Meet Bo Nose - Dock-diving champion, Cape Coral rescue dog, reaching for the stars
May 22, 2017 10:31AM
Crystal McClaran trains Bo Nose at Aqua Dog Sports in North Fort Myers. Photo by Craig Garrett.
The dog and a woman are on a long dock next to a lap pool. The lanky dog is crouched and facing the clear water, the woman at the dock’s edge is looking over the pool. The dog is tensing and flexing like a racecar driver goosing the gas pedal.
This is their stage, and the performance begins as Crystal McClaran underhands a rubber toy high over the pool. It’s the dog’s cue, bursting from the dock, stretching and soaring, snatching at the toy in midair and belly-flopping into the pool maybe 20 feet out, paddling back and starting over. The dog on his best day can leap more than 30 feet, nearly nine feet vertically.
Welcome to the world of Bo Nose, a champion in dock diving, a modern sport for dogs that gets play on ESPN and Discovery Channel. Watching Bo and McClaran is to understand teamwork, the dog’s remarkable athleticism and his joy in leaping beyond any other dog’s abilities. Bo holds records for distance and height in dock diving, a watersport that started in the 1990s and has events in the U.S. and other countries. Bo is the reigning world champion.
McClaran rescued Bo Nose from a South Carolina shelter. The Cape Coral woman is a former horse trainer, turning her attention in Florida to rescuing, training and boarding dogs. Bo is her special pupil, his name a takeoff on the 1980s “Bo Knows” Nike advertising campaign featuring the athlete Bo Jackson.
In his career Bo Nose has set nearly 30 dock-diving distance and height records, McClaran says. He trains at the Aqua Dog Sports facility at the Shell Factory in North Fort Myers. The flood of attention Bo receives at events and appearances makes the dog think he’s a person, says McClaran. “He’s a trip.”
If you’re not wired for dogs or their intrinsic athleticism, it’s best to stop by the Aqua Dog Sports complex. It’s where Southwest Florida owners bring their dogs to practice dock diving. The idea is to land as far out on the water as the dog will go, akin to the long jump for track and field athletes. Bo has nailed Big Air (distance), Extreme Vertical (height) and Iron Dog titles in his career. He again competes for world titles in October in Knoxville, Tennessee.
On this Sunday at Aqua Dog Sports, Brianna Schwing has brought Bailey, her dog. A few others materialize, including Aqua Dog founder Vicki Tighe. She built the pool in 2011, a sanctioned DockDogs training site, she says, “for the love of the sport.” There are lanes at Aqua Dog for speed retrieval and the other competitive sports. Bleachers face the pool.
But the anticipation today is for Bo. Just as the morning heats up, McClaran arrives in her white truck, emblazoned with signs informing the world of her prized passenger and her pet services. Amid the howling and commotion inside the truck, Bo emerges, taller than you imagine, a beagle on stilts, a Doberman/hound mix of zero body fat and extreme vitality. He also appears confident, if dogs can project such things, brushing against us for the good-doggie strokes all pets enjoy, yet wheeling quickly back to McClaran, not a dog to linger. The pair has a special relationship.
Brianna and Bailey are first on the dock. She tosses a toy and Bailey leaps after it, splashing and going again. The two are having fun, as have dogs and owners for centuries.
The matinee ends, and it’s time for the feature show, with Bo now crouching on the dock 10 or so paces back from the edge of the pool. The goal is getting him to leap from the dock a step or so from the edge, McClaran says, a discipline Bo mastered almost immediately. He’s like an Olympic runner setting his feet in the blocks, eyes fastened on the trainer he so willingly heeds, locked and loaded. McClaran cocks the rubber toy, underhands it arcing into the air, and Bo rockets off the dock, front paws up like landing gear, reaching and reaching, two or three seconds suspended above the pool. Spectators in the bleachers will him to go even farther.
Follow Bo Nose and Crystal McClaran at bo-nose.com.
Written by Craig Garrett, Group Editor-in-Chief for TOTI Media.