By Karin Krisher
Vetri-Science Sponsored Dock Dogs Team Takes on the World
This is Otis. Otis isn’t your ordinary dog. Sure, his days at home are spent lounging on the couch, and we’ll be the first to admit that he loves to play catch—he just does it a bit differently than the average canine. Otis and his companion, Erika Jones, have been more-than-avid Dock Dog competitors since Otis first took to the public water in August 2010.
Today, Erika is the treasurer and secretary for her local chapter, Rocky Mountain Dock Dogs, and Otis is number 15 in the world rankings. (We’ll get back to that later.) A national organization, Dock Dogs is an aquatic performance sport canine competition of the friendliest kind. Dogs jump off of a platform and into a pool as they participate in events called Big Air (the original and most popular, it’s a long jump for pups), Extreme Vertical, (high jump version), Speed Retrieve, and in Otis’s case, Iron Dog—a combination of all three events.
Dock Dogs are Taking Off
Dock Dogs has a following, and it’s not just at the lake. With over 7500 members (meaning teams with a handler and a dog), the sport is “growing like crazy,” says Jones, and is doing so as both a lifestyle and a one-time dose of spectator fun.
Jones says that Dock Dogs began as a grassroots movement and remains that at its core. While the worldwide organization itself is a for-profit organization, every affiliate club remains non-profit. To this end, RMDD contributes to causes like Chase Away K-9 Cancer. Further, there are no rules about breed, size or experience level of the dog competing. These two facts of the sport make being a part of Dock Dogs much more about being part of a community that is both supportive and competitive than it is about the actual win, says Jones.
That community includes some younger participants that Jones believes are the real future of the sport. Handlers can be as young as seven years, and RMDD has nearly ten youth participants.
“We take a lot of pride in our youth participants,” Jones says. “The level of sportsmanship that I’ve seen in that age group is inspiring.”
Also inspiring is the fact that people like Jones (and dogs like Otis) who simply fall in love with the sport are the ones that make the docks go ‘round, so to speak. Aside from dealing with the logistics of the set-up and safety of an event (which features the construction of a pool with over 30,000 gallons of water, a platform, and plenty of other amenities), organizers must consider the cost. A national event costs roughly three times more to stage than a local event, as local affiliate events recruit volunteer staff for set-up.
But seeing new faces and watching the community grow is the ultimate feeling of reward for all the hard work the organizers do, Jones notes. For her personally, another reward comes in the way of Otis’s happiness.
Otis Takes Mixed Breeds to the top of Dock Dogs’ List
Otis got into the game a little late, but has climbed to the top of the rankings with ease. The mixed-breed rescue, whom Jones adopted when he was just nine weeks old, will be seven this August. He’s special for a lot of reasons, says Jones, including his enthusiastic attitude.
“The dog who’s normally a well-behaved couch potato at home is a complete nutcase when it comes to Dock Dogs events,” Jones says. “Otis will literally be frothing at the mouth with excitement.” As well he should be. Otis placed 15th in the world rankings for Iron Dog in 2011, and he’s one of only five mixed breeds in the top 50.
“What’s interesting about Otis is that he isn’t the best at any one event, but instead is the best in Iron Dog,” says Jones, who has big plans for the future. Otis is working on expanding into televised dock diving circuits, as well as participating in the Super Retriever series.
For now, he’ll focus on staying healthy for the Dock Dogs competitions ahead and on signing pawtographs for fans after events. Otis is always ready for his next adventure with Glyco-Flex II and III, Composure (“for those long car trips,” says Jones) and Vetri-Probiotic Everyday. He’s also become a fan of our Vetri-Repel wipes, for the times when those pests rear their ugly heads in Denver.
Vetri-Science is proud to sponsor the Rocky Mountain Dock Dogs and Team O-Dog. We’ve always touted the beneficial properties of our products, but it never hurts to have somebody standing behind them, especially if they’re standing on four legs– or a dock.