By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — The overcast sky did little to dim the sunny faces at Kennedy Aquatic Center’s annual Dog Swim Sept. 10.
In its 14th year, Dog Swim marks a tail-wagging end to summer.
“The Saturday after we close the pool park to the public, but before we drain, we let our four-legged friends enjoy the pools,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Joanne Gonyea, who brought her 14-year-old Labrador retriever.
The director quickly assured safety for the animals.
“We do reduce the chemicals, so the water isn’t full of chemicals and is safe for the dogs,” she said.
Though lifeguards are on duty to ensure no humans find themselves tripping into the pool, they lend a hand to the occasional weak canine swimmer as well. However, most of the dogs feel at home in the pools and splash field.
Bridget, an 8-year-old golden retriever, eagerly navigated the dive, swim and steps to fetch her toy. Her owner, Fred Fisher, was happy to oblige, tossing the ball into the pool again and again.
“It’s her favorite time of year,” Fisher said between tosses. “She loves it here.”
This was Bridget’s fifth year in attendance. Avid fishers and kayakers, both Fisher and Bridget are grateful for the clean water the swim offers.
“It’s great,” Fisher said. “She can swim without needing a bath afterwards, which she always needs after taking a dip in the lake.”
Unlike Bridget, April Falknewicz’s yellow Lab, Chloe, doesn’t usually go swimming.
“But she loves it here,” Falknewicz said. “Seeing the different kinds of dogs here, sometimes, dogs you don’t think would enjoy swimming do. It’s really something.”
And all the dogs were getting along, said Melissa Lawler, marveling at the sight from the Woodhaven and Trenton Animal Shelter booth, as the dogs frolicked without incident.
Shelter volunteer Sandy Roberts, wearing a “My Favorite Breed is Rescued” T-shirt, agreed.
“You couldn’t put this many people together and have them get along this well,” Roberts said.
The shelter volunteers dispensed chew toys, while reminding guests that although no felines were in attendance, they’re good companions as well. The Woodhaven and Trenton Animal Shelter took the opportunity to spread the word about the no-adoption-fee special for kittens. A $50 spay or neuter fee is reimbursed once the surgery receipt is presented.
Veterinarian Greg Raspbury and staff offered nail trimming services for a donation.
“It’s reassuring to have them here,” Gonyea said of the trimmers. “Sometimes, a dog snags a nail getting in or out of the pool, but they can check them over immediately.”
Event sponsors included Gibraltar Veterinary, Riverview Animal Hospital and Bubble Puppy.
“Even with the less-than-optimal weather, I believe we still enjoyed over 100 dogs,” Gonyea said. “It’s usually between 100 to 150. Everyone has a smile on their face. It really is a joyous event.”
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)