One-on-one with Heart of Texas DockDogs' Emily Forsyth (part 1)

One-on-one with Heart of Texas DockDogs' Emily Forsyth (part 1)
Heart of Texas DockDogs in action

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DockDogs is an exciting canine competition during which dogs jump, with all of their might and all of their heart, from a platform extended over a deep pool. The goal is for the canine to jump as far as she can go. For more details, read my previous Examiner article.

Emily Forsyth and her husband, Mike, compete with their golden retriever, Marlowe. The other day I spent time with Emily talking about the sport and the July 2011 Heart of Texas DockDogs competition at Houston's Discovery Green.

How did you first get involved interested in Dockdogs?

I always did other things with my dog. I always did flyball and agility but I had never done dockdogs. I don't remember exactly how many years ago but I saw a dog jumping and knew it was something that I wanted to do and when I got Marlow I took some training up in Austin with a trainer that did it and decided it was dun. It was just fun getting outside to enjoy the crowd and it was something new a different.

You mentioned training. Was Marlow a natural swimmer and jumper, or did you have to go thru a lot of training?

When he was less than 6 months old he jumped off a dock that was at the lake. He was gonna be a real water dog. We had him in our boat and we took him out to a friend's house and he jumped right off her dock and back into the boat. After that he had a little training to do exactly what he needs to do in the competition. So the trainer started him by gradually raising the platform to eventually get him to jump in from 24 inches above the water.

So what is the most difficult part of DockDog jumping for a dog that already enjoys the water?

When he jumped into the lake it was from a regular short small dock height into dark water that he could see. The most difficult is trying to get the dog off the dock into a clear pool. The competition dock is above the water and when a dog looks into a pool where the water is clear they just see a big hole. It is a depth perception thing and the biggest issue I had with Marlow is just getting him off the dock into a pool where he can see the bottom. He loves it now.

I notice also that your husband is listed along with you as Marlowe's handlers on the Heart of Texas DockDogs website. Is he active in competing also?

Emily I've been trying to get my husband involved. He has never been involved in the dog activities in the past. He never really got interested in flyball or agility, DockDogs is exciting. It has alot of different dogs and he is showing more interest in competing.

Is Marlowe your only dog?

Although I have a second dog, Tuni, she is not a jumper. Tuni is 10 years old and she has been off the dock a couple of times but we dont pressure her to do it. We just take her along and encourage her to walk off the ramp into the water to get herself a little wet sometimes. Marlowe is the only dog I have who competes.

In addition to the competition are there other aspects of DockDogs that make this a good fit for you?

Yes. I enjoy jumping my dog but I try to get involved in other aspects of the competition as well. I always offer to help with the things that need to be done around the competition. Since Marlowe is the only dog I have who jumps so I do have the time to help out and speak to people at the competitions.

How old is Marlowe?

Marlowe will be 5 years old in October.

So he is still relatively young?

Exactly. We are still training him and we actually started training him when he was less than a year old. And the first compeittion I ever went to he was barely a year old. and we got hooked and we travelled all the way to Dallas. We have been to Louisiana , the Atlanta area, Ohio Nationals. You can travel as much or as little as you want to do.

In addition to enjoying the aspects of DockDogs that involve your dog, do you enjoy DockDogs? Do you find it socially stimulating, something that you enjoy doing and participating in separate from how Marlowe feels about it?

Oh, absolutely. I think we have a lot of people who get so involved. I really enjoy the socializing. I'm gonna have to tell you some of my best friends are dog people. I've met so many nice people. We all have a common interest and this creates a bond between everyone. Even though some people are more competititve than others, we all want to win obviously. For me though, I go and if Marlow jumps 10 feet or if he jumps 19 ft I am happy with him. I think sometimes the people get more involved than the dogs because the dogs really don't care who wins. The dogs are happy just if they jump in the water. Just as long as they are in the water. But I definitely enjoy being at the competition and we meet nice people from all over the United States and I enjoy staying in touch with everybody. I'm a social person anyway.

How often do you think you travel doing this?

At least once a month. As long as the competition is within an 8 or 10 hour drive, we'll go. February we went to Biloxi. In March we were in Pearland. April to early May we went to Needville, Texas. In May there was competition in West Monroe, Louisiana.This month of June we really don't have any thing. But in July we have Discovery Green. And in August we have a first ever event in San Antonio and we are hoping to get something September in Meadowlake Pet Resort just south of Houston. In October we have the meet at Pet Fest in Old Town Spring.

Meadowlake is a beautiful facility and Old Town Spring is so much fun.

Yeah, we did the Old Town Spring Pet Fest last year and our club is going back again this year. So basically, from February to October this year we're travelling at least once a month.

Where do you live?

I live in San antonio.

Is HOTDD a San Antonio club?

The national parent DockDogs club is based out of Medina, Ohio. Heart of Texas technically serves the southeastern region of Texas which is located in DockDogs Zone 3 (Mid South). And Meadowlake Pet Resort, Pearland, has a sanctioned training facility. When we first started there was another club in Houston but it no longer exists so we are the club that serves Houston. We have club members all over; Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, but our largest number of members live in the Houston area. We'd love to get another club in Houston but for now HOTDD doesn't turn down members.

So, do all of the members have to travel a lot?

All the members travel quite a bit now. We have a lot of dedicated club members including three from San Antonio. We're growing and will continue to grow and we will geet another club going in Houston.

How big is HOTDD right now?

We probably have 25 - 30 active members. And the interest is growing. Weekly we pick up members. We get many inquiries through the HOTDD website. Even though we are a south Texas club we have members from Dallas and interest in the Dallas area is growing.

If someone wanted to get involved...

This interview will be continued with more inside info on DockDogs later this week. Subscribe via the button at the top of this article to receive an email notice when the rest of this interview is published.

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