Did you know that your dog has been honed over the course of millions of years of natural selection and millenia of selective breeding to do more than sniff out stale Cheez-Its that have fallen under your sofa? That explains a lot about their behavior. When they treat you to a hearty session of impassioned scream barking at three in the morning, it’s not to amuse you — it’s to alert you to the very likely presence of saber-toothed tigers in your backyard. When they go insane with joy every time you come back home, even if you only left to refill your bird feeder, it’s only because they’re so relieved that you haven’t eaten by said tigers. Don’t you owe it to your dog to let them do the dog things they are meant to do? You do, which is why DockDogs Northern Stars is so neat.
Dock diving is a sport where a dog builds up a long running head start before launching off the end of a dock like an enthusiasm-powered bottle rocket. Emily Bruss first learned of dock diving after watching it on YouTube, and knew at once that it would be right up her affable Lab Remington’s alley. She was happy to learn that dock diving is alive and well in Minnesota thanks to DockDogs Northern Stars, so she took Remington to their next meetup. She would still love Remington dearly even after the otherwise good dog only managed to jump a pathetic four feet on his first try.
Emily is now the marketing coordinator of DockDogs Northern Stars, and will sing the organization’s praises to any magazine writer who bothers her while she’s working. “We’re the first affiliate club of DockDogs, which we’re very proud of, and it’s our goal to be the biggest proponent for dock diving in the state of Minnesota. Dock diving is a great way to have fun and make new friends — our participants are all very welcoming, because no one can watch what we do in a sour mood.
“Most dogs have trouble with their first jump, just like Remington. They’re usually accustomed to jumping into lakes, so they’re not used to the clear pools that we use. With a little practice pretty much any dog can learn to really impress you, though. Of course Labs and retrievers are naturals at the sport, but we once had one Papillon named Lady Gaga who can jump 15 feet!”
Dock Diving is split up into three types of events. In Big Air, the dog’s master throws a toy for them to maniacally sprint and dive after, landing in the water with a satisfying sploosh. (The toy must meet three criteria: It must float, it must be inedible, and at no point in time could it ever have been alive.) In Speed Retrieve, the dog must swim across the pool to recover and return with their toy as quickly as their ardor and anatomy permit them to. In Extreme Vertical, the dog thumbs their nose at gravity as they leap and snatch a toy suspended high up in the air. Some dogs are able to clear over eight feet in this fashion, and the return sploosh is even more satisfying than Big Air’s.
“Watching dogs in action is always a blast, especially when they’re doing something they love so much,” Emily continued. “Our dogs will do anything for their toys, and watching them jump upwards of 25 feet to get them is always exhilarating. A DockDogs event has great energy that spectators, competitors, and dogs really feed into, so no matter how you participate you’re going to love it. Even if you throw the toy overzealously and fall in after it, the look on your dog’s face when they see you in the water is going to be priceless.”
Participating in a DockDogs Northern Stars event is easy. Just give your dog a little primer on fetch in the unlikely event that you haven’t yet, and gather up their vaccination papers so you can prove that their upcoming sploosh won’t turn the pool into a teeming cauldron of communicable dog diseases. Then find an upcoming meetup at dockdogsnorthernstars.com or facebook.com/dockdogsnorthernstars and plan your pup’s big arrival on the competitive dock diving scene!
Anyone over the age of seven is welcome to compete in a DockDogs Northern Stars event, and dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes are welcome as well. Rescue dogs, who come from nothing but give so much, are especially welcome. Cats are not welcome.
By David Scheller