Dogs are our friends. Inde, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, broke the world record for dog diving, leaping 33 feet, 10 inches, at the Purina Pro Plan® Incredible Dog Challenge® National Finals on Sept. 27. The former record-holder was Inde’s friend and fellow opponent at the challenge, 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, Vhoebe, whose record was a jump of 32 feet, 3 inches.
Many of the participating dogs wore GoPro cameras attached to their collars, so you can see the races from their eyes (be sure to check out some of the footage in the video below).
TheBlot Magazine caught up separately with Inde’s and Vhoebe’s doggie “moms” about the event and what it’s like living with these record-breaking, four-legged athletes.
Dorri Olds: How thrilling was Inde’s record-breaking jump?
Michon Mills: It was amazing. This was Inde’s first time jumping. She’s only 2 ½. I didn’t know much about it, but I watched Purina’s Incredible Dog Challenge last year when Vhoebe won. I didn’t personally know [Vhoebe’s owner] Lise Ann Strum, but got the chance to go training with her and Vhoebe.
Had you chosen Inde as your pet because of her athletic abilities?
No, not at all, but when I got her she was environmentally sensitive to a lot of things. She was the weakest dog in her litter. I just planned to do some obedience with her. We did 19 [American Kennel Club] Rally Trials in one year. It was to get her exercise and make her more comfortable, but she just absolutely blossomed. I never planned the kind of stuff I’m doing with her, but this little girl has taken me to some amazing places, and I’ve met so many amazing people through her.
What is her temperament at home? Is she hard to manage?
I wouldn’t say she’s hard to manage because she’s very obedient, but she definitely has to be doing something. She’s not destructive or anything, but I keep her very busy. I’m constantly training or playing ball. She’s a dog that doesn’t want to stop doing things.
Is this a quality of Inde’s breed?
Absolutely. I don’t want to say she isn’t a good pet because she actually is very good, but they don’t make good pets for anyone who wants them to be a stay-at-home and live-in-an-apartment kind of dog. She has to be around other dogs and has to keep busy. She has, by far, exceeded any expectations I could’ve had. She has the biggest heart, and I’m blessed to have her. She’s a great companion.
Dorri Olds: What’s it like to be a “mom” to an athletic dog like Vhoebe?
Lise Ann Strum: It’s been amazing. She’s taken me all over the country. She’s broken Purina’s world record six times.
What’s she like at home?
She’s pretty busy and not easy to live with. She’s always moving and kind of naughty. She gets into stuff and has a hard time keeping herself together, but you just have to give her something to do all the time.
How is she naughty and difficult?
She wants to tear stuff up. That’s what she considers super fun. You’ve just got to make sure she has things of her own. When I say she’s always busy, I mean she is always moving, like bouncing off the couch, and she’s really impulsive. She doesn’t seem to have any natural impulse control. Especially when she was younger. You’d be sleeping on the couch, and she’d jump on your head and then run across the room. Obviously, we corrected that. As she’s gotten older, she understands that jumping on someone’s face while they’re sleeping probably isn’t going to bring her anything good. She’s also really funny and super sweet.
I read someone gave her up and you took her in. Is that right?
Yes, someone gave her up because she was very difficult. They didn’t know, they weren’t experienced with a dog like this. She was pushing them around. She wasn’t getting her needs met. She needed training and a lot of exercise and an extremely physical outlet for all that energy. When she wasn’t getting that, she wasn’t all that nice.
Did she growl or bark?
Yeah, she would bark at people, and she wasn’t her sweet self that she is now.
Had you planned to get a dog that you would enter into sporting competitions?
No, I got her quite by accident because I got a call, “Can you please go get this dog? She’s too much for this family, and she’s driving them crazy, and they don’t know what to do with her.” So I went and picked her up, and I fell in love with her. We went to one dock-diving event, and she jumped almost 25 feet her first time ever in any kind of competition so I thought, “OK, we’re on to something.” She love, love, loved it.
Has all of the traveling been challenging?
She has some anxiety problems. She’s really noise-sensitive and doesn’t like traveling. It’s not her thing. It is a trade-off. She’s nervous on the way there, but when she gets there, it’s her happy place. The competing has been fun for me, too, but if you could see the pure joy in this dog when she runs down the dock and leaps into the air. She’s so weird and uncomfortable at other times, but these events are where she experiences complete and utter joy, 100 percent release. It’s magical.
How do you take care of her?
I only use products I believe in. I feed her Primal Pet Foods, which is raw food, and we give her ZoomDog Supplements. I have to say, though, at this last Purina event, Vhoebe wasn’t herself. We noticed she was jumping very slowly. She wasn’t even tracking her toy when we threw it, and when we got back to the hotel after the event, she didn’t even want to jump up on the bed. That’s how we figured out she must be hurt. It turned out she was having pain in her hip joints, and she has some spondylosis in her lower back. We’ve been rehabbing her ever since.
What does that mean exactly?
We’re doing stuff with swimming and underwater treadmill and using FitPAWS exercise equipment. She’s been getting Current Balanced Therapy Acuscope and laser treatments. We’re trying to get her back to feeling good. Today is going to be her first day back in the water since the Purina event.
Will she compete again?
Yes, absolutely. She’ll come back 100 percent from this. We will have to do more warming up, more stretching, more pre-event protection for her, but she’s only 6, so she has many years to still do what she loves. We’ll always take great care of her. She’s my Vhoebe-baby.
Author’s note: Vhoebe is also a philanthropist. She regularly participates in Dog Jumps Up for Down Syndrome. Go, Vhoebe, Go!
Purina strapped GoPro cameras to some of the dogs while they competed, which made for some pretty cool footage, which you can see below. We also have video of the winners from each event in the full event highlights reel.
Watch the GoPro footage:
Watch the full event highlights:
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.