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Pooches take the plunge at Hagerstown pool

September 04, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- The frisbees were flying and so was the fur Wednesday evening at the Claude M. Potterfield Swimming Pool, where the final swim of the summer was reserved for dogs and dog lovers in an annual tradition that grows in popularity each year.

"People have been talking about it," said Katherine Cooker, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of Washington County, which organizes the "Pooch Plunge" event. "There's been a real buzz."

More than 150 families attended the event this year, many with several dogs, said Humane Society volunteer Ann Marie Brigido. There was a steady line to get into the pool for more than an hour, Brigido said.

Allen Burch, 54, of Hagerstown, drew attention when he arrived clutching the entangled leashes of five brown and white Brittanies. The dogs, including one puppy, were four generations of the same family, Burch said.

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Staff from Widow's Mite Farm Kennels in Fairplay, Md., also brought along five dogs. All five dogs, which were there with their owners, were participants in the kennel's doggie daycare program, owner Marcie Michael said.

"They're having a blast," Michael said. The kennel has three splash pools, but those are nothing compared to the olympic-sized Potterfield pool, she said.

The Widow's Mite dogs, many of which were Labradors, took readily to the water, but other dogs were more reluctant.

Jen Johnson, 36, of Waynesboro, Pa., splashed in the water and called pleadingly to her standard poodle, Stanley, to encourage him to jump in, but the dripping, curly-haired dog only whined from the edge of the pool.

Buck, a fluffy golden-haired dog, didn't even get that close.

"He doesn't like bath time, and I think this whole thing is like a whole big bath time," said his owner, Kelly Stottlemyer, 36, of Hagerstown.

Cinnamon, a 12-year-old daschund, was too old to swim, but his owner, Marsha Dieterich, 47, of Funkstown, held him in the water so he could take a dip.

Later, as Cinnamon warmed up wrapped in a towel, Dieterich watched the other dogs and commented on how well they all got along.

"You don't see any of them fighting," she said.

Dieterich said she thought the Pooch Plunge was a great idea.

"It lets the dogs socialize, and at least you know everyone here is a dog lover," she said.

Michael agreed.

"It's a great way to close the pool down for the end of the summer and raise funds for the Humane Society," she said. "It's good clean dog fun."

Proceeds from the event go to "Charlie's Fund," which was created in memory of a poodle who was poisoned by a neighbor in 2004, Cooker said. The funds are used to promote humane treatment of animals and help owners pay to have their pets treated for possible poisoning, she said.

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