Call it track and field for dogs.
After all, the events include a high jump, a long jump and a sprint of sorts.
The X-Treme AirDogs competition will be a featured event at the 2013 Central Oregon Sportsmen's Show, which runs Thursday through Sunday at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond.
While established pros will be on hand to show off some of the most athletic dogs in the country, beginners are welcome to take their dogs to the competition through a program presented by X-Treme AirDogs called “Give It a Try,” which is designed to help bring new competitors into the sport.
The event showcases dogs' jumping skills as they launch into a massive swimming pool at high speeds. Each day of the show will feature various competitions, training and demo sessions. Daily activities include three sports: X-Treme Air, a long jump for dogs; X-Treme Vertical, a high jump; and X-Treme Retrieve, a race against time with a jump and swim.
X-Treme AirDogs organizer Mike Allen, of Junction City, has brought his show to the Deschutes County fairgrounds before, at the annual county fair in August. But this is the first time the event will be held as part of the Central Oregon Sportsmen's Show. (A different version of this competition, Dock Dogs, was featured several years ago.)
Allen worked with show producer Bill O'Loughlin to make the X-Treme AirDogs part of the four-day event, which showcases a wide array of resources related to outdoor activities.
“Bill has worked really hard with me to put together something where not only will the fans have a great time, but anybody with a dog and a ball, who wants to try the sport, is going to get a chance to jump their dog, too,” Allen said.
During the competition, the dogs run off a 40-foot-long dock and jump into a pool that is 40 feet long and four feet deep.
In the X-Treme Air long-jump event, the owner can throw a ball, a bone or any object to entice the dog to leap. Each dog gets two jumps per wave, and each jump is measured from the end of the dock to where the base of the dog's tail makes impact with the water.
“It's measured by a very sophisticated computer-electronic system that we have devised over the last 10 years,” Allen explained.
Indeed, Allen has spared little expense in developing X-Treme AirDogs. Television monitors will flash the score after each jump. He even purchased a propane heater to keep the water in the pool warm, which helps keep the dogs' muscles loose so they can perform better.
The record for the X-Treme Air long jump is 27 feet, 3 inches, according to Allen. But he says that a certain Belgian Malinois from San Francisco, named Hudson, can regularly jump 28 feet, and Hudson is scheduled to perform this week at the Redmond fairgrounds.
“The folks of Central Oregon ... they're going to see some records broken,” Allen said.
Hudson also holds the X-Treme Vertical high jump record of eight feet. In that event, an apparatus with a bumper on the end hangs out eight feet off the end of the dock. The bumper, hung by magnets, is raised in 2-inch increments as dogs make their attempts.
“If you (the dog) grab the bumper you move on; if you miss twice you're out,” Allen explained. “They have to knock it off or grab it. It's hanging straight down.”
The X-Treme Retrieve is like a drag race, Allen says. A light signals the dogs to jump into the pool, where they grab the bumper and then swim back to the exit ramp. The crowd can watch the time on the monitor. The record for the fastest retrieve, according to Allen, is 15.53 seconds.
For the X-Treme Air long jump, the competition includes four divisions: novice (0 to 10 feet); amateur (10 to 15 feet); semipro (15 to 20 feet); and pro (more than 20 feet).
All dogs ages 6 months or older are welcome to participate. Allen says he has seen just about every kind of dog in the events, but cocker spaniels and Labrador retrievers are the most common.
“In the last three years, the dogs that have really been taking over and taking some of the records are the Malinois dogs,” Allen said. “They're very light and athletic, and they're bred to jump a fence. These dogs were bred to jump. But any dog that likes the water and is high energy will do well in the sport.”
Newcomers in the Give it a Try program can receive tips from X-Treme AirDogs staff on coaching and encouraging their dogs. Those who want to try the competition should arrive early Thursday and Friday for the best chance to participate, according to Allen.
While dog-flying action is scheduled nearly all day for each of the four days of the show, the Give It a Try program is scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The pro finals are slated for approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Cost to participate is $20 per wave for amateur, pro and semipro categories, and $10 for Give It a Try.
For more information and competition schedules, visit www.thesportsshows.com/coss or www.facebook.com/x.tremeairdogs.northwest.challenge.