EAST GRAND FORKS – Families and people of all ages flocked to East Grand Forks this weekend for the 34th Annual Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament, which also hosted its second DockDogs competition after its first appearance last year.
The participants basked in the sun and took part in the competitions and participated in them. The catfish tournament was scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, with the DockDogs competition starting Friday night and continuing through Sunday. A variety of vendors were also in attendance selling hot dogs, hamburgers, beer and more to keep people entertained and fed during the weekend event.
Kathy Hawkins hadn’t been to Cats Incredible in years but wanted to take her young granddaughter, who likes ‘Fish and the Puppy’, to Saturday’s event.
Hawkins said they were able to keep their cool during the event by sitting on the metal benches under the large green and white striped tent where anglers weighed in the catfish they caught.
The majority of attendees filled grandstands near the Red River to see dogs compete for the longest jump in a nearly 40-foot pool. Contestants of all ages brought their dogs to the DockDogs Tournament, an Ohio-based competition featuring Big Air, Extreme Vertical, and Speed Retrieve events. It started in 2000 and bills itself as “the fastest growing sport on 4 legs”.
The dogs’ trainers consisted of men, women, and even children, who, one by one, tricked their canines into jumping off a makeshift dock in the grass east of the Red River banks. They went onto a grass stage that served as a runway to jump into the pool for a chew toy, rope, or other object of interest.
One of the youngest DockDogs trainers was Carissa Wadena, who brought her year-old Belgian Malinois Arkham, named after Arkham Asylum from the Batman comic book series, to the competition. They came from Mahnomen, Minnesota to attend the event for the first time in Grand Forks. They competed in Fargo last year when Wadena began coaching Arkham.
Downtown Henry, a veteran competitor, competes in a Superman cape his owners bought from Amazon, and his trainer, Susan Hoffman, wears a matching Superman logo t-shirt. He’s a four-year-old Goldendoodle named after where he lives – in downtown Sioux Falls.
Downtown Henry, who has been preparing for the competition since he was a year old, travels to about four or five different DockDogs events each summer with other Sioux Falls dogs, all of whom compete in the events. They staked out their own corner of the event space just behind the DockDogs stage with tents and signage for each of the other Sioux Falls dogs attending the event. The Downtown Henry banner features an image of him jumping for a ball in his usual Superman outfit.
Hoffman spoke about what goes into preparing for the events.
“The most important thing is that the dog has to have a very strong toy drive,” Hoffman said. “They need to be motivated to run after the toy to jump into the water. And after that, it’s just about building that relationship with your dog and having a lot of fun.”
Hoffman emphasized the “fun” aspect of it all. While competitions are great, if you’re not having fun then you’re not doing it right – and Downtown Henry has a lot of fun jumping into the water after his favorite toy.
“He loves his orange ball,” Hoffman said. “He lives for that orange ball.”