Have you heard of the sport Dock Diving or Dock Jumping? If not...picture dogs leaping off long docks into water, catching toys. That is an overly simplistic description just to get a picture in your mind. This week we were able to catch up with Team N-GAGE Captain Christine Forbush, our good friend and member of DockDogs, an organization that promotes and hosts local and national Dock Diving competitions. She shares with us some more details about the sport, what the competitions are like, as well as life as a trainer. Christine is a facilitator over at Canine Superheroes, a jumping facility in Ohio that accommodates all levels of DockDog enthusiasts. For more information, check them out on Facebook. If you're interested at all in getting into the sport, (which you definitely should be!!!) they are a great resource.
N-Gage: What initially got you into DockDog training? How long have you been in the field?
Christine: I had been a member of DockDogs Worldwide for 2 years, when a local Sanctioned Facility opened in North Ridgeville, Ohio. I was approached in 2017 by Grant Reeves, owner of DockDogs Worldwide and Joseph Borkey, who opened up the new DockDogs Sanctioned Facility, Canine Superheroes. I am currently heading into my 4th season with Canine Superheroes.
NG: How many dogs come through the Canine Superheroes facility and how big of a competitive roster does it boast?
C: We have several members who come out to train, bond, and have overall fun with their dogs. During competitions we will host upwards of 100 teams over a three-day event. The teams compete in 4 different divisions:
- Big Air, where the dogs go for maximum distance from the edge of the dock.
- Speed Retrieve is a timed sport involving a combination of run, jump, swim and retrieve.
- Extreme Vertical is how high the dog can jump to retrieve a toy suspended over the water.
- The 4th discipline is Iron Dog, and it is a cumulative point system of Big Air, Speed Retrieve, and Extreme Vertical.
NG: Being pretty much a year-round season... It must be cold in the winter...
C: Summer events are always the most popular because they are held outdoors. DockDogs Worldwide holds events year-round across the United States, Europe, and Australia.
NG: What are you most looking forward to for the 2021 DockDogs season?
C: I am most looking forward to working with our members, and especially the youth handlers that train at Canine Superheroes. I am also looking forward to earning invitations for my 4 teams to the 2021 World Championships to be held in Dubuque, Iowa.
NG: Can you tell how you use the N-Gage Bumper, and why it's such a great tool for Dock Diving?
C: The N-Gage Bumpers are versatile and durable. They are easy for the dogs to see in the air for tracking and the water for retrieval. The dogs also really like that they squeak. We do have some dogs that will only go after balls, so we use the N-Gage balls when training and in competitions for them.
NG: We were stoked to see that Worlds ran despite the pandemic restrictions. Can you tell us about Worlds this year?
C: DockDogs Worldwide already had rules and regulations in place that coincide with safe distancing practices that were set forth by the state of Iowa. This year they included mandatory masking in all areas of competition as well as "dogtown”, which is essentially the backstage. Handlers were not required to wear masks on the dock, as they were the only ones permitted on the dock during their qualifying jumps.
I had three dogs that earned invites to the 2020 World Championships this year, with 4 days of qualifying leading up to the finals. Molly is part of Team N-Gage and took 2nd place at the 2019 World Championships in Iron Dog Warrior. She earned invites in all 4 disciplines for 2020. We only accepted our invitation to compete in Iron Dog this year where Molly ended up jumping out of her division in the 2020 World Championships. Zeke and I earned an invitation to Speed Retrieve, where he took 4th place in the finals of his division. I also foster a dog from Australia who came to the USA in 2019 to compete at the World Championships. Ned and I earned an invite to compete in Big Air at the 2020 World Championships.
NG: We are all about promoting people spending more time engaging with their dogs. For anyone out there interested in the sport, how would you recommend they “dive in”? Any words of encouragement?
C: If your dog has a high toy drive and loves water, this is a perfect way to spend time together. There are Sanctioned Facilities located across the United States that hold seminars or private training sessions where you can give Dock Diving a try. I would encourage anyone who gives it a try to have lots of patience and plan to get wet! If you would like information you can check out Canine Superheroes on Facebook or head over to Dockdogs.com
Photos: Precise Image Creations