Making a splash: Pool opens to the canines


More than 60 dogs had the chance to work on their doggy paddle Saturday afternoon during the third annual K9 Campers’ Seymour Summer Splash at the Shields Park pool.

The event, which brought an end to the swimming season at the pool, allowed dog owners to bring their four-legged friends to the pool where they could paddle, splash and play around while helping raise funds for the Jackson County Dog Shelter project.

Jeff and Jesse Eggers brought their German shepherds, Cash and Django, to the event for the first time this year.

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“We wanted to teach our dogs how to swim,” said Jesse Eggers. “We want them to socialize and meet other dogs, but we do lots of stuff around the water, so we want them to like it too.”

Rachel Schepman of Seymour attended the event with her daughter, Lauren Schepman, and their dog, Roxy, for a simple reason.

“Lauren wanted to see if Roxy knew how to swim,” Rachel said.

“I knew she could. I just wanted to see it,” Lauren said, correcting her mother.

And Roxy definitely could swim. The chocolate lab jumped in the pool after her toys and paddled back to the side to get out.

“It’s a lot of fun for them and for us,” Rachel Schepman said.

Schepman said the fact the event aided in funding construction of the dog shelter was a bonus that made them happy, a fact which didn’t escape the Eggers, either.

“There are a lot of people in our community who breed their dogs without knowing what they are doing or don’t get their animals (fixed), leaving lots of dogs without homes or food,” Jesse Eggers said. “Having an animal is a responsibility. They depend on you.”

Suzanne Steltenpohl, owner of K9 Campers in Seymour and one of the two organizers of the event, said they had hoped to raise $2,000 for the shelter Saturday, but that was a lofty goal.

“We raised $800 last year, but it’s bigger this year already,” she said.

“Last year, we had around 60 (dogs) at the end, but this year, we already have 56, and it’s only an hour in,” said Susie Rohr, the other organizer.

Owners had to pay $5 per pet cover charge during the three-hour event that began at 1 p.m.

Besides the cover charge, there wa a silent auction for dog-related items and a raffle to raise additional money.

“We also decided last minute to sell dog toys for anyone who forgot their dog’s toy at home. See, little by little, we’re learning and it’s growing,” Rohr said.

The county currently has a contract with Red Sky Rescue, a shelter based in Medora run by Ruth Riley, to take in dogs caught by the county’s animal control officer and other dogs.

Red Sky Rescue is often swamped with dogs. Riley, however, is able to adopt many of the dogs out, and they are transported to other states to free up space for more dogs.

“We need this for the dogs in our county,” Steltenpohl said of the planned county dog shelter. “The animal control officer needs a safe place that he can take dogs to so that they can receive vaccinations and medical care to help them find a good home and have a good life.”

Efforts to raise money for the 72-capacity dog shelter to be built behind the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown have brought in $175,000 in donations, but the committee working on building the shelter feel it may have an eventual price tag of $250,000.

Construction of the 42-by-85-foot shell is expected to begin later this year. Jackson County commissioners recently approved spending $53,700 for a down payment to Morton Construction to build the shell of the shelter at a cost of $137,000.

No tax dollars will be used for the shelter, which means fundraising efforts, such as the Seymour Summer Splash, will continue after the shelter is completed to fund the cost of visits by veterinarians, food, adoption efforts and other needs.

Steltenpohl and Rohr agreed the Summer Dog Splash was primarily to help raise money for the dog shelter, but a part of it was to get a chance to talk about dogs with other dog lovers.

“There’s nothing like talking dog,” Steltenpohl said.

Rohr agreed.

“That’s right. Dog people are a breed all their own,” she said.

In the past, dog owners have been allowed to join their pets in the city pool.

On Friday afternoon, however, city officials informed Steltenpohl that because of legal reasons, they weren’t going to allow people to swim with their dogs this year.

Steltenpohl said she hopes by next year to have that issue ironed out so owners could return to the water with their dogs.

In addition to swimming, Brittney Vetter, an employee at K9 Campers, and her two dogs, Nuka and Karma, gave demonstrations of dock diving.

Dock diving involves throwing a toy into the air over water, allowing the dogs to get a running start and leap into the water trying to snatch the toy in midair before returning.

“I think this is a fabulous event, and my dogs love it,” Vetter said.

Whether dogs were brand new to water or experienced swimmers, all of the animals involved seemed happy with the chance to get out and spend a hot summer afternoon swimming.

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