Bailey might be showing his age, but the flat-coated retriever has what it takes to be a champion. The third place he earned in a regional competition in the Maryland Dock Diving championship in June qualifies the 9-year-old Bailey to do what he loves best — catch big air.
Bailey and his owner/handler Dawn Miller of Akron will compete in the World Dock Diving Championship for senior dogs ages 8-10 next week in Dubuque, Iowa.
“He loves it,” Miller said of Bailey’s competitive streak. “He’s a natural born water dog.”
In 2012, Bailey qualified for the world championship with a first-place finish in a regional championship in Arkansas.
Accompanied by Miller’s mother, Linda Miller of Lake Township, they usually average six to eight competitions each year traveling to cities all over the country.
Last weekend, Bailey took first place in the senior division competition hosted by 3 Rivers in Pittsburgh, said Linda Miller.
“You know you love a dog when you are willing to go that far to make one jump,” she said.
Bailey and his owner share their North Akron home with Brinkley, a German short-haired pointer Miller describes as “wild” when he is outdoors and a “couch potato” at home. The fourth member of the family is a hyperactive Jack Russell terrier named Tinkerbell that Miller hopes to train to compete in “go-to-ground” trial events designed to simulate and test a Jack Russell’s ability to hunt and work underground.
All three of the animals were rescued from dire straights and given a second shot at life.
Miller found Bailey in 2004 on a Craigslist ad.
“I called the number and this guy told me to come and get him ‘before I take it to the pound,’ ” Dawn Miller said.
Bailey has been competing since the age of 5, she said.
The retriever has the time of his life jumping, swimming and retrieving toys from a pool or lake.
He and Miller are members of 3 Rivers DockDogs of Pittsburgh, which organizes competitions for dogs.
The best competitors have the strongest drive to launch themselves off the end of a dock and into the water at full speed to retrieve a favorite toy thrown by the handler. They seem to live for a repetition of those few seconds when they fly through the air in pursuit of their toy.
Miller says the dogs that are winning the majority of competitions these days are Belgian Malinois.
“I’ve seen die-hard Labrador people turn to the Malinois. They are winning everything. They are the most athletic dogs I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Miller’s drive to rescue animals is as strong as Bailey’s drive to compete, she said.
“I don’t want to get a dog to win. I want a pet first,” she said.
Dock Dog diving competition purses rarely contain much cash for winners, averaging about $100, Miller said. It generally costs more than that to enter.
Each team pays for the privilege to compete, usually $25 for two jumps. And each competitor normally has four or five jumps, she said.
“I get a lot more out of it than that,” she said.
“I’ve made some of the most wonderful friends in the 3 Rivers organization. It’s wonderful how they stand with you,” Miller said.
To learn more about 3 Rivers DockDogs visit www.3riversdockdogs.com on the Web.
Dog bed raffle
Paws and Prayers animal rescue is raffling off a handcrafted dog bed made by craftsman Keith Oblisk on Nov. 17 during National Adoption Weekend at Chapel Hill PetSmart, 355 Howe Ave., Cuyahoga Falls.
The one-of-a-kind bed is made of solid oak with spindles and can hold a very large dog or a litter of puppies. It is 46 inches long, 26 inches deep and 19 inches high. A bed liner in a dog motif, normally sold for $15, will be included.
Tickets for the raffle, which are $5 each or five for $20, can be purchased and the bed can be seen at the Cuyahoga Falls PetSmart from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and Nov. 16 and 17.
Other animals in the news:
Winter Break Camp — Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is bringing back Winter Break Camp for kids ages 5-8. Camp runs from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3 with half-day (from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and full-day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) sessions available. Kids will meet in the Jungle Lab classroom at the RainForest before exploring the zoo to learn about how animals stay active during winter and how zookeepers keep them comfortable year around. To learn more about fees and to register, visit clemetzoo.com/education/breakcamps or call 216-635-3391.
Pawsibilities Rummage Sale — Final day for the Humane Society of Greater Akron rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Stow-Kent Shopping Center, 4301 Kent Road, Stow. Lots of home goods, holiday decor, toys and collectables. For more information on the event, visit www.summithumane.org. Proceeds will be used to help rescue, rehabilitate and care for abused, neglected or abandoned animals and finding loving “forever” homes for them.
Fill a Fire Truck —The Stark Fire Department Rehab Unit is sponsoring the second annual holiday pet food drive through New Year’s Day. Donations may go to the Alliance Fire Department arson dog Gretchen who provides K-9 arson services free throughout the area, or to the general pet food drive which will be distributed to needy, no-kill animal shelters in the area. For additional information and drop-off sites, visit www.facebook.com/steve.shaffer.9026?hc_location=timeline.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to email@example.com.