It’s all in the wrist. And the paws.
Okay, and maybe the heart.
But when it comes to the human half of the team in DockDogs competition presented by Blue Buffalo at the GoPro Mountain Games, it’s basically all wrist.
“There’s some pressure out there. You want your dog to be successful because truly you are a team. If I don’t throw well, he doesn’t jump well,” said Courtney Adams or Phoenix, AZ, the captain of Team Dogzilla, comprised of her Lab, Ouzo, and her Belgian Shepherd, Whiskey.
“So that’s where I’m stressing out. He jumped 26 feet yesterday, which is good for him and got him us into the finals, but I have to back it up.”
As the 2015 DockDogs Outdoor Big Air champion with her dog Whiskey, and second place finisher in 2016, Adams admits to being competitive by nature. But clearly she’s a socialite within the canine community as well. Her camping compound overlooking the splash pool at the Mountain Games contains no less than seven dogs at any given time. Clearly they can’t all win. But they can all have fun.
“The best part about the sport is you get to compete with your dogs. You have fun, you get to spend time with your dogs, they’re athletes and they love the sport,” said Adams, who considers the Mountain Games the main event among as many as 20 she competes in every year. “The other part is the people. The people are great and you make a lot of friends.”
Among those friends is Tom Dropik of Minnesota, who has competed in DockDog events for 16 years now and holds the World Record for Speed Retrieve with his dog, Jordan. Dropik won the Iron Dog competition at Mountain Games this week, posting the top combined score in the three disciplines of Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve.
There’s no ideal breed for DockDogs, says Dropik, who regularly competes with rescue dogs. Just as long as a dog’s heart is in the right place.
“That’s the beautiful thing about DockDogs is that it’s open to any dog that wants to do it. It doesn’t matter what breed they are, what level they’re at. It just doesn’t matter,” he said. “They have to love the water. But the key factor is the drive. There can’t be anything more important than grabbing that toy.”
The enthusiasm is contagious as dog lovers regularly gravitate to one of the most entertaining contests at the GoPro Mountain Games. Dropik believes that’s a reflection of the entire GoPro Mountain Games community that extends to man’s best friend.
“GoPro is just a great symbol of outdoor recreation, what it represent and what Vail represents,” Dropik said. “It’s just a really good match for the dogs.”