Seymour dog, owner making big splash in athletic event


Over the course of the last year, Brittney Vetter has trained her dog, Nala, the art of dock diving.

The sport measures the distance in length and height when a dog jumps into a body of water after a handler tosses a toy from the dock.

The pair from Seymour have made a splash into the sport and have qualified for the North America Diving Dogs AKC Eukanuba National Championships in Orlando, Florida, this weekend.

Vetter’s friend, Elizabeth Smith, and her dog, Primrose, also qualified for the two-day event. They will be among hundreds of other competitors from around the country.

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Vetter said she is looking forward to attending and competing and hopes to have a positive experience in her first national competition.

“It is something fun to do with your dog, and you meet a lot of amazing people,” she said. “We are just hoping to have a good time with good people. It’s not about winning for us.”

Smith, who also lives in Seymour, isn’t new to competing in dog shows, but this is her first experience competing in dock diving.

She has competed in a variety of competitions with dogs, including breed conformation shows and 4-H. In fact, Smith operates as a handler at Mischief Managed Dog Sports that trains dogs for sport, obedience and other skills. She also helps the local 4-H club, Waggin’ Pals, with competing at the Jackson County Fair and state fair.

The opportunity to go to Orlando and compete is one she has been waiting for, she said.

“I’m nervous but super-stoked to be given this opportunity,” she said. “I’ve been dreaming of going to nationals in Orlando since I started competing with my dogs when I was in second grade, so this is a dream come true.”

Smith said competing also provides an opportunity to build relationships with people who share a common hobby and interest.

“I enjoy meeting all of the awesome dogs and the wonderful people behind them,” she said.

Smith competes on average once a month, so she has built a great amount of friends through competitions.

“The friends you make through this sport are irreplaceable,” she said.

Vetter became interested in pursuing the sport when she noticed how much Nala enjoyed the water.

At Smith’s suggestion, she thought dock diving might be an interesting hobby.

“We started dock diving late last year because Nala loves to swim,” she said.

Nala has caught on quickly, too, Vetter said. Nala has the skills down so well she can camouflage mistakes when Vetter makes a bad throw.

“The best thing about having Nala for a partner is even when I mess up, she makes it look good,” Vetter said.

That skill has earned Nala quite the nickname, too.

“We joke and call her Gnarly Nala because of some of the catches she gets from me messing up,” she said.

Vetter also notices the competitive spirit in her dog.

“Nala is extremely focused and loves a good challenge,” she said.

The stage doesn’t bother her, either, Vetter said.

“She is the sweetest dog ever and loves to show off for a crowd and be the center of attention,” she said.

Soon, Nala will not be the only dog Vetter has that will participate in dock diving. She and her husband, Brandon, plan on training their dog, Nuka, next year to begin competing.

Finding the time to train isn’t so bad since both women spend time in various activities with their dogs.

Vetter said she does training at Starve Hollow Lake when the weather is nice. She also trains at Alpha K9 University in Fishers.

Whether it’s practicing, competing or simply going for a walk, Smith said the friendship they have forged over dock diving is great, especially when competitions are a long haul.

“I always have someone to travel with to events. We can bounce ideas and training methods off of each other,” she said.

The two also always have a fan in the crowd that shares the same enthusiasm.

“We always cheer for one another, and I have someone I can totally geek out about dogs with,” Smith said.

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