Overheard recently at a local dog park:
"Hey Rex, what are you doing Saturday?"
"Oh, I don't know. Dig some holes, sniff some stuff, mark my territory. You know, the usual. Why? What have you got going on, Fido?"
"I'm going to in O'Fallon for the sixth annual Pool Paws Dog Swim."
"Interesting. Tell me more."
"Well, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday the Alligator's Creek Aquatic Center will be open to us pooches and our owners. There will be raffles and prizes and we can swim all afternoon."
"You're kidding. The humans are going to let us use the pool? Humans don't like us near their pools. I jumped in the neighbor's pool last week and let me tell you, it did not end well."
"Yeah, well, it's a once-a-year thing. They do it at the end of pool season. I guess they figure we can't mess things up too badly before they clean it up and close it down for the year."
"Sounds like fun. How much does it cost? I don't have a lot of money you know, being as I'm a dog."
"It costs $10 per dog and owner, additional humans can attend for $3 each. I'm sure your owner will spring for it. The event is a fundraiser for the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation."
"Oh, they do very good work."
"That's not all. When your done swimming there will be a Bone Hunt in the lower level of Civic Park. Parks officials will hide all kinds of goodies in the park for us to find. This event costs $7 per dog for city residents and $9 for non-residents."
"Boy, that sounds a lot more fun than sitting around the house all day chewing on the remote control. Count me in!"
"Great! I'll see you there. Now let's turn the rest of this story over to the humans."
Matt Harris, aquatic specialist for the city, is in charge of the Pool Paws Dog Swim.
"The program started as a special event that was taking off in the area through the Missouri Animal Alliance," he said. "We thought it would be a good idea to offer it here."
It proved to be a popular idea.
"It's been a big success with people in the area with dogs who love to come to the pool," Harris said. "We get around 50-60 dogs a year."
There are rules. All dogs must be leashed, have written proof of current rabies vaccinations and be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18.
There are also special guests.
"The St. Louis Dock Dogs are coming out to retrieve stuff off the diving boards," Harris said.
Registration is available in advance or at the gate. In the event of bad weather, Pool Paws will be rescheduled for Sunday. Alligator’s Creek Aquatic Center is at 403 Civic Park Drive in Civic Park.
For dogs who don't care to swim, the city is offering a second event after the pool is closed. The Bone Hunt runs from 2 to 3 p.m.
"We offered the Bone Hunt in June in the past but when the Pool Paws event took over we decided to make one day of both," said Paula Creech, cultural arts coordinator for O'Fallon. "It's like a scavenger hunt for dogs. We hide a variety of dog toys and bones and let dogs and their owners retrieve them."