The sound of jubilant barking could be heard even before the water was visible.
Inside the fenced-in grounds, dozens of dogs raced around the water’s perimeter — only the bravest of dogs made the leap in, often coaxed by a tempting ball or Frisbee that bobbed just out of reach from the side.
And while on a day with temperatures in the 90s, the Westminster Municipal Pool would normally be filled with humans, Wednesday evening the sweet relief of cool water belonged to the furry, four-legged family members.
Wednesday, Sept. 5, marked another year of summer in the books, which was once again capped by the annual Pooch Pool Party put on by the City of Westminster’s Recreation and Parks department.
Neil and Karen Hingen, of Thurmont, came out for the second year in a row Wednesday, bringing with them two of their nine total dogs. In tow this year were Finn, a border collie, and Virgil, a black lab.
“These dogs love to swim,” Neil Hingen said, adding, “there’s not many pools you can take them to,” which is one more reason they love the Westminster event.
Neil Hingen stood on the pool’s edge, throwing a tennis ball for Finn over and over.
“This one will go until he drops,” he said.
In total, the pair have four labs, two border collies, a German shepherd and two mutts, he said.
“What’s not great about dogs?” Neil Hingen said, adding, “‘They keep us active.”
There’s a camaraderie, he said. The dogs are like his children — always with him, he said.
Bonnie Hood, the program coordinator with Recreation and Parks, said she wasn’t sure how many years the event had been going on, but said it’s “one of the most popular summer events.”
Hood manned the gate in and out of the pool Wednesday, keeping all of the canine chaos inside the fence. The event, which is free, is a chance for dogs of all sizes to swim. They open up the baby pool to the smaller pups, while the larger dogs get to romp in the full-sized pool, she said.
“They let the chlorine levels, you know, drop and stuff like that that as soon as they close the pool to the public and then [the dogs] just have a blast,” she said.
In addition to getting to swim, owners get a “doggie bag,” which includes some toys for the dogs to play with, she said.
“They just take right to the water,” Hood said, later adding, “it just seems like all the dogs seem to be water dogs. You hardly get a shy one in the bunch.”