Despite weather, dogs fill pool for “Pooch Plunge”
- Sep. 1, 2012
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Lawrence residents are used to the shouts and laughter of children at the swimming pool, but on Friday night, children’s laughter was replaced by something else – barking dogs.
The Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center invited dog owners to bring their pets to the pool on the final evening before it closes for the season during their 10th annual Pooch Plunge.
Last year, 350 dogs participated in the event. Rachel Sullivan, the pool’s aquatics programmer, said this year’s goal was 400 dogs. Although a steady rain lowered the total to 189 dogs this year, Sullivan said she was happy with the turnout.
Holley Ritchie said this is the second year she brought her 3-year-old Spanish water dog, Chema, to the event.
“He’ll actually go under the water and find the Frisbee,” Ritchie said of Chema’s favorite game, which they play every night. “He’s a real Frisbee freak.”
Another Lawrence resident, Katie McCauley, brought her cocker spaniel. She bought her dog two days after the Jayhawks’ 2008 NCAA tournament championship, so she named it in honor of a Kansas basketball legend.
“Her full name is Mary O. Chalmers, but she goes by Chalmers,” McCauley said.
The pool charged $5 per dog, which goes into the pool’s operating budget. The event started in Lawrence 10 years ago, when the city manager heard about another city hosting a pooch plunge. Sullivan said the pool is treated to make it safe for dogs.
“They actually take the chlorine levels down to have less chlorine than drinking water does so that it is safe for the dogs,” Sullivan said.
The Lawrence Humane Society brought a few of dogs that were eligible for adoption to the plunge. The program, which is a no-kill organization, takes dogs from the street or from owner who can no longer care for their pet.
Humane Society volunteer, Melody Stewart brought Fletcher, a black Labrador Retriever to the pool. She said it costs between $50 and $75 to adopt a dog, depending on the breed.
“The ones that come in, they have to go through a behavioral test to see how they do with other dogs, other animals, people,” Stewart said. “Then we assess them, ‘OK, are they ready for adoption, are they not?’ Most of them after that are.”
- edited by Allison Kohn