Dogs from all over Northern Nevada will make more than one splash in Gardnerville’s first Splash Dog competition in Heritage Park July 25-27.
Splash dogs is a nationally recognized dog enthusiast company that organizes and promotes dock jumping events across the United States. Their goal is to provide a family oriented, competitive atmosphere.
Volunteer and participant Heather Paterson-Lewis is a veteran competitor.
“A friend of mine, Inger Hotho, saw it on TV when they had it a few years ago,” Paterson-Lewis said. “They had it up at the Reno River Festival and the next week at Tamarack and she said, ‘Boy your crazy dog would be good at that.’”
Her friend was right. Paterson-Lewis’ dog, Oreo, is a Splash Dog champion.
“The first year she took nationals in the pro division, and last year she got moved up to extreme because she was jumping farther and we took fifth I think,” Paterson-Lewis said. “She’s just a little crazy dog.”
This is the second year Splash Dogs has come to Carson Valley. Last year the Carson Valley Inn in Minden hosted an event.
“CVI had a one-day event last year and it was just insane,” Paterson-Lewis said.
“The best part of Splash Dogs is the interaction between you and your dog and all the fun you have,” Paterson-Lewis said. “It’s just a really, really fun event, everybody who attends loves it.”
Splash Dog participants drive a long way for these events, Paterson-Lewis said, but the one-day event in Minden just wasn’t worth it to some. Yet they still had a significant amount of dogs.
“We had probably 80 or more dogs signed up last year,” she said.
With an almost three-day event, Paterson-Lewis is expecting a much larger number. To accommodate that, Paterson-Lewis and Jeff Vanetta are working with the Town of Gardnerville.
“Jeff Vanetta runs operations. He is also the judge and announcer and our everything guy. He hauls, sets up and tears down. He is the whole thing,” Paterson-Lewis said. “We will have two pools at the event, one is just a training pool with the ramp. This will make things go much faster than last year and allow training throughout the entire event, not just designated times.”
They will have a 40-foot trailer with a pool on it that is for competition. Paterson-Lewis was also working with the town of Gardnerville to get 15,000 more gallons of water for a small pool, which she succeeded in doing.
Both Paterson-Lewis and the Splash Dogs website emphasized that for the new dogs, the jump might not be as easy as it looks.
“It’s not just an automatic that a dog will jump off into a pool, even if the dog jumps off docks,” she said.
The reason for this being, the crystal clear water of the pool can throw off a dog that is used to jumping into a murky lake.
It is important to encourage the dog off of the dock and never push the dog off or force it to jump.
“If your dog is new, you generally will come off of the dock and wait at the ramp,” Paterson-Lewis said. “So the dog knows where to get out, and is helped out of the water.”
This event is available to all ages, including young kids.
“Ages 6-15 is junior handler,” Paterson-Lewis said. “We love to encourage the families to come out if they have a dog.”
However, junior handlers will also have to have an adult with them while they are one the dock for safety reasons.
Paterson-Lewis also wanted to emphasize safety for all participants.
“We want to emphasize that if your going to come to the event, please only bring your dog if they’re participating. Having your dog just standing there is no fun for the dog because they’re going to be pulling, and it’s no fun for our dogs cause they’re going to be crated and pinned,” Paterson-Lewis said.
Also, she wanted to recommend parents give their children a dog safety lesson.
“Make sure your kids don’t walk up to strange dogs because my dog is always friendly, until she’s not and it’s the same with any dog,” Paterson-Lewis said. She also recommended that parents tell their kids to not stick their hands into the kennels of the dogs.
These dogs are competition dogs, and are incredibly focused on their task and will not always realize their surroundings.
“My dog especially is so focused she’ll tear my arm off trying to get to the dock, because that’s her job for the day,” Paterson-Lewis said.
No flexi leashes are allowed and give other dogs space. Bring plenty of water and a chair. Pop up tents will also be allowed, but find other means besides steaks to secure them for fear of busting the underground pipes.
“We will have some bleachers, and it’s just fun, there’s going to be a lot of local dogs,” Paterson-Lewis said.
Make sure your dog can swim.
With the amount of dogs that need training, she said there is not time to teach each dog how to swim.
She emphasized that new dogs should register ahead of time online.
“It’s $20 to learn, if we get you successfully off the dock practicing, that $20 will go to your first competitive jump,” Paterson-Lewis said.
Registration on-site will be available up to one hour prior to the Splash in which you would like to compete, but pre-registrants will be given priority for entry in a Splash.
Registration is available online or on-site. On July 25, registration opens at noon along with the open practice dock. July 26 and 27, registration opens at 8 a.m. along with the open practice dock.