By Linda Cole
Canine cancer is a hard topic for me to write about. It has touched my canine family several times over the years. However, it’s important to shed light on the disease to help dog owners understand how early detection can make a difference in a dog’s survival. Jay Harris, a CANIDAE Special Achiever, is using the sport of dock diving to promote cancer awareness and to raise money for Chase Away K9 Cancer, an organization trying to find a cure for canine cancer. If you’re into dock diving, you’ve heard of Jay Harris and his eight year old yellow Lab, Sir Harley, who is ranked 11th in the world as a Veteran. I had a chance to speak with Jay to find out more about both of his passions.
Chase Away K9 Cancer was founded in 2006 by Cera Reusser after losing her black Lab, Chase, to cancer. Chase was full of life and excelled at dock diving with an Elite Jumper status in Big Air and NW Challenge Championship in 2005 and had a designation of AKC Master. One day, Cera found a lump under Chase’s chin. It was nasal carcinoma. Chase was just shy of her seventh birthday when she died. This grassroots organization raises money for grants to fund cancer research. So far, they’ve raised over $530,000.00 and funded twelve cancer studies with more studies planned for later this year. They also aim to give support, understanding, comfort and guidance to dog owners.
Detecting canine cancer early can make a difference in the prognosis and treatment. Chase Away recommends a nose to tail body check on the 14th of each month. Start at the head and look in their ears, eyes and inside the mouth, checking for tumors. Feel and look over your dog’s entire body, searching for lumps or bumps. Know where to find the dog’s lymph glands and how they feel. If you notice any changes, call your vet. Weight loss should be a red flag.
Jay brings awareness to this disease through his love of dock diving and helps raise money throughout the season for canine cancer. This year, one of Jay’s fundraising events, the 2012 Sir Harley Veterans Tour Chase Away K9 Cancer kicks off the season in honor of his Lab, Sir Harley, who became a Veteran Competitor in DockDogs. Donations will be accepted all year and a check will be presented to Chase Away at the World Championships at Dubuque, Iowa in November. “To date, we are over $3,000 and the jumping season is only getting started.” Money is raised for Chase Away at all regional (club) events. If you attend an event, look for a dog wearing a K9 vest walking around in the crowd and if you are able to help, please donate.
Jay and his wife, Deb, have been raising Labs at their Indian Creek Labs kennel for 30 years, and competing in dock diving for seven years. For the last five years, Jay has been feeding CANIDAE All Life Stages formula to all of his dogs, including the ones in his kennel. “This formula works great for us when we have puppies. One food for all. I enjoy the comments from other competitors and spectators on how great they look. People always comment about their coats and their muscle build. Diet and conditioning is everything. Dogs don’t enjoy this sport if they are overweight.”
Dock diving has three disciplines (jumps): Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve. Big Air is the one most people think about. I asked Jay which of the three disciplines is the hardest to teach, and if they compete in all three events. “Extreme Vertical. It’s overwhelming for some dogs to go out 8′ and up. My opinion is it’s one of the most satisfying for the dog and they know when the bumper comes down. Yes, we have teams that compete in all three disciplines. They’re called Iron Dogs. We have two classes of Iron Dogs: Warrior and Titans.”
It was Sir Harley who got Jay interested in dock diving. They have two other dogs currently in competition. “Deb handles Mercedes, a three year old black female Lab. Mercedes is a Senior Big Air, Cadet EV (extreme vertical), and a Turbo SR (speed retrieve) titled dog. I am very proud of Deb and Mercedes and they continue to progress each season. Mister Bentley, a big chocolate Lab, is the most exciting dog to handle. He loves this sport. MB makes sure that everyone watching knows he’s on the dock and continually barks till I sit him, and then it’s show time! MB doesn’t put up large scores in any discipline, but to watch him is just so exciting. In the World rankings, MB is ranked 14th in EV and 10th in Iron Dog.”
Dock diving is all about the drive of the dog. “If the dog has a strong toy drive, then it’s just natural for the dog to go get that toy. Lots of times, people make the mistake of not giving enough time for the dog to understand the expectation and strengthen up muscles used in this sport and they actually hurt the drive of the dog. When you remove the fun for you and the dog, it usually takes you out of the sport.”
For more information on Chase Away K9 Cancer, click here.
Top photo: Stephen Lankford
Middle and Bottom photos: Uniwolf Photography
Read more articles by Linda Cole
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.