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Pooch plunge a treat for some

September 08, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

"Come on, Molly!"

Standing in the shallow end of Claude M. Potterfield Pool, Ellen Rice called to her dog, urging her to jump into the pool.

From behind, Rice's husband, Garrett, picked up Molly and tossed her in.

"She's stubborn," said Garrett Rice of Hagerstown. "You can tell which dogs are the water dogs."

At least 90 doggy paddlers were at the pool Wednesday night for the second annual Pooch Plunge - a fundraiser for The Humane Society of Washington County. Dogs and owners swim together for the season's "last swim," said Patty Edleblute, Hagerstown's recreation superintendent.

The pool should be drained by today, she said.

But Wednesday, large clumps of dog hair were visible in the pool, and the smell of wet dog was getting stronger as more made the brave leap into the pool.

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Bruce, a 2-year-old Saint Bernard, immediately jumped into the deep end, said his owner Laura Walker, of Waynesboro, Pa.

"He's so big, he cheats," she said of the 110-pound dog.

In about five feet of water, Bruce can touch the ground, but he moves his paws at the surface, pretending to swim. Bruce was one of the few dogs in the deep end, while most stayed in shallow water or on the outer edges of the pool.

Heather Martin of Boonsboro said her dog, Willow, likes to lounge in a large yellow softball mitt-shaped float at home, but was apprehensive Wednesday.

"We're getting used to it," she said.

Like many others, Willow took a break from swimming by resting her front paws on the edge of the pool.

Dr. Tracy Barlup, a veterinarian on site to handle emergencies, said swimming can be exhausting for dogs, and it is good for them to rest.

Joanne Physioc's mixed-breed dog, Elle, didn't have a chance to get tired. She made it only down the short ramp into the shallow end before hopping out. Physioc said it was twice as far as Elle made it at last year's Pooch Plunge.

"She's doing better this year," she said. "Last year, she would only go halfway down the ramp. Maybe next year she'll make it out into the pool."

E.J. Boutieller, 11, of Hagerstown said his dog, Sasha, a terrier, used to enjoy the water a lot more. Now that his dog is older, he had to pick her up and put her into the pool when she stopped paddling down the ramp, he said.

Hilda Wilhelm of Hagerstown said her Shih Tzu, Nina, went in the pool for a few minutes, but got right back out.

"She doesn't really take to the water or the excitement," Wilhelm said. "She likes the company and looking at other dogs."

Nina got to look at many more dogs than the 30 that showed up at last year's doggie pool party. Cindy Kalkbrenner, director of development and community relations for The Humane Society, said the event was "phenomenal. I didn't know Hagerstown had this many dogs."

Kalkbrenner said The Humane Society would like to hold the fundraiser again next year.

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