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Pool goes to the dogs





It was a dog's life at Hays Aquatic Park on Saturday, with canines of all sizes enjoying the 12th annual K-9 Swim and Play.

They were frolicking in the water in the zero-depth entry pool, enjoying the last day the pool would be open for the summer. Not even a cool and cloudy day could dampen the enthusiasm.

"It's just a fun event for the dogs and dog owners to come out and enjoy a nice, safe environment where they get to play in the water here," said Grant Lacy, aquatics director for Hays Recreation Commission. "We always do it at the end of the summer; it makes kind of a mess."

Dog owners were allowed to enter the pool only so far.

"We lower the chlorine content of the water so it's safer for the animals," Lacy said. "We don't let guests in past their knees, for their safety."

Micah Dunn, a student at Fort Hays State University, was enjoying the time in the water with his dog, Molly, a labrador/spaniel mix.

"She loves it," Dunn said. "We go to the lake whenever we can; this is great for her."

Dunn said he noticed something about the dogs playing in the water.

"Half of them here in the water, they are labs," he said.

"They love it."

Corinne Petrick's dog, an English bulldog named Shamrock, was having a good time, too, she said. He was busy playing with a Great Dane, despite being dwarfed in size.

"Very sociable," Petrick said. "He loves all people, all animals."

Shamrock enjoyed the water -- except for one minor detail.

"He loves the water but can't swim, so we have to stay in the shallow end," Petrick said.

Petrick didn't know about the doggy day at the pool.

"This is my first one," she said. "A person drove by me while I was walking my dog and said, 'Don't forget, it's here today.' So I decided to bring him on down."

Petrick said she would like to see a dog park in Hays, something a local group has been working toward.

"It's somewhere where they can play and run, get that extra energy off, meet other dogs, too," Petrick said.

Friends of the Hays Dog Park had a stand set up at the pool entrance, with treats for everybody -- dogs and owners both.

"We started off with a treat sale for dogs, but we figured not everyone wants a dog treat, so we had people treats, too," said vice president Laurie Mortinger. "We're just trying to encourage people to support the dog park.

"Business is busy. People are buying treats to entice their dog to get into the water, and then they're buying treats to go home for themselves."

With all the fun, there were lifeguards on duty, too. Just in case.

"We still staff lifeguards in case a dog needs rescued," Lacy said.

"Or a person."