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Dog Day Afternoon 

Fido makes a splash at jumping contest.

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The country’s top canine jumpers try to break two world records at this weekend’s Buckeye DockDogs competition. The contest is divided into two categories: Big Air -- in which dogs leap off a 40-foot scaffold into a 27,000-gallon pool -- and Extreme Vertical, where they snatch a disc from the top of an 8-foot pole in the water. “Once you encourage them and let them know it’s safe and fun, you’ll get that first jump,” says event organizer Tina McLaughlin. “Then you won’t be able to stop them.”

The dog to beat is Country, a Pennsylvania mutt who holds both titles. Two years ago, he made a 28-foot-10-inch vault to snag the Big Air record. His trainer claims the greyhound-coonhound mix can jump that far only if he hears George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” blasting from a speaker. “Dogs like it if you yell and scream at them,” says McLaughlin. “It gets them all fired up.” Last year, Country jumped to victory for the Extreme Vertical record of 7 feet 8 inches. “When you train these dogs, you’ve gotta build their leg muscles, get their stamina up, and get their drive ready,” says McLaughlin, adding that trainers hurl their pets’ favorite playthings in the water as incentive. “All they want is that toy.” Contest prizes include cages, dog-treat launchers, and other pooch-related items. McLaughlin (who’s president of the Medina-based Buckeye DockDogs) says she’s ready: She’s been training her two-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever Ellie at a small lake behind their home. Ellie can now soar more than 20 feet. “If your dog jumps 20 feet or doesn’t jump at all,” she says, “it’s all good fun.”
Sat., June 30, 9 a.m.; Sun., July 1, 9 a.m.

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