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Daredevil dogs make a splash at the show

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Wooly the blue heeler in action. Click for more photos

Daredevil diving dogs

These daredevil diving dock dogs will compete at the Royal Canberra Show. Photo: Colleen Petch

Those diving pigs may not be at this year's Royal Canberra Show but some daredevil dogs are more than making up for their absence.

It's all thanks to the age-old practice of chucking a tennis ball for a dog being elevated to a competition.

The excited-out-of-their-skin dogs take a run along a dock and dive into a swimming pool - chasing a tennis ball and, without really knowing it, also attempting to set the longest jump.

The competition is called "big splash" but is basically long jump for dogs. The Australian record is a 7.3 metre jump. A whippet in the United States recently skimmed like a stone across the surface of a 12-metre long pool but the feat was not taken as an official record.

Dock Dogs Australia president Dave Graham - well known as the gay farmer who appeared on Big Brother in 2006 - said the dogs would jump all day if they were allowed.

"The dogs live for it - look at them," he said. "It's probably the world's funnest sport."

The dock dogs concept was first introduced to Australia at the World Dog Games in Sydney in 2009.

Clubs are only just setting up around Australia, with Australian Capital Dock Dogs formed only three weeks ago by Kylie White, of Banks, who is competing at the show with her cross-breed rescue dog Jackie, who has only been in training for a week.

"She's a water dog and she loves the dive for the ball. And being a rescue dog, she'll do anything for me," Mrs White said.

"She's jumping to 11 foot and my aim is to get to 15 this weekend and that takes me up the next class, so it would be good to see a little dog beat a big dog."

Michelle Gilbey, of Amaroo, put her dogs Wooly and Pepper through their paces in the pool for the first time on Thursday morning.

"It's a great way to spend time with the dogs and meet new people. The best thing is it's really good socialisation for the dogs," she said.

With her soldier husband Ben serving in Afghanistan, Mrs Gilbey said her dogs were great company for herself and their son, Riley, five.

"Ben knows the dogs get preference over him when when he's home," she said.

Mr Graham, who runs a funpark for dogs called the Australian Canine Sports and Training Centre in Sydney with his partner Michael Cauchi, said dogs and their owners were coming from Victoria, NSW and Queensland to compete at the show.

There would also be another competition formed for the show called "speed splash" when the dogs have to retrieve a toy from the pool and return it to their own in the fastest time.

"That's a world first right here in Canberra," he said.

The Royal Canberra Show dock dogs competition will be on at 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm daily.

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