Chester, the seven-time national event winner, leaps off the dock in Killington.
By Robin Alberti
The weekend of Oct. 22-25, some local Fly Dogs traveled with their owners to the Ultimate Air Games, The Best of the Best, at Purina Farms in Grey Summit, Mo. This is an invitation-only event, and it is quite an honor to be asked to come this national competition. Jeff Leonard and his wife, Suzanne Ellis Leonard, from Killington, Vt., have three dogs that earned an amazing nine invites to the competition, and they accepted eight of them. All of the events their dogs competed in are high speed jumping and swimming. Chester and Mainer, black labs, and Wilder, a golden, are all 20-foot-plus jumpers. They are members of the Foundry Fly Dogs, and are regular entertainers and impressing spectators in Killington at Summit Pond. The Leonards collaborated with restaurant owner Chris Karr to build a dock to host the dog jumping events.
When asked about the invitation to the national event, Jeff Leonard said, “I’ve been doing this for eight years, and so it’s a treat to have had such a awesome year.”
At the competition, the Leonard’s dogs made it to four finals, and came away with all top ten finishes, including one second place finish.
Jill Trepanier and her husband, from Pittsford, Vt., also brought two of their black labs, Kiki and Gracie, to compete in the Ultimate Air Games. Back in April, 8-year-old Kiki had hip dysplasia surgery. Amazingly just three short months after surgery Kiki was back jumping. She is a five year veteran of the sport, and at her peak her longest ever jump was 18’1”. Sher recently finished in second place in the Novus division. Gracie competed in the Master division. Her longest recorded jump is 21’5”. Next week the Trepaniers will be heading off to Iowa for the Dock Dog National Championship.
When asked how she got involved with dock diving, Jill Trepanier said both dogs love the water, and have a natural drive to jump and retrieve their toys.
Her introduction to the sport was from the Humane Society’s fundraiser in the summer at Lakehouse on Lake Bomoseen. Then back in 2011, Killington hosted a Dock Dog event, and the Trepaniers decided to enter Kiki. She loved it, and Dock Dogs soon became a part of their family life. The Trepaniers are members of Green Mountain Dock Dogs in Bennington, attend most of the Foundry Fly Dog events, as well as travel for competitions.
“It’s a great way to spend time with our dogs. We have also met so many people at competitions that have now become friends,” Jill Trepaniers said.