The K9 Fun Centre located South of Airdrie, in Rocky View County has been abuzz with activity over the past several weeks. Last week, the centre hosted the Canadian Western Regional Diving Dog Competition.

Gulnaz Zagidullina, the lead trainer at the facility, said that the sport is growing in popularity, though she has been involved in it for some time. She and her German Shepherd, Volcha have been competing since 2015.

"I was an immigrant and moved from Russia with my Shepherd and we started dog diving. We were travelling all across the USA to compete because there was nothing in Canada to participate in," she said. "She was a very talented and athletic dog and I just decided to carry on with memories of her. I decided everyone should  be able to experience the same bond I had with my dog through dog diving."

However, it's not just the bond between pet owners and their four-legged companions that this sport fosters.

"My favourite part is that it brings together all [kinds of] different people with all kinds of dogs and we are all cheering for each other. We absolutely enjoy each other's company and support each other. I love that it builds such community support and we meet new friends through our sport."

Airdrie resident, Kirsty Bracken, is one of those pet owners who participated in the event last weekend. Her dog, a three-year-old Blue Heeler named Mozart, just recently began diving in June, but is paws over heels (so to speak) for it now. While Bracken wasn't sure they would qualify for the competition, she was elated when they did. 

"It was so much fun. He jumped his best and He got a bunch of personal bests over the day. He ended up winning his hydro-dash class and coming third in his air retreat, as well as coming seventh overall for his division in distance jumping," she said. 

Bracken, like Zagidullina, said that she hopes more pet owners become aware that dock diving and the facility are available for pet owners, and it is a sport that is both fulfilling for the dog and the owner and the atmosphere is perhaps one of the best parts.

"It's just so much fun. Everybody is so friendly and so helpful. If you need me to help hold your dog, everybody is willing to help. It's a great atmosphere."

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