04 August 2008

Daredevil Dog Goes Skydiving

Meet DJ, the daredevil parachuting pooch who fell 1220m and lived to chase his tail another day. The 20-month-old tenterfield terrier joins an elite group of skydiving animals around the world after completing two tandem jumps with his owner Archie Jamieson, who is the manager of the Gold Coast Skydive Centre.

DJ landed safely on all fours when the pair dived into the All Saints Anglican School fete at Merrimac on Saturday (click here to see the video).

The weekend's jump followed a practice skydive on Thursday, which Mr Jamieson said was a complete success despite the fact the pair had never jumped together before. "We did the first jump at Kirra just to see if he liked it. Because if he didn't, I wouldn't pursue it," he said. "I said to myself, 'if he doesn't like it, he's not doing it again'. But he loved it."

The 41-year-old said he had been a 'little bit concerned' about the pressure change in the plane and the effect it could have on DJ. "It was all fine though and when we landed he just got his ball and ran around in circles," he said. "He was a normal, happy dog and the jump didn't seem to scare him. It's not like when we landed he ran away scared."

Mr Jamieson has jumped almost 12,000 times and has racked up 23 years of skydiving experience. He said he did not think he was doing the wrong thing by jumping with DJ. "I've actually spoken to (TV vet) Dr Harry Cooper many years ago when a team member was jumping with a dog," he said. "Someone had complained to the RSPCA about it so we contacted him to do a story on it and he said there was no issue as far as cruelty to animals."

Mr Jamieson said he decided to take DJ skydiving after he donated a skydiving display to All Saints Anglican School for the fete at the weekend. "We wanted to give them something more than just a tandem dive with two people," he said. "That would have just been the same old thing, but when you land with a dog, well that's certainly something a bit special."

Mr Jamieson had a harness made especially for DJ so that he was attached to his chest. "It's exactly the same as a tandem skydive with people," he said. "He's attached to me and he can't get out of it."

This will not be the last time DJ dives from great heights, with Mr Jamieson planning to make his four-legged friend a big star. "It will be purely for skydiving displays," he said. "Eventually, what I want to get him is a sponsor and that way they can cover the cost of display jumps."

Although this is DJ's first attempt at an extreme sport, Mr Jamieson said he had tried his paw at surfing. "We tried to get him on a board but he's just not good at it," he said. "He can body surf pretty good but I think he's a much better skydiver."

[Source: The Gold Coast Bulletin]