DockDogs competition big hit at Perry’s Dogwood Festival

dgary@macon.comApril 17, 2013 

PERRY -- Nine-year-old Riley Loyd raised his hands in victory after coaxing his canine companion, Lizzie, from the 40-foot long dock and into the pool at the newly sanctioned DockDogs competition at the Dogwood Festival.

DockDogs, a dock jumping and diving aquatic event for dogs, was new to the festival, held Saturday and Sunday in downtown Perry.

“Being on the dock feels awesome because you get to see the crowd,” said Riley, who traveled from East Dublin with some of his family, including his sister and fellow handler, Emily Smith, 12. Riley’s grandmother, JoAnne Josey, said her husband is the one who got her grandchildren started in the aquatic contest.

“It takes a lot of time and patience. We’ve traveled to competitions all over the South,” Josey said.

This was Riley’s first time on stage with Lizzie, who was one of about 100 dogs that participated in the competition.

“It’s fun to them, and it is fun to you also,” Riley said.

First-time festival patrons also seemed to enjoy the new attraction. Ann Strahler laughed and cheered as she watched handlers entice their dogs into the water. Strahler thought about Miracle, her black Labrador retriever who was at home in Molena.

“She would love it,” Strahler said.

Nancy Aiken, who traveled from Watkinsville to enter her dogs in the weekend contest, started with DockDogs in 2008. She said she gained an interest in the canine event after seeing a competition on TV.

Aiken is the owner of 4 Dawg Flite, a canine team that makes regular appearances at dog aquatic competitions all over the country.

The DockDogs contest featured three events: the Big Air Wave, described as a long jump for dogs; the Extreme Vertical, which was a high jump performance; and the Speed Retrieve, which noted a dog’s time from one end of the pool to the other.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” said animal-lover Becky Justice, of Douglas. Justice said she attended the festival just to see the DockDogs event.

The winner of the Perry competition will go on to compete at the DockDogs Western Regional Championship in Las Vegas in May and can qualify for the 2013 World Championships in Iowa later this year.

Although the winner of the DockDogs Dogwood Festival events did not receive a monetary prize, Aiken said participating was well worth the time and effort.

“It’s fun spending time with your dogs. You build a bond,” Aiken said.

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