Dock diving at Polaris Cabela's

I'll admit, I had no idea what a Cabela's was. It sounded like a fancy restaurant to me, but actually it's a really nice outdoors sporting goods store. It didn't matter to me - I'll go anywhere there's dock diving. This was the first year that Cabela's in Columbus (located on Gemini Parkway near Polaris) hosted dock diving. Other Cabela's stores host them around the country, so I hope the Polaris location continues the tradition.

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I got excited on the Friday night before the competition, seeing the pool being inflated and filled with water under the streetlights as the skies darkened. The next morning the competition was on! Saturday and Sunday had multiple Big Waves, which are the distance challenges. There was also Extreme Vertical, which I'll describe below, and Speed Retrieve. Then the finals for the Big Wave were held Sunday afternoon.

Some dogs were seasoned pros and had clearly been jumping in the water for a good portion of their lives. Other dogs needed a little encouragement.

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And some newer dogs flat-out refused!

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If you look closely you can see that dog looking up at me like, is my owner for real?

It's actually quite scary for dogs to jump into the pool. According to the Dock Dogs organization that put on the event, the water is completely clear and invisible to the dogs, so they're just jumping out into nothing.

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I like how this dog looks like a kangaroo! He looks completely canine on land but he has the jump of a powerful marsupial.

Aside from the distance competition, there was Extreme Vertical. Dogs jumped for a toy that was affixed to a certain height at the end of the platform and landed in the pool. Some of the handlers' reactions were AMAZING. The dogs' jumps were impressive but the expressions on their faces were something to behold. I chose a position where I could get both the dog and the human reaction to the jumps.

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In almost every shot, this handler has the same clasped hands and hopeful nervous expression that looks like she's holding her breath and thinking, "Oh please oh please oh please..." Her dog is one of those agile, seasoned jumpers that clearly knows his stuff, but I understand the expression. I remember the parents in the stands at the Rio Olympics anticipating whether their son or daughter would stick a landing or clear a vault. These are just furrier athletes!

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This was my favorite photograph I took of the first day. The look of giddy excitement on this lady when her dog made this EV height just delights me.

Here is another excited jump. She missed her calling as a Rockette with those high kicks!

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Day 2 at Cabela's featured more long distance jumping. This beautiful dog is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, AKA a toller. This family has two tollers that are mother and son, Eta and Chiron respectively, and they competed against each other. I've heard of sibling rivalry, but I guess a little parent/puppy rivalry is possible in doggie athletics!

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Look at the ears on this toller! He looks like a fox as he jumps.

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I liked getting some close-ups of the dogs as they swam in the pool. I wish my own dog were toy-motivated like these dogs so I could get her to dock dive. I'd have to open a can of peanut butter and toss it in ... the organizers would surely have a problem with that! In fact, they explained that any toy was permissible as long as it wasn't edible.

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As always, there were special moments between handlers and their jumpers. I got a sweet photograph of a lady holding her dog in a piggyback hold as they watched other dogs swimming in the pool.

Look at the smile on this happy boy! He looks so pleased with himself as his landing gear goes down on another perfectly executed jump.

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I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the dogs and their handlers having such a good time. Cabela's was a great host and of course I loved that the dock diving was held so close to Lewis Center! See you next year!