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Hot Dog Fueled by Broccoli

by Susan Wood

One can tell by the spring in his step and his diet that Snapple isn't an ordinary dog, even by Tahoe standards.

Stateline resident Don Dutil has discovered his Jack Russell-Australian shepherd has a penchant for competitive dock diving.

Snapple, named after a beverage like Dutil's two other dogs, Cola and Pepsi, started diving off the pier at his home at Tahoe Shores Mobile Home Park a few years ago.

"It got to the point the neighborhood kids would come knock on the door and ask if Snapple could come out and play," he said. "This is a dog haven up here."

Dutil took note of the dog he picked up from a Cameron Park breeder to go out on long runs with. At five weeks old, Snapple accompanied Dutil on a 10-mile snowshoe jaunt.

The broccoli treats Snapple enjoys must be working. Snapple has maintained boundless energy. The dog's ability came to light at his first competition - the Bark Festival set at Squaw Valley. His longest competitive jump in the Bay Area was measured at 17 feet, 10 inches. He's never won, but he competes against hundreds of dogs. Dutil said he recognizes some of the dog owners who attend the unique events. He's found the wiry dogs have done well.

During the judging, a monitor points a laser beam at the landing to gauge the distance. Dutil said every time Snapple enters a jump, the announcer tells the audience he's 11 years old.

Dutil plans to participate in Splash Dogs in Orange County next month. He just returned home from a Sacramento competition.

"My mom said the only time she sees me is when Snapple is competing," he said, laughing. His mother lives in the capital city.

At home and in competitions, Snapple leaps for his toy with the focus of an Olympian. He doesn't seem to care the lake temperature could be just 40 degrees in the winter. After a practice run at home last weekend, he sprung out of the water and rolled in the snow.

"He's putting his scent on (the toy)," he said.

Snapple jumps in the lake, no matter what season. The canine has also jumped in San Francisco Bay, ponds and pools - most often for Splash Dogs, a competitive event circuit started by Pittsburg resident Tony Reed three years ago.

Reed, a self-proclaimed dog lover, carts a trailer behind his vehicle to take the launching dock to his events.

"I wanted to bring more events to the West Coast," he said.

Reed, who is aiming to spearhead an event at Truckee, said he'd like to form a nonprofit organization to benefit animal rescue missions.

Tony Reed - 600 Bailey Road, Suite 400 - Pittsburg, CA - P. 925-783-6149 http://www.creativeanswer.com