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Canine competition returns to the Shell Factory

February 6, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Some of the most athletic canines you have ever seen will come together at the Shell Factory this weekend for three days of competition.

Think of it as a doggie decathlon.

The Tailwagger Classic will take place Feb. 8, 9 and 10 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Aquadog Sports Center in the corner of the property where dogs of various size will jump for distance or, or swim as fast as they can.

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The Dock Dogs will take part in Big Air (a long jump), Speed Retrieve, sprint), Extreme Vertical (high jump) and the newest event, Dueling Dogs (like a doggie drag race).

The Shell Factory has become a regular stop on the Dock Dogs tour and is a sanctioned event. The three-day competition will culminate with the Big Air Finals at 4 p.m. on Sunday with the pro, semi-pro, contender and amateur titles at stake.

Vicki Tighe, owner of Aquadog Sports and the Suncoast Dock Dogs, said dogs from all over the country will participate, trying to earn enough points to qualify for the world championships in late October to be held in Dubuque, Iowa.

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"We have 150 entries right now. And most of those are people out of town. We have people coming from North Carolina, Maryland, even Vermont, plus our local people," Tighe said.

Among those who will not be competing will be Bo, who at one time held world records in, Iron Dog, Big Air and Extreme Vertical, as a muscle disease forced him to retire last year.

The current Top Dog is Spitfire, from Washington State, who has broken some of Bo's records and is owned by a 13-year-old Sydney Mackey.

Tighe said the sport has grown like crazy, thanks to the likes of Bo, who became a star and was even televised a few years ago as he tried to break a world record.

"We're expected 400 people to bring dogs to the world championships, and many of them have more than one dog," Tighe said. "The sport has been around for 20 years."

There is free admission and the event is open to the public. If you would like to register for the event, it's $25.

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