Dogs' day at pool closes out Carroll's summer season

Some jumped in. Others walked in. Most just ran around.

But 9-month old "Gracie" Witt went head first.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 3, was the second Westminster Municipal Pool's Pooch Pool Party in recent years, and dogs of all sizes and ages experienced the water, or at least got close to it.

For Gracie, it was the goldendoodle's first time in the water.

"I don't think she knows what to do!" cried her owner, Valerie Witt, as the dog edged her way through the water along the side of the pool to the steps. "She's all puppy. She has boundless energy."

On the other hand, Nyla, a chocolate Labrador retriever from Taneytown, was quite aware of the situation and didn't hesitate when her owner, Christopher Orwig, threw her toy in the water.

"She has been in here since 3:30," Orwig said during the event, which was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. "We got here early and they said come right in."

There were few rules at the pool. All the dogs attending were checked for current rabies tags and owners knew that any dogs showing signs of aggression not be would be allowed to participate. .

Otherwise, the dogs had free rein, enjoying the pool's open areas, chasing balls or each other while circling the pool.

"Most of the time, they are just looking at the water," said Mark Slater, program coordinator for Westminster's Department of Recreation and Parks, as he watched the four-legged visitors play.

After several years lapse, the city brought back the dog swim last year with great success.

"About 30 dogs came," Slater said. "It was a no-brainer to do it again."

The pool closed to humans on Labor Day. It was cleaned before — and would be cleaned again after — the dogs' swim. Its chlorine levels were also closely monitored the day of the canine pool party.

"The chemistry of the pool has to be right," Slater said. "The chlorine has to be very low so as not to harm the dogs."

Admission was free to the dog swim and open to all residents of the county. All dogs and their families who attended the event received, of course, a doggie bag of dog treats and a ball.

Rascal, a 7-year-old yellow Labrador from Westminster, appeared to enjoy every minute of his time at the pool. In fact, he was so much into it that he didn't even notice that his paw was bleeding until Bonnie Silverman, a veterinarian, tended to it.

"I brought my dog. I'm off duty," said Silverman, whose traveling practice, Healing Wheels Family Vet, is based in Westminster. "I decided to stay in case of broken toenails or heat stroke. It is hot."

As his family looked on with pride, "Duncan" Poindexter, a young Plott hound, did its power walk across the shallow end. Looking straight ahead, the dog paddled with his front legs while walking with his back legs firmly on the pool's bottom.

"I taught him to do that," said Joey Poindexter, 15. "I put his paws on my shoulders and walked backward into the water. It forced him to walk in the deep water."

"He's a rescue dog from North Carolina," said Kathy Poindexter, Joey's mom, of the hound that she said loves to swim in the Chesapeake Bay. "He is bred to be a bear hunter. He hasn't caught any bears here in Maryland."

Looking like the gentleman he was, Coal, a standard poodle, allowed owner Aja Ebaugh to walk him through the pool on a leash. He then got out and ran around.

"He jumped in last year," Ebaugh said, of his 3-year-old pet. " After he gets used to it, he'll get back in."

More familiar with swimming in ponds, Puck, an English springer spaniel, hesitated before hopping into the water.

"It's a whole different aspect when you can see the bottom," said Puck's owner, Laurie Walters

Soon Puck jumped in on his own and enjoyed his time in the water.

"It's nice Westminster is doing this," Walters said.

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