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Fort Collins dogs make a splash at annual Pooch Plunge

a dog with a ball in its mouth is lifted out of the pool by its life jacket
Molly, the five-year-old mini Australian shepherd, gets pulled out of the pool by her owner after fetching a tennis ball at the Pooch Plunge. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Pool? Check. Tennis balls? Check. Hundreds of Fort Collins dogs ready to make a splash? Check. 

Fort Collins celebrated the long-standing tradition known as the Pooch Plunge, a holiday described on the City of Fort Collins website as a “nationally recognized swim day that has been a favorite in the Fort Collins community for 15 years.”


To commemorate the last day of their operations, City Park Pool, in collaboration with the Fort Collins’ Recreation department, opened its gates 4-6 p.m. Sunday evening to the fuzzy, slobbery members of the community that usually have to stay home on hot summer days.

Canines of all breeds, fluffiness and doggy-paddling skill level dove into the water with varying amounts of grace, enjoyed an afternoon of chasing tennis balls provided by Lewis Tennis School and getting the humans overseeing them as wet as possible.

The dogs are usually pretty well behaved, it’s the humans you have to keep an eye out for.” -Tim Stabbe, Recreation Aquatics Supervisor

Fort Collins residents Dave and Betty Krenitsky brought their goldendoodle Huckleberry to the event. According to Betty Krenistsky, Huckleberry preferred to leisurely wade in the water rather than actively swim. The couple said they brought their furry child to the Plunge because they had such a blast the previous year and are glad events like this exist in their community.

“My sister just moved here from New Mexico,” Betty Krenitksy said. “And she cannot believe how much of a dog-oriented town Fort Collins is. I mean, dogs are everywhere. They do a lot for dogs here, it’s great.” 

a dog eats whipped cream out of a small cup
Pickles, the two-and-a-half-year-old blue healer and german shepherd mix, eats a puppaccino while taking a break from swimming in the City Park Pool during the Pooch Plunge. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

Upon entering the event, dog owners were given bright green goodie bags that included free gifts such as frisbees, water bottles and dog treats provided by the multitude of sponsors of the event.

Sponsors included Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Friendship Hospital for Animals and Poudre Pet & Feed Supply, who also set up tents at the event along with Advanced Medical Care of Colorado, The Pet and Wellness Clinic, K99 radio and Guardian Pet Aquamation.

Tents created the opportunity for pet owners to get in touch with businesses who care for their wet-nosed family members, and free samples were given out at many of the booths. Dogs everywhere dipped their noses into messy “puppaccinos” provided by Guardian Pet Aquamation, and Poudre Pet & Family Supply handed out refreshing “puppsicles” amongst their other treats for pups to enjoy in the sun. 

Kaitlyn Bennett, an employee for Poudre Pet & Feed supply, said the company’s passion for providing quality, wholesome dog food influenced their decision to bring puppsicles to the event. The frozen treats were leftover from another ice cream event the sponsor put on previously, so they thought the product would be a big hit, again. 

Maxline Brewing, New Belgium Brewing Company, Alley Cat Cafe, Wagz Pet Market & Grooming and Wild Boar Cafe are all dog-friendly Fort Collins businesses.



a fluffy white dog poses with her owner.
Sophia, the pure bread great pyranees, poses for a photo with her owner during the Pooch Plunge at City Park Pool. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

ennett’s short-haired Saint Bernard Sammy waited patiently behind the booth while his owner finished working so that he could go for a swim with his best friend Ziggy, a Great Dane mastiff mix. Once Bennett’s supply of free samples ran out, her 3-year-old, 170-pound pooch was strapped into his bright green life jacket and dove right in. 


“His hobbies are napping, drooling and swimming,” Bennett said. “He knew something was going on today, so now he is just all-around happy.” 

Tim Stabbe, the Recreation Aquatics Supervisor for the Fort Collin’s Recreation department, oversaw the Plunge this year and said that the wet dog affair went smoothly.

“The dogs are usually pretty well behaved,” Stabbe said. “It’s the humans you gotta keep an eye out for.”

Dogs attending the event were eligible to partake in an Instagram contest by tagging @FCRecreator. Contestants took a photo of the event or their dog and shared it on Instagram for a chance to win a Pooch Plunge doggie bag and a ticket to another Fort Collins dog-centered event Bow Wowvania Oct. 27. Entrants can be found under the hashtag #PoochPlunge.

Collegian reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at or on Twitter @mirandasrad.

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