It’s Never Too Late for a Diving Dog ‘Taxi’ to Make a Splash in Dog Sports

When it comes to dogs participating in Dock Diving, the assumption is often that they are natural water lovers. However, not all star participants in this sport have always been enthusiastic about water. For Amanda Haldeman of Hampden, Mass., and her All-American Dog Taxi, Dock Diving came as a later addition to their repertoire.

Haldeman and Taxi are gearing up to take part in the 2023 AKC Diving Dogs Challenge in the Air Retrieve Division. This event is presented in collaboration with the National Diving Dogs Association and is scheduled for Sunday, April 2, 2023.

Starting Fresh

It’s never too late to try something new. Despite initially training Taxi as a Flyball dog at four months old, his talents extended to various sports including Agility, Fast CAT, Disc Dog, and Lure Coursing.

“There are many things you can do with puppies in any sport,” Haldeman explains. “I laid the foundation for all of this training with Taxi as soon as I brought him home.”

White dog jumping to catch a frisbee
Stephanie Shafer
Taxi participates in Disc, Agility, Fast CAT, and Lure Coursing as well as Diving Dogs.

From the beginning, Haldeman and Taxi engaged in various dog sports together. Starting with Flyball, then transitioning to Agility, and eventually Disc. Dock Diving only entered the picture later on and was initially sparked by Haldeman witnessing friends participate in the sport.

New Endeavors for an Older Dog

For Taxi, the love for water didn’t come instantly. Haldeman started getting him accustomed to water through clicker training when he was four years old. “He was always hesitant about swimming, more inclined to wade in shallow water,” Haldeman recalls. “I realized we had work to do!”

She trained him using a neighbor’s pool with steps leading into it, gradually building his confidence in the water. They progressed to practicing on an actual dock, with Taxi’s first competition resulting in a 6-7 feet jump, a proud moment for Haldeman.

Over the years, Taxi and Haldeman have developed a strong bond in Dock Diving. Taxi’s debut in the sport was five years ago, and he has steadily improved, with his current record standing at 18 feet at over 10 years old.

Stephanie Shafer
Haldeman tried Dock Diving with Taxi and her husband’s dog, but quickly realized Taxi had a knack for it.

“His performance may have declined slightly due to age, but he still enjoys it immensely,” Haldeman mentions.

As for the Air Retrieve division that Taxi qualified for, it was a skill he picked up later in life. At the age of 7, a friend suggested they try the event, and Taxi took to it with ease.

A Unique Bond

Out of Haldeman’s five dogs, Taxi is the sole participant in Dock Diving, despite her initial attempt with her husband’s dog. The special connection and quality time they share through this sport make it an enjoyable experience for both.

For the upcoming Diving Dog Championship, Haldeman plans for a special hotel stay with just Taxi, allowing him to bask in the attention and care he loves. This one-on-one time is crucial to him.

Haldeman and her husband have dogs ranging from one to fourteen years old, each excelling in various activities. Spring, the 14-year-old Mudi, retired from Agility to enjoy a laid-back life, much like Taxi may do in a few years. “They all have different skills and preferences,” Haldeman explains. “The key is to identify what they enjoy and support them in that.”

Senior Athlete Training

After more than five years of Dock Diving, Taxi is gradually slowing down. While Haldeman aims for success in the Diving Dogs Challenge, she also focuses on tapering his competition schedule for his well-being.

Woman and small white All-American DogWoman and small white All-American Dog
Stephanie Shafer
Haldeman and Taxi love doing dog sports of all kinds together.

As an older dog athlete, Haldeman pays close attention to Taxi’s well-being, ensuring he is healthy, active, and physically fit. Regular visits to a chiropractor, rest, and outdoor activities are part of their routine.

It’s Never Too Late

Haldeman’s experience with her dogs, like Taxi, Spring, and others, proves that age is not a limitation in pursuing new adventures. Despite Taxi’s late start in Dock Diving, his success and enjoyment of the sport show that age is just a number.

“With the right mindset and support, you and your dog can excel in any sport, regardless of age,” Haldeman emphasizes. Seeking guidance from experts and investing in training can make a significant difference in your dog’s performance, no matter how old they are.

,This article was adapted from
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It’s Never Too Late for a Diving Dog ‘Taxi’ to Make a Splash in Dog Sports