Among DeKalb County’s outstanding athletes is one more likely to celebrate victories with a wag of his tail than with a high five. He’s a 3-year-old pit bull-German Shepherd mix named Nathan Jr.
Heather Gulden, who describes herself as Nathan Jr.’s “very proud owner” said his arena for competition is a 40-foot pool filled with 28,000 gallons of water because his chosen sport is the fast-growing canine sport of dock diving. Nathan Jr.’s next competition will be at Stone Mountain Park, July 27- 29.
Clarkston residents Nathan Jr. and his handler, Gulden, comprise a team that has earned both Master and Elite titles with the national organization DockDogs®, Inc. They have been participating in dock diving for two years and, according to Gulden, have enjoyed each event in which they have taken part.
This team broke into the sport at a DockDogs® event in Charleston, S.C., in February with jumps more than 20 feet. Quickly adapting to dock diving, Gulden and Nathan Jr. have competed at events from Florida to Maryland and many stops in between. Now, they are preparing for Stone Mountain, where they have a chance to qualify to compete in the DockDogs® World Championships.
Gulden said she’s hoping their winning streak continues as they are coming off a sixth-place finish in the Master Division at the DockDogs® Regional Championships in McHenry, Md. “Nathan Jr. has all the ability in the world. We are so excited about this opportunity to qualify for the World Championships.”
The upcoming competition at Stone Mountain will feature all three DockDogs® disciplines. Big Air® is where the dog jumps for distance; Extreme Vertical™ is where the dog jumps for height; Speed Retrieve™ in which the dog jumps and swims for the fastest time.
According to DockDogs® CEO Grant Reeves, some of the top-ranked dogs in the sport from not only the Southeast, but also other regions of the country will compete for a chance to qualify for the DockDogs® World Championship in Dubuque, Iowa, in November. Reeves added, “This is our first time here at Stone Mountain, and we expect our event to be a huge success in such a family-friendly environment. Everyone loves dogs and water sports. We are excited about sharing this event with the Atlanta area.”
Any dog older than 6 months can be registered to try dock diving at this event. There will be staff members to help newcomers to the sport. Spectators are also welcome.
Gulden said the best part of this sport is “how my dog’s eyes light up when he sees the pool! Not much in the world makes him happier than a ball and some water. Finding this sport that not only he likes, but I also like, too? Well, nothing is better.”
For more information on this event or to register a dog, visit www.dockdogs.com or call Dixie Dock Dogs® member Nancy Akin at (706) 540-9395 or DockDogs® at (330) 241-4975.