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Good Dogs Pull Stupid Faces at Westminster Dog Show’s Dock-Diving Competition

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A medium sized, long haired brown dog, leaps into the water, joyful expression on its face.
This diving dog at the 147th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is literally happier than everyone you know on Earth combined. You can just tell. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

As animal lovers everywhere know, the Westminster Kennel Club has never been a place where dogs could freely derp.

Rather, it’s a place where basset hounds wear turbans:

A basset hound stands with its eyes closed, wearing a purple and gold coat and a gold sequined wrap around its ears.
“At first I was afraid! I was petrified! Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Löwchens are forced to wear assless bellbottoms:

A medium-sized long-haired dog with shaven hind quarters and long white fur from the knee down.
Cold bottom, warm feet. (Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Westminster Kennel Club)

And even the lowly pugs have to don bowties:

A pug sits on a platform next to a bouquet of purple flowers, wearing a white shirt, lilac bowtie and a black hat with a feather in its band.
“How did I get here? What does it all mean? What is the feather in my hat for?” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

At least the poodles get to be poodles, I guess?

A white poodle with blown out fur lies on a platform, head resting on a large purple cushion.
“Oh, it’s a good feeling when you realize that someone has money. ’Cause then you don’t have to worry about them wanting yours.” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

So, what an immensely special treat that this year, the Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show decided to add a new activity to the competition roster: dock diving. The principal is simple:

  1. Dog and handler stand on platform next to a long pool
  2. Handler throws toy
  3. Dog loses damn mind
  4. Dog throws itself towards toy, regardless of water situation
  5. Dog lands with a splash, face plastered with expressions that poodles would frown upon
  6. The dog who jumps the furthest wins

Sounds straightforward enough, but dock diving in action is quite a thing to behold. Just check out this chaos monster named Ruger doing his thing on Saturday.


Something extra special happens, however, when you capture diving dogs with still photography. The photos that have emerged from the 2023 Westminster competition have evoked a variety of very specific moods and feelings, while also effectively portraying these dogs’ personalities in all their stupid glory.

Let’s see how this played out for some of the Very Good Pups in question.

The ‘I Immediately Regret My Decision’ Dive

A medium sized dog wears a shocked expression in mid-air.
“Linda, I didn’t think this through, okay? Can we stop it now?” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Those eyeballs and outstretched paws say one thing and one thing only. “Look, ma, I just wanted my toy. And now you’ve tricked me into big bathtime in front of all of these strangers. And you better believe revenge is a dish best served cold because it may not happen today and it may not happen tomorrow, but I’ll get you for this, you hear me? Eventually I’ll get you for this…”

The Anya Taylor-Joy in ‘The Witch’

A dog appears to stand on its hind legs while in mid-air. Its handler is aggressively throwing a toy in the background.
“Black Phillip told me to do it.” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

You know that final scene in The Witch, when Anya Taylor-Joy starts levitating over an open fire with a group of naked witches? And she’s all poised and stoked and perfectly comfortable with her life decisions? This dog. This dog right here. Same thing.

The Long Boi

Bow (wow wow) down to the Michael Phelps of dogs, y’all. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

You can tell that this slender, majestic fella has been training for this his whole life. He’s also been watching Michael Phelps diving footage on YouTube around the clock for the last year, giving his pawrents cause for concern. “Why don’t you take a break and go play with the other dogs?” his mom would plead. “I want you to find some joy while you’re still young!”

“I have to be a winner,” long boi would reply earnestly. “Winning is my only joy. You know that.”

The Kate Winslet in ‘Titanic’

A border collie in midair, front paws outstretched, hind legs tucked underneath.
“I’m flying Jack! I’m flying!” (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Near, far, wherever you are, here’s a floofy sweetheart who still has wonder in her eyes and warmth in her heart. Might she turn out to be a door hog once she’s in the water? Sure. But while she’s floating above it, looking out on the horizon? That’s all love, baby.

The Calm Down, Bruh

A small spaniel leaps off a platform, its ears flying upwards as it jumps. On the platform is a man wearing a tie-dye shirt, shouting aggressively.
“Chill. I’m jumping already. I’m jumping.” (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

We all know about stage moms — the parents who will stop at nothing to turn their little darlings into superstars. Did you know about dog diver daddies though? We didn’t either but, boy howdy, looks like the same thing from this angle.

The ‘Jaws’

A dog's upturned nose is surrounded by violent splashes of water in a pool.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

Out of the depths! A boop-worthy snoot, thrashing in the water and, above all, the thrill of the hunt! … Hope you found your squeaky ball, dude.

Best of luck to all the woofers competing.

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