At Sunset Rec, the cry “everybody into the pool” is usually met with cheers from children of all ages.
On Thursday night, the cheers of delight were replaced by enthusiastic barking. For one time and one time only, the city-owned and managed pool opened for dogs in a free swim to precede six weeks of renovations.
Howls, cries and whimpers accompanied the activity — and those were only the owners. The dogs were poised and ready, especially the many Labrador retrievers and labradoodles experienced in nearby ocean waters.
“The big project is the replaster of the interior of the pool,” Skyler Archibald, executive director of Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, said.
Along with a new pool surface, the district plans on adding underwater lights, new overhead lights and a renovated men’s locker room. The resurfacing, which hasn’t been done since the pool’s opening in 1976, is budgeted at $80,000. The other repairs are about $35,000.
Rules for the doggy swim were simple: “We don’t want them fighting with each other, but other than that, it’s fair game,” Archibald said. “Since we’re going to be cleaning and draining the pool tonight, they can do whatever they need to do.”
Seaside’s Nissa Roberts brought Stella, a black Lab, who shook herself off after one round in the water and prepared for another.
“She’s a baby, so this is kind of new and exciting,” Roberts said.
Seaside’s Michael Anderson was accompanied by three dogs, including one of the largest of the night, Goliath, an 8 1/2-year-old 177-pound Old English Mastiff. “He swims in the ocean all the time, but he doesn’t really like the pool so much,” Anderson said.
Emma Starr stood with 4-month-old puppy Drake, getting a quick towel dry between swims. “He’s a little hesitant, but he likes it,” Starr said.
Paul and Stephanie Buffington brought Jamie, a goldendoodle, and Ginger, a golden retriever puppy. The dogs skilfully navigated the deep end taking turns gracefully balancing a jolly ball. “We had a pool when we lived in California so they love the water,” Paul Buffington said.
The Buffingtons, recent arrivals to Gearhart, have an Instagram account with nearly 57,000 followers. Their dogs are the stars.
“We do a lot of their story and their interaction with people,” Buffington said. “When we saw what was going on, we wanted to be down here.”
Lifeguard Amanda Browning stood watch over the just slightly controlled chaos.
“Right now, I am mainly keeping an eye on the humans,” Browning said. “When they’re in the water with the animals, sometimes the animals get scared and climb on top of them.”
Any special training need to lifeguard for a doggy swim?
“Just common sense,” she said. “Do my thing.”