Napoleon climbs up the ladder, takes a running start and leaps into the pool. He splashes down, and the crowd cheers. As Napoleon swims to the edge of the pool, he looks excited. It might sound a lot like a diving event at the Olympics, but this sport is for a different type of competitor—the furry, tail-wagging type. It is called dog diving.
Napoleon, a black Labrador retriever, has been participating in the sport for two years. That is not the only thing that makes Napoleon special. The person who trains him and handles him at dog-diving events is Ashley Amdor, a 10-year-old kid!
Get in the Game!
Ashley became interested in the sport of dog diving while at a state fair near her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She saw the dog divers competing to leap the farthest into a pool, and thought Napoleon would be good at the sport because he loves the water.
When her parents tried working with Napoleon he didn’t do well, so Ashley decided to try it herself. With Ashley as his trainer, Napoleon caught right on, leaping as far as 24 feet at a time! Working together, Ashley and Napoleon have forged a special bond. “Napoleon is my best friend,” Ashley told TFK. “He loves me for who I am and has taught me to treat others that way.”
On June 30, Ashley and Napoleon participated in a competition in Denver, Colorado. Dogs showed off their skills in several fur-raising events, from jumping over hurdles to catching flying disks. As usual, Napoleon focused on the diving portion of the competition.
To warm up, Ashley took Napoleon on a walk, had him practice fetching and stretched him out. “Napoleon was scared when he first arrived at the competition,” said Ashley. “But when he focused, he did a good job.” Leaping into the water to grab his favorite toy, Napoleon took sixth place out of nine.
It was not enough to qualify for the upcoming “Dog Olympics,” officially known as the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge. But that won’t stop Napoleon and Ashley from pressing on. In August, the duo will participate in the Dock Dogs competition. Sounds like a great way to spend the dog days of summer!