Dogs jump into action at Big Air Wave contest at Lynden fair

Video: Sumas dog dives into the Lynden fair

Sharon Westergreen's dog Summie, from Sumas, competes in the DockDogs diving competition at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Philip A. Dwyer | The Bellingham Herald
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Sharon Westergreen's dog Summie, from Sumas, competes in the DockDogs diving competition at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Philip A. Dwyer | The Bellingham Herald

It was a ruff battle for big air between a newbie and a veteran on Tuesday, Aug. 18, as the DockDogs competition came to the Northwest Washington Fair for the first time.

In one corner was Summie, an 8 1/2-year-old chocolate lab from Sumas. In the other was Charlie, a 1-year-old chocolate lab from Abbotsford, B.C.

This year’s go-round was the fourth DockDogs event for Summie, the first for Charlie.

They went paw-to-paw at high noon and had a barking good time, judging by how they pulled at their leashes and yipped before launching themselves as far as possible into 30,000 gallons of water as a crowd cheered.

“He loves it — big time. It’s all great fun,” owner Sharon Westergreen said of Summie, who is named for Pat Summitt, the legendary basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols who retired in 2012 after announcing she had early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Westergreen, wearing an orange “We Back Pat” T-shirt, uses each DockDogs event to try to bring attention to Summitt’s foundation, which advances research for Alzheimer’s prevention and a cure.

She also started a group called Bellingham Area Runnin’ K9’s for people and pooches who want to compete in dog sports.

Correne and Jared Webster traveled from their B.C. home just over the border after seeing the DockDogs event at the fair pop up on Correne’s Facebook page.

They thought it would be fun for their water-loving dog.

“He’s like our little baby,” Correne said. “I think we’ll be back.”

DockDogs is an international organization that puts on dog competitions. The noon event on Tuesday, called the Big Air Wave competition, was one of three that dogs can take part in at the fair — either seriously or for fun.

“Anyone can come, anyone who owns a dog,” said Frank Audelo, a manager and judge for DockDogs.

So far, 40 teams have registered. That number likely will increase as the fair continues into the weekend, organizers said.

At noon Tuesday, it was just Summie and Charlie jumping at the chance to be top dog.

Each pooch had three attempts to race down a 40-foot dock and jump as far as possible into a pool of water.

Summie’s longest jump came in at 19 feet 3 inches. Charlie, showing the hesitancy of a novice, had a modest 8 feet 10 inches as the longest jump.

How do those distances compare to the current DockDogs world record for the outdoor Big Air Wave? They’re a little short.

The record is 31 feet, set in two separate competitions by a black lab and a whippet.

The whippet, named Cochiti, is expected to be at the Lynden DockDogs event on Friday and Saturday.

Want to get your dog in on the action?

Big Air competitions will be held:

▪ Wednesday, Aug. 19: noon, 2 and 4 p.m.

▪ Thursday, Aug. 20: noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m.

▪ Friday, Aug. 21: 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.

▪ Saturday, Aug 22: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Early registration for Big Air competitions is $27 for adults or $12 for youth. Registration the day of the competition is $30 for adults or $15 for youth.

Other events will test dogs’ high-jumping abilities and speed.

In the Extreme Vertical contest, dogs will jump from the dock and try to grab a toy elevated over the pool. The toy will start at 4 feet 2 inches and will be raised in 2-inch increments as the competition continues.

There will be one Extreme Vertical competition at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21. Early registration is $27; day-of registration is $30.

In Speed Retrieve, dogs will try to get a toy suspended at the far end of the pool in the fastest time.

There will be one Speed Retrieve event at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22. Early registration is $27; day-of registration is $30.

Sign up your pooch for the festivities at dockdogs.com.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com.