Photos courtesy DockDogs; Precise Image Creations; Otter Tail Arts

Celebrity Paws in the Park celebrates area pets and owners who make the choice to live an active and healthy lifestyle. Nowhere is that more on display than at Charleston Animal Society’s March 19 event than at the Fetch K9 Sports Arena, where the action starts at 9 a.m. after the race at Riverfront Park. This free, family-friendly event showcases a broad spectrum of canine athleticism like you’ve never seen before. 

Kicking off the day is the internationally recognized Palmetto DockDogs, a group of elite dogs leading the way in the fastest-growing canine sport in the world. DockDogs is a sport in which highly trained dogs compete in one of three events while jumping from a 40-foot dock into the water below. 

The events include Big Air, a competition in which dogs are judged based on the distance jumped; Extreme Vertical, in which the dog that jumps the highest takes the prize: and Speed Retrieve, a doggy drag race where the fastest rules the pool. 

DockDogs competitions are set to take place all day on Saturday, culminating at 3 p.m. with the Big Air Finals for the pro, semi-pro, contender and amateur divisions.. 

Dog demonstrations will be on display

The furry fun doesn’t end with DockDogs events, though. The Canine Sports Arena is set to have demonstrations by the Charleston Dog Training Club and the Charleston County Aviation Authority K9 Unit. 

The Charleston Dog Training Club (CDTC) was founded in 1959, which makes it one of the oldest American Kennel Club-associated canine training clubs in the United States. Its team provides training to owners and their dogs in standard obedience lessons as well as a variety of canine sporting events, including tracking, scent work, barn hunt and more. 

The CDTC will be at the Canine Sports Arena performing demonstrations throughout Saturday. This group of highly trained dogs are set to showcase their skills in rally, obedience and agility, along with the group’s AKC-certified trainers performing Canine Good Citizen Evaluations for the public. Bring your dog by and see if they make the grade.

Also Saturday, visitors will be able to meet the dogs that work hard to keep our skies safe. Say hello to Hector, Taz and Scout of the Charleston County Aviation Authority’s K9 Unit. 

“This elite group of K9 officers work closely with their human partners to detect explosives, perform sweeps for narcotics, and on occasion are brought in to assist with tracking and locating possible suspects for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, DEA, FBI, U.S. Coast Guard and more,” said Charleston Animal Society Behavior Team Manager Donya Satriale. “We are so fortunate to have them at Celebrity Paws in the Park.”

The team must maintain a high level of skill and proficiency to keep their certification as active K9 Officers. For that reason, they regularly attend various specialized training courses and train together once a week. 

Hector, a 7-year-old black German Shepherd, is a bit of a celebrity himself. He recently appeared in two episodes of the third season of America’s Top Dog on the A&E Network. Hector and his K9 team will showcase the skills they use daily to protect and serve in Charleston County. 

The dog sand their officer partners will put on a display exhibiting their bite work, obedience and bomb-searching skills. Stick around afterwards for an informative question and answer session featuring the K9 officer handlers who work with the unit each day. 

You won’t find another event that celebrates the amazing athletic abilities of dogs quite like everything that will go on in the Canine Sports Arena. Even better: It’s free to all, regardless of whether they participate in the race or the fun run.

Will Howell is Digital Marketing Manager at Charleston Animal Society.