Canine splashdown at fair (with video)

Labrador retriever from Battle Ground excels at Dock Dogs event

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


photoCochiti, owned by Diane Salts of Olympia, competes in the Speed Retrieval event. Cochiti won the Big Air event with a leap of 28 feet 11 inches.

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photo Jasper, owned by Darrell Hayes of Vancouver, took second in the Speed Retrieval event of the Dock Dogs competition at the Clark County Fair on Sunday. The Hayes family travels around the Northwest to dock dog events.

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Poolside invitation

Is your dog hankering to be a dock dog? For $30, Ray Weathers of Dock Dogs will help you train your pooch at the pool at the Clark County Fair. You can bring the dog daily until the fair ends, Weathers said. Learn more at Dock Dogs.

Diesel delivered Sunday, winning the Iron Dog title at the Clark County Fair.

"It feels great," said Diesel's owner, Wayne Snoderly of Battle Ground. Over the weekend, the 2.5-year-old, sleek, black Labrador retriever took first in the Extreme Vertical leap, first in the Speed Retrieval, and second the Big Air contest with a leap of 25 feet 11 inches. Those scores earned him the Dock Dogs Iron Dog title.

"It's fun. It's habit-forming," Snoderly said of the dock dogs competition. He lives on 5 acres in Battle Ground and has a dock dog training pool.

The Snoderly family's other dog, Shelby, is also a winner.

"When she was 3, she took third in the Dock Dog national championship in Ohio," he said. This is Snoderly's fifth year competing with his dogs.

Jasper also was jazzed Sunday, as he finished second in the Speed Retrieval and third in the Big Air event at the finals. The nearly 2-year-old black Lab is owned by Darrell Hayes of Vancouver and his family. Hayes invested about $1,000 to buy Jasper from a breeder.

What does it take to have a competitive dock dog?

"You have to have a dog with a huge toy drive and a huge water drive," Hayes said.

The toy is the bumper or ball the dogs retrieve.

Sunday's speed retrieval was dubbed "drag racing for dogs." Twenty dogs competed.

Dogs and owners wait on a 40-foot dock for the "go" command. The pooches launch four feet above the pool and paddle with fury to the end of the 40-foot-long pool. There, they bite onto the bumper, which is suspended and attached with magnets. Then, their time is recorded.

The crowd of about 250 reveled in the excitement, as did dogs on the sidelines, who barked with fervor.

One dog twice declined to jump into the pool but bounded onto its master, giving him kisses.

The famed Cochiti, a whippet owned by Diane Salts of Olympia, did not disappoint over the weekend, winning the Big Air with a leap of 28 feet 11 inches.

The dogs will jump each day of the fair, with another finals set for Sunday.

Dock Dog event coordinator Ray Weathers of St. Louis said he takes his show all over the world.

When dog owners first see the competition, "They want to know where is the next one and how do I get my dog into this," Weathers said.

As for owning an Iron Dog, Battle Ground's Snoderly said, "He's so anxious to go and play, he loves what he's doing so much. He just enjoys it as much as all get-out."

If you go

What: Clark County Fair.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today.

Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Cost: Adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12, $7; kids 6 and younger, free; parking, $6; C-Tran shuttle, $2 per person round-trip from area park-and-ride lots; children 6 and younger ride free. $1 discount on admission with a bus fare stub.

Carnival: Opens at noon; unlimited rides today, $25.

99.5 The Wolf Grandstands: Women’s Barrel Racing, 2 p.m.; Rough Stock Rodeo, 7 p.m.

Other highlights: Jolie Gullickson and Kameryn Reynolds, 1 p.m.; Karen Quest — Cowgirl Tricks, 3 and 5 p.m.

Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those on exhibition or in competition.

Information: Clark County Fair or 360-397-6180.

Online: Download the mobile app at

View a video of the Dock Dogs event at the Clark County Fair on The Columbian's YouTube Channel.