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Doggone good times at Derby waterpark (+video)

VIDEO: Dogs enjoy their day in the sun at Derby

Dog owners and their pets came out Saturday to Rock River Rapids on its last day of the season for the Pooch Pool Party in Derby. (Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)
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Dog owners and their pets came out Saturday to Rock River Rapids on its last day of the season for the Pooch Pool Party in Derby. (Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)

In Derby, Saturday was a day for the dogs.

It was the final day of the summer season at Rock River Rapids, so the pool was opened to more furry swimmers for a “pooch pool party.”

About 285 people came, breaking the waterpark’s record attendance of 266 last year.

Rock River Rapids lowered the chlorine levels in its shallow pool “so that it was more user-friendly for the doggies,” said Donita Grinde-Houtman, the park’s aquatic program coordinator.

“It has a zero-depth entry, which makes it easy for kids and doggies to get in and out,” she said. “Our deepest part is 3 1/2 feet, so even the big dogs are able to jump in and swim safely.”

Pups of all sizes came to play in the pool; the largest dog weighed 180 pounds.

Some, like Alyssa Dotson’s golden retriever Graham, were fetching tennis balls in the water. Dotson said it was Graham’s 11-month birthday on Friday, so coming to the pool was a bit of a belated present.

“He loves swimming,” she said. “We have a lake house, and he’ll run and jump off the dock for balls.”

And some canines just stood by their owners in the shin-deep water, like a certain schnauzer named Mitzi.

Renee and Mark Potter’s English bulldog, Annie, was even wearing a black-and-pink polka dot bikini.

“Every girl’s got to wear a bikini every once in a while,” Renee Potter said.

“I love to come out and see all the other dogs. It’s just something fun they can do that they don’t normally get to do. I get to meet other people that love their dogs as much as I do.”

Saturday was the first time Lucy, a 1 1/2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, was exposed to swimming, her owner, Karen Hammond, said.

“She’s like, ‘Eh, I’d rather be at home on the couch,’ ” Hammond said. “She had fun, though.”

Once the pool party had concluded at 4 p.m., officials began to drain the pool, which was full of dog hair.

The Eagle reached out to many dogs for comment on this story, but all declined.

One, however, did lick an Eagle reporter’s face.

Reach Matt Riedl at 316-268-6660 or mriedl@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RiedlMatt.

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