An annual DockDogs competition will return to Virginia Beach next week, drawing high-flying canines from around the area and beyond.
Among the out-of-state contestants will be Lager, a world-class competitor who went from sniffing for explosives to soaring off platforms with help from a Hampton Roads club.
The German shorthaired pointer served in Iraq as an explosives detection canine, but his attraction to water proved too great. He was too distracted by water and toys to sufficiently perform his job, so his owner — SOC, a government security contractor — decided to find him a home where he could get more of what he loves, said Gwen Mowrey, president of Tidewater DockDogs.
At that time, Lager’s name was Nayt (pronounced “Night”).
“If Nayt sees water, he’s in it – and it usually takes 45 minutes to get him OUT of it!!” an SOC representative said, according to an account by the dog’s future owner.
Mowrey played matchmaker. The government contractor called her early last summer to see if Tidewater DockDogs could help find a home for Nayt. Mowrey knew just who to ask: a couple in New Jersey who love German shorthaired pointers, do rescue work with the breed and also happen to be long-distance members of Tidewater DockDogs.
Soon, the dog formerly known as Nayt was tearing up the dock-jumping scene. In his first year of competition, he ranked 5th overall in the world championships in his division, according to a release promoting his appearance at the upcoming Virginia Beach event.
That event is April 29 to May 1 outside Care-A-Lot Pet Supply’s headquarters building at 1617 Diamond Springs Road. Admission is free. The lineup of entertainment includes performances by a collection of rescued and adopted dogs-turned-Frisbee-catching champions, pet ice cream and peanut butter eating contests, and daily prize drawings.
The event, now in its ninth year, has grown a lot since its debut in 2008. There were about 22 vendors and 3,000 attendees for whole weekend the first year, said Jenny Pry, the event coordinator for Care-A-Lot.
This year’s event will have more than 75 vendors and is expected to draw 12,000 to 15,000 people, she said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly implied that Lager supported the military in Iraq. He was deployed to Iraq as an explosives detection canine by a contractor on a U.S. government program.