By Libby Rosequist
North East native Alisha Tomac, daughter of Lorraine Haibach, recently earned title of National Champion.
Tomac and her 2-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, Lane, traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete with North American Diving Dogs at the Royal Canine Dog Show in December.
They earned an invite to the National Championship and competed in Air Retrieve and Distance splashes.
“In order to qualify for nationals, dogs need to have 15 judged distance jumps and five judged Air Retrieve jumps,” Tomac said. “The dogs can earn an invite from placing in nationals last year, wining a qualifying event or earning an advanced or excellent title. Lane earned his air retrieve invite by winning a qualifier two days before the season ended with a grab at 21 feet.”
Advanced title is 30 jumps in the same division and excellent title is 55 jumps in a division. Air retrieve advanced title is 15 jumps and excellent is 25.
Lane made a successful grab at 22 feet, a personal best for the duo, in Air Retrieve, earning him the title National Champion in the Master Division.
This makes Lane ranked the number one dog in the United States and Canada.
“Lane is a young dog, he’s only two and half,” Tomac said. “This past year was actually his first full year with Diving Dogs. I joke around at home and call him the ‘prodigy child’ because every time we try something new together he surpasses every expectation. He absolutely lives to work, and he is truly happy working. He will run from sun up to sun down and be ready to go again tomorrow. He’s brought a ton of energy to my house.”
He also placed in the top 10 for distance in the Master Division with a jump of 24 feet 9 inches.
North American Diving Dogs is a dog sport where a they run down a 40-foot dock and jump off another dock that is two feet above a pool.
The dog is judged on how far they jump from where the base of the tail meets the body and breaks the surface of the water.
Duos get four minutes on the dock; an optional practice jump and two judged jumps.
Air Retrieve is when a dog is asked to grab a bumper which hangs 2 feet above the dock and 4 feet above the pool.
The bumper is then set out so many feet from the dock.
“Air retrieve is a little trickier because it can be hard for some dogs to grasp this concept without actively tracking a toy you are throwing for them like in distance jumps,” Tomac said. “There are also different divisions in this discipline as well.”
Tomac has been participating in the sport for four years with her own dogs and has expanded her interest by training other dogs through Rustic Lodge Diving Dogs.
“Training other people’s dogs is pretty recent, Tomac said. “I have always worked with my personal dogs and helped friends with issues. I just started training with Rustic Lodge Diving dogs within the last year. There was not a location in my area for dogs to learn how to participate in Diving Dogs till they opened. It is an indoor facility which means there is a place year-round to go, and it’s been a fantastic outlet for dogs in the winter.”
Tomac has a degree in conversation biology and has worked with animals her whole life.
“Animals have always been a part of who I am,” Tomac added. “My husband and I have four dogs, June, Clay, Lane and Thad. Dogs are just a huge part of who I am.
I groomed dogs professionally for awhile, but I really found my passion in diving dogs and bird dogs. There are no words to see all the building blocks of training come together with an animal who doesn’t speak the same language as you and perform the task perfectly. I really enjoy the challenge because what works for one dog doesn’t mean it will work for another.”
Lane and Tomac are now off to Alabama to compete in the United Field Trialers Association for Nationals.
“My goal is to defend our Air Retrieve championship, and I would love to see him place in the top 10 for the next division up, which be the elite division. This is where dogs 24 to 26 feet 11inches, Tomac said.
Tomac now resides in Wheeling West Virginia with her husband Robert, where they continue to compete in North American Diving Dogs, United Field Trailers Association and hunt upland game.