Steve Urbon @SteveUrbonSCT
DARTMOUTH — Dogs and puppies from across SouthCoast celebrated the end of the summer vacation season Saturday with a 90-minute romp at the Dartmouth YMCA's outdoor swimming pool. The event marks the official closing of the pool for winter.
Dogs with tags and collars along with adult owners with leashes were invited for the third year in a row to mark the Labor Day holiday with an all-out “Puppy Splash” sponsored by Camp Metacomet.
A $10 donation, according to the YMCA’s website, is going to help the YMCA’s annual campaign. Two prior years have been aimed at helping establishing a pet club that would give dog owners special activities.
The Gleason YMCA in Wareham had been following Dartmouth’s lead, but didn’t have a puppy event this year, so many residents of the Wareham area came to the Dartmouth one.
About 35 dogs converged on the fenced-in swimming pool, and they seemed to know exactly what it was that they were expected to do. Black labs in particular were quickly taking to the water to retrieve floating balls and other toys thrown in by the owners.
One heavy yellow lab made his presence known by doing cannonballs in the water while others were content to sniff around and stay close to their owners. Almost all the dogs were larger breeds, including a St. Bernard puppy.
Dog owners have been encouraged to join in the fun of the pool, but only two did this year: Krysten Kelso of Wareham with her chocolate lab, and Jennine Poirier, also of Wareham, there with her husband and their handicapped German shepherd/chow mix named Roxie.
Kelso said simply that she thought owners were expected to join in the swimming.
The chilly morning warmed quickly, but might have been a deterrent to put on a swimsuit.
Poirier, meanwhile along with husband Chris, were seeing to it that their Roxie could make the most of the event. “She had a back injury two years ago,” she explained. “She can walk but only slowly,” Jennine said. Roxie’s special wheelchair with a name tag license plate was maneuvered to the edge of the shallow portion of the pool and she was lifted out of the sling and gently lowered into the water with Jennine holding her.
Apart from them, the owners stayed out of the pool and on the concrete deck surrounding it.
There, the dogs put on a show that looked like as chaotic version of some kind of Olympic games. Some remarkably fast dogs chased each other in laps round the pool, somehow maneuvering at a top speed among the owners without knocking anyone over.
Some dogs hung out by the gate looking for a chance to get out onto the YMCA property for an even better run. One or two succeeded and had their owners chasing them all around the facility.
Dartmouth residents John and Marina Gunning’s black lab, meanwhile, stuck close to John because that is his job. The lab, named Izzy, is a service dog John obtained only a few months ago to help him overcome the post traumatic stress he has suffered since being injured in the Vietnam War, where he was a marine.
A surprise phone call from an old service buddy convinced Gunning to get a dog, and so Gunning applied to the Long Island based Vet Dogs of America.
After waiting two years, a black lab was finally ready for him.
“I went down there for two weeks to learn the commands,” Gunning said. He said that the organization trains dogs for very specific duties, such as assisting the blind. In his case, the PTSD dogs are taught how to help vets cope with “nightmare interruption” and stay sensitive to the mood of their owners. If he says “get help,” Izzy will go and get Marina.
Dog recipients, who are charged nothing for the animals, are brought to Long Island in groups depending on their circumstances, Gunning said. Cost to him? ”Not a dime.”
Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT
Source : http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20170902/puppy-splash-marks-end-of-summer-ymca-pool-closing