Dock diving benefits dogs and owners

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Tents were set up, barbecue was cooked and fans wore the jerseys of their favorite sports teams. The scene could have been on the campus of a college football game, but those at WestRover Water Sports Aug. 23-25 were ready to watch a different sport.

The facility in Westover hosted Tailgates & Touchdowns, a competition that served as a qualifier for the North America Diving Dogs organization.

“It’s a ball,” said Jay Crisman of 280 Animal Medical Center, sister business of WestRover Water Sports. “People have a great time, and the dogs really have fun.”

The event saw three days worth of distance splashes, where dogs jump as far as possible from a dock into a saltwater pool, and air retrieve splashes, where dogs try to grab a toy from as high as possible on their way down into the pool.

Winners in various divisions qualified for a NADD national event, but anyone who participated undoubtedly got something out of it.

Dogs from several states travel to compete in the events. Vendors offer food, information about adoptions, training and more.

Dog/handler teams were also awarded prizes for most team spirit, best dressed, most enthusiastic dog and most interceptions (air retrieve grabs), with a grand prize for best weekend tailgate set-up.

Most importantly, dock diving offers many benefits other than trophies. The activity can help with behavioral issues caused by boredom, and obesity because it gets dogs—and their people—moving around and having fun.

The events hosted by WestRover Water Sports usually offer “try-it” sessions for dogs that have not competed before in the fast-growing sport.

“It’s fun, and it’s easy to participate,” Crisman said. “It doesn’t take a lot of training and practice like something like agility. If your dog likes to fetch and play with a toy, once we get them used to swimming, they can participate.”

So there’s no reason not to participate in the next dock diving event at WestRover, which fortunately will come soon. The Autumn Classic Dock Diving Trial is scheduled for Sept. 13-15. For more information, visit or follow WesRover Water Sports on Facebook.

Stephen Dawkins is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 524 or by email at