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Say goodbye to the dog days of summer


Dogs are welcome at Birdland Pool on Sept. 1 for the annual Doggie Dive.

Dogs are welcome at Birdland Pool on Sept. 1 for the annual Doggie Dive.

Too often, man’s best friend is unable to join its master in fun and camaraderie. While the family piles in the car heading out for adventures, the dog is left behind — except for this weekend.

It’s time to take in the last days of summer with your four-legged friends. And with area pools closing in just under a week, why not take a dip and challenge your “bow wow” to a couple of K-9 water sports?

“Typically, a little more than 100 dogs will show up at these events,” says Robin Leaper, aquatics supervisor with Des Moines Parks and Rec. “And that’s per pool.”

Each year when the swim season comes to an end, the five municipal swimming pools and aquatic centers open their doors to the annual Doggie Dive. If you missed Aug. 17, no worries, there’s one more opportunity at Birdland Pool on Labor Day.

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Though Leaper admits the hair and fur from the dogs does create more cleanup issues in the drains and filters after the event, the amount of fun people have far outweighs the costs.

Did you know?

Just like people, there are many dogs that don’t take to swimming naturally, so it’s good to introduce them to water as early as possible. Some need to be trained just as they would when learning any other trick. One should consider a gentle method of inviting the dog into shallow water and working deeper rather than the old “toss-it-in-the-deep-end-and-let-it-sink-or-swim” method. Then reward your pet with a treat for its progress and good behavior.

Just because you may not have a Lab or another herding dog doesn’t mean yours won’t enjoy the evening swim. Leaper says dogs of all breeds, “from Pug to Bull Mastiff,” make it out to Doggie Dive.

For the most part, the dogs have free range of the pool. Though Leaper is quick to point out the slides and diving board are off limits to quadrupeds. If your precocious pooch loves to run and fetch, try a short-form dock jump. The game is simple: get your dog running, toss the toy and watch it fly into the water. This competitive sport has seen dogs jump upwards of 28 feet.

For the dogs and their owners, it’s all about having a good time, says Leaper.

“Many are excited to get in the water and play,” he says. “I think people love being able to do an activity that is usually not permitted.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Sept. 1 at Birdland from 4–6:30 p.m.

Regular admission fees will apply to dog owners and family members, and canines will have a separate $4 fee. Dogs whose owners have season passes will be admitted free of charge. All dogs must be accompanied by an owner at all times.

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