On November 22, 2023

Local dog comes in third place in national swimming competition


By Cristina Kumka

Rutland County is home to one of the nation’s fastest dogs. Hozzy became the third-fastest swimming dog in the nation recently, after competing against hundreds of other dogs in the Ultimate Air Games Dog Dock Diving Competition in Lebanon, Tennessee held Sept. 28 through Oct. 1. A total of 230 dogs from across the United States attended the annual competition. 

Hozzy is owned by Cristina Kumka and trained by various obedience, scent and agility coaches at Warner Brook Kennel in Pittsford. His dock diving coach is Jeff Leonard of Rutland and he primarily swims laps on Lake Hortonia in Sudbury where he lives. Hozzy was first evaluated by malinois trainer Nate Whitehorne who determined Hozzy had a mild temperament and would be a good companion animal. 

Hozzy, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois adopted out of New Jersey as a puppy, came in third place with a time of 5.47 seconds in the game of “Chase-It” — where dogs from around the country were timed as they swam 35-feet across a pool. 

Hozzy missed a top 2 position by only a tenth of a second or less — bested by a lab mix from Georgia with a 5.31 second swim and another malinois from New York with a 5.43 second swim.   

How did he do it? Hozzy excels at endurance snowshoeing and hiking and is a member of the Endurance Society, a Mendon-based racing company owned by Andy Weinberg. When he isn’t jumping or swimming, Hozzy enjoys cold weather sports. 

“This type of dog was first bred in Belgium to excel at herding animals but when brought to America in the early 1900s, the Malinois soon started outpacing the German Shepherd in military ownership and operations,” said owner Cristina Kumka, a teacher at Stafford Technical Center. 

“What people don’t realize is how sensitive and affectionate they are. They can make great family pets if trained and worked properly and consistently,” she said. 



By Abimax Photography, courtesy  Cristina Kumka

Hozzy, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois is one fast pup in the water. He swam 35 feet in 5.47 seconds beating 227 other dogs.

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