Wichitans embrace the dog days of summer in a very literal way and our furry residents are wagging their tails about it. They’re also leaping, catching flying discs and doing the doggie paddle.
That’s what you would expect to find at Park & Recreation’s annual Dog Days of Summer event at the College Hill Park pool. Not only was this an opportunity for our four-legged friends to take advantage of the City’s aquatic resources at the end of the swim season, it was also an opportunity for the Kansas Humane Society to raise a little money.
Small dogs were allowed to swim first and then the big dogs were invited to join them. Contestants vied for the coveted title of “Top Dog” in a long jump contest, but it was their two-legged companions who relished in the glory.
Harley, a four-year-old black Labrador Retriever from the east side of the city, appeared to be the odds-on favorite. He practiced his technique as his human, Steve Donovan, repeatedly threw a tennis ball into the pool. Each time, Harley would jump in, grab the ball and return it to Donovan. Surely, both of them were dog-tired at the end of the event.
Emily Hurst, chief development officer for the Kansas Humane Society, said the funds raised would be used to shelter, feed and vaccinate the animals it currently has under its care.
“It costs us roughly $300 to feed, house and provide medical care for each animal but we charge a $180 adoption fee,” Hurst said.
For the Humane Society, the event was clearly more than a fund raiser. ‘Ruffly’ 20 of the dogs at the event were once residents of the shelter.
“This is everything of what we’re about,” Hurst said. “We get to see them with their families that are loving them, taking care of them, doing fun things with them and being with their families.”
Candy Williams of Eastborough would definitely agree. She accompanied both the smallest and biggest dogs to the event and she calls both of them her own. Tia, a Chihuahua puppy, showed her Great Dane brother, Seamus, that small is mighty as she jumped fearlessly into the deep end of the pool while he watched with trepidation from the ledge.
“She’s the boss,” Williams said.
The Wichita City Council recently approved a new aquatics master plan that will fund major renovations at the City’s pools over the next few years and build six themed splash pads. As soon as next summer, other pools across the city will be redesigned with a zero-entry shallow end that could allow for more “Dog Days of Summer” events.
Isabella Ortega from downtown Wichita said she and her Pug, Elvis Pugsley, would definitely be there even though his approach to enjoying the pool is much more laid back.
After all, it’s a dog’s life.