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Dogs soar in SEWE DockDog competition

Dock Dogs Making a Splash

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition kicked off its annual DockDog competitions on Friday, making for a weekend full of pet-friendly fun at Charleston's Brittlebank Park.

If you go

What: DockDog competitions

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Brittlebank Park

A crowd on Friday cheered on their favorite dogs as the pets chased Frisbees and chew toys down a 40-foot dock, through the air and into two 30,000 gallon tanks.

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For more information about the festival, check out our SEWE section.

The dogs and their handlers are vying for the farthest distance jumped, among other feats.

This year marked the local competition's first with dual tanks, making SEWE the only event east of the Mississippi to do so, event manager Bob DeWire said.

The extra pool should be a hit with guests, DeWire said. And hopefully, he added, that will translate to increased turnout this year.

“Who doesn't smile when they see a dog? Especially when one's in a pool,” he said.

Like Dawn Meline and her black Labrador retriever Grace, of Effingham, several of the dogs' handlers traveled to compete in the event.

“Who wouldn't want to come here? It's beautiful,” Meline said, gesturing toward the stretch of the Ashley River overlooking the park.

Libby Griffin and her black Lab Mandy drove from Charlotte to have their shot at the top spot. This year's trip was the pair's fourth at the Charleston competition.

“I just love Charleston. And the competition's three days, which makes the whole trip worthwhile,” Griffin said.

Attendees not fixated on the pool's edge perused several vendor exhibits staged throughout the park, including John Deere, Chevrolet and the Department of Natural Resources.

They also listened to live music, played in jump castles and dined on kettle corn and freshly squeezed lemonade.

But the event's highlight drew the most attention, as dogs reached lengths of 20 feet or more as they dove into the tanks.

“You want to run down every bit of that dock,” said Debra Mittelsteadt of Monroe, N.C., of her dog Genie's strategy. “That's the only way to get the height you need to make it that far.”

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.

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