112014Pups at pool crop

Maxine Weber, volunteer and guest blogger, shares her thoughtful and often humorous observations from inside the WDC.

Last night most of the country was suffering from the effects of a polar vortex. The daytime temperature in Philadelphia did not get above freezing. But, surprisingly enough, I was going swimming. That is, me and a few pups. Last night was the night we decided to check out a local pet hotel that happens to have a swimming pool for dogs. Our trip was part exposure to new environments, part good exercise and part dog happiness.

Since none of us had been to this pet hotel before, it was going to be a novel experience for both the dogs and the people who were going. So we loaded up a few cars with some dogs, some trainers and some foster parents. It sounded like a good plan – 6 dogs, 2 trainers, 1 vet student, 8 foster parents and 1 sherpa (me) carrying an armload of beach towels. We had a good 2 people per dog ratio.

The pool was bigger than some human hotel pools and heated, happily, to 75 degrees. Although the pool was covered, the dome was not heated. The steam rising off the warm water and hitting the cool air, combined with some dim lighting, gave the room a spooky feeling. I wondered how the dogs would react to what could look a bit like walking into a patch of dense fog.

To be easy on ourselves, we started with one of the older dogs, who was a seasoned swimmer – Jesse P. Jesse P + water = happier than a pig in mud. Jesse entered the water using the ramp exactly once. After that – it was all running dives, fling through the air, paws outstretched, doing big belly flops. He reminded me of a teenaged boy trying to make the biggest splash possible to soak the most number of bystanders. Jesse also had a keen sense of who was “on land” trying to stay dry and inevitably stood next to that person to do his doggie body-shake-to-remove-excess-water-from-fur.

Three of Zzisa’s lab pups were next. Several had not been swimming before. A couple needed a little tennis ball encouragement, but all were soon swimming happily across the pool.   The star of the show among the pups was Pierce. This little girl was a let your ears fly, no holds barred swimming machine! She even went so far as to push her fellow little mates off the ramp if they were moving too slow for her. Not very lady-like but she was determined to jump into the pool as many times as her little legs would carry her. I think there’s a future for her with the Coast Guard or perhaps the Navy?

When Trainer Pat called the end to swim time, it was an all hands on deck effort to keep the dogs, once out, from jumping back into the pool.   Note to self – dogs are slippery when wet. So about 14 wet beach towels later, we were all dried off. Happy and tired, the crew drove home with the car heaters blasting. Take that polar vortex.