Over the weekend the Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors Show took place in my home town. Though it’s mostly geared toward humans interested in those water floating vessels known as boats, there is a competition held for boat loving pooches. This competition is called the Boatyard Dog Trials. Six dogs and one alternate compete to win the coveted Pup Cup, a bag of goodies from The Loyal Biscuit, and a feature in the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine! Since dog spectators are incredibly frowned upon, I was left at home while my on-the-ground reporter (aka my mother) and Angelica went to check out all the fun.
The six competitors this year were Red, a water-phobic pooch from Port Clyde, Pancho Villa the Puggle (the returning champ), 8 year old Hazel the Lab, Rudie the Springer Spaniel who has an affinity to tipping over kayaks, the Novi Crustacean Queen’s “stern dog” Lyla, and Meena the Border Collie who competed to avenge her brother who came in dead last in the 2009 trails. The alternate was Grace O’Mally the Golden Retriever and pirate queen.
These photos were taken from the "People's Choice" kiosk
Each contestant has to go through the Dockside Obstacle Course, get in and out of an incredibly tippy dinghy with their handler, and perform a “freestyle” routine. There are only three rules: 1. Either the handler or the dog must finished completely soaked (better if both are), 2. Cheating is not only tolerated but encouraged, and 3. There are no other rules.
And bribing the judges is not only allowed, but almost expected
Though Grace O’Malley didn’t get a chance to compete, she was allowed to meet the spectators and jumped off the specially made dock to the delight of the crowd. The first dog to compete was Lyla. After successfully navigating the obstacle course and almost perfectly getting in and out of the dinghy, Lyla and her handler performed their freestyle consisting of Lyla not only fetching one, but two tennis balls at the same time out of the water. Then, after swimming to shore, Lyla fetched a rock that was under the water. Lyla scored a 7, 9, and 8 from the three judges.
Meena skillfully avoided the obstacle course, getting the cheating out of the way fast, and avoided the dinghy for as long as possible by chasing after tennis balls. She was eventually scooped up by her handler and carried into the dinghy. Meena was given a score of 4, 6, and 5.
Rudie the Springer Spaniel decided not to cheat through the obstacle course and was quite okay with the dinghy. Her handler then launched a little toy boat into the water that Rudie eventually fetched after trying to paddle it back to her. She scored a 6, 5, and 6. Hazel who was the oldest contestant seemed to have a lot of fun during her trial. She sat very patiently in front of a toy while her handler talked a bit (mom was unable to hear what he was saying). Eventually he released her and she not only picked up the ball, but also dropped it in front of her handler and later fetched it from the water. She had a harder time getting back onto the dock so she had to swim to shore. Hazel received a score of 5, 5, and 5.
Red already had a bit of a handicap against him as he does not swim and one of the rules states that someone has to get wet. During Red’s freestyle, his handler threw a well gnawed hunk of wood into the water much to Red’s dismay. Luckily (or maybe it was planned all along) the handler got a little to close to the edge of the dock and fell in. After he fetched the stick, Red ran for cover as he emerged from the water and tried to give Red a hug. Red was scored a 7, 6, and 5.
Finally the defending champ from 2009, Pancho Villa, competed. He was old hat at not only the obstacle course but also the dinghy. It was his freestyle that really wowed the judges and the crowd. Pancho Villa received the perfect score of triple 10s and defended his Pup Cup championship! He was awarded the Pup Cup by the 2010 Sea Goddess.
There was also an opportunity for one of the pups to win a People’s Choice Award. A wagon was set up in the middle of the show grounds with each contestants’ photo, a bit about themselves, and a box for votes. People voted by placing money in their favorite contestant’s box. A dollar equaled one vote. Mom put in a vote for Red whose freestyle she thought was very funny and Rudie because she thought that’s who I would have chosen (Rudie likes to roll in stinky stuff too) and Angelica voted for Hazel. All the money collected was going to be matched by Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbor and donated to both the Humane Society of Knox County and the Camden Rockport Animal Rescue League.
Mom’s thinking that maybe she’ll enter us into the Boatyard Dog Trials next year. I think that if she’s expecting me to get in the water she better find another dog to compete with.
Happy tail wags!