Gone to the dogs: Silverthorne opens up its pools to dogs as part of the third annual Doggie Day
SILVERTHORNE – Gus, a Wheaton terrier from Silverthorne, barely looked at the light blue water in the Silverthorne Recreation Center pool before he leaped in and swam to the other side.
Gus was one of more than 200 dogs registered to participate Sunday in the third annual Doggie Day, when rec center officials close the pool to people and open the doors to man’s best friend. The rec center staff then cleans the pool as part of its yearly spring cleaning.
By the time Gus had retrieved almost a dozen tennis balls, he was joined by about 25 other dogs – mostly golden and Labrador retrievers – that jumped into the pool in search of dog toys.
Zuzu, a bull terrier from Summit Cove, exhibited the same enthusiasm for long leaps and tennis balls as Gus.
“He’s not done,” said owner Pat Albee. “I think he needs to go to the second session. He’s always the last to leave.”
Other dogs weren’t as eager to jump in but clearly wanted to get hold of the tennis balls floating just out of reach. Speer, a long-haired setter from Breckenridge, whined and pawed at the water as he eyed a Frisbee floating two feet from the edge. Speer crouched down and leaned out over the water, then scrambled back as his back legs started to slip.
“It’s the whole jump thing,” his owner, Lucy Finch, said. “He did it once. We threw the Frisbee out there and he went in, but he turned around, like, “Too deep! Too deep!'”
Brian and Lizbeth Dowling of Summit Cove were pleased with their dog’s progress – even though all Boss did was sit at their sides and watch as scores of dogs ran around the pool or took giant leaps into the water.
“We knew he hated water,” Brian said. “But we were hoping the doggie peer pressure would make him want to go in. He’s kind of overwhelmed.”
So was Chester, a black Lab and basset hound mix from Silverthorne, who stood at the end of his leash and watched the action around him.
“I think he likes seeing the other dogs,” said owner Dot Kieber. “But I’m not sure if he wants to go in.”
He wasn’t the only one.
A Welsh corgi named Merf took laps around the pool barking at dogs that kept retrieving toys in the pool. He finally got up the courage to wade in the kiddie pool alongside a giant poodle named Duke. Duke’s owner, Pete Rimmington of Frisco, said the black poodle often takes to streams.
“This is great; it’s a lot of fun,” he said of the event. “I just wished he’d get out there.”
Duke wasn’t having anything to do with diving, leaping or retrieving. He daintily stepped through the water in the kiddie pool, cautiously watching nearby dogs that splashed and dove after toys.
By noon, most dogs were visibly exhausted from the day’s activities. Others, however, were practicing for the Big Air Contest, in which people throw a ball in the pool and dogs throw themselves out over the water to retrieve it.
Prizes are awarded for the shortest and longest leap. Judges usually award the shortest leap to a dog that makes the dash down the ramp, balks at the end and slips into the pool. The longest jump last year was in excess of 17 feet, said Steve Sutton, a maintenance employee at the rec center and the day’s designated official fight-breaker-upper.
Sutton and other rec center employees spent the bulk of their morning helping dogs out of the pool, not breaking up altercations. Many people said they thought the dogs were too overwhelmed by all the activity to bother picking fights.
Proceeds from the event go to the League of Animals and People of the Summit – and to the town’s aquatics budget.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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