Annual event makes early splash | RecordCourier.com

Annual event makes early splash

Heather Paterson-Lewis of Minden and her dog, Oreo, compete in a Splash Dogs event at Scheels.

Dozens of canines will make waves early this year as Splash Dogs hosts "Spring into the Sierras" events May 12-14 at Heritage Park in Gardnerville.

This will be the fifth year Splash Dogs events have been hosted by the town and the first year nationals will be held in the Valley.

Regional competitions will be held throughout northern Nevada through August with nationals set for Sept. 8 through Oct. 1.

Splash Dogs is a dog enthusiast company that organizes and promotes dock jumping events across the country, according to splashdogs.com.

"It provides a chance to build teamwork, communication and trust between the dog and handler through fun and competitive activities," said Splash Dogs volunteer and participant Heather Paterson-Lewis of Minden.

Paterson-Lewis competes with her dog Oreo, a German shorthaired pointer and heeler mix. This will be their fifth year with Splash Dogs.

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She said the Gardnerville event is typically held in August, making it the last splash of the season, but the earlier date this year allows competitors to get a head start.

"It's a great place to learn how to compete and practice," Paterson-Lewis said. "It's a great family event and there's lots of fun activities to do with your dog."

She said a small training pool at the event gives dogs and their handlers a chance to practice and have fun before moving up to the dock.

The training pool is a smaller version of the dock that allows first-time participants to get their feet — and paws — wet.

"If we're successful in getting the dog to jump in the training pool, they can move up to the dock and participate in the competition," said Paterson-Lewis.

In conjunction with dock jumping, an introduction to barn hunt and junior handlers will be offered. Barn hunts are runs with one to three rats on a straw bale with tunnel options designed for canines that may not like the dock or enjoy hunting.

The junior handler division is for 6-15 year-olds to participate in the events.

"We really encourage kids to come out and play with their pups," said Paterson-Lewis.

The competition is spread into waves of two jumps per canine and their handler, according to Paterson-Lewis. Participates must compete in at least two waves throughout the weekend to qualify for finals on May 14 and move on to nationals.

"With nationals being held here there is lots of opportunity to qualify between the Heritage jumps and jumps in Reno, Squaw Valley and Fallon," she said. "If you jump most of the weekend in Gardnerville, you certainly could jump enough to qualify [for nationals] in one weekend," said Paterson-Lewis.

Paterson-Lewis said new participants are advised to read the competition rules at splashdogs.com and should bring a favorite toy that can easily be thrown and the dog can see. Dogs also should be kept on a short leash and any dogs not competing or practicing are asked to remain home.

Training bands are $15 and waves are $25. Barn hunt is $7 for each run.

For more information visit splashdogs.com or barnhunt.com.

Upcoming Splash Dogs events:

Spring into the Sierras — May 12-14 at Heritage Park, Gardnerville.

Tamarack Junction Summer Sol — June 23-25 at the Tamarack Junction, Reno.

Fallon Cantaloupe Festival — Aug. 25-26.

Nationals- Sept. 8-Oct. 1 at Heritage Park, Gardnerville.