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Note: This post is written from the viewpoint of Hope, my one year old rescue pup. She was thrilled to participate in her first dock diving competition at SEWE by the Sea on October 8 at Kiawah Island. Hope is sending lots of pawsitive vibes to her Palmetto DockDog team mates, Doni, Ella and Fitz as they head off to the DockDogs 2017 World Championship in Knoxville, TN! A special thank you to Kevin Johnson at KJ Photography for the pawesome dock diving action shots (Keven took all but the last pic in this blog)!
It was dark when I heard mommy get out of bed. Usually I follow her, but I was so comfy all snuggled up under the covers and I decided to sleep in just a bit longer. But, of course, my curiosity got the best of me and so I went in search of mommy to find out why we were up so early on a Sunday morning. I found her in the kitchen making sandwiches and putting them in the little cooler, then she packed my favorite snack, baby carrots, yum! That’s when I knew we were going on an adventure and I started to get excited. Then mommy got out my ‘fun bag’ and I watched as she filled it with my diving bumpers, a towel, my travel water dish and my favorite chew bone. Oh yay … this was definitely going to be a great day!
I still wasn’t sure where we were going as mommy and daddy loaded up the car and I paced with anticipation. Mommy told Daisy she had to stay home with the puss cats and then it was time for me to load up! I was a little sad to leave Daisy behind but she’s getting really old and it’s sometimes hard for her to get around so I thought we must be going to dock diving practice, yippie! I hopped in the front seat to ride shotgun with mommy, but then she snapped me into my seat belt in the back cuz daddy was going too. I luv it when daddy comes with us, but why can’t he sit in the back?
As we drove out of the City, the sun was coming up and I was eagerly looking out the window to see where we were going. I heard mommy telling daddy that she was a bit nervous cuz we’d never done a dock diving competition. Whaaaaaat??? I was going to jump in my very first competition? Oh wow, I was so excited I could barely sit still!
It seemed like we drove forever – and when we finally stopped I could feel the anticipation in the air. We got out of the car and I saw my friend and diving buddy, Gracie with her mommy, Sally – we were both jumping up and down with excitement! We walked across a grassy area and then I stopped and just stared … in front of me was the biggest pool I’d ever seen with a really long dock. I started dragging mommy and squealing, I wanted to get on that dock and fly into the water!
There were lots of dogs and my excitement was intensifying by the minute. I wanted to greet and sniff everyone but mommy said ‘no jumping and playing with other dogs.’ Well, that was a bummer. But then I remembered the pool and I forgot all about playing. As I was straining on my leash, I saw Deb walking towards us. She’s the president of Palmetto DockDogs and the mommy of my idol, Doni, the most pawesome dock diver and national champion. Deb handed mommy a slip lead and suggested it might help me calm down a bit – and keep me from pulling mommy’s arm out of its socket! HAH! Nothing was going to slow me down today, but then mommy put it around my neck and sure enough, I calmed right down and remembered how to walk like a ‘good girl’ – mostly.
Gracie and I waited rather impatiently with mommy as daddy and Sally put up a tent and brought all of our stuff from the cars. When were we going to jump in the pool??? And why was daddy setting up a crate? Before I could give that anymore thought, mommy said it was time to do some practice jumps. Finally! We had to wait our turn as other dogs jumped, and I tried my best to sit still but oh boy, I wanted to get up on that dock in the worst way! And then it was our turn, I scrambled up the stairs to the dock and there it was … my favorite thing in the world, water!
Mommy walked me to the edge of the dock so I could look down into the pool. Wow, that dock was a lot higher than our platform at Gracie’s pool, but I was ready. Mommy put me in a sit/stay about halfway down the dock, then she walked up to the edge and threw my bumper and I went running and then I sailed off the dock! Ahhhhhh, pure bliss! I retrieved my bumper and swam towards mommy as she showed me the ramp to get out of the pool. I was ready to go again, but had to wait for the other dogs to have a practice jump. I got two practice jumps and then it was time for the competition!
Big Air 1 was first – each dog got two jumps. It was the most fun thing ever! Mommy got a little nervous and messed up one of the throws, but because there was still time on the clock, she got the bumper back and threw it again. I never got nervous, I just got impatient when I was waiting for my turn!
After my second jump we walked back over to our tent and mommy put me in the crate. At first I was a bit upset cuz I’m not a baby anymore, but then I realized that she had put my favorite quilt in there and yeah, it was kinda nice to just relax and chill. I snacked on some baby carrots and life was good! Before I knew it, I was back up on the dock for Big Air 2. I jumped twice again and my best jump was 10 ½’. There were lots of dogs that jumped a whole lot further, but I didn’t care, I was having fun! When I saw mommy cheering and calling my name as I swam towards the ramp, I knew I was her champion and that’s all that mattered.
Next it was time for the Speed Retrieve – I’ve never done that before so mommy didn’t sign me up to compete but I got to go up on the dock and practice. It was exhilarating to dive off the dock and swim towards the bumper at the end of the pool, my little paws were going as fast as they could! I’m gonna practice so I can compete in Speed Retrieve soon!
It was getting really hot and I was so glad for the shade in the tent. I have to admit, I got a bit bored wondering when I was going to get back up on the dock. That’s one of the things that I learned about dock diving competitions, there’s a lot of ‘down time’ so I was happy that mommy brought my favorite chew bone as I relaxed in my crate.
When it came time for the Extreme Vertical competition, I got to, once again, go up on the dock to practice. This was a little intimidating – the bumper seemed so far away from the dock and high up in the air. I didn’t really understand what mommy wanted me to do but she said that was ok, we’d work up to it. Me and Gracie watched in amazement as Ella and some of the other experienced dock divers went flying straight up into the air during the competition. It was really incredible how high they jumped and I decided that I really want to learn how to do EV!
After a long day, it was time for finals – me and Gracie both made it into the Amateur Division, we were so excited! Gracie went first and then this really cool Aussie jumped, they both did great but I was sure I was gonna jump even further. I got up on the dock and waited for mommy to throw my bumper and I went running and then … I stopped at the edge of the pool! I don’t know what happened; I think my brain went blank cuz I just froze. The crowd was cheering and finally I jumped in the pool – but it definitely wasn’t my best effort. We each got one more jump. Gracie came in first place and I was really happy for her! I got third place, mommy gave me the biggest hug and said I’d always take first place in her heart!
On that note, I have to say that I was so sad for the doggies in the tent next to us. Their mommy got really mad when they didn’t jump far enough. I could sense the tension over there all afternoon. At one point the doggies even got into a bit of a fight with each other. I think it’s cuz they were feeling bad for letting their mommy down. All the other dogs at the event were having the most fun and even if they didn’t win, their pawrents were like my mommy, super proud of them! Mommy says that’s what dock diving is all about, spending quality time together and having fun!
As daddy packed up the car, me and Gracie had a goodbye sniff and we both agreed that we’re gonna practice for the next dock diving competition. We’re hooked! I was so tired when I climbed into the back seat, I’m sure I had a smile on my face as I drifted off to sleep thinking about how blessed I am and how much fun I had at my first dock diving competition. I knew it was gonna be a great day, and I was right!
Dive, Play, Luv, Hope