Flying fur: Gilmanton man and dog win DockDog World Championship

GILMANTON — Imagine a "drag race for dogs," as Tim Merrill puts it, and you have the DockDogs World Championship – and Merrill's yellow Labrador retriever Tucker is a champ.

For four years, Merrill and Tucker have competed in the Speed Retrieve event in the sport. Last week, Merrill and his furry friend attended the DockDogs World Championship, held in Dubuque, Iowa, and on Sunday they became world champions in the Nitro class.

Speaking on Wednesday, Merrill's voice was still full of excitement, even after the drive home from Iowa.

"It's edge-of-your-seat excitement," he said. "You never know what your dog is going to do."

The sport of DockDogs includes three events, all of which feature a dog running down a dock and leaping into a pool of water. The Big Air event measures how long a dog can leap off the end of the dock. The Extreme Vertical challenges dogs to leap as high off the dock as they can. Tucker's forte is the speed retrieve, a timed event to see which dog can run down the dock, leap into the pool, swim to the far end and grab a toy, all in the shortest time possible.

To train for the event, Merrill built a pool and dock at his home in Gilmanton Iron Works.

Merrill and his dog went into the event as favorites, having posted the best average times through local qualifying events. Even so, competition was fierce at the World Championship; Tucker's margin of victory over the second-place dog was only about a tenth of a second.

Merrill, who has lived in Gilmanton for nearly four decades, has three dogs. Duke, a chocolate Lab, is his duck hunting dog. Sammy, a black Lab, is the self-appointed family protector and snuggler. Tucker" who will soon turn 6, is has a "massive toy drive," said Merrill, and is his upland bird hunting dog, a role Merrill says the dog relishes as much as he does the DockDog competitions.

"He's a hunting dog first, a DockDog second and he loves all of it," said Merrill.

Merrill said anyone interested in learning more about the sport can visit or, for the local club, He said the sport can be as exciting as a touchdown pass in football or the final lap of a NASCAR race, all with the added element of the human-dog bond.

"Everything's based on your best friend," he said.


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Walker's Auto body denied license renewal

BELMONT – The salvage license of a long-time auto body shop owner and salvage yard operator was denied by selectmen after learning from the town code enforcement officer that owner had not complied with state environmental requests and town requests to do something about the tires on his property.
Code Enforcement Officer Steve Paquin said he had been holding Gordon Walker's license since the beginning of the year. The business is at 130 Depot Road.
"He gets 30 tires a week and gets rid of about 10," said Paquin last night, noting that Walker is no longer doing auto body and only sells used tires for an income.
He told the board he was especially troubled by number of used tires in the back of his lot and the sheer number of them in the front of the building.
Walker was not at Monday's meeting. When reached for contact yesterday morning, Walker said that he thought it was being held last night and not Monday and that's why he didn't attend.
"In my opinion, I've done everything I was told to do," he said.
According to paperwork obtained from the Code Enforcement Office yesterday, on July 9 during its annual check of motor vehicle recycling facilities, the state Department of Environmental Services found that Walker was storing outside some containers of automotive liquids and that he was storing scrap tires in such a manner that water was collecting in them. He was given 45 days to fix the problems. Two follow-up letters, dated Aug. 31 and Nov. 12 and copied to the selectmen noted he was still in violation of best management practices established by the state.
Paquin told selectmen that Walker's shop still sufferes from damage done by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in 2008 when they raided his home and business on a marijuana warrant and did some significant damage to his shop. Walker was found not guilty on all of the charges.
Walker said yesterday that he has never been able to fix his business and property from the actions of the police seven years ago and that he was just a guy trying to make a living in a business he's been in for over 30 years.


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New Hampton tax rate increases 3.2 percent

NEW HAMPTON — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set the 2016 property tax rate at $18.19 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of 57 cents, or 3.2 percent, over the 2014 rate of $17.62.

That translates to a tax bill of $5,457 for the owner of a property assessed at $300,000, $171 higher than last year's bill of $5,286.

The amount to be raised by property taxes increased by $282,839, or 5.4 percent, from $5,219,640 to $5,502,479. The total assessed valuation grew by $6,556,810, or 2.1 percent, from $303,728,452 to $310,285,262.

The town tax rate increased from $6.34 to $6.51, the local school tax from $7.49 to $8.06, while the state education tax fell from $2.49 to $2.38 and the county tax from $1.30 to $1.24.

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Sanbornton crash kills one; County Attorney investigating


SANBORNTON – A local man died in a single-car roll-over accident on Burleigh Hill Road at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after he was thrown from a car being driven by another local man.

Jared Grenier, 24, died at the scene, according to his mother. The 23-year-old male driver was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center where he was last reported in critical condition.

Police Chief Steve Hankard said the Belknap County Attorney Office is assisting his department in the investigation.

Hankard said the Belknap Regional Accident Investigation Team is investigating the crash along with his department. He said it appears likely the car rolled more than once, possible up an embankment and back down again. Burleigh Hill Road was closed for about five hours.

"The car was in the road when we got there," said Hankard, who noted the final report would be forthcoming.

Sanbornton Police were also assisted by emergency crews from the Sanbornton, Tilton-Northfield and Franklin Fire Departments and the New Hampshire State Police.


Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the changes in the status of the driver and passenger in this crash, which were incorrectly reported earlier.

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