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The Beginnings of a Youth Handler

By: Toni Schraa,

Toni Schraa & Riley

Toni Schraa & Riley – Big Air

From DockDogs®

For those of you who don’t know me I am a Canadian Youth Handler named Toni and I jump my black lab Riley. You may have seen me as a quiet competitor following my dad around all day or an extremely loud crazy person. In that case I was with the Bacon’s and if you don’t know who they are you must be new to the sport, but don’t worry you will find out soon enough (good luck!). Well enough of them, to start off my first blog (and I mean very first ever) I might as well start with how I came to be with DockDogs.

You may know my father, John, as Beach because I know a lot (and I mean a lot!) of people know him. He is the person that got me started with DockDogs. My first event ever was in 2007, but I wasn’t competing. I was watching the whole process of setting up and tearing down the dock and learning the ropes at age 10. This is what continued up until September 2009. Every event my dad worked I was there helping set up tear down and run the show. I was never a competitor.

Finally in the summer of 2009 I got to jump a dog for the first time, his name was Jet. Even though it wasn’t my dog, the thrill was still amazing. The people cheer as soon as you step onto that dock, and their excitement is invigorating. Your dog gives you a look letting you know they are very happy and excited to jump off the dock. Your time on the dock seems to go by in an instant … but the feeling still lasts long after you step off that last step to cheers. The support you get from fellow dockdoggers always brings a smile to your face even if you had a bad throw (which will happen). The best part of your first event and many after is RIBBONS! There are always ribbons and prizes! It gives you that sense of accomplishment. At that moment I knew DockDogs was for me. I continued to nag and bug and persist my dad until we finally got our dog, Riley. Thanks to Grant and Chris we relieved Riley in Ohio in September 2009.

Since then Riley has been improving and I am so proud of her. We have gone to so many great events and were please to be invited to the 2011 World Championship, and have been invited again this year.

That thrill I got my first time competing is the same thrill I still get every time I go onto that dock, and hope it is the same feeling you all get when you and your dog have a great time with DockDogs.

Until next time, catch you on the dock!

DockDogs® is the independent governing and sanctioning body for regional, national and international dock jumping performance sports. DockDogs® establishes the rules and standards of the sport, tracks results and records and supports and promotes the growth of its athletes, events, spectators, and sponsors. For additional information visit or check us out on Facebook at

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