A village swimming pool has started offering animal-lovers the chance to take a dip in the water – with their DOGS.
Heckington Community Swimming Pool originally came up with the idea to allow pet owners to make a splash with their canine companions as a joke.
But after it proved a huge hit last month the facility, near Sleaford, Lincs., has now decided to hold ‘Doggy Dip’ three times a month.
Since then up to 20 owners have been turning up at each session to pay £5 a time to take their beloved pooches for a doggy paddle.
Pool committee chairman Michael Wells says: “One of our members is a veterinary nurse and was talking about horses exercising in pools and then we suggested dogs and thought, why not?
“We gave it a go and found people are a bit dotty about their dogs.
“People like it because it is a safer place for them to let their dogs swim than in a river or lake.
“Owners seem to love the idea of getting in and swimming with their dogs.”
Mr Wells said there were no particular rules apart from cleaning up any dog mess, ensuring owners dry their dogs’ ears properly in case of infection and do not let them drink too much of the pool water as it can act as a laxative.
He added: “We have had a wide variety of dogs. We created a ramp for them to get in, but it has turned into a pontoon with dogs floating about on it.
“We have to leave a day between sessions to clear out the dog hairs from the filters.”
“We put a chemical in the water too that clogs the loose hair together and then we can net it out.
“That is why we could not run Doggie Dip sessions during the main season because it takes so long to clean up afterwards and some people might not like the idea.”
Dog owner Holly Ashcroft, 45, attended one of the sessions with her pet Labrador Hector, nine.
She added: “I think it is an amazing idea. Hector has always loved the sea but this is a much safer way.
“He seems to really enjoy it and it is lovely to see all the dogs having fun.”
Cat Bones, from Heckington, brought her one-year-old pug/Jack Russell cross, Che, along to the pool.
She said: “I think the person who thought of the Doggie Dip is a genius.
“It was the most well attended event of the year.
“A lot of cash was raised for the of the pool and it was fantastic fun.”
“All people and dogs had lots of laughs and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
“Che was a bit of a nervous swimmer because she normally only paddles in puddles but she still had a good time in the pool.
“At first she swam around in circles and treaded water but after a bit of practice she could swim in a straight line for a short distance.
“I think that the benefits for the dogs are the same as for humans, including increased lung capacity, increased cardiovascular fitness and increased muscle fitness.
“It’s also good for socialisation as Che enjoyed saying hello to the other human and canine swimmers and it was lovely for Che and I to spend some quality time together in the pool.”
The entry fee is £5 per dog with swimmer and £2.50 for any additional humans or dogs.