Dock Dogs returns to Summer Festival

Published 7:08 pm Monday, June 8, 2015

CONTRIBUTED FURRY FRENZY: A dog jumps off the dock and returns a decoy at least year’s Dock Dogs event at the Washington Summer Festival.

FURRY FRENZY: A dog jumps off the dock and returns a decoy at least year’s Dock Dogs event at the Washington Summer Festival.

A 20-by-8-foot pool will be mounted on a tractor-trailer today and transported across the Tennessee-North Carolina border to the waterfront in downtown Washington. And while many will take the plunge this weekend to escape what’s expected to be temperatures in the low- to mid-90s, this pool is not reserved for humans.

This aboveground structure, fitted with a gripped ramp and an 8-by-40-foot dock extension, otherwise known as a stage, will host Dock Dogs, the most premier canine aquatics competition in the world that will be featured at this weekend’s Summer Festival for the sixth-straight year.

Located in the parking lot on the corner of West Main Street and Stewart Parkway, the high-flying event will include local and national dogs of all shapes and sizes, as canines will fling themselves off the stage and into 26,000 gallons of water, attempting to jump the furthest, elevate the highest and retrieve the fastest.

“Everybody loves dogs and the dogs love the attention they get from jumping,” said Neil Woolard, Dock Dogs chairman for this year’s Summer Festival. “You don’t have to be a duck dog or a retriever, you can be any kind of breed and size. It’s a really diverse sport in terms of the dogs and it’s diverse in terms of the public attention it gets too.”

The trials — the Big Air Wave, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve — will take place on Friday and Saturday. For each event, the cost is $27 per team if you pre-register online at and $30 for on-site registration. For the Big Air competition, youth and their dogs get a discount — $12 per team if you pre-register and $15 on the day of the competition.

Like the long jump in a track and field meet, the Big Air Wave requires dogs to get a running start and launch themselves off the stage into the pool, which is four-feet deep. Whatever canine records the furthest jump in their respective division — junior, senior, amateur or pro — wins.

While the Big Air Wave is a horizontally based contest, the extreme vertical requires each dog elevate towards a dummy placed on a bar at the edge of the pool. The dog must grab the object and pull it away from the bar entirely. Whatever dog posts the highest mark takes first place.

Finally, the speed retrieve is meant to measure each animal’s agility. Dogs jump off the platform, swim the length of the pool, retrieve the dummy and bring it back to its owner. The quickest time from jump to retrieve wins.

The Iron Dog Award will go to the most successful canine in each of the three individual competitions.

“We’ve had as many as nine states represented right here in Washington,” Woolard said. “Last year we had five states and 98 entries. We do get a lot of local dogs.”

Dock Dogs has been featured on ABC, ESPN and The Outdoor Channel, among others.

Washington will be one of seven venues across North America next weekend hosting sanctioned Dock Dogs competitions. Other locations include Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, California and Ontario.

North Carolina Duck’s Unlimited aside, all other sponsors for Dock Dogs are local Beaufort County businesses and individuals.