July 23 • 12:13 PM

Ultimate Air Dogs presents; The Ultimate Air Game Finals, part of the 21st Outdoor Weekend Sept. 7-9th

September 01, 2007
Discover why the Ultimate Air Dogs' motto is "When Dogs Fly" at the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend, in Imlay City, Sept 7-9, where at the Ultimate Air Games spectators will witness true canine athletes from all over the United States soaring to unbelievable lengths, possibly even breaking World Records!

"This will be a show fit for television, like those seen on ESPN or Versus," says Milt Wilcox, President of Ultimate Air Dogs and former Detroit Tiger pitcher of 1984 World Series fame. "What a perfect venue for the Ultimate Air Games. The majority of our competitors are hunting dogs. Training for our sport keeps our dogs in peak physical condition, so that come fall, they are ready to hit the pond, lake or field."

Go to to hunt down your nearest Ultimate Air event and to preregister to enter a "Splash" or competitive round where each dog/handler team gets two jumps. The handler throws a buoyant, retrievable, non-living object of his choice into a pool, either before or while commanding the dog to go "Get the Bird."

Meanwhile, two expert judges standing beside the pool, measure the distance jumped, from the dock to the hind-end breaking the water. The best of the two will count as the "Score." These are ranked by divisions based on the distances attained. 1" to 9'11" is Novice. 10 to 14'11" is Junior. 15' to 19'11" is Senior. 20' to 22'11" is Master. Anything over 23' is an Ultimate. Each "Score" earns one "Leg" towards your dog's title. Five "Legs" in any Division earns a title.

The two special Splashes on Friday are a non-titled dog's only opportunity to qualify to compete in the Ultimate Air Games. The first place winner of each Division from both Splashes will automatically move forward into Saturday's Divisional Qualifying Rounds, whether he or she has a title or not. That means that potentially ten untitled dogs will place in Saturday's Qualifying Rounds. Otherwise, all dogs must be titled.

For open Splashes, no experience is required. First-timers are welcome. With a small amount of knowledge, you will be ready to mount the dock.

Any breed or mix may enter. Also, there is no limitation on the age of either handler or dog, as long as they can both safely compete.

You will be astonished by some throw objects, but always remember visibility is key. Some handlers swear by standard training bumpers in either orange or contrasting black and white stripes, while others prefer Dokken Dead Fowl Trainers. The most visible toy on the market is the Jolly Ball, looking like a red playground ball with a rope through it. Tennis balls are also extremely popular, but they can be difficult to mark. Even rubber chickens have been thrown!

Most people use the "Place and Send." Commanding the dog to "Sit," the object is thrown into the pool. Then, the dog is released to "Get it." (Ultimate Air Dogs allows two handlers on the dock, so one may hold the dog.) It is important that your dog has seen the object or "Marked the Bird" by witnessing your throw of the toy from the end of the dock. If not, the confused dog may suddenly halt at the end, searching for the thrown object.

Veteran handlers often use "The Chase." After locking the dog in a "Sit," the handler stands perched precariously at the end of the dock holding the throw object at about the dog's eye level. Upon being released, the dog charges forward lifting off, while the object is simultaneously thrown out and upwards. By motivating the dog to "Chase" the object, the handler has in effect caused his or her dog to follow the same flight pattern. Perfected, the dog will catch the object midair. This is challenging to master. If the timing or distance of the throw is off by a mere fraction of an inch, it can have a negative impact.

This technique led to the birth of another new game called, "Catch It!" In this sport, each dog gets two jumps. However, the dog must "Catch" the toy in mid-air for the distance to be counted. The "Score" will be the sum of the two jumps' totals, given the dog has caught both.

If your dog loves to catapult into the water, this sport is for you. Remember, there are no bad jumps. If you can manage to coax your dog to jump off of a scaffolding dock standing five or six feet high, into a pool, in front of a cheering crowd, you should be proud!

Please, come join us for the ultimate experience at the Ultimate Air Games. For more information, please, go to

The Ultimate Air Games is just one part of the Woods-N-Water News 21st Outdoor Weekend. Come and celebrate our outdoor heritage. Show hours are Friday, Sept. 7 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Imlay City is located between Flint and Port Huron; the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds is on M-53, a half-mile north of I-69 off Exit #168. Admission is $7 per person. For more information check our website:


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