57ºF

What’s Up South Texas!: CrossFit gym owner shares athletic bond with dog

Bella holds the record as the number one lab in dock diving

San Antonio – A San Antonio businesswoman is demonstrating her passion to serve and push others to be their best through her athletic bond with her dog.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

Heidi Patterson is a nurse, has her real estate license, and owns a CrossFit gym.

“My goal in life is to help people, so I always find a way through some service industry to do that,” said Patterson.

What’s Up South Texas!: Man with troubled past paints to inspire others

She executes her hardworking mentality and athleticism through her Labrador Retriever, Bella.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

She does so in the dog sport of Dock Diving.

“It is basically long jump for dogs,” Patterson said. “You know how humans jump into a sandpit. Dogs jump into the water as high and long as they can.”

Patterson said her discovery of Bella’s ability to be a dock diver came out of nowhere.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

“We actually did it on accident,” Patterson said. “We took her to a friend’s house for a pool party. She was like four months old and was being kind of an annoying puppy, so we just threw a ball randomly and she ran and jumped, and belly-flopped into the pool. Almost the entire length of the pool and we were shocked!”

Since then, Bella has been addicted to the water. She said a friend mentioned dock diving to them and they began practicing at K9 Water World.

What’s Up South Texas!: Bowler passionate about equality in once segregated sport

“She loves the sport, Patterson said. “She is a high-drive dog. She is very toy focused. So, we just started going one weekend to the next entering competitions and traveling around south Texas to different competitions and she is obsessed.”

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

Patterson said Bella’s first full season was completed last year where she ended up being the number one lab in the country.

“It is very hard to hold her back,” Patterson said. “She got a 30-foot personal jump. She jumped that about five or eight times.”

She said the way Bella jumps depends on how she throws a toy.

“If I throw it early or short, she follows my cue,” Patterson said. “She’ll jump as far or as high or as hard as she can, but it depends on how I throw it. So I feel a lot of pressure for her to perform well.”

Patterson said it is also not just about Bella jumping in the water.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

“I am learning a lot about the dog world,” Patterson said. “Treadmill training and water training and how often I supplement her and feed her, so it is a big thing and I am learning a lot. We made it at the top in 2019 and the goal is to hang out in the top for 2020 so we got some work to do.”

Training can be a challenge for the duo, but it is nothing Patterson is not used to as her life has been filled with challenges and risks.

“The challenges get bigger and greater but that just means you are working towards something bigger and something greater. So, along with the challenges go the reward,” Patterson said. “I think there is a constant struggle when you are trying to figure out what you are passionate about and who you would like to serve.”

She said her biggest challenge was opening her CrossFit gym.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

“Having the courage to do that was intense,” Patterson said. “After being in the industry for a few years and helping others establish their gyms, growing my own business was scary.”

Patterson said it was worth the risk though.

“To come off an hourly, very secure job as a nurse and to roll the dice with a CrossFit gym and say, ‘I am going to do this. This is how I want to help people.’ Versus helping people in sickness, I want to help people in wellness, and I want to help people in the gym versus the hospital,” Patterson said.

Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Heidi Patterson's and Bella's Journey (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

“She is absolutely a believer in other people,” said Mitchell Patterson, her husband. “It is one of the things on her vision board. That is just who she is. She lifts everyone up around her all the time. She is better than I am at everything and so she makes me want to be better.”

Patterson said though it is a lot of work managing her dog and her gym simultaneously, she is beyond rewarded.

“I absolutely love it,” Patterson said. “You know, selfishly I get a little bit out of it too. I learn from people and I see them grow and change and develop and go after what they want in life and it feeds my heart and it makes me happy and it makes me want to work harder.”

Now, Patterson said she and Bella are working on entering their next season of dock diving while getting Bella’s sister, Tesla, involved as well.

Bella and Tesla (Courtesy Heidi Patterson)
Bella and Tesla (Courtesy Heidi Patterson) (KSAT)

“If you want something, get out there and try it and go for it and don’t be scared and believe in yourself,” Patterson said. "From getting my nursing license, to opening the gym to working with the dogs out in the pool. It is just taking one step to try something new and explore it. If you like it, roll with it. If you don’t like it, try something different.”

If you know someone like Patterson who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.


About the Authors: