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Dogs paddle at Potterfield pool

September 06, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - On the way to the pool for the Humane Society's annual "Pooch Plunge" Wednesday evening, Eric Rosenthal's 12-year-old son, Michael, asked him how many people he thought would be there.

Rosenthal guessed there might be 20 people. He wasn't even close.

More than 140 people and about 110 dogs showed up to swim together at Claude M. Potterfield pool, raising more than $400 in memory of the Rosenthal's poodle, Charlie, who was poisoned by a neighbor in 2005.

It was the fifth year the Humane Society of Washington County hosted the event, but the first time it dedicated the proceeds to Charlie's Fund, the organization's spokeswoman, Katherine Cooker, said.

The Rosenthals recently established the fund to promote humane treatment of animals and to help owners pay to have their pets tested for possible poisoning, Rosenthal said. It also will be used to educate pet owners about household substances that can be toxic to pets, like the antifreeze that killed Charlie, he said.

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"Until this happened, I never knew an animal ingesting antifreeze could die," Rosenthal said.

Looking out over the pool filled with dogs, ranging from golden retrievers paddling after tennis balls to miniature poodles quivering in their owners' arms, Rosenthal said the moment was "bittersweet."

"Charlie used to love to swim, so he would have loved this," Rosenthal said.

Mary Jane Peters also was touched by the sight.

"After all that publicity about that dog fighting case, to see something like this is just beautiful," said Peters, a former lifeguard who doesn't have a dog but comes to the event every year.

"I think Hagerstown has a tremendous amount of dog lovers - of animal lovers," Peters said.

Mark Noll, the pool's assistant manager, counts himself as one of them. And it's a good thing, he said, because he will probably be the one to drain the pool today and begin cleaning out the dog hair. The dogs, he said, will have gotten the final swim until the pool reopens next summer.

Alanna Maylea, a 2-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, seemed to be enjoying every minute of it. As her owner, Mary Perkins, 50, of Williamsport, slipped into the water with Alanna Maylea in her arms, the tiny dog immediately began paddling, swimming in a circle around her owner.

Meanwhile, another Yorkie, 7-year-old Tippy, swam for the first time in the kiddie pool.

"She passed her swim test!" 11-year-old Hart Weaver yelled. The Weavers' other dog, Marley, a black labradoodle, didn't take as well to the water, 13-year-old Wade Weaver said.

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