By Latasha Ball
We all know how talented dogs are and seeing them in action in different competitions are always fun to watch. The same goes for the Winnebago Water Dogs who compete in dock diving in Wisconsin! Winne and Reilly have been eating Zignature for the past three years and enjoy the thrill of competing for the crowd by running and leaping from decks in dock diving! They enjoy traveling and compete all over the country. We sat down with Tiffany Ludwig, Winnie and Reilly’s mom, to learn more about her awesome dogs.
Zignature: How long have you’ve been feeding Reilly and Winne Zignature for?
Tiffany: Winnie and Reilly have both been on Zignature for 3 years.
Zignature: What do they enjoy most about Dock Diving?
Tiffany: Winnie and Reilly both have an intense toy drive, so they love chasing and retrieving their toy! The bumpers we use for competition are used only for DockDogs, so they get extra excited when we pull out the DockDogs bumpers! Aside from their time on the dock, our dogs genuinely seem to enjoy traveling around to new places and playing with their doggy friends that they only see during competition season.
Zignature: What do you feel makes them stand out amongst the other dogs who are competing?
Tiffany: Winnie is hands down, one of the “craziest” dogs in this sport. From the minute we arrive, she is 100% focused on getting up on the dock and into the pool. While waiting her turn in her kennel, she never rests, anxiously awaiting for her time to compete. A lot of dogs in this sport are able to distinguish their time in the kenneling area as their down time and use it to rest up giving them fresh “legs” when it comes time to compete. Winnie, on the other hand, likely burns more energy in her kennel in one day, than most dogs do all weekend! This makes it very important that she is fueled with the highest quality proteins to sustain an extremely high level of energy.
Although small in stature and mild mannered while resting her kennel, Reilly surprises the crowds with her unique style bouncing off the end of the dock. People don’t typically expect small female golden retrievers to compete at the level Reilly does in this sport, but she has quickly caught the attention of both spectators and competitors. Reilly competes as an Iron Dog, which means she participates in three different disciplines throughout the course of the weekend. We firmly believe that without the proper nutritional diet, Reilly would not have the stamina she needs to be competitive against the bigger, stronger dogs.
Zignature: How did you first get into Dock Diving?
Tiffany: We enjoyed watching DockDogs for a number of years at our local county fair. Once we got Winnie, we decided to give it a try as a way to burn off some of her energy. She was absolutely crazy for tennis balls at the time, so we figured it was worth a shot! Winnie quickly caught onto the sport, and once she earned her first invitation to the DockDogs World Championship, we were hooked! We’ve been fully committed to this sport for the last four years and enjoy traveling all over the country for competitions with both our two-legged, and four-legged children.
Zignature: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
Tiffany: We look forward to adding another handler to Winnebago Water Dogs next summer, as our son Mason, will be old enough to compete! We are so excited to watch him learn and grow as a competitor with Winnie and/or Reilly!
So what is Dock Diving?
Dock Diving is a fun sport that just about any dog can do, if he is toy driven and will do anything for his favorite toy, including diving fearlessly into the water to retrieve it! He just needs to love the water and have excellent swimming skills and have access to a pool or lake. But what about those dogs who have no energy? Dock Diving may be the key in introducing them to a sport they can get excited about!
There are two different methods for training your dog to jump into the water after his favorite toy: The “place and send” method and the “chase method.”
The “chase” method is when the dog is placed in a specific area and is asked to stand and stay or sit and stay. The handler then walks 40 feet to the end of the jumping platform located on the dock. The handler will have a toy in their hand held high in the air and at the handler’s signal, the dog runs down the dock as the handler throws the toy or chase item in front of the dog’s nose into the water.
For the “place and send” method, the dog and handler walk to the end of the jumping platform on the dock and the handler throws the toy into the water, while the dog is restrained from fetching the toy. The handler then walks the dog back to the staring point of the dock and gives the dog a cue to go get the toy.
The importance with any competitive sport your dog is involved in is to make it fun! It’s all about the experience and making a lifetime worth of memories that you’ll look proudly look back on.
More About Winnie and Reilly
Tiffany: Winnie, short for Winnebago, is a 9-year Yellow Lab canine athlete, who is allergic to just about everything! Due to severe food allergies, we struggled finding the right food for her for years! Aside from needing a limited ingredient formula, we also need a high protein food that will ensure she is able to thrive in all of her activities. From hunting to competing in DockDogs, this high energy, working dog needs a quality food that promotes muscle growth to keep her going through it all! We started Winnie on Zignature’s Zssential Formula three years ago and it has completely surpassed our expectations and has provided her with relief from so many adverse symptoms that she struggled with for years!
Reilly, Winnie’s “sister,” is an (almost) 3-year-old Golden Retriever. Like Winnie, she is also an avid bird hunter and DockDogs competitor. Reilly has been on Zignature since we brought her home as an 8-week-old puppy. Reilly enjoys rotating through almost all of the single-source protein formulas. With two dogs who can be fussy eaters at times, we absolutely love that Zignature has so many flavors to offer and that we can confidently alternate through them without any transition period! Our girls have too many favorite flavors to mention and as owners, we take pride in knowing each formula we choose is providing them with high quality ingredients, without any unnecessary fillers!
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Pictured left: Penny Miller, Director of Frankie and Andy’s Place with City Dog Market owner Renee
Can you imagine having to eat the same meal every day for the rest of your