Lineworker trains dog to go the distance

Seth Lothspeich and Crosby

When Capital Electric Cooperative (CEC) Lead Lineworker Seth Lothspeich saw a Dock Dogs competition at a local sports show, he thought, “I should try this.” And, he was right.

Since 2018, Seth and his 3-year- old yellow lab pointer, Crosby, have been making a splash in the Dock Dogs circuit, going farther, faster and higher than they ever imagined. The team has truly gone the distance — competing in six tournaments and
bringing home fi rst, second and third place ribbons. But, the road to the pros wasn’t easy.

“Our first tournament was in Feb. 2018 at the Bismarck Civic Center,” says Seth. “Crosby wouldn’t even jump off the dock. He actually ran back down the stairs, went down on the deck and ran down the ramp to get the throw dummy.”

Realizing the sport required some discipline, Seth set to training Crosby, but he could never get him to jump off the dock. Th en, one summer day at a lake north of Dawson, everything changed.

“One of my friends threw a tennis ball off the dock [for two other dogs to retrieve]. Th e dogs jumped off the deck to swim aft er it. Crosby hesitated, took two steps backward and lunged into the water. He beat them to the ball and never let them get the ball the whole weekend. And then, [the other dogs] beat him up a bit because he was such a jerk,” remembers Seth with a laugh.

That’s when he thought, “Maybe I will have a dock jumping dog.”

The following week, Seth grabbed some carpet and took Crosby to a boat dock to give it another shot.

“I rolled the carpets out. He hesitated a bit, but he went in after the throw dummy.”

Two nights later, they practiced again. And two days after that, they headed to Minot, where they signed up to compete in the Big Air event.

A long jump for dogs, the Big Air event is the original and most popular Dock Dogs competition.

Dogs and their handlers compete head-to-head in a series of waves to determine which dog can jump the farthest. The top finishers are then divided into four divisions based on their longest jump: Amateur, Contender, Semi-pro and Pro.

“We ended up in the Contender finals, and we won that division with [a distance of] 17 feet 10 inches. We qualified fourth and took fi rst. I was on cloud nine, because we could do it!” says Seth.

And so, the training began. After months of hard work, their Dock Dogs career changed forever. On Aug. 24, 2019, Crosby jumped his way to top Dock Dog in North Dakota.

“We worked so many hours and days at this,” says Seth. “That morning, we didn’t practice, and he whipped out six jumps that day. His jumps ranged from 22 feet 3 inchesto 23 feet 11 inches. On the last jump of the tournament, he had to beat [a jump of] 23 feet 3 inches to win, which is a heck of a jump. He jumped 23 feet 5 inches to win the pro division."

Since then, Crosby and Seth have consistently competed in the pro finals.

And they’re not without their fans. “I like that he jumps really far, and he’s really fast,” says 4-year-old Madalyn Grace Volk.

After seeing Crosby jump at a Dock Dogs competition in Bismarck, Madalyn decided she needed a Crosby of her own.

“She ended up buying a stuffed dog with her own money and named it Crosby,” says Madalyn’s father, Tom Volk. “She said she wanted a super dog, and that Crosby is a champion. She then put a champion cup sticker on her stuffed animal.”

A nationally recognized competitive sport, Dock Dogs is the fastest growing sport on four legs. There are three different sporting disciplines: Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve. Seth and Crosby compete in all three.

This year, the dock diving duo was scheduled to compete in several events across the Midwest and in Canada. Unfortunately, many of those events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Seth and Crosby wait for social restrictions to be lifted, they’re staying in shape. Seth holds Crosby to a very strict training schedule with basic command discipline being the most important.

If you’re lucky, you might catch them practicing on a boat dock one cool summer morning. Seth will walk Crosby to his measurement and tap him twice to command him to sit. When you hear the words, “Come on, Crosby,” make sure to look, and you just might see why little Madalyn calls him a super dog.

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