Scenes similar to this are common for Pandora, a dock-jumping Staffordshire terrier who is among the dogs that participate in the sport throughout the Reno/Sparks area. Some dogs even jump competitively.
Splash Dogs, a nationally recognized group, travel around the West Coast holding competitions to see which canine in a given area can leap the furthest from a dock into the water. And, with summer having arrived, many of the competitors consider the sport a great way to keep dogs cool and in shape during the scorching season.
“She took to it right away,” said Lisa Keyes, Pandora’s owner. “She was jumping in about an hour and a half.”
Together, Pandora and Keyes have gone to jumps in Nevada, California and other states across the West.
As in any sport, there are stars. Pinka, a 30-pound “unknown rescue,” has won six competitions in a row this year, and was the 2009 Splash Dogs Pro Division Champion. Her owner, Suzy Nicholson, said she is half Belgian Malinois, half terrier.
According to Nicholson, Pinka was a natural with the sport.
“She started jumping the first time I took her out,” Nicholson said.
Since then, the two have gone to the Sparks Marina each weekend and practiced. Nicholson uses a tennis ball to usher her dog into the water.
Both Pandora and Pinka belong to a local group, the High Desert Diving Dogs (HDDD). Natalie Jane-Schricker, the group’s president, has been participating in dock jumping with her 4-year-old golden retriever Katie for about three years now. Similar to the other competitors, she said her interest began when she had a young puppy full of energy.
“We went to a trainer, jumped at the Sparks Marina,” Schricker said. “She loved it. One trainer invited us to the state fair, and she’s been jumping ever since.”
The HDDD has about 60 members and has been meeting since 2004. The members generally meet every Saturday morning at the Sparks Marina and practice with one another.
When asked why a pet owner should get his or her dog involved in the sport, each member answered with a similar response.
“It’s really a great bonding experience with your dog,” Keyes said. “The way she reacts and listens now is so much better than before.”
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s great. The dogs just love it,” Schricker said. “This is crack for dogs.”