The Olympics don’t start until Friday, but hundreds of people got a look at canine long-jumpers Saturday at a dog dock-diving event in Westhampton Beach.
Kiersten Downing brought her chocolate Labrador retriever, Oakley, from Chesapeake, Virginia, to compete. Oakley did not disappoint.
The crowd cheered as the dog sprinted to the end of a platform, leapt into the air and landed 22 feet, 1 inch from the edge of a vinyl pool set up in the Westhampton Beach High School parking lot. It was his best distance in months, Downing said.
Oakley is an elite dog. He’s among the top 100 of dock divers worldwide, Downing said.
Scores at the two-day event, which started Friday, count toward worldwide rankings, said Ryan Westlake, an event manager for DockDogs Worldwide, an Ohio-based organization that sanctioned the Westhampton contest — the first on Long Island.
To give dogs of different sizes and experiences a shot at winning, there were four categories of jumps, with 22 feet and up the highest.
Chris Geymayr, 28, of Islip has been competing nationally since last year with his pit bull, Tango, who jumped nearly 21 1/2 feet two weeks ago in Cape Cod. But in his first jumps Saturday, Tango couldn’t muster more than 18 feet.
“He’s not feeling it this weekend,” said Geymayr, who believes his dog is tired from other competitions this summer.
Unlike the Olympics, all were welcome to compete, including novices like Elli, a German shorthaired pointer.
Elli swims in her Elmont pool several times a day but was intimidated by the 2-foot drop from the platform into the pool.
“Come on Elli, let’s get the ball,” said Downing, also an event volunteer, glancing toward a ball bobbing in the water.
Elli hemmed and hawed, licking Downing’s face, sniffing the platform, jumping onto the railing and barking. Anything to avoid the plunge into the water.
“She loves the water,” owner Eddie Stattel, 60, said afterward. “She’s just not used to jumping.”
Kenny Sadenwater’s Boykin spaniel, Buck, was as hesitant as Elli when it came time to perform.
“Go on, get it! Get it!” implored Sadenwater, 47, of Smithtown, as Buck balked, barking and moving his paws back and forth near the edge of the platform.
Buck is used to jumping into murky river water, and the clear water of the pool, with the blue bottom visible “throws him off,” Sadenwater said.