Team Splash Happy
What is Splash Happy?
If you have ever attended a K9 Dock Diving competition and watched the line of dogs behind the dock waiting for their turn, you know. Pups who are under normal circumstances are sane and listen to their owners get so worked up and impatient to get up on the dock, they become absolute nut jobs; toys have been shredded, fingers have been broken, and nearly everyone gets barked at and jumped on. That, my friends, is Splash Happy.
Team Splash Happy is an active K9 team that participates in several sports, but primarily Dock Diving. For the past 7 years, we have traveled throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and as far away as Boston or Dubuque, Iowa to compete in K9 aquatics. There is a 40ft dock that leads to a 40 ft pool, and we compete for distance, height and speed in three seperate categories. Overall the team has received over 30 invites to Dock Diving Championship events from DockDogs, North American Diving Dogs (NADD) and Super Retriever Series (SRS). We go out of our way to be stewards of the sport, teaching new teams not only how to dive, but also how to manage events, as well as the importance of good nutrition, conditioning and raising a balanced K9 athlete.
Cleavland-Cleavland led the country for years as one of the biggest jumping Rottweilers that played the game. He had distance jumps over 20ft, Vertical jumps over 7ft, and was a decently fast swimmer for his size – a big ole Rotty with a tail. The eldest member of our team, Cleavland is now team cheerleader and he has retired from physically impactful sports to concentrate on happy senior years.
Salem-This mini Dutch Shepard is a rescue who literally lived for months on the streets of Virginia Beach until being rescued by Animal Control, and then a rescue. She came into the team as a super-shy dog lacking confidence in 2012 , and is now a friendly, fun-loving, super-athletic little spitfire. Though pound-for-pound she is the best athlete on the team,she concentrates on having fun and looking cute. She catches the toy and wows the crowd with spins, high-fives and jumping into her handler’s arms on the dock. She is thought to have been born in July 2011.
Nerlens-Another rescue from American Belgian Malinois Rescue (ABMR), he is a Dutch Shepherd/Belgian Malinois cross born 1/1/11. He’s the athlete of the team, having finished several seasons in the top 25 distance jumping dogs in the world, including one top 11 finish. Nerlens is the 2016 Super Retriever Series Crown Champion in distance, with his personal best of 28’10” sealing the deal. He is consistently event champion at local fun events and regional qualifiers as well. Despite his fierce muscled frame, he’s very shy, but when he opens up to you, displays a very goofy personality.
Kahlua-From a small breeder in Illinois, Kahlua is the founding K9 member of Team Splash Happy. Born 10-3-10, she’s still rocking it on the dock every year and has a blast. Kahlua got founder Jeff Wheeler started in K9 sports and is always the rock, trying whatever you throw in front of her with enthusiasm. Kahlua was a finalist in the inaugural Dueling Dogs World Championships, has been invited to more championships than anyone on the team other than Nerlens. The chocolate lab is the team’s social butterfly and frequently is the one that gets to come to our public appearances so she can meet the fans.
The human side of Team Splash Happy consists primarily of Jeff Wheeler. Jeff founded the team in 2011 when he realized that the addiction of K9 sports had hit and was going to be taking this show on the road more and more frequently. The name Splash Happy is a play on slap happy, because when you’re on the the dock and hanging with your friends at events, you can’t help but get a giddy smile at how much fun you are having. Jeff goes out of his way to invite new people to the sport, was instrumental in growing the sport of K9 dock diving in Hampton Roads, Virginia and has helped dozens of teams reach their potential.
Additionally, Jessica Wilde, who used to handle Cleavland and is Nerlens’ co-owner, handles Nerlens on the dock as well. She is a manager for Virginia Beach Animal Control and also runs her own K9 rescue (K9 Justice League), so dogs are a passion for her in a big way and K9 sports are another natural outlet for her to express that passion.