landing in a pool of water. Judges record how far the animals were able to leap.
During the first round of competition, a Labrador named Reagan from Minneapolis set the pace for the weekend, jumping 21 feet, nine inches.
Reagan’s handler, Charlie Martin, said they have been competing in Dock Dog shows for three years. Reagan took to the jumping without hesitation, but Martin said he and his wife, AnaEliza, continue to work to increase her performance.
Reagan also competes in high jump and speed competition. AnaEliza Martin is her handler for the high jump and speed retrieval. AnaEliza said Reagan’s strength is her speed and she, “has a need for speed”.
Several of the handlers brought multiple dogs to the competition. One of the larger teams was Team STIHL run by Tom Dropik of New Prague. Dropik brought three dogs: a Lab-shepherd mix named Rambo, a Lab-Belgian malinois named Little Rascal and a whippet named Ridder.
Rambo and Little Rascal jumped in the first round Friday. Rambo managed to take second in the first round with a jump of 21 feet, 1 inch. Little Rascal came in third with 19 feet, 9 inches.
Dropik said he has been a dock dog handler for 22 years. He started doing it after seeing the competition on TV. He’s taken part in competitions at the Brown County Fair before and was happy to be back.
“The crowds are great here,” he said.
Audience support helps in training the dogs. Several of the dogs jumping this weekend are new to the sport and need to be slowly introduced to jumping. Some of the dogs are experts at jumping into lakes, but other animals are hesitant to jump into a clear pool. Handlers will use weekend-long competition to train some of the younger dogs.
From 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the public will hold Dock Dog tryouts for new dogs and handlers. Other practice jumps occur throughout the day.
There will be three distance competitions Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m and 2:30 p.m. An extreme vertical competition will be held at 4 p.m.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, dock dogs will hold the speed retrieval round, a distance round at 11:30 p.m. and a big air final at 3 p.m.