Splish splash, they were having a blast

Loomis, a yellow Lab, flies into the air to catch a rubber duck thrown by his owner, Tor Larson, during the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department’s Dog Days swim at the Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool.

If Soda Pop could imagine her perfect morning, it might look something like Sunday.

Warmed by the sun and cooled by 84-degree water, Soda Pop repeatedly leaped into Lincoln Park-Moyer Pool to retrieve a tennis ball, before dog-owner Dave Jessup made his 16-month-old chocolate Labrador take a breather.

Soda, as Dave and Misty Jessup call their dog, wanted nothing to do with a timeout, looking up at Dave and then looking down at the tennis ball, a bit perturbed.

“This is her dream come true, really,” Misty said. “A pool full of tennis balls.”

It was likely a dream shared by the dozens of dogs who came with their owners to the annual Lincoln Park Dog Days event, at which the city’s aquatics director, Tina Ross, typically lets dogs get one last crack at the pool before closing it for the winter.

The pool closed to people on Sept. 6, enabling Ross to lower the water and stop chlorinating it in time for Dog Days. She and her staff will clean the pool thoroughly after Sunday’s event.

The decision to keep holding Dog Days is twofold, Ross said. First, it’s simple to stage. Two, a decision to end Dog Days would lead to angry phone calls or letters from owners, she admitted.

Stacy, a golden retriever and Labrador mix, certainly would be disappointed. She longs to fetch things from the water, as owners Larry Kinnick and Wendi Hurst demonstrated Sunday by repeatedly throwing a tennis ball-looking toy into the water.

Unlike other dogs. who initially seemed confused by the ledge along the pool’s side, Stacy dove in the moment her toy was in the air without as much as a glimpse into what was actually jumping into.

“We come up from Montrose every year,” Larry said. “We never miss it.”

Among the dozens of dogs jumping, running and playing Sunday were the expected mix of retrievers and dogs that appeared to have some retreiver   in their genes.

However, there was at least one surprise guest paddling in the shallow pool. Grace, a 5-year-old American bulldog, had to overcome a fear of water to make it to Sunday. As a puppy, Grace showed zero interest in water, until owners Molly and Brian Malbery forced Grace into the water after she had all her shots.

The indoctrination by force worked, because Grace loves the water, and even has a tendency to pretend she’s a shark by preying on other dog’s toys, Molly said.

Although everyone’s dogs were free to run around the pool deck and jump into water Sunday, the owners were required to keep their dogs on leashes coming and going from the pool. Once inside the fenced pool area, it became a canine utopia: water, toys, no leashes and plenty of play companions.

The Jessups were excited the Grand Junction area offered a fun way to exercise their dog. After a morning of swimming, they expected Soda to eat lunch and then take a long nap.


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