The sport of dogs has undergone many changes during the past several years, and continues to rapidly evolve as new activities such as nosework and dock diving gain prominence.

In the early 1980s, the Pharaoh hound and the Portuguese Water dog were making a splash on the local dog scene. Today, there are more than 180 AKC registered breeds that are exhibited at dog shows and performance events almost daily across the country.

During the past few years, registration numbers for many breeds has plummeted, with some terrier breeds such as the Sealyham and Skye terriers facing possible extinction in a few decades. Many dog clubs have shuttered, and entries have fallen.

The good news, however, is that performance activities are enjoying a surge of popularity, due in part to the fact that mixed-breed dogs are allowed to participate and earn titles in some canine sports.

Wareham dog fancier and Golden Retriever fancier Nancy Stec competes in rally, agility, obedience and the newest AKC sport, dock diving.

“I always wanted a golden,” said Stec, adding that she currently owns Miley, a delightful 10 year-old female, and her current charge, Echo, an exuberant 6 year-old male.

“I just love the breed,” Stec said. “I think that they are so loving. Their hair is all over the place, but they a kind spirit.”

Echo, registered as Electralon’s Relfection of the Sound, was born in April 2012 and has earned numerous Rally titles, a Canine Good Citizen title and a Companion Dog degree. The versatile and fun-loving dog also trains in agility and will complete in September at the Cranberry Cluster in September with plans to earn an AKC dock diving degree.

(For more information about the Cranberry Cluster, and the Cape Cod and South Shore kennel club dog shows, and information about dock diving, visit the web site,

Stec, who trains in Rally under the tutelage Robin Botelho at the Wampanoag Kennel Club, recently attended the 2018 AKC Rally National held June 29 in Wilmington, Ohio. Echo was one of three dogs selected from Massachusetts to compete in the event that attracted many of the top canine performers that came from all parts of the nation.

According to Stec, the dog faced still competition throughout the trial, and enjoyed a rewarding and fun-filled experience. In addition to competing with her dog, Stec had an opportunity to make many friends with fellow competitors and to see other top-winning canines put through their paces.

“Nancy and Echo are a wonderful team, fun to watch and I am not only of her for making the cut, but for being one of my students,” Botelho said.

While Stec continues to train in agility, she is also keenly interested in dock diving, the newest performance sport. Dock jumping or diving is a dog sport in which canines, both purebred or mixed-breed, compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.

“It’s so much fun,” Stec said. “Any dog that loves water likes dock diving.”

She adds that breeds such as retrievers, pointers, setters and many of the larger hound breeds are naturals in this performance sport, and that many mixed-breed dogs will also be competing at the September fall trials in the hope that their dog will earn an AKC dock diving title.

Another of Stec’s favorite activities is bringing the dogs to a local nursing home, where many of the patients enjoy spending time and petting the delightful retrievers.

“I’ve met a lot of new people in many new venues,” Stec said, adding that dog-related activities have enriched her life and opened many doors.

“My dogs are my best friends,” she ends. “We have so much fun together.”