Even though I haven’t used a public pool since I was a child, I usually feel a pang of sadness when Labor Day arrives and the pool closes for the season. A concrete pool drained of its water is a cold, lonely sight - a sign that summer is definitely a thing of the past.
But this year was different. I was excited for Labor Day and the last two hours of the season at the Monon Center water park near Indianapolis. Of course, I didn’t want summer to be over, but I couldn’t wait for that rare opportunity to take Chloe, my water-loving corgi-springer mix, to a pool party just for dogs.
My friend, Shannon, has been taking her Flat-Coated Retrievers to this special event for the last 2 years.
“It’s totally insane,” she warned me. “Hundreds of dogs and their owners all together in the same pool. The dogs go crazy - they love it.”
Really, I think this is an awesome idea. Just before the pools are drained and cleaned for the season, why not let the local dogs take a quick dip too?
At $6 per pooch, it’s also a great way to raise money for the pool or even the animal shelter. A low-cost vaccine clinic was held on site at the same time.
Knowing how much people love their dogs, I figured the open swim would have a decent turnout.
When I arrived at the massive pool parking lot, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I drove around and around, up one lane and down another, trying to find an open parking place. Chloe sat in the front seat next to me, trembling with excitement as she watched packs of dogs and their owners, toting towels and dog toys, make their way to the entrance.
Rock music blaring from the loudspeakers combined with a continuous joyous barking of dogs - the sound of a really good party - could be heard from blocks away.
Chloe and I waited in line to buy our pool ticket. A pug wearing a polka-dotted bikini pranced in place in front of us, while the two towering Great Danes behind us kept dragging their owners around us. Chloe, worried they were trying to cut, flashed her pearly, pointy fangs up at the Danes, pushing them back into their places.
At all times, there were guards at the entrance gates, making sure no loose dog slipped out.
Inside the pool area, it was a free-for-all. Leashes were removed and dogs ran wild.
“I think there are over 350 dogs here,” a lifeguard told me. “It’s amazing how they all get along in the water, better than the kids even.”
My dogs, Borage and Jigs, enjoy water, but Chloe adores water. I decided to just take one dog to the open swim; it would be difficult enough to keep track of her.
Chloe has a corgi body and a bird dog mind. She keeps her eyes to the skies looking for birds flying overhead. She scans rivers and lakes, calmly slipping into the water and working her way out to the middle of a reservoir, hoping to join a lone pelican drifting in the distance.
Chloe is a natural-born swimmer. Her long, pudgy corgi body actually floats across the surface; her well-rounded corgi bum twists and turns in the water acting like a rudder. She barely needs to work her 5-inch legs to keep afloat and doggie paddle forward.
Swimming involves such little effort for Chloe, she rarely tires.
Chloe stayed in the pool for 1.5 hours, swimming her way through the maze of humans and dogs. Because she is so short, I followed right behind and watched over her. The chaos of people throwing tennis balls for the countless retrievers was dangerous for Chloe. Several times crazed Labs and Goldens slammed into my little swimmer, rolling her upside down and under water.
Thankfully, Chloe always came bouncing right back up to the surface like a bobber. And, of course, she kept right on swimming.
“Last call... the pool closes for the season in 10 minutes!” a lifeguard eventually announced over the loudspeaker.
I pulled my girl from the water, gave her some liver treats, wrapped her in a giant beach towel, and carried her back to the car.
All good things must come to an end. Summer is now officially over.
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