Pooch Plunge on Sunday (Sept. 2)
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
Tails wagging, they pull on their leads, howling with excitement until the gate opens. And then they’re off — diving into the pool, prancing through the splash pad or running around on the grass at Stronach Community Recreation Centre.
This sight will be seen again this year, when the annual London Dog Owners Association-hosted Pooch Plunge takes place for the sixth time on Sept. 2.
“Once you get inside, they (the pet owners) unleash their dogs and all of the dogs scatter; it’s unique to see,” said Lee-Ann McCormick, co-ordinator of the Pooch Plunge and member of the association. “You get a whole pile of dogs that will jump in the pool, (and) you’ll get the ones that will go to the splash pad.
“It’s really funny — they get really, really excited.”
For one day of the year, the fenced-in Stronach park becomes an off-leash playground for up to 225 pups. Tickets are $6 per dog and there are three, 50-minute sessions available beginning at 1 p.m., 2:10 p.m. and 3:20 p.m. Registration begins at noon and only 75 dogs can be permitted into the park at a time.
There will also be a silent auction held at the event.
Aside from having a dog licence and up-to-date rabies shots, the only other requirement is the pups must be friendly — aggressive ones will have to leave.
It’s not just a fun-filled day for the dogs, but for their owners too, McCormick said. She added it’s nice to be able to have the pooches legally and safely swimming in a pool.
“The chemicals have been taken out so there’s no chlorine in it,” McCormick said. “It’s safe for the dogs and it’s so nice.”
Heather Pinsky organized the first Pooch Plunge six years ago as a fundraiser. Even after handing the event over to the London Dog Owners Association, she said she still attends with her four-legged friend.
“It’s amazing, I love it. It’s just a fun event to watch,” Pinsky said, adding she’s been to all but one Pooch Plunge event. “There’s lots of things — the dogs will play with Frisbees or tennis balls.
“It looks like hysteria, but it’s not.”
McCormick said the London Hunt Country Club donates all of the tennis balls for the event.
But, if you’re worried about the sanitary aspects of treading water with the dogs, McCormick said that’s not a problem. In fact, owners can only enter the water up to their knees and the pooches get the last swim of the summer at the Stronach pool.
“All of the city pools close down on Labour Day weekend. The last day is Saturday night and they (the city) drain all of their pools,” she said. “But they don’t drain Stronach, they let us have the pool for Sunday and then they drain it for the season.”
Money raised from the event will be going towards the Cedar Row Sanctuary, a family-run haven for farm animals located just outside of Stratford. The sanctuary was founded in 1999 and takes rescued goats, pigs, sheep, donkeys, chickens and ducks from farms.
McCormick said the sanctuary was picked as a recipient because of what it does for animals. She added as a not-for profit, it relies on volunteers, fundraisers and donations to cover its costs.
To purchase tickets in advance or for more information on the event, visit www.poochplunge.com. To read more about the London Dog Owners Association, visit their website at www.londondogownersassociation.ca.