“Get it, get it,” people could be heard yelling from a dock as their four-legged friend ran, jumping into the air to retrieve a bumper before making a splash on a late Friday afternoon. Air retrieve was one of the canine sports events at the Western Cup Challenge recently held at Eromit AIRcademy in Quesnel.
From Aug. 12 to Aug. 14, dogs from across Western Canada competed in dock diving events, including hydro dash, fast fetch, distance and air retrieve, for a chance at being crowned the Western Cup Champion.
“This is the fifth year that we’ve had the Western Cup Challenge,” said Erin Lynes, who owns Eromit AIRcademy with her husband, Tim. “It’s the biggest dock diving event in Western Canada for sure, and I believe this year it’s the biggest one in Canada.”
There were 67 competing dog and handler teams from as far as Victoria and Calgary. Last year, Lynes said some had even come up from Texas.
Sherri Fleck of Whistler recalled purchasing her late Labrador Retriever, Sable, from Eromit AIRcademy, where Sable’s 13-year-old sister still jumps into the pool.
“At Erin and Tim’s request, they said you got to try this sport out, so I took her down to the United States because there wasn’t much happening in Canada, and she jumped at the Puyallup Spring Fair in Washington State and the rest is history,” Fleck said.
Canada eventually started getting more canine dock diving events, with Erin and Tim installing a pool large enough to host competitions.
“And since then, the sport has just grown,” Fleck said, describing it as fun that all dogs of any size or breed can participate in.
“It’s a very friendly sport, handlers all help each other, and it’s a good spectator sport too.”
Since its inception, the Western Cup Challenge has also raised funds for the Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund, founded by Suzi Beber in memory of her Golden Retriever service dog, Blues, who died from lymphoma.
Lynes says Beber has helped many competitors with advice and more when their dogs have received a cancer diagnosis.
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