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Maplewood pool becomes a 'dog dish' one day each year

Dozens of nervous, excited dogs take over the public pool for one day after it closes for the season.

MAPLEWOOD, Mo. — It’s a sign that summer is coming to an end. They called in the dogs on Saturday in Maplewood-Richmond Heights.

For one day each year, the Maplewood Family Aquatic Center becomes a giant dog dish. Dozens of dogs, escorted by their owners, get to play in the pool.

Reese’s owner, Megan Phelan, described her black dog’s mighty leap into the pool.

“Reese loves water,” said Phelan. “We call him our land seal. We take him to the dog park and if it has a lake, we can’t keep him out of it.”

After the “people swimming” season comes to an end, dogs take over for one glorious day at the Parks and Recreation Co-op Doggie Dive. It looked like the dog catcher opened the gates at the wrong address. Nervous, excited dogs ran into and out of the swimming pool with canine wild abandon for four hours.

A dog named Poseidon splashed out of the water, enjoying himself immensely. While it may not be natural for dogs to go down a slide, it is natural for dogs to swim, which several demonstrated.

“That’s a Chuckit,” said Mackenzie Camden, describing the rubber-plastic toy her dog retrieved from the water. “It’s like a toy that floats.”

Remy was quite skilled at it.

On the other hand, some dogs needed help getting out of the water. Denzel Jones could be seen lifting Kato.

“I thought he loved to swim, but I guess not,” said Jones.

 “The dogs have a lot of fun,” said Nancy Willison, Sophie’s Owner. “They only get one chance at it during the summer.”

Some dogs sport shark fins. Others never leave their owners’ laps.

Schatzy’s owner, Josh Davis, said, “This is her first time. She was born and raised in Alaska, so she didn’t ever get to go outside and play with other dogs, so she’s a little timid, but she’s doing good.”

Craig Richason, the owner of Buddy and Molly, said, “They get out, they get to play in the water, and they see all the dogs in the whole community, all at once. They just have a lot of fun.”

There is an admission fee. Participants must sign a liability waiver. No more than two dogs are allowed, per person.

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