Dog diving competition taking place in central Alberta this weekend

Dog diving is a growing agility sport in Canada and this year, the first ever North America Diving Dogs Canadian Regionals is taking place at Prairie Dog Sports in Blackfalds, Alta.

Dogs are enticed to run the length of a dock and leap as far out into the water as possible to compete for height or distance.

“It’s super fun, the dogs love it,” said Megan-Rai Ferguson with North America Diving Dogs Canada.

“You don’t compete against me, I don’t compete against you — it’s just you and your dog doing the best we can.”

Normally the dogs train near their home city and then if they qualify, they travel to Orlando, Fla., for the big competition. But due COVID-19 restrictions, nine regionals across the continent are being held to find the top diving dogs.

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“Once all the regionals are done, the tallies are in and the dogs are announced,” Ferguson said.

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Almost 60 big and small dogs are diving over the weekend. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the event is taking place over three days and only a limited number of people are allowed at one time. Competitors from across the country came to Blackfalds, including dogs from B.C. and as far as Quebec.

Fourteen-year-old Jonathan Ansorger and his buddy Plai have been practising all summer. He said Plai dives well.

“It’s very exhilarating and I know that he is having a lot of fun and happiness when he does it,” Ansorger said.

The dogs do look like they have a great time when they are chasing their toy and diving into the water, but in Blackfalds, they also get an extra treat. The town has the only heated dog pool in the country.

“Our jumping dogs get that little extra benefit because their muscles don’t get as tight through jumps,” Prairie Dog Sports owner Michelle Eadie said.

The regional competition runs until Sunday.

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