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05

Sep 2018

Bowman Considers Converting Wading Pools to Permanent Dog Pools

Posted by / in Features, INFORMATION / 1 comment

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Posted: 09/5/2018 4:00 AM

Wading pool for dogs experiment has big proponent in Mayor Brian Bowman

By: Doug Speirs

 

If you love dogs, you are my friend. I suppose that Hallmark card-style sentiment is about as close as I come to having a philosophy of life.

 

KAYLEIGH SPEIRS PHOTO

Doug Speirs (left) holds Juno along with Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and his dog, Indiana.

 

It also explains why I like hanging out from time to time with Winnipeg’s dog-loving mayor, Brian Bowman.

Last summer, for instance, I joined the mayor and an adorable two-year-old German shepherd cross named Dorothy for a sunny walk around city hall to promote Winnipeg’s Animal Services Agency’s dog-adoption program.

It was the launch of an unofficial new program wherein the mayor invited local personalities and community leaders to join him and a canine companion for casual strolls downtown to help adoptable dogs find “forever homes.”

On Saturday, in the middle of the holiday weekend, my newest dog, Juno, and I joined the mayor and his 12-year-old miniature Labradoodle, Indiana, for a refreshing late-summer dip in the Bruce Park wading pool in St. James.

This is the second straight year the city has gone to the dogs in the sense it has transformed two of its wading pools into canine-only facilities on the final day before the pools are closed for the season.

The way it worked was licensed dogs under 30 pounds were allowed to splash around at Bruce Park from 10 a.m. to noon, while dogs over 30 pounds were invited from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It was the same at Norwood wading pool, except larger dogs had the first time slot.

I was pretty pumped up about dog day at the pool because I have never seen any of my hounds swim, other than a brief dip in an inflatable kiddie pool in our backyard.

For the record, I had also been promising for months to give Brian a copy of Finding Gobi, a heart-tugging book about an ultra-marathon runner named Dion Leonard, whose life is changed forever when he crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 250-kilometre race through the Gobi Desert in China.

If you love dogs, or even enjoy hearing about crazy people who run ridiculously long distances, you have to read this book.

But that’s not the point. The point is: it is difficult, using mere words, to describe how funny it is to watch a couple of dozen dogs having the time of their lives racing around after tennis balls in a city wading pool. But I will try: It is very, very funny!

And there is some extremely exciting news for Winnipeg dog owners who like the idea of letting their best friends beat the heat by cooling off in a wading pool normally reserved for pint-sized humans.

As his family kept a wary eye on Indiana, and my daughter, Kayleigh, took photos of a waterlogged Juno, the mayor explained that he is hoping to expand the doggie days at the pool project next summer.

“I think it’s great!” the mayor beamed as our dogs joined at least a dozen other soggy canines racing around the pool and attempting to retrieve complimentary tennis balls. “What I love about this is the dogs are happy and, even more importantly, the owners are happy. I’m thrilled. We started this last year and it’s been a huge hit. The tails have been up the whole time.”

Which means dogs may enjoy more days at city wading pools next year.

“What I’m going to be doing this week is touching base with our pools and animal services folks to see what makes sense in terms of looking at maybe opening some of these wading pools once a week, or possibly once a month, during the summer months or even the idea of converting one or a number of these wading pools to permanent dog pools,” the mayor told me.

“We’d have to look at the current usage of children in these wading pools and where it would make sense based on the feedback. We’d have to do some due diligence about what’s possible and do some consultations.

“I think what’s more likely is just once a week, say Sundays would be the day, that a number of them would be (dog pools) just for that day. At this pool… the water is drained at the end of the day anyways.”

The idea of opening pools to canine residents stemmed from a conversation Bowman had with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi a couple of years ago.

“We were talking about amenities for dogs and how popular what they were doing in Calgary was. So we tried it out last year just to see how it would go, and it was an overwhelming success. I’m really pleased to see how many people are with us here today.”

He noted Winnipeggers have been howling with excitement over canine amenities such as the city’s new downtown dog park that opened in Bonnycastle Park last year.

“What we’ve seen with the downtown dog park is a sense of community that happens when dogs bring their owners to each other,” he said. “What we’re seeing here (at the wading pool) today is folks meeting each other, talking about their dogs. It’s all about community; it’s about bringing people together. That’s what we’ve seen with the downtown dog park.”

Of course, when you bring your dog for a swim you need to pay strict attention to the safety rules. Because you don’t want to step in a poodle.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

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1 comment
  • susan dyck

    September 5, 2018, pm30 8:34 PM
    01

    If all wading pools could be utilized in this way would be super duper awesome.

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