WALLINGFORD — Their backstrokes might need work, but the doggie paddle was on display at the Wallingford Family YMCA’s Puppie Plunge on Sunday.
“I think it’s a really unique event, because not a lot of places are going to open their doors not only to all humans in the community, but also all dogs,” said Alex Hunter, the YMCA’s aquatics director.
The pool is set to be drained and cleaned this week after the busy summer season, giving owners the perfect chance to let their dogs enjoy a swim.
“It’s just a really unique place and a really unique space to hang out with your furry friend,” Hunter said. “Especially in the dog days of summer, because it’s so, so hot out today, so I'm sure the dogs are appreciating the chance to cool off.”
After cajoling his English bulldog Homer into the water, Jeff Polley said it was nice to give the dogs a break from the heat and play with them in a different environment. Like the children who used the pool all summer, some of the dogs were right at home swimming after their toys, while others clung to the side.
“In the summer it’s a great way to cool off,” said Jessica Mudd, a worker at The Crate Escape, a local dog day care and groomer which sponsored the event. “It’s just a fun activity for them to do.”
Proceeds from the event go to the YMCA’s Community Support Campaign, which reduces the price of membership and event registration for low-income families. The plunge specifically raised money to subsidize swimming lessons for children.
The lessons are focused on teaching kids as young as 6 months old safe swimming and how to help someone drowning.
“We also try to teach them those technical skills of swimming, so that maybe if they’re really interested and they really enjoy it, they can be on a swim team,” said Hunter, who teaches some of the classes. “It’s important to keep swimming all year, a lot of people just think of swimming lessons as something you do right before summer comes, but if you’re not building those skills throughout the year...you’re going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to those pool parties.”