2007-06-20 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Last day of school. Endless summer. Surf 's up! Everyone into the pool! Everyone often includes the family dog. Even if your faithful friend is a "Mark Spitz" or a "Lab Louganis", dog owners should be aware of basic canine water safety precautions and equipment.

Don't assume your pooch can swim. Many dogs like Goldens and Spaniels enjoy swimming but other dogs either cannot swim or dislike the water. Don't force the issue. In addition, physical problems, such as obesity or heart disease, might limit the level of activity of seasoned swimmers as they age. Just like kids, dogs need adult supervision when in the pool or at the shore.

To introduce your dog to the water, start in shallow water and coax him gently by calling his name. Encourage him, tossing in toys or treats; or letting him follow the lead of a more experienced water dog pal. Never throw your pup into the water. Don't overdo the first few sessions. Swimming is hard exercise and your dog may tire easily. If your pup starts to paddle with his front legs, hold up his hind legs to help him float. He should quickly catch on. Tiny dogs can acclimate gradually if held in your arms.

This Week's Poster Pets This Week's Poster Pets Once comfy, teach your dog on a leash to get in and out of the pool via the steps rather than jumping in. Using the steps will make it easier and safer for the dog to exit when he wishes. If you have a pool cover, be sure it is fully closed. Dogs have been known to slip under partially closed covers and drown. To prevent tragic accidents, consider purchasing a ramp. Skamper-Ramp® (1-877- POOLPET) makes a lightweight ramp in 2 sizes that provides all animals a way out of water entrapment if no people are around. These ramps can be attached to boats too.

If you're going to the ocean/Bay, first ask the lifeguard whether dogs are allowed. Check for strong tides and jelly fish. Rinse off irritating salt water (and also a pool's chlorine). Don't let your dog drink seawater. Wet dogs (especially shorthaired, white ones) are more prone to sunburn. You should limit exposure and apply sun block to ears and noses. Dry the inside of ears to stave off infections. When boating, start by getting the dog used to being on board with the boat docked. Increase the speed gradually. Make sure your dog has a way (ramp/ladder) to get out of the water and back on board.

For dogs in pools, the ocean or boating, essentials include: a dog life preserver, water harness, and/or water training lead. Ready for canine competition? Think Fido has the right stuff for water performance? Contact Canine Water Sports in Connecticut (203-521-0934). Canine Water Sports is dedicated to providing learning opportunities for dog/ handler teams who love to play and work in the water. Check out their "Splash workshops" and "Splash camps". They also have a nautical store at www.caninewatersports.com with a variety of safety and sport equipment.

By nature certain breeds are not water rascals. Some coats are not

wash n' wear. Thankfully Afghan Hounds with their desert origins and high maintenance locks tend to snub swimming. None of mine have ever cared about frolicking

in the waves. My

current prima donna is even trained to leap over puddles. Closest we ever got to the beach was in '94 when Alan borrowed his fashion plate brother's gold sequin Esther Williams swimsuit and bathing cap to take second in an All American Dog Pageant at South Shore Mall. Afghans and other landlubbers don't miss out. They hang ten vicariously by watching "Buddy" the surfing Jack Russell on You Tube. Cowabunga!

+Speaking of Wet Pets: C.A.R.E. is holding a fundraiser "Dog Wash" at Happy Tails (631- 581-3465), 117 W. Main St. East Islip this Sun. 6/24 from 10 to 3. Baths, nail clipping only; no cuts. Appts. preferred; walk-ins welcome. Also private 10 min. grooming lessons with your dog by Deb, groomer extraordinaire. 100% of the proceeds go to foster care, spay/neuter, rehoming LI's abandoned pets.

Visit Oyster Bay Town Shelter (677-5784) Miller Pl. Syosset to adopt the perfect pet. There's a 4- legged companion just waiting for you. "Buster" #476 is a lovable and mature Golden/Collie mix while "Wendy" #375 is a friendly, young tri -color tabby, recently spayed. See more photos , including kittens, on the shelter's Petfinder site.

+Cats: "Fireball" #445- the majestic declawed longhaired orange moved into a lobby cage; a longhaired cat #393 that served as surrogate mom to more kittens after weaning her own litter.

+Dogs: "Lucky" #456- female Tibetan Terrier; "Blue" #325- female Rottie mix with Paul Newman eyes; an older female Beagle #446 with cherry eyes. Did anybody lose her?

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