Dogs' day out as town opens public pools to furry friends: 'Incredible'

·Environment Editor
·2-min read

A Canadian community has said no to breaststroke and freestyle, and a big yes to dog paddle at its public pools.

In what’s become an annual tradition, East Toronto celebrated the last day of swimming season by opening its pools to dogs for two hours on Sunday.

While entry to the event was free, owners were encouraged to bring toys and treats which were donated to local animal shelters.

Left - Long shot of dogs in a pool. Centre - Holly holding a toy in her mouth. Right - Dogs in a pool
Holly Harper Lee (centre) joined her fellow pooches in an East Toronto pool. Source: Diane Fraleigh

With the venues scheduled for a thorough end-of-season clean, dogs were allowed to have the run of the pool and surrounding park.

Local resident Diane Fraleigh took her dog, Holly Harper Lee, to Blantyre Park where around 25 dogs were frolicking in the pool.

“My dog is just insane. She's a water dog. She's got webbed feet and she just loves swimming,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“A lot of the dogs were scared to jump in, they're used to the lake, but not a swimming pool.

“Holly just flew in. As soon as you throw her bumper in, she's after it.”

Ms Fraleigh said all of the dogs were “really well behaved”, adding that all the dogs “had a lot of fun”.

“I've never seen so many people at that park ever,” she said.

“There were people who just came down to watch the dogs. And they were on the fence. It was incredible.”

Should dogs be allowed in Australian pools?

Dogs in public pools are unheard of in Australia, although there are a number of businesses that offer canine-specific swimming experiences.

Joanne Woolley is the owner of Aquapaws, a Victorian business that provides canine rehabilitation services, including access to swimming facilities and an underwater treadmill.

Left - a dog ready for a swim with a pool in the background. Centre and right - two images of dogs in hydrotherapy tanks.
Joanne Woolley believes water activities can be useful in rehabilitating dogs. Source: Supplied

Ms Woolley's facility is one of a slowly growing number of businesses that offer all the same physio services that humans enjoy.

“(Swimming pools give dogs) exercise, non-weight-bearing exercise, it’s a good cardio workout,” she said.

“Dogs love it because they can burn off energy, and it’s great for older arthritis.”

Swimming not great for all dogs

Ms Woolley said she’d love to see public pools in Australia, follow East Toronto’s lead and allow dogs into the water before cleaning.

Despite her excitement about the idea, she had a word of warning to do owners.

“It's a great idea, but not all dogs should be swimming,” she said.

“If they've got heart issues they can’t, if they've got laryngeal paralysis they can't. And not all dogs can actually swim.”

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