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Deb Collins

Deb is a New Zealander, aka Kiwi, who lives in Maine with her husband, Mike, and her happy-go-wiggly Labrador Retriever, Ted. In 2011, Deb launched her own online business. HappyME, to celebrate happy Maine stuff and exploring Vacationland with your dog. Deb will be blogging about everything dog and sniffing out fun things to do with your wag. More at | On Facebook at | Follow on Twitter @happyMEstuff

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The Maine Wag with Deb Collins
Posted: August 7, 2014

Water Hounds compete in 2014 World Championship Boatyard Dog Trials in Rockland

Ready! Set! Splash! Do you dream of roaring crowds, trophies and having your dog deemed world champ or do you just dig Maine summer events and everything dog? Then you need to head to Rockland, on August 10th, for the ruff and splash action at the 12th Annual Boatyard Dog Trials. There is one caveat which might make some tails skip a beat; this is not an event you can bring your dog to, unless they are one of the chosen competitors or a service dog. I know, I know, I’m sorry ….  but schedule a playdate for your dog and put this down as vital research for your wag’s future fame.

Huckleberry shakes for the crowd at Boatyard Dogs 2013. Photographer: Debra Bell

Huckleberry shakes for the crowd at Boatyard Dogs 2013. Photographer: Debra Bell

These annual Maine wacky water dog trials were born out of the popular Boatyard Dog’s column in Maine Boat, Harbors and Homes Magazine. A different dog is featured in every issue and of course dog-lovers just lap up this kind of dog-centric stuff. The Boatyard Trials are being staged this Sunday at the tail end of The 12th Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show which runs August 8-10, 2014 at Harbor Park in Rockland.

The courageous canines who have been chosen to compete at this event are well-behaved dogs that ideally have impressive waterfront credentials, like ruffing around at a boatyard, crewing on a boat, working on the waterfront or basically have deemed themselves a career waterdog. Special points go to dogs that live to swim. The 2014 Boatyard Dog trial’s winner will be featured in the Maine Boat’s Magazine Winter issue and get to bring home the perpetual “Pup Cup” trophy with previous winners’ names engraved on it and of course all barking rights, for a year, as the world champ. All competitors receive a Sea Bags ditty bag with goodies from Loyal Biscuit Company.

Boatyard Dog Trials Crowd, Rockland. Photographer: Debra Bell.

Boatyard Dog Trials Crowd, Rockland. Photographer: Debra Bell.

The Boatyard Dog Trials

Sunday August 10th | Harbor Park, Rockland, Maine Gates Open at 9:45am | Cost- $12 – i.e. the entry fee to The Maine Boat Show ( kids under 12 free) | Competitor Parade: – 10:15 am | Boatyard Dog Trials: – commences at 10:30 am. | Please leave your dog at home.

The trials consist of three events that each canine competitor must perform in no more than 8 minutes.

1) Dockside Obstacle Course: The dog and handlers negotiate dockside paraphernalia including a maze of lobster traps and piles of rope.

2) The Dinghy-Hop: Dog and handler must show their balancing prowess by hopping into a very tippy dinghy tethered to a float.

3) Freestyle Event: – Each of the worthy canine competitors gets a chance to show of their wagging water talents as they try to get their paws on the trophy.

Previous free-style antics include, the Boatyard dog champion that drove the crowd wild when she pushed her handler off the dock, the Puggle who rode around on the bow of a windsurfer watching for pirates, the pint-sized Chihuahua who walked the plank, a.k.a her owner, who paved the way by lying on her stomach and the 2011 Champion, Fenway, who made his Dad roll-over. This year there is an added tail-twister, each canine competitor must somehow incorporate 12 into their routine to mark the 12th Annual Maine Boat’s Show.

Six salty dog cup contenders

Defending 2013 Pup Cup Champion – Ruffles | Homeport: Cushing, Maine | Handlers: John and Linda Duffy

Ruffles, Defending Champion of This Year's Boatyard Trials. Photographer: Debra Bell.

Ruffles, Defending Champion of This Year’s Boatyard Trials. Photographer: Debra Bell.

As the defending champion, Ruffles, is gearing up for more crowd pleasing action. Her Portuguese Waterdog lineage means swimming is in her genes, she was bred to retrieve nets full of fish and act as a water paddling courier. Her rigorous training routine includes, “chasing sticks into the water and cruising to the Lobster Dock next door”. To hone her top dog balancing skills, she co-pilots her Mom’s kayak and competes in agility trials. Other favorite past-times include, rolling in bait, begging and rescuing anything that floats.

2013 Runner-up – Gatsby | Homeport: Scarborough, Maine | Handler: Any Douglass

Gatsby - Runner-up Boatyard Trials 2013. Photographer: Debra Bell

Gatsby – Runner-up Boatyard Trials 2013. Photographer: Debra Bell

As the runner up at last year’s event, Chocolate Labrador, Gatsby, is focused on retrieving the 2014 “Pup Cup”. In her application, Gatsby submitted 12 woofworthy reasons on why she is a great competitor, with an “I love” list, which included: water, jumping, tennis balls, kisses and winning.

Boatyard 2014 Contenders-  Top Left: Polly, Top Right: Sadie-Rose, Lower Left: Sandra Bee, Lower Right: Scout.

Boatyard 2014 Contenders-
Top Left: Polly, Top Right: Sadie-Rose, Lower Left: Sandra Bee, Lower Right: Scout.

Contender: Polly | Homeport: Stonington, Maine | Handler: Geoff Warner

Wagging in at 55 pounds, Polly is slated to be a natural gymnast who loves to get big air and who has a “natural twisting style”. Polly is “chomping at the bit” to strut her stuff as last year she was an “alternate” for the event.

Contender: Sadie Rose | Homeport: Marblehead, Massachussets | Handler: Peter Dragonas

Six year old Sadie, might be from Massachusetts, but knows the coast of Maine like a local dog. Sadie has swum at almost every anchorage from Casco Bay to Northeast Harbor. In true retriever style, Sadie excels at dragging her master back to the float after he falls in and “shaking off as close to people as she can” after water retrieving a stick or ball. Sadie is determined to one day land a lobster buoy pot which to date she has found elusive despite her rigorous tugging efforts.

Contender: Sandra Bee a.k.a Sandy | Homeport: Gorham, Maine | Handler: Lori Green

Sandy found her home via The Pixel Fund when her Mom, Lori Green, took her home, sight unseen, after a supposed foster failed to show up. When Lori got home, she unveiled the crate to find “the saddest, ugliest, baldest, smelliest” dog who came out wagging; it was love at first site. This ugly dog duckling transformed into a four-legged swan. “Sandy Bee” is doggedly determined to win the “Pup Cup” and help spotlight her saviors at the Pixel Fund, who help save the lives of shelter pets through education, advocacy and valiant rescue efforts. Unfortunately, Sandy “does not do water” but this “22-pound dynamo” will hopefully pull a few tricks out of her adorable ears.

Contender: Scout | Homeport: South Portland, Maine | Handler: Maureen Furlong

Scout is currently employed in a lakeside contract “helping” build a lake house where he patrols for wildlife, which can take him a little offsite. Swimming is Scout’s favorite past-time but he is also known to body surf, paddleboard and dock jump. The news is just in, unfortunately, Scout will no longer be able to compete this year due to a leg injury. We are hoping he’ll be back in fighting form for next year’s event.

Alternate: Carolina | Homeport: Moose River, Maine | Handler: Lindsay Guay

Carolina crop

Carolina – Graduate Rescue of The Pixel Fund.

This Dutch Shepherd, another graduate rescue of The Pixel Fund, once had a dock jumping episode where her hind legs remained on the dock whilst her head plunged into the water. Carolina was selected as an alternate but as it turns out, she’s not available to step-up in place of  Scout at this Sunday’s event. A four month old pup, Bavini, from the Pixel Fund, is now going to be a last minute competitor for The Pup Cup. Hopefully, Bavini will also win the hearts of a fur-ever family as she is up for adoption too.

In past years, it has been a tradition for the judges to receive voting incentives from the competitors. This year, instead of bribes, the competing canines have been asked to bring a donation for local animal shelters, based on their website wish lists.

If you are planning on attending this water ruffing world class event, you might want to imagine how your dog would add “12” to their freestyle routine. I envision my Maine Wag, Ted, attempting a 12 Roll-Over-Rover-Salute down a red carpet into the water. What do you think Boatyard Dog Trial judges? Could my HappyME Ted be a contender next year?

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