Since being introduced to Southeastern Wildlife Exposition visitors seven years ago, DockDogs has quickly grown into one of the most popular attractions, and why not?
If you go
When: Registration opens at 9 a.m. Friday-Sunday with waves of competition held 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; the finals will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Brittlebank Park, Lockwood Boulevard
Price: Included in general admission tickets
You have an event that combines athletics and man's best friend.
Various breeds of dogs will be splashing from a 40-foot dock into one of two 30,000-gallon tanks of water in an attempt to win, and perhaps even set a world record. The record for Big Air (long jump) is 31 feet; Extreme Vertical (high jump) is 8 feet, 10 inches; and Speed (retrieving from a zero start box out to 15 feet) is 4.464 seconds.
In Extreme Vertical, the dog must jump and remove a "bumper" 8 feet out over the water; the height is adjusted in 2-inch increments until a winner is determined. In Speed, the dog must have a clean grab and pull both fasteners from the "bumper."
"Our policy at DockDogs is zero discrimination, any breed, any mix from anywhere. They just have to be 6 months or older," said DockDogs founder and CEO Grant Reeves. "It's probably the most fun you will have with your dog. As long as the dog doesn't mind water, it's an absolute blast."
Reeves said DockDogs does approximately 200 events around the world and SEWE is a national competition. It began as a canine aquatics competition in ESPN's Great Outdoor Games.
Erin Owen of St. Matthews heads up Palmetto DockDogs, which has members throughout the state.
"There are clubs in every state and an event almost every weekend. It starts in January and runs until November," Owen said.
Owen said seeing how much fun the dogs have in doing Big Air and Extreme Vertical is part of the attraction.
"You see anything from little lap dogs like Boston terriers and Boykin spaniels that may only jump 9 or 10 feet, but they're having as much fun as the dogs jumping 27, 28 feet," she said.
Reeves said that while the majority of dogs are retrieving breeds or working dog breeds, he also has seen poodles, Chihuahuas and Jack Russells entered in DockDog competitions.
"I got involved looking for something for my Chesapeake Bay retriever to do in the summertime, when we weren't duck hunting. We found a club in Georgia and went and practiced. Our dog was a natural," Owens said. "We've competed all over the country and went to the world championship two years ago. You meet a lot of really neat people."
Reeves said he expected more than 300 entries for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and urged people to pre-register at dockdogs.com. On-site registration begins each day at 9 a.m. and is first-come, first-served. Competition begins daily at 10 a.m.