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Dock dogs fly en route to Worlds

February 13, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Dogs of all breeds and sizes showed up with their masters this past weekend at the Shell Factory for three days of top-notch competition, running and swimming and jumping far and high in hopes of making it to the World Championships this fall.

The 2019 Tailwagger Classic Wild Card Double Header was one of the first big events of the new year, with the winners punching their tickets to the world championships.

More than 180 dogs were registered for the event, with some owners, who came from all over the country to compete, bringing several dogs of different abilities to compete and even learn the sport, as it was open to all dogs, even chihuahuas.

Article Photos

Tyson grabs the treat in Extreme Vertical at the 2019 Tailwagger Classic Wild Card Double Header at the Shell Factory on Friday. His owner is Stefanie Canton of New York.


"It's been great. We have people from as far north as Vermont and as far west as Missouri. We even have someone from Canada who is looking to build a facility in Manitoba," said Vicki Tighe, owner of Aqua Dogs Sports. "Dock Dogs is all over the country, as well as Australia and Canada. It's a fun sport and a fun time with your dog."

The dogs competed in Big Air, which is akin to the long jump, Extreme Vertical, which is like a high jump, and Speed Retrieve, a timed event like a sprint. Some of the dogs are "Iron Dogs," which compete in all three events and earn points, like a decathlete.

It all culminated on Sunday afternoon with the Big Air finals in the novice, junior, senior, master, elite and super-elite, divisions in front of big crowds.

The crowds weren't there Friday, during the first day of competition, but many of the dogs had a chance to take their first cracks at Big Air and Extreme Vertical.

Charlotte Blake came from Franklin, Tenn., just outside of Nashville, to compete, bringing six dogs, none of which had been in the water since the world championships in Knoxville.

"My dogs wanted to get out of the cold weather, come down here and jump in the pool," Blake said, who happened to see a Dock Dog event by chance and became hooked. "One of my rescue dogs has won a world championship. They love it because they want the toy."

Crystal McClaran, from Cape Coral, didn't have to go far to bring her eight dogs, as this is her home pool. However, it was more about who wasn't there.

McClaran's world champion dog, Bo, has retired, and she is looking for the heir-apparent for her Hall of Famer.

That dog appears to be Whiplash, who was a world champion last year in Big Air. Chartreuse, a female was also a world champion in extreme vertical, as was Arividerche.

"I have a keen eye for the dogs that have potential. I run a rescue so a lot of dogs come through," McClaran said. "From there, it's a lot of work and conditioning. It's non-stop.

"But there will never be another Bo. He was the one and only. He was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, so that was a great surprise for his retirement," McClaran said.



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