On a fine Sunday morning in July, my wife and I drove out into the country to see a dog event in Scugog that we'd read about a few days before. Dog Days of Scugog - (www.scugogshoresmuseum.com/event-dog-days.php). With us, we took our four-year-old Golden Retriever, Terra, and our one-year old Havanese, Katsura. We didn't know exactly what the event was to be, but being the nut-case dog people that we are, we expected to enjoy it.
Much to our delight when we arrived, we found the event showcased: Superdogs, Rally, Agility, and Dock Diving. Since Dock Diving was something we'd never seen before we naturally gravitated to the end of the "dock" to watch the event unfold. Our retriever sat to my left, with Katsura beside her. When the competition began, and dogs started running, jumping and diving, I admit to picking Katsura up so that he could get a closer and better look over the top of the pool. He didn't seem all that interested. He'd watch, then check out his surroundings. As happens with most small dogs, my little wannabe Alpha was constantly watching out to ensure we were all safe. Havanese, a hardy little breed, are certainly not lapdogs.
Where dogs are concerned bravery and endeavour doesn't depend on size, but I think everyone there was surprised when an overly excited Jack Russell Terrier jumped a distance in excess of sixteen feet. For those of you who have never witnessed these events, competing dogs of any and all sizes start, individually, at the end of the dock, with their Handler standing at the front of the dock right before the pool. The dog, placed in a stay position, is usually eager to get going and in a high state of excitement. Imagine then the difficulty of deliberately staying a Jack Russell that was already in an over-excited state before being placed!
What happens next, once a dog is placed, is that the Handler gives the release command and the dog takes off for the front of the dock. If the Handler times it correctly, just about the time the dog is almost at the front, they throw a lure up into the air towards the back of the pool. The aim of the competition is supposed to be that the dog will reach the front of the dock and leap off into the air in an attempt to catch the lure and while doing so make the farthest jump possible. The sides of the pool itself have been clearly marked in feet measurements to enable Judges to determine exactly how far the dog actually leapt before hitting the water. The over-excited Jack Russell cleared over sixteen feet, much to my delight. If you can't imagine the distance, go right now and count out sixteen feet and you'll appreciate the magnitude of the jump.
Of course not everything went perfectly. Some Handlers mistimed their throw, which totally threw off their dogs and ruined the jump. Some of the dogs stopped dead at the end of the dock and refused to jump at all. One dog, brighter than most, ran to the front then streaked along the pool-side and down the ramp used to get dogs out of the pool, rather than jump into the air to play catch. It was hysterical. So was the water-baby dog that wouldn't get out of the pool, deciding he appreciated the opportunity for a swim. You could easily tell beginners from more experienced dogs, but every one of them was having a grand time. As for us, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and eventually left for home.
Late that afternoon, it being a nice day, I decided to go swimming in our salt-water pool. Our own dogs are no strangers to the pool but they never go in without us, and always enter and exit using the steps as they have been carefully taught. Much to our delight and surprise this time, while Terra, our Golden Retriever, stood on the pool-side and refused to get her feet wet, our Havanese, after watching me dive in off the diving board, leapt straight off the side to join me, something he had never done before. We swam out together. Wow! I thought. This is a first. Let's see if he'll do it again. So back I swam to the diving board and sure enough, the second I dived, he took off from the side of the pool right into the water after me. For Kat, I was his human lure. Since he had never jumped in from the pool-side before I had to conclude that he was influenced in some way by having watched the dock dogs. Today, a few weeks later, he either dives in after me or anticipates me in his excitement. Of course, in place of the raggedy cloth bundle of some sort that everyone else uses, I have become his lure. And that's about par for the course around our house.
August 20, 2007