Lisa Williams was saying her dog’s name in her head when she released him from a dock and he ran to jump in the water at the end.
They were at the DockDogs World Championships in Dubuque, Iowa, and with Williams’ timing and her German shepherd’s speed, the two were crowned world champions in the turbo class of the speed retrieve contest.
“I say his name very slow to people because it's Dutch,” Williams said. “I'd say, ‘Qasim Köneg von go get it!’ And that’s when I would release him.”
Her dog, Qasim Köneg von Cedkaley, who goes by King, competes in DockDogs. It’s a growing sport that tests a dog’s speed and athleticism by having them jump from a dock into a pool of water, measuring either how high they jump, how far they jump or how fast they’re able to jump and swim.
King won the world championship in the turbo division — there’s also express, nitro and sonic divisions — with a time of 6.125 seconds.
“We came into the finals in the middle of the top six,” Williams said. “When I sent him, I had a .005 second reaction time ... That’s very good. Triple zeros is what you want.”
But that’s a long way off from King’s first jump. Williams said she wishes someone had been recording it because it was “hysterical.”
King started speed retrieve, which is scored based on time, in February 2019 on a whim. Williams had him competing in big air, which is scored based on distance, when everyone noticed how fast he was. She took him to a practice pool to get him used to the event and introduce him to the toy bumper he was supposed to snatch from the end of the pool.
After a little bit of time practicing, King was ready — or so Williams thought.
“I set him up, he runs, hauls butt so fast, then puts the brakes on, but not quick enough,” Williams said. “He falls in sideways, goes completely under, comes up looking at me and I'm like, ‘Go get it, go get it!’ It was like 15 seconds.”
She said he figured it out his second jump and finished with a time of around 8 seconds in the express division.
“Every jump since then has just been quicker, quicker, quicker,” Williams said.
But King and Williams don’t do it all on their own. They’re able to practice every chance they get at Rotten Dog Sports Lodge in Braselton, where Dixie DockDogs, the DockDogs club affiliate for Georgia, is based out of.
“He's a young dog at the sport, so she has practiced and been disciplined with him,” said Shannon Renn, co-owner of Rotten Dog with her husband Steve. “Just in this season, I mean he went up to worlds and won a championship. So that alone is just amazing.”
Williams had to build a relationship and bond with King over a little time, though, because admittedly, she didn’t like him much when she first got him. When he was just a few months old, her dog Fala, also a German shepherd who competed in DockDogs, died suddenly. Williams has a tattoo of Fala on her forearm.
“He wasn't her,” Williams said of King. “But he was a puppy still … Now we have a great bond.”
Ryan Renn, poolkeeper at Rotten Dog and co-owner Steve’s youngest brother, has been around Williams and King quite a bit. He’s seen that relationship between owner and dog grow.
“They have a really deep bond,” he said. “She loves him with all her heart.”
And that bond has only grown with the amount of time Williams has spent working with King.
“King is her life,” Shannon Renn said. “Really, King is just so much of her life.”
And when King earned the world championship title, that was apparent.
Williams was overcome with emotion, crying tears of joy. All the training back in Braselton at Rotten Dog and all the training at her home with King wearing a weighted vest and parachute had paid off.
“Everything I've trained him for this year, I saw it all come together at that one jump at worlds,” Williams said. “I was very overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. but it's very exciting.”
This story has been updated from its original version.