Take a look at the top five record-holding dogs along with some of their U.S. Olympic counterparts in each category - could a canine competition become an official part of the International Games in the future? Stranger things have happened! On your mark, get set ... go!
Natural born swimmer Umbra, a Labrador/Greyhound mix, has earned a historic four events with The Guinness Book of World Records. She's logged well over 600 miles in tandem swimming, even joining a polar bear for a New Year's Day dip in the lake. Her best unofficial record is a whopping 5.5 miles in just 2 hours and 40 minutes. The U.S. Olympic team has their own swimming icon as well with Michael Phelps, who was named World Swimmer of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Phelps took home eight medals (including six Golds!) at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, tying the world record for the most medals at a single World Games. Surely, all eyes will be on Phelps this summer in Beijing to see what he'll do next - perhaps Umbra would make the perfect poolside cheerleader?
2: Hurdle Races
If the term "flyball" brings the baseball stadium to mind, think again. In the canine world, this popular sport pits teams of dogs against each other with a series of hurdles between them and the finish line, where they press a box with a spring loaded pad to release a tennis ball that must then be returned to their handlers. Warrant, a border/staffy mix, helped lead his United States Flyball team Touch 'N Go to take the U-FLI Division 1 Champions titles in 2006 and 2007. The team is also the current world record holders for Flyball competition, with the fastest time of 15.096 seconds. Kerron Clement also broke ahead of the herd to give the U.S. Olympic team bragging rights for the world's current leading record in the 400m hurdles with a time of 47.24 seconds! Is there anything that would make you jump through (or over) hoops at that speed?
3: Long Jump
Believe it or not, the top Long Jumper in the canine world has about a foot more on his stats than the current human World Record-Holder! So what does it take to make a dog jump 30 feet and 4 inches into the air? For German Short-Haired Pointer Seven, just a good old-fashioned game of Frisbee. Seven became the Ultimate Air Dog Champion at the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, about twelve inches more than the Long Jump record of 29 feet, 4.5 inches set by U.S. Olympic Athlete Mike Powell in Tokyo on August 30, 1991. Quite frankly, both Seven and Powell seem like strong candidates to fill any position with an "able to leap tall buildings in one single bound" requirement!
When it comes to triathlons in the dog world, the traditional swimming, cycling and running components are replaced by agility, flyball and extreme Frisbee. Boo, representing the Whippet breed from the sighthound family (similar both physically and actively to greyhounds), took the 2005 Extreme Canines Triathlon by storm with a first place win. U.S. Olympic tri-athlete Susan Rene Bartholomew-Williams also showed impressive endurance as she took the Bronze in her second triathlon during the 2004 Games, with a total time of 2:05:08.92. Her split times were 19:02 for the swim, 1:08:58 for the cycling, and 0:37:08 for the run. It's too bad there's not a triathlon that involves, say, eating, shopping, and sleeping - raise your hand if you'd qualify for that competition!
5: High Jump
Is there a Fairy Godmother for High Jumpers? At the 2006 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Championship in Gray Summit, Missouri, adopted Greyhound Cinderella May soared over the bar with an altitude of 1.72 m ( 5 ft, 7.71 in), to set the world record for dogs. Owners Kate Long and Kathleen Conroy of Miami, Florida have said that Cinderella May demonstrated outstanding natural abilities from early on, similar to the legendary high jumper Dwight Edwin Stones. The former Olympic Bronze medalist certainly must have trained like a dog to set the World Record with a 2.30m jump in 1973, breaking his own record in 1976 with his 2.32m leap and then adding another centimeter to his personal best only a month later. That's nearly 7 feet, 8 inches of air, and just two feet more than Cinderella's top scores. High fives all around!