Pooch Performance at the Great American Dog Games

by Rebecca LaPole

The Inaugural Great American Dog Games comes to Fort Collins this month bringing an amazing show full of high flying, fast swimming, and well-trained performance pooches to our dog-friendly town. Jake Latendresse, owner of the Town Pump and Latendresse Media, is also a filmmaker and dog owner who decided to create this event to add dogs to the list of what defines us in FoCo: beer, bands, bikes and bark!

“We know what kind of platform this could be: a national event housed here in Fort Collins forever,” Latendresse said. “I have been here for 26 years and I want to give back to the city, because as a downtown business owner it has given so much to me.”

Latendresse and Shannon Nardi, the originator and operator of the Super Retriever Series, decided to create this vision, basically the X-Games of sporting dogs, with a national event management guru, Eric Matijevich. These three partners are looking for this event to eventually grow into something the size of The Taste of Fort Collins or bigger.

Latendresse said, “We want it to have a positive effect in the community. Our emphasis on athletic dogs and collaboration with the CSU Vet Teaching Hospital and their Canine Sports Medicine Department will be evident with veterinarians, Dr. Felix Duerr and Dr. Wayne Jensen (owner of Wellington Vet Clinic and professor at CSU), giving seminars, answering questions and offering emergency medical support on site. Our focus is about how athletic our state is, and folks like to take their dogs hiking, biking, rock climbing, so it’s a Lego block fit with what we’re trying to accomplish and the lifestyle in Colorado.”

The events the dogs will compete in are Super Dock which includes Super Fly and Super V (Super Fly is like a long jump, V stands for vertical, like high jump, but in a huge pool), and Field Retrieving, which Latendresse described as, “A mix between a hunt test and field trials, like barrel racing mixed with the Kentucky Derby. It’s combined to make it more challenging, and qualified dogs need to be more diverse to compete in this hybrid event.”

“We have some of the top dogs in the world;” Latendresse said, “dogs that can jump 26-29 feet off the dock. Their handlers will be there to answer questions. A lot of them started out by coming to an event like this and getting excited, getting a dog with good bloodlines in jumping and starting training.”

“We want it to be a loose, entertaining, lifestyle event like the X-Games rather than a well-groomed event like the Olympics,” Latendresse explained. “It will be exciting, and open to the public; kids, adults, dogs. We’ll have vendors with dog products, a beer garden from Odell Brewing Company and a live performance by Tribu2. The games will have both a pro and an amateur series, and we encourage people to bring their dogs and try it. Allow your dog to get the feel for being on a big stage and see how they compete.”

The Great American Dog Games happen at JAX Mercantile (South side), Friday-Sunday, September 18-20. FREE entry.

Performance by TribU2 from 6-8 PM on Saturday, Sept. 19. greatamericandoggames.com and Facebook.com/SportPaw