The Making Of A DockDog (Part 2)
It was close to July 4th weekend and we saw in the paper that DockDogs was going to be at Discovery Green in downtown Houston. DockDogs?? Oh, I have seen them on TV! I told my husband about this and we decided to go have some fun and go see DockDogs. It was sure hot when were there, but it was amazing to see these dogs jump. Some of them jumping 20+ feet !! WOW! Then the thought creped in. Maybe Cooper can do that? I’m sure he’ll jump well since he loves doing it at the house. Hmm, lets go get more information. There were two places there that weekend that was dedicated to dock jumping. One was Rummy’s Beach Club and the other was Meadowlakes Pet Resort. We stopped by both. We were so excited to show them the video of what our dog can do. They watched and were very nice! Rummy’s said that they were having a beginners dock dog jumping class coming up in a couple of weeks if we were interested. Sure! We were interested!
A few weeks later we went to Rummys. We were a group of about 8 dogs. All of us were very excited to see if our dog would jump. Cooper was definitely not the most behaved (He doesn’t like other dogs, and he wanted to nip at them), but he did ok in this 3 week class. He jumped pretty well off the dock considering he’s a herding dog and not a water dog like Labs are. Our teacher Jana told us that there was a DockDog competition in San Antonio coming up the end of August if we were interested in signing up. We didn’t think Cooper was ready for that yet.
So the month of July and August we continued to play with Cooper in the pool. It was so much fun. He just kept getting better and better at jumping. He would make us laugh every day by the stuff he was learning how to do. Then one day we had the conversation in the pool about if we were holding Cooper back. What if he was good at this DockDog stuff? Should we enter him in this competition in San Antonio? Are we crazy for taking two dogs and driving 3 hours to a competition? hmm, what the heck! We only live once! Lets do it.
So we signed him up and on our way we went to San Antonio, TX with no idea what was going to happen. Would he jump far? Would he jump at all? This was an indoor event. What if he doesn’t want to jump at all ! Dean and I were both so nervous. We set up our cages and tried to find anyone we knew. We found our teacher Jana and a couple of other people from class. I’m glad they came here too!
We decided to practice Cooper before our turn. Cooper stood in line with me and was mesmerized with all the dogs around and the noise. he had no idea what was going on. It was our turn to get up on the dock. Cooper did not want to go up the steps! Why? We have steps at our house. Turns out these steps had no back, so he could see right through. He didn’t like that! Finally I got him up there. Jana told me it would be easier to teach him that the pool was water by letting him go down the ramp to retrieve his toy. She was right. He jumped right in for his toy. Great we thought! He’ll just jump off that dock, and we are good to go!! Again, we were wrong !!
It was his first “Wave” ever! A wave in DockDog is a group of dogs that jump twice. Which ever jump is better, that’s the score they take. Then they give out ribbons for those groups of dogs. Fairly simple! We stood in line. I was trying to get him excited about his favorite toy, a tennis ball. He wanted nothing to do with that. He was still looking around at everything and barking at all the dogs. The whole time I kept thinking “What are we doing here”.
It was now Cooper’s turn. Even though he still hadn’t figured out the steps, I managed to get him up on the dock. I threw his tennis ball into the water, backed him up, and told him to go get it. He went to the edge, saw the ball, and then wanted to turn around, go through the little door, and down the ramp. But that wasn’t going to happen! Since we only have 90 seconds on the dock, I put him at the edge and told him to jump. He focused on the ball and wanted to jump ! The crowd was even telling him to jump. And of course Jana was there too telling him to jump. After what seemed like a million years but was only 90 seconds, Cooper and I got off the dock without a jump. How disappointing. While standing in line for my second jump that thought creped back in, “What are we doing here? Maybe he’s not cut out to do this! I’m so embarrassed. Why am I putting my dog through this?
Now time for our second jump. Cooper went up the stairs a little easier this time. I threw the ball into the pool. He still wanted to get out of the dock and go down the ramp, but I corrected him and got him lined up to jump. I held him, got him excited about his tennis ball and told him to go !! and Go he did.. right to the edge of the dock. UGH ! I was just shaking my head. I tried really hard to encourage him. Then the crowd kicked in and started cheering for Cooper. Saying, “Come on Cooper”, “Jump Cooper”, and with that excited and energy level, Cooper took his first plunge off the dock. The crowd erupted in applause. It was such a magical moment. I was so proud of Cooper!!! (Aww, I just got chills writing about it. )
So now it’s 17 months later and we still have as much excitement with Cooper as we did that day. We have had many celebrations with him. The first time he got a 3rd place ribbon in his novice division (1 – 9′ 9″), his first 7 foot jump, his first second place ribbon, his first jump into the 8 feet, the first time in finals, an awesome 1st place blue ribbon, his jump into 9 feet, him winning his first blue ribbon in the novice finals, and finally him jumping into the juniors division and now at 10′ 10″ for a personal best. What an amazing journey it’s been.
A few weeks ago I got an email from DockDogs. It was an invitation to the 2012 DockDogs World Championship. I smiled so big! Cooper has come a long way in a year from jumping that 3′ 3″. How can we pass up this invitation? What if Cooper doesn’t get another World invite? I mean he is still a herding dog, and even though he is exceeding our expectations, he may never be a 15′ jumping dog. So yes, we are definitely going and we can’t be more proud !!! We will keep everyone up to date on how Cooper is doing at Worlds. As usual we will take video and pictures and post them. No matter what he does, he will always be our Super Cooper.