The Dog Dayz of Boulder
Article and photos by John Andreula
Edited by Kodid Laraque-Two Elk
What’s more Boulder, Colorado than dog owners taking their K-9 friends to the local community pool?
Hosted by the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department, Dog Dayz is an annual event that allows Boulder residents the chance to let their dogs have the experience of swimming at Scott Carpenter Pool, Boulder’s only fifty meter pool. The furry buds are allowed to take a dip but humans are strictly prohibited; an interesting reversal of the normal rules.
The Parks and Rec Department closed the pool to the hot masses of summer the week after Labor Day. Before they empty the pool to prepare it for the upcoming $14.2 million tax voter approved reconstruction scheduled to begin next year¹, BPR is hosting the two week event that has been running for over a decade.
I went early on the second day to check out the event. I figured it would be entertaining and peaceful. Plus, watching dogs swim and jump in the full size community pool sounded like it would be quite meditative.
Two young ladies clad in yellow volunteer t-shirts greeted me at the entry gate. I introduced myself, and told them I would be writing about the event. Rachel, one of the two volunteers, went looking for some unnamed coordinator or supervisor.
She returned shortly after, unable to find the supervisor, so I picked a spot at a picnic table on the south side of the pool and set up shop. Cassie, the volunteer coordinator of the event, approached and introduced herself.
Cassie explained how the event has been “volunteer run for three years now.” She stated that the Dog Dayz event is “very Boulder” and “community focused and community run.” Volunteers would either sign up to be a lead volunteer, participating in an entire day, or a shift volunteer, working either the morning or the afternoon session.
Cassie told me she works part time for the Boulder Parks and Rec Department. She typically is in charge of one day events hosted by the department. She runs seventy-two other events besides Dog Dayz, her only multi-day event. I inquired what other events were Cassie’s favorites to plan and she mentioned “Prep the Rez,” the annual Boulder Reservoir kick-off event where volunteers get the “Rez”ready for the upcoming season by weeding, painting lines, and cleaning windows. Cassie also communicated passion towards the Y.S.I., or Youth Services Initiative. The Y.S.I. provides recreational opportunities for Boulder’s low income community. They host a holiday dinner with Santa and gives gifts and meals to families. I thanked Cassie for her service to the community and shared my surprise that she did all this within a part time position.
Tennis balls were floating throughout the pool along the edges. One dog owner, Melissa, stood on the opposite side of the pool near the deep end and used a long orange launcher to send a ball three quarters of the way across the width of the pool while Charlotte, her pup, dog-paddled happily across the pool. Charlotte would emit yelps the whole way and would need to be hoisted out of the pool by her collar when she returned to the edge.
Melissa also had a small terrier who stood close by her and refused to take the plunge. There were other hold-outs standing with their owners around the pool, but many were willing to jump or get helped in and swim around. Most stayed close to the edge, but like Charlotte, some ventured out quite a ways into the middle.
Cassie pointed out Natalie Meisler, wearing a volunteer shirt and straw hat on the other side of the pool closer to the shallow end than Melissa. She recommended I speak with her about the event as well. Natalie came over a bit later to chat. I asked Natalie if it was weird that I had come without a pooch of my own. She told me people come all the time just to watch.
She told me about the High Flying Dog Expo planned for the upcoming Saturday, September 16th, between 10am and 3pm. During the Expo volunteers set up a ramp and a tape measure. Dogs would run and jump off the ramp and their distance would be measured and recorded for prizes. Vendors set up booths and hand out samples of their products to gain in person exposure for their companies and services. What a unique concept?
Natalie told me she was a second year volunteer. She explained that “little dogs are a little squirrelly” around the pool. She spoke of the importance of people cleaning up after their dogs. She even rose from the bench to watch to see if Melissa was going to pick up Charlotte’s leavings when Charlotte’s time had come to evacuate herself in the bushes. Melissa did her responsible duty and Natalie settled back into her seat.
Natalie told me that the most important thing volunteers do is defuse fights. She stated, “Anyone who gets along in dog parks, they will do fine here.” I asked Natalie how she discovered Dog Dayz. She said years ago she saw an ad and brought her pug, Cici. Cici likes to run around the pool, but doesn’t care for the getting wet part.
As I sat and wrote my notes I witnessed the larger dogs arriving. A chocolate lab dove out about five feet. A golden retriever paddled circles with a tennis ball in its mouth before bringing it out to its owner, who was sporting a 2017 Bolder Boulder shirt. The golden was reluctant to dive back in, but loved it once in the pool. By the time I was leaving the amount of dogs swimming around the shallow end had tripled, as did the owner’s chatting amongst themselves around the edge.
Dog Dayz expected to draw thousands of pups and their owners. The cost was five dollars per dog and passes were available for forty dollars allowing unlimited access throughout the event’s two week span. Multiple dog owners enjoyed additional passes for only $10 per dog.
Dog Dayz 2018 took place between September 10th and the 23rd. Hours were 11am-2pm and 4pm-7pm Monday through Friday and 10am-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. All dogs were welcome, but the first hour of each session was set aside for dogs under fifty pounds, so as to not overwhelm the little guys.
Scott Carpenter Pool is tucked back on the southwest corner of the busy intersection of 30th St. and Arapahoe Ave. behind the firehouse, graffiti wall, and free skate park. It is an outdoor pool with diving board, lap lanes, zero entry, and a ramp for access for the disabled. The newly renovated pool is set to reopen in 2020².
The pool sits adjacent to the amazing Scott Carpenter Park. Both are named after the late Boulder native, Commander Scott Carpenter, who was one of the first human spacemen and the second man to orbit the Earth after John Glenn.
Dog Dayz for 2018 has now come to a close. If you ever see a similar event in your area I recommend grabbing your dog and leash and heading down. Even if you do not have a dog, like me, it was a pretty cool spectacle to witness. Like Cassie said, it was “very Boulder.”
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