ORANGE CITY—Between the water and the more than 50 dogs running loose, the Orange City Municipal Aquatic Facility was no place for cats Tuesday evening.
The pool celebrated the end of the summer season with its annual dog swim, where pooch owners could bring their four-legged family members out to cool off and have fun with other canines.
“I know people have a lot of love for their dogs, and sometimes it’s, you know, their child of the family, so it gives them a chance to bring them into a pool and just hang out and have fun,” said Mitch Aalbers, director of Orange City parks and recreation.
He said the pool has held the dog swim for about eight years, and it has always been the day after Labor Day. Aalbers guessed about 35 dogs came to last year’s swim.
Maurice resident Jenni Kroese said she had brought her English golden retriever, Indy, to the dog swim a year ago and decided to come back again.
“We live on a farm, so he gets a lot of exercise, but not like this, this is different,” she said. “But I came last year, and it was just like super amazing, all the dogs.”
The dog swim was open for free to the public, however, dog owners could make a donation that would go toward Orange City’s dog park.
Aalbers said people use the dog park every day, and the city eventually would like to add accessories to the park such as tunnels and a ramp for dogs to use.
Supporting the dog park was one of the reasons Orange City resident Jess Kuehl decided to bring her 7-year-old Weimaraner, Jasper, to the dog swim.
“I want to give support to the dog park here in town and enjoy the beautiful night, the last night of the pool,” she said.
Kuehl also said she wanted to let Jasper out for some exercise and allow him to socialize with other dogs.
Jasper was hesitant to get in the water at first, choosing instead to sniff out the perimeter of the pool and meet other dogs.
Another dog that was not eager to hop in the water at first was Indie, a 1-year-old goldendoodle belonging to Tim Van Zee of Orange City.
“We enjoy the dog park and thought we’d go out,” Van Zee said.
Van Zee and his family urged their dog to get in the water by tossing a floating toy in the small pool at the bottom of the water slide. As much she wanted her toy, Indie chose to remain on the concrete and see if it would float to her.
Van Zee eventually had to rescue the toy with a pool net before he and his family brought Indie to the main pool, where she could gradually enter the water at the shallow section.
The shallow section also was where Amanda Olson of Orange City introduced her dog, Sully, to the water for the first time. A mix between a Corgi and a blue heeler, the small, three-month-old puppy could not wade far into the pool while keeping his head above water.
Olson said she did not know if Sully liked to swim, which is why she brought him to the dog swim.
Although Sully dog-paddled at the edge of the pool entrance, his owner concluded swimming was not his favorite activity.
One dog who did enjoy the water was Grace, a 5-year-old border collie belonging to Orange City resident Cindy DeVries.
“We’ve actually never been before,” DeVries said of the dog swim.
“She just loves the water. It’s just kind of a fun way to let her get out and burn off some steam.”
DeVries and Grace played a game of fetch with a flying disc, which DeVries would either toss in the water or to a clear space on the concrete. No matter if it landed in the pool or on dry ground, Grace eagerly ran after it and even tried to catch it in the air.
“She can catch it on the fly over her back shoulder because she’s like a beach dog,” DeVries said as Grace chased after the disc.
As the last of the pups exited the pool at the end of the hourlong swim, the dog days of summer in Orange City truly came to an end.