VACAVILLE — Yes, American Mike Powell holds the world long jump record of 29 feet 4½ inches, which he set at the 1991 World Track & Field Championships in Tokyo.
But he better make room for Hudson, an eager 2-year-old Belgian Malinois from Vacaville, who beat that record by almost two feet to win the dock-jumping competition at the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge in Las Vegas last weekend.
“He is obsessed with water,” said Amy Peterson, Hudson’s companion and dog trainer.
After winning the Western Regional, Peterson and Hudson are now headed to Missouri in October to take part in the Dog Challenge finals against the best dock jumpers in the country.
“We are just happy to go,” Peterson said. “It is an honor to be there.”
Peterson has been involved in training and entering canine competitions since she was 10. She has since worked with about every breed as a trainer or during her work with the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
She got involved with dock jumping five years ago when a friend told her about a group of dog lovers and dock-jumping enthusiasts called Splash Dogs was at the California State Fair. She took her American Bulldog named Pink, who “loved it from the beginning.”
Peterson describes dock jumping as “one of the few sports where a dog gets to do what the dog wants to do.”
In dock jumping dogs charge across a platform and launch themselves over a pool to catch a toy before landing in the water.
Hudson entered the picture 18 months ago when a breeder offered Peterson the 6-month-old puppy. Peterson named him after her favorite rescue dog she knew at the SPCA shelter. Peterson knew that Hudson was going to be a good dock jumper when the then-5-month-old did well at his first event.
In addition to dock jumping, she and Hudson now compete in competitive obedience as well as mondioring, which combines protective work, obedience and jumping.
The two train by constantly going on runs. Hudson gets to practice his jumps by running up a ramp that Peterson set up next to a stock tank.
After a series of good showings at competitions in California and Oregon, the duo got the invitation to compete in the Dog Challenge in Las Vegas, where the four-legged athletes show off their speed, strength and agility in competitions that also include Frisbee-catching, obstacle course and pole weaving.
Hudson showed his championship form Saturday on his first jump by clearing 31 feet 3 inches to the cheers of a watching crowd at the Rio Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
Such jumps must run in the family, because Hudson’s aunt holds the world record at 32 feet 3 inches, according to Peterson.
Peterson said she is looking forward to a long dock-jumping association with Hudson, “and whatever else comes our way.”
As for Hudson, he is just happy to be leaping after whatever toys and boat bumpers Peterson is willing to toss for him.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.