By Evan Winston
The 31st annual Hampton Bay Days Festival was held in downtown Hampton, Va. the weekend of Sept. 7 and 8. While the crowds enjoyed the live bands and food vendors, an event the seemed to draw much attention was the “Tidewater Dock Dogs.”
In this event, dogs and their owners stepped up on a platform that simulated a dock, and in front of the dock was a pool of water that stretched approximately 30 feet.
The owners – with doggy toy/bone in hand – then kept his/her dog at bay, at the beginning of the runway, while walking toward the edge of it. Then the owners commanded their dogs to sprint towards the pool and fetch the object that they threw towards the pool.
While seeing canines catch objects in mid-air may be an awesome sight, the object of the event is to see how far the dog can jump.
According to Ashley Rogers, president of Tidewater Dock Dogs, over 220 dogs participated in the event, with 183 pre-registering. “This is an exciting event,” Rogers said. There’s nothing like good old-fashioned time with your dog.”
Dock Dogs is an organization that has functioned on for 15 years. What once was just a leisure time hobby between man and man’s best friend has turned into a national and even world phenomenon.
According to Tidewater Dock Dogs website, competitions such as the Hampton event are held in approximately 135 cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
The competition held at Bay Days was a three-year tradition, meaning the participants that compete have jumped last year, this year, and will do it next year for the ultimate prize of $1,000 and a silver championship cup.
One of the participants vying for that prize is Megan Oberman and her dogs “Strappy” and “Dutchess.” “Strappy” did not compete this year but received honors last year as “most consistent dog.” Oberman said that the competition hasn’t just brought awards to her household. “My husband and I have friends that are doing it,” she said “and we’ve met many friends through the competition.”
The event attracted a big crowd, with the majority of the spectators being young children such as sisters Kassidy, and Emilee. “We love it when the dogs jump in the water,” they said. “We ended up getting wet.”
Video by Kathryn Kenny