High-flying dogs make big splash at Portland Rose Festival event

Some dogs jump for joy; others to compete. See the X-Treme Air Dogs leap higher and higher as they each strive to take home trophies …

Producer of the “X-Treme Air Dogs” competition, Michael Allen, announces the next high-flying canine contender during the Extreme Air High Jump event.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For many years, the canine sport of “off-the-dock long jumping” has been growing in popularity. Owners toss a toy into the water; their pooches run along a 40-foot “dog launch dock” and jump as far as they can. The dog that flies through the air for the greatest distance before hitting the water, wins.

Dogs doing a long-jump into water may not seem like “real” sport; but to thousands of registered dock-jumping teams across the country – who compete in more than a hundred officially-sanctioned events each year – it’s turned into a major-league spectator sport.

Cera Rausser and Rikki relax for a moment before they next high-jump attempt.

Adds a new dimension
As part of the 2008 Portland Rose Festival, this sport came to Oaks Amusement Park for the first time this year, on June 7 and 8.

“As part of our sanctioned ‘X-Treme Air Dogs’ competition,” said the promoter, Michael Allen, who hails from Junction City, near Eugene, “This meet is also featuring the Extreme Air High Jump.”

The concept of this competition is simple. Dogs launch themselves off the dock, and try to bite a chew-toy suspended high in the air eight feet from the end of the dock – before plunging into the 27,000 gallon pool. The competition starts with the toy suspended 5’8′ above the water, and is raised a few inches for each subsequent jump by each dog.

On the launch dock, Cera Rausser coaches Rikki, giving her words of encouragement.

Taking the plunge
These contests were taken very seriously by all 65 owners who signed up for the competition. But for the dogs, it’s clearly all play. The crowd around the pool cheered on the teams and applauded each successful attempt, as the bar rose higher and higher.

“Rikki does it because she really seems to like it,” said her owner, Cera Rausser, from Warren, Oregon. “This is our third competition. She’s got experience in the long-jumping game; but she’s new at playing the high-jumping game.”

In addition to bragging rights, winners took home cash and prizes, Allen told us. “This event is part of our four-city tour called ‘Chase to the Championship’. We loved Portland, and so did the competitors. We plan to be back as an official Rose Festival every year.”

Rikki launches into the air. She’s reaching for the black-striped toy hung from two ropes …

grabs the toy …

heads for the water, toy firmly in mouth …

Splashdown!

First-time flyers welcome
The promoter said that he plans to add events in the Portland area, and “first-time jumpers” are always welcome at these competitions. “We host four divisions, from little pups to pros.”

To learn more, see their web site by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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