Friday, September 19, 2008

Dog Days

Scout the Golden Retriever at Dog Days in Grand JunctionSaturday, September 6, was the fourth annual Dog Days celebration at Lincoln Park in Grand Junction. It's a day for dogs and their owners to get out and have some fun. There is a run/walk in the morning and then the pool is open to dogs and their owners for the rest of the day.

Charlie loved Dog Days. He would be the first dog in line for the pool. As soon as they opened, I would throw a tennis ball out into the middle of the calm pool and Charlie would hit the edge at a full run, diving as far as he could, making a big splash, snagging the ball and dog paddling back for more. He would repeat this routine until we were both completely exhausted, him from all the running and swimming, and me from having to haul him out of the pool every time by his elbows. Twice Charlie was featured in mid-dive in photographs on the front pages of the local newspapers and once he was on the local TV news, swimming with a ball in his mouth.

Scout the Golden Retriever about to be launched into the Lincoln Park Pool during Dog DaysIn Charlie's memory, this year Nan and I took our puppy Scout, along with Hannah, a golden retriever we occasionally dog sit for. They were not as enthusiastic about the water as Charlie was. I think there is something about clear water that unnerves some dogs. They look past it to the bottom of the pool and think they're going to fall, so they stay clear. They might go down the stairs into the water, but that area of the pool was already crowded with wet dogs. So to get Scout and Hannah into the pool, I hip checked Hannah as she was standing at the edge, and I just picked Scout up and physically launched him about ten feet out into the water. Hannah swam right back to the edge, climbed out and shook off the water. Scout had never been in water over his head before and executed an exaggerated dog paddle, slapping the water with his front paws, to swim back to the edge, where I hauled him out. I tried to encourage him to go in by himself to retrieve the tennis balls that were floating around, but he wouldn't do it. A few more hip checks and launches, and they were both ready to call it quits.

Nan, Hannah and Scout at Dog Days in Grand JunctionA swimming pool is probably not the best introduction to swimming for a dog. We'll need to find a pond or lake in the area that's not too muddy and give it another try. In the meantime, we'll keep filling up the plastic kiddy pool in the backyard so Scout can at least wade around and stay cool.

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