I often get so entrenched in my day to day routine life, I forget there are SO many businesses, parks, activities and hobbies I’ve never even thought to explore.
So it was with fascination that I learned about the sport of dock diving when a client of mine suggested I get in touch with Theresa and Craig Foster.
Theresa suggested I come to a competition, and so it was I found myself parking at the end of a road lined with cars walking into Dogmode and what can only be described as organized chaos. There are little doggie stations set up everywhere with dogs and their owners hanging out waiting for their next turn to jump. Around back is the noisy excitement of dogs and owners lined up awaiting their turn on the dock.
I run into my friend and client Candy who suggested I talk with Theresa and Craig. Her dog Rogue had just had her turn and was sopping wet and flip flopping on the grass with contagious enthusiasm.
After a few inquiries I track down Theresa and she shows me into the building housing the pool where I will be photographing the dogs.
To say these dogs are athletic would be like saying Michael Phelps is good at swimming. Don’t get me wrong, there were one or two that would take off with the best of intentions only to come skidding to a stop at the edge of the dock. Those sweet babes were my spirit animals. Launching myself off a ledge to catch something midair only to come crashing down into a pool of water does not a fun time make in my opinion. Perhaps because I’m not a canine. Or athletic.
After attempting to photograph one of the rounds (this shiz is HARD to capture yo!) I catch back up with Theresa and ask her about how this whole dock diving life got started.
Craig and Theresa have been dock diving since 2009. It all began with their black lab Herky. Herky loved jumping off rocks into rivers and lakes, so when they saw that there was a local competition they figured they would see how Herky would do. He jumped 14ft his very first jump and they were immediately hooked. They went to their first national championship in 2010. The next summer they began helping at events, wrangling and teaching new competitors how to get their dogs off the dock. Herky is 14 now and mostly retired from jumping. They now have 7 other dogs that compete in dock jumping and 9 dogs total, including Sky who is a two time super vertical national champion, Hayden who has competed and placed in multiple national championships, and Addis who is an up and coming star and just starting her dock jumping career.
As Theresa is talking with me, one of her dogs, Sky, a Belgian Malnois, is calming, patiently allowing me to harass her and I’m instantly in love. Sky is a 2 time national champion in super vertical which is measured by height rather than distance.
“We got her as a rescue from Colorado after she was sold for being too “soft” to work then she was bred too young and when most of her puppies didn’t survive she was surrendered to the rescue with the remaining 4 puppies. After the puppies were adopted we adopted her. Sky and Addis were both imported from the Czech Republic by different people so it’s crazy to me that through very different circumstances they both ended up with us.”
I asked about her other dogs and she proceeded to tell me about Calypso, another Belgian Malnois. I’ll let her tell this part in her own words.
“Back in October we got a message about Calypso. ( her name was Lucci) she was not working out in her home and would attack any time she was asked to “out” a toy or tug, she would bite when getting her collar put on, she’s extremely dog aggressive and would even attack dogs in crates that she was walking by, because of these reasons they felt she was not safe to rehome and that euthanasia was her best option. Her owners reached out to her breeder who was in North Carolina and he suggested they reach out to us as he had just moved and was not in a position to take her.
He recommended us because in 2018 we got Addis from him when she was 3 years old. Addis is actually Calypso’s mother and we also have Sky who is a litter mate to Addis. So he knew that we knew the dogs and the lines as well as how to handle them.
So in November we drove down to Arizona to compete in dock diving regionals, then from Az to Nebraska to pick up Calypso. I remember him telling us we saved her life. The first 3 months she was with us she lived in a muzzle. We had some pretty intense moments. I honestly was afraid to put a leash or collar on her and I never played with her alone or really at all. We trained with food and built our relationship.
We worked with another trainer up north to work her issues on outing the tug and some of her aggression issues as he really specializes in aggression. Once we were able to tug with her safely and take the tug from her we were able to take her to the pool which changed her world. She was the hardest dog we’ve ever taught to swim and go off the dock.
She had first competition in April where she jumped 28ft. This last competition she jumped a new personal best of 31ft 6inches! Events are very stressful environments and the fact that all day long she is walking past people, dogs, and craziness is even more rewarding then how far she’s jumping. She is also currently training to be an explosives detection dog and has many pretty collars that I change out often. She gets so excited to work and go to the pool and I can’t remember the last time I was worried about her biting. Although she will never be around other dogs and require some management.
Calypso is currently the #5 ranked Malinois in the country and I’m expecting that by the end of the season she may be ranked even higher.”
Finally, I asked what it was about dock diving that has made it become such a huge part of their lives.
“We love dock diving because it gets people active with their dogs and gives them a reason to train and play with them. We love helping people improve their dogs distance and their faces light up when it all comes together. It’s a great sport any one can participate in, it doesn’t matter if your dog jumps 3ft or 30ft the cheering and support is the same. There are also different divisions so a 3ft dog is never competing against a 30ft dog. We love the community around dock diving, everyone cheers for each other’s dogs, we all want every dog to do it’s best and celebrate together when it does. At events people make new friends and sometimes life long friendships are built.”
They have competed all over the country, attended multiple national championships and love teaching the sport to others.
They have been seen jumping on Fox News, KSL, as well as in the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News papers.
If you’d like to learn more about the sport of dock diving or get in touch with Theresa and Craig, you can find that by clicking HERE.