Most dogs love to jump in the water and will do so at any chance they can get. Some dogs (and, let’s be honest, their parents) are so fanatical about the activity, however, that they partake in water jumping competitions, like one recently hosted by a Florida dog club.
A Dog Club Is Born
Ultimate Air Dogs was founded in 2005 by Milt Wilcox and his son. The organization works with the TV dog show Purina Incredible Dog Challenge to host national dog events and competitions. Across the U.S., there are 22 affiliated clubs, with one more coming to Australia soon.
But the one we’ll focus on today is called the Tracks K9 Club, the only one of its kind in north central Florida. Less than a year ago, retired police officer Chris Hutchko, along with his wife Kim, developed a five-acre spread specifically for dog competitions. The facility was initially intended so Chris could train his own dogs. However, it soon became a club that now boasts close to 80 members that also train their dogs there.
“This is what we love to do,” Chris told WUFT. “All I do now is play with dogs all day long.”
At one recent event, dubbed Fall-tastic Splash, 30 dogs gathered at the property to compete in Splash, Fetch-It, and Chase-It categories. They all require dogs to catapult off a 40-foot-long dock into a 45-foot-long pool. The Splash category measures how far dogs can jump, while the Fetch-It category involves grabbing a dangling toy. Meanwhile, the Chase-It category sees how fast dogs can swim the length of the pool.
Dog Parents Go the Extra Mile
Of course, none of these dogs would be in the water if it weren’t for their dedicated (and equally competitive?) parents. They must often shell out big bucks and drive long distances to enter their pups in these kinds of events.
Magni, a 9-month-old Czech German Shepherd, partook in the Splash category thanks to his dog mom, 27-year-old Haley Cook.
“I’ve always known about the Ocala Dog Ranch, and they have a pool, and swimming is really good for dogs’ muscles,” Cook told WUFT of her canine’s proclivity for water. “So, we would go swimming and just hanging out, and he was obsessed with it from the beginning.”
Labs Apple and Chilly have competed in every Tracks K-9 Club event to date thanks to their dog mom Jerri Roger. She commutes all the way from Missouri.
Kim Hutchko told WUFT that “everyone here is family.”
But not everyone is a winner – at least, not of a prize. Only finalists in the events receive rosette ribbons and Tracks K-9 Club merch.
“We have brand new ribbons coming that are unbelievable,” Chris Hutchko said. “We literally take all the money we earn and put it back into giving people nice stuff.”