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.

columbus dog photography

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.


And some newer dogs flat-out refused!


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.


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.


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!


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!


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!


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


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.


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.


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!

Golden retriever dock diving

I was so thrilled to join the Golden Retriever Club of Columbus for a dock diving demonstration at their monthly meeting. This was an awesome night for a dog lover like me. There are dock diving competitions on YouTube that I've watched, and I'd always hoped to see one someday. When the chance popped up to see it in person, of course I had to be there!


It was so interesting to learn about techniques to getting a dog ready for dock diving. The most important thing? Don't toss your dog off the dock into the lake! You don't want him or her to be afraid of diving into water. We saw a number of dogs get in on the action during the demonstration. I got the chance for some mid-air action shots like this one.


And of course not every throw was going to be a success. This dog has the funniest expression on his face when he looks back and sees he leaped farther than the toy was tossed!


Sometimes the pups got overexcited and dropped the toy and had to go back in to retrieve it. It was so hot out, that an extra swim through the water probably felt great. It looked pretty tempting to me!


What a beautiful girl watching her doggie friends!

Before each meeting, the club has a standing challenge called The Order of the Egg. There are various points awarded for how far a dog goes to retrieve a regular chicken egg, picks it up in his mouth, and then brings it back to the starting point. The ideal for these golden retrievers is to have what is called a "soft mouth" so they can retrieve game that their owners have hunted without further damaging it.


I see the egg in this one's mouth!


I just like this shot because the dog's profile mirrors the dog on the sign.


Be sure to see more dog portraits HERE.