And good pedigree runs in the family as Knox’s dad Riff also brought home a win after competing in the 2012 DockDogs World Championships earlier this month.
Brianna owns and handles Knox, a 2-year-old Border Collie while Cyndy Douan owns and handles Riff. Both dogs train at the Georgia Dog Gym on Kingston Highway.
At the recent world championships, sponsored by Dockdogs, Cyndy, Brianna, Knox and Riff competed against 208 other dog/handler teams from across the globe including representatives from Canada, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
DockDogs is the world’s largest sanctioning organization for the sport of canine dock jumping.
The competition was by invitation only. Knox and Riff secured their berths at the championships with strong performances at a recent qualifier held at Stone Mountain.
At the world championships, after two rounds of qualifying, and a heated final in the Super Elite (over 25 feet) Big Air category, Brianna and Knox came away with a sixth place overall in the world and Knox was named the Number 1 Border Collie in the world after jumping 25 feet, one inch.
Ten-year-old Riff didn’t do so shabby himself, competing against dogs half his age, he finished ninth overall, second in the Veterans category (8 years and up) and won the Legends category (10 years and up) with a jump of 22 feet, 11 inches.
Dock Diving, also called Dog Jumping, is a dog sport in which dogs of all breeds, sizes and ages compete by jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water, usually a pool.
Handlers lead their dog onto the dock, the dog gets a running start then leaps into the air as the handler throws an object or toy for the dog to try to catch. The dog’s jump is measured from the end of the dog to the base of the dog’s tail when it hits the water.
“It takes a lot of training,” Cyndy said. “It’s not just a dog jumping off a dock. It requires obedience, agility, focus and a great relationship between the dog and the handler. Also, the handler must practice throwing. So I’d say you need basic training everyday and then you need training ”
Cyndy should know. She has been training dogs for years, owns and runs the Georgia Dog Gym, and has helped ten-year-old Riff compete in agility, Frisbee, herding, flyball, obedience as well as dock diving. Most of his competition years are behind him so now he only competes in dock diving and is a demo dog during Cyndy’s obedience classes.
Knox, on the other hand, is just getting his first taste of competition. At 10 weeks old he began training to compete. This is his first year competing and he has already won a title at a qualifying event as well shown he is one of the world’s top jumpers.
“He’s the best dog ever,” Brianna said of Knox’s performance at the world championships. “I was so nervous. But he did exactly what he needed to do. He could have done it without me.”
Cyndy said she is impressed at the level of performance by Knox and Riff, considering all the outside factors that come into play when competing at the highest level of the sport.
“First there’s all the training that you need,” she said. “The dogs need basic obedience training, must learn to channel their motivation, must learn to work as a team and then they have to learn to jump.
“Then they get to a competition and suddenly there are hundreds of people around, there’s applause and cheers and laughter and all these noises. These dogs have so much to think about even before they have to actually jump. It’s amazing what they do.”
Riff and Knox do most of their obedience and agility training at Georgia Dog Gym, but for pool training, they travel to a facility in Canton.
“It’s a big sacrifice and it’s a lot of work,” said Brianna, who is in her first semester at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “But it’s all worth it. This is also a great hobby. And the dogs absolutely love it.”
Knox knows when Brianna gets out his special toy that it’s time to go jumping. And Cyndy said even though Riff is retired from his other competition activities, the old boy still loves to jump.
Georgia Dog Gym also has a couple more dogs being trained for competition so it’s likely that Rome will be represented again on the world stage.
But don’t think it’s all work and no fun for Knox and Riff. When they’re not diving off docks, they’re relaxing at home or curled up on the bed.
“They are a part of the family,” Cyndy said. “They just happen to be able to compete at the highest level.”
For additional information about Knox and Riff or how your dog can begin training for obedience or competition, visit online at georgiadoggym.com.