'Fur Babies Pool Party': Bennington Recreational Center pool goes to the dogs

BENNINGTON — Usually the Bennington Recreational Center's pool isn't a place to find swimming dogs, but on Saturday afternoon the pool allowed dogs to dive in during the first annual "Fur Babies Pool Party."

The event provided support for the Second Chance Animal Shelter, with a $5 entry fee and a can of dog or cat food, according to Tracy Knights, coordinator of the event and Rec Center director.

Knights estimated that about seven pups had shown up for the 60-pound dog part of the event. Dogs swam at the shallow part of the pool. For the smaller dogs, the pool would get drained a little more, to accommodate for their size. No chlorine was in the pool during the event.

Each dog had the chance to swim in the water for up to two hours, as long as they were signed up for an hour time slot. Proof of a rabies vaccination and a dog license was required. Besides water time, the dogs could also go outside and play in a fenced-in area.

Hosting a pool party for dogs had only been an idea for the past few years, Knights said. After hearing a successful similar event elsewhere, the Rec Center began to plan to turn the event into a reality. The town's building grounds supervisor, Larry McLeod, approved the event.

"It's been a great day for it, and we're definitely going to do it again next year," Knights said. "Maybe next year we'll try something different like a costume [theme] or a relay race."

For the first year, they just wanted to keep it "laid back and to see how the dogs like it," she said. They wanted to see how the turnout would be, as well.

Dogs paddled their way around the shallow end of the pool, some with tennis balls in their mouths, others with a Frisbee — toys and treats were supplied by the center.

For some of the dogs, the pool party was the first time they had ever dipped their paws into a pool. Knights said that some of the dogs had done most of their swimming in lakes, where they could just walk themselves into the water. In a pool, the dogs had to walk down the stairs to get in.

Mercedes Harris's year-old golden retriever, Lexi, was apprehensive about climbing down the steps into the pool. Harris tried to ease her pooch's trouble by trekking into the water with her, but her pup ended up huddling against her.

After a few minutes of easing into the water, the dog stayed in long after the others had gotten out. Harris explained that this was Lexi's first time in a pool and she believed the size of the pool was a cause of her anxiety.

"She had lots of fun and she's finally swimming," Harris said. "I think [the center] should do it more often. I also think it's great they're donating to the animal shelter."

John Ottomanelli ended up climbing into the pool with his Black Mouth Cur, Jake. Saturday also marked the first time that dog had been in a pool. His rescue pup's pool toy of choice was a green Frisbee. Jake swam in cycles with the toy in his mouth.

"It's been great," Ottomanelli said. "He loves the water and I love it too."

Jean Canalluzzi's golden retriever, Kate, played along her son and his cousin. Both boys also helped ensure that Kate got in and out of the water — sometimes having to guide her toward the stairs. Sometimes Canalluzzi had to help them pick her up and place her outside of the pool. Kate's pool toy of choice was a tennis ball.

"I think it's fantastic," Canalluzzi said. "Kate absolutely loves the water, it's fun to watch her swim."


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions