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Dog days of summer

September 9, 2018

POCATELLO -- The doggie paddle was the stroke of choice at the Ross Park Aquatic Complex Saturday.

And though people weren’t allowed to enter the pools, hundreds of shaking, wet canines made certain no human missed out on the chance to cool off on a sunny afternoon.

For the fifth time, Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter hosted Splash Dance for Dogs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pet owners who participated in the fundraiser, hosted after the close of the general swimming season but before the city’s pools were drained, got to turn their dogs loose at the swimming facility.

Admission was $10 per dog and benefited the nonprofit organization’s general fund, supporting community services such as subsidized cat adoptions, discounted pet adoptions for military veterans, assistance with veterinary care, subsidized adoption fees for older dogs and a cell dog program, in which inmates at the local women’s prison train dogs to make them more adoptable.

“We have all kinds of funds set up in order to help the shelter help the animals,” said Barbara Stone, the organization’s board chairwoman.

Stone said the organization formed about 20 years ago to help build a new animal shelter. With that goal now accomplished, the organization has found several other ways to be of service. Splash Dance drew more than 300 dogs last summer, in the event’s largest year.

Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter had supported a similar event in Lava Hot Springs, until it was discontinued, and they replaced it with the Pocatello event, Stone explained. There was little, if any, growling as dogs happily barked at one another and swam in packs after dozens of flying tennis balls.

“This is a neutral area. Rarely do we see any problems whatsoever, and if a problem does start, there are tons of volunteers all around who will stop it immediately,” Stone said.

Cheerleaders from Century High School aided in registering guests.

The major fundraiser for Friends of the Pocatello Animal Shelter is an April race in which owners run with their pets, called Run with the Big Dogs.

Local pet owner Melanie Gygli’s dog was one of the stronger swimmers at the pool, having practiced paddling often in the Portneuf River, and seemed oblivious to other dogs as he repeatedly dove from the ledge in pursuit of tennis balls.

“I don’t think he cares who else is here. He just wants to play in the water,” Gygli said.

For lifeguard Brevin Vaughan, Saturday was a laid-back shift, and doggone fun.

“I like the dogs a lot more,” Vaughan said. “You don’t have to whistle at them. You don’t have to tell them not to run. You just watch them have fun.”

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