Not too long ago I was mildly bragging about Pritchard’s water entry. In short, she’s a small dog but she hits the water with enthusiasm–and air. So when I heard that the Dock Dogs competition was coming to our hometown of Charleston, SC I decided to enter my pup.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dock Dogs (many of the national events can be seen on ESPN), here’s how it works: the dogs take a running leap from a raised platform into a 40 by 20 foot tank holding a whopping 28,000 gallons of fresh water. The handler can toss just about anything into the pool except a live or dead bird. The dog that jumps the farthest wins.

But not every dog jumps. I saw numerous dogs barrel to the end of the platform then come skidding to a stop as they teetered on the edge and whined. One Chesapeake rolled over on its back and a Golden actually jumped off the runway and onto the ground in an attempt to get her bumper.

So when Pritchard and I climbed the steps I was nervous. With about 50 spectators hooting and hollering (who doesn’t like a true underdog?) and an emcee calling her name my little dog was amped. So amped that she had two false starts (we get a D for obedience) before she made her leap. No hesitation. No fear. Just a little dog that wanted her bird–a Dokken’s Pheasant.

We didn’t set any Dock Dog records. In fact, our 8-foot, 1-inch jump landed us squarely in sixth place for the novice category. The winner of our 30-dog flight topped out near 20 feet. But my little gal out jumped quite a few big dogs, and in the end I was damn proud.

If you plan on entering a competition near you, I’d advise practicing your bumper toss. Even after a season of throwing bumpers I made one toss that was so poor Pritch didn’t even see it land. (Told you I was nervous.)

I know Dock Dogs doesn’t have much to do with hunting, but I had a blast. And I venture to say so did my dog.