The Eagles’ “Hotel California” played softly out of the intercoms at City Park Pool, but to dog lovers present, the song wasn’t the only music to their ears.
Along with their dedicated owners who chose to spend Labor Day with their fuzzy friends, hundreds of barking dogs attended this year’s Pooch Plunge on Monday, Sept. 5. Hosted by the City of Fort Collins Parks and Recreation Department, the Pooch Plunge provides dogs with one more chance to enjoy swimming before the summer season ends.
Dog swimming days are held at public swimming pools across the country, dedicating varying days throughout the hot season to dogs and their need to cool off. Colorado in particular has a long list of cities who participate in such events, including Aspen, Boulder, Denver and Greeley.
Unlike other Fort Collins dog events that are dog breed specific, the Pooch Plunge opened its gates to all dog breeds. All kinds of different dogs, big and small, lined up outside the pool entrance to play in the cold water to commemorate the end of summer.
Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital was the presenting sponsor of the event this year.
“We’re excited to be the presenting sponsor of Pooch Plunge,” said Dr. Timothy Hackett, director of the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital in a press release. “It’s a way for our hospital to join the fun and show appreciation for the community where we live and have provided veterinary care for animals for 109 years.”
Bob Adams, Recreation Director for the City of Fort Collins, helped coordinate and run the event.
“The people who own those dogs, that’s their kids basically,” Adams said. “They get to come out here and have fun on their last day of summer.”
Richard Ostendorf and Melissa Garcia attended the event with their Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever mix Jaggar who will turn 15 years old in October. They said they have been attending the event for the past 4 years.
“It’s really busy,” Garcia said. “It’s always crazy. The best part is the swimming.”
Charlie Everling brought three of his dogs to the the plunge: Angel, a lab; Logan, a mixed breed; and Linus, a boxer. The dogs and their owner have been coming to the event for three years.
“It’s phenomenal, they don’t stop,” Everling said. “They just come home and pass out. This is just such a great thing for a fundraiser. What a way to close a pool for the year.”
Many dog owners joined their furry companions in the pool with leashes, while other dogs roamed wild on their own as their owners watched from the sidelines. Some tiny dogs seemed to run around in a nervous frenzy, looking a little like a kid lost in a grocery store yelling, “Mom! Mom! Where are you?” Other big dogs seemed more confident, barking, chasing each other and fighting over tennis balls that floated on the waters surface.
Lifeguards were posted throughout the evening, but the pool did not close when there were dog accidents in the pool. Running by the pool on four legs was also warranted.
All proceeds from ticket sales from Pooch Plunge are going to benefit aquatic programming for the city.