Pepper makes world record jump of 27' 8"
by Michael Nowotny
Mountain Home News
Mountain Home resident Matthew McCluskey's three-year-old Catahoula Leopard dog Pepper is now a world record holder.
The world record was attained following Pepper's jump of 27 feet eight inches during the Big Air Competition at the International Sportsman's Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah, held in March of this year.
Pepper opened the competition with momentum from his previous win at the Cynosport World Games in Scottsdale, Ariz., however he struggled in his opening jumps. Pepper jumped no more that 21 feet per jump.
"There are very few dogs that can break 25 feet, so 21 feet was still a good jump, but it just wasn't a good jump for him (Pepper)," said McCluskey.
McCluskey discovered that Pepper seemed to be harboring a possible injury to his paw. Several of McCluskey's competitors, who also work as veterinarians, discovered that one of the pads on Pepper's paw was torn.
After Pepper donned a cast and received antibiotics for the injury, Pepper healed within two days and stepped back into competition.
Despite Pepper's injury, his jumps earned a spot in the next round, where the top 12 dogs would jump to earn one of four spots in the championship round.
A fully healed Pepper hit his first jump of 25 feet nine inches to take an early lead, until a border collie named Blink surpassed Pepper's mark by two inches.
Pepper regained the lead on his next jump of 26 feet, one inch and earned a spot in the final round.
In the final round, Pepper earned the #1 seed and the right to jump last out of the final four dogs. Pepper's last jump of 26 feet, one inch was topped by a black Labrador named Aspen who jumped 26 feet four inches.
Knowing the mark he had to beat, Pepper won the title with his world record jump of 27 feet eight inches.
The day prior to Pepper's world record jump, Pepper competed in the vertical competition (where dogs jump to grab a bumper hanging 16 feet in the air).
Dogs who compete in the vertical begin no lower than five feet, but for Pepper, McCluskey starts Pepper at 6 feet six inches so that Pepper doesn't hit his head on a jump.
"In the whole event he (Pepper) was jumping real vertical, even in his distance jumping he was getting a lot of air underneath him, so we knew he was going to do great," said McCluskey.
Pepper won the event with a jump of six feet, 10 inches, but McCluskey decided to continue and Pepper jumped until he reached seven feet, six inches, and inch short of the world record.
After Pepper's final vertical attempt, Pepper was soaked and visibly tired, so McCluskey decided to dry off Pepper and give him time to rest.
Once dry and well rested, Pepper tried again for the record but was unable to surpass his previous mark.
Minutes after the competition, McCluskey set up Pepper to jump again, wondering if he could have broken the world record and miraculously Pepper not only tied the world record but surpassed it by several inches.
McCluskey plans to have Pepper jump eight feet in the vertical competition at the upcoming Western Idaho Fair Aug. 21-30.
Pepper carried his momentum to the next event, the Bighorn Outdoor Show held in Spokane, Wash. Pepper won both the vertical (surpassed six feet, six inches) and the big air competition (24 feet, nine inches).
"It's amazing. Who would have thought dog jumping is as big as it is. I never thought I would have a dog who shattered world records," said McCluskey.
Pepper will soon compete in a preliminary event in Ft. Collins, Colo., May 16-17. McCluskey expects that Pepper's jumps during the event will earn him a place in the world championships.
To earn a place in the world championships, dogs must jump at least five successful jumps under their assigned division. Currently Pepper is part of the Extreme division, for dogs who jump 24 feet or better.
Pepper is scheduled to also compete in "Logs & Dogs," a competition where dogs compete against lumberjacks, sponsored by Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse.
The event will be held in Stillwater, Minn., July 24-27. The top prize for "Logs & Dogs" is a Polaris ATV and a cash prize of $35,000.
The next big event for Pepper is the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, an event that McCluskey describes as the "biggest competition for all dog agility (events)."
During the event, dogs compete in several disciplines such as Incredible Freestyle Flying Disc, Incredible Agility, Incredible Diving Dog, Incredible Head-to-Head 60-Weave Pole racing and Incredible Jack Russell Hurdle Racing.
If Pepper wins the regional event held in San Diego, Calif., on June 12-13, Pepper would earn a spot in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge finals held in St. Louis, Mo.
The regional event will be broadcast on ESPN and the Purina Challenge Finals will be broadcast on ABC.