Yellow laborador Donni and his handler Kaitie Uebelhoer were among about a dozen teams from up and down the East Coast who gathered in Graham for an intense weekend that was sure to be no walk in the park.

At the Dockdogs competition, man's best friend jumps, dives and doggy paddles their way to the canine championship. 

Uebelhoer and Donni travelled all the way from Charleston, South Carolina just for this competition. But this is one of the closer events they've attended. 

"We've actually gone all the way to Canada for an event before," Uebelhoer said. 

The aquatic competition is a family affair for Uebelhoer, 19, and her grandma, Deb Fuller. They train their dogs and travel to 10-20 events every year, creating a close bond through their pets. 

Fuller led the charge in starting the family dockdogs tradition when Uebelhoer was 14, after they stumbled upon a competition at the Charleston Wildlife Expo. 

"I was enthralled by it. I said I could do that, I could teach a dog how to do that," said Fuller.  

Not only have they taught their dogs new tricks, but raised world champions. The family's yellow lab, Donni, is a two-time world champion in dockdogs distance diving. He's well known in the dockdogs community. 

"I’ll tell you what I’ve never met a dog so focused who does it all, man when you release him you release the beast," the announcer cried as Uebelhoer and Donni got into position to compete. 

The competitions come with a cash prize for first place, but the competition is rough. 

"You’re usually not breaking even, but it’s still fun," Uebelhoer said. "Our dogs when we pull out they start freaking out. They start crying, screaming, they’re like let me out of this car."  

This competition was a local club event, and Uebelhoer said the environment is a lot more laid-back than other competitions she's been to. 

"At worlds it gets pretty competitive there because you’re winning big money, you’re winning the title of world champion and all that," Uebelhoer said. 

No mater the prize, the family agrees the best part about it is meeting new people and spending quality time with family. 

"I’d never come to Graham, North Carolina otherwise, but here I am, and it’s been a really great weekend," Fuller said. "We’ve had a great time, the people are nice, we’ve had fun here." 


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