By Nikki Garrett Metzger
(Hesperia)– What started out as an activity to train his new dog and keep her busy evolved into a chance to break a world record. Hesperia resident Scott Trowbridge and his Labrador, Pepper, will be competing in the 15th annual Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge at the San Diego County Fair this weekend.
The Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge features amazing dogs of all breeds and sizes that compete in a number of athletic events, such as dog diving, small and large dog agility, freestyle flying disc, Jack Russell hurdle racing, and 30-weave pole racing. Participants compete in the Eastern and Western regional events for a chance to qualify for the National Championships held in St. Louis, Mo., in October.
Trowbridge isn’t a dog trainer, hasn’t raised a series of dogs, or anything like that. He’s just a regular guy who wanted to keep his dog busy. “When my wife told me I was getting a puppy for Christmas four years ago, I decided I was going to do some training, read some books, and things like that,” he said. “So we went to a couple of training classes when she was a puppy. I watched the Dog Whisperer, and did some training in my backyard. Then we got into dock diving about two years ago.”
Trowbridge happened upon dock diving while driving past an event in Rancho Cucamonga. “I was driving past and saw them setting up the big pool. I stopped by, asked what was going on, and that’s how I learned about the Splash Dog event.”
Trowbridge took Pepper down and introduced her to dock diving. “We played round the first day, and then we entered her into what they call a ‘wave’ for competition, you get two jumps in that wave. I thought I was going to be like everybody else and just throw the toy and the dog is going to go for it. That’s not the case. The water is two feet off the dock so it is a little intimidating for the dogs.”
Pepper’s first competition jump was 9 feet, 1inch. “That’s pretty good for her first jump ever,” Trowbridge said. From that point forward, Trowbridge and Pepper were hooked. They continued to compete in dock diving events, with Pepper’s distance improving. “She went from 14’6″, to 17 feet. And then she just got better and better at each event. Now she is in the extreme division in the Splash Dog group, which includes any dog that jumps over 23ft.”
Pepper’s training program includes a three mile run around Spring Valley Lake with Trowbridge on his bicycle a couple of times a week. They also play Frisbee and ball. “I built a little jump at home – it’s kind of like a hurdle that runners use, and I add different heights, 18 inches, 24 inches, 36 inches, and I make her run and jump for her toy, just to keep the spring in her legs,” Trowbridge said. “But the majority of it is when we go to these events. And it is so amazing, because it seems like every event I take her to, she breaks her record again. I don’t know how much further she’s going to go. The world record is 27’8″, which is a long distance if you watch a dog fly through the air.”
The event is this weekend at the San Diego County Fair.
Trowbridge said he is looking forward to competing. “I just hope she does really well and takes off at the end of the dock like she is supposed to. If I can throw it correctly maybe we have a shot at getting into the nationals.”