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Annual Valley Park dog swim draws crowd

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- More than 400 dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds participated in Putnam County's sixth annual dog swim at the Valley Park Waves of Fun Pool Monday evening.

Karen Haynes, wife of county commission President Joe Haynes and coordinator for the event, said the dog swim has had an overwhelming response from county residents since it started, and the proceeds from previous events helped fund the county's new animal shelter, which is slated to open later this month.

This year likely marks the last dog swim held at Valley Park, according to Haynes. The commission voted last month to allow Putnam County Parks and Recreation to make improvements to the wave pool that will allow it to circulate water for up to three years instead of dumping it at the end of each swim season.

"It's going to be really sad that we can't hold it anymore, but we understand," she said.

The event raised $1,800 last year despite rain, and Haynes hopes to raise even more during this year's event. Proceeds from this year's dog swim will benefit the Valley Park dog park, which was created three years ago through donations made by Joe and Karen Haynes.

Karen Haynes said that despite the number of dogs that are brought to the pool at the end of each swim season, there have never been any fights or major incidents.

"It's amazing. In all this time, they'll occasionally bark at each other, but we've never had a fight," she said.

Brian Childers and his wife, Dee Price Childers, newlyweds who moved to Hurricane a month ago, brought their two Labrador retriever mixes, Ace and Spike, to the event. Price Childers, a lawyer who moved from Charleston, said both dogs were found as strays when they were young.

"Ace loves it. We've swam to the end of the pool twice so far," Price Childers said. "Spike isn't as excited about it -- he doesn't like to get to where he can't touch the bottom. If he has to start swimming, he gets scared."

Grace Dixon, a Hurricane native, and her husband, Justin, who live in New Haven, Conn., were visiting relatives when they heard about the swim. Dixon said her parents have taken their dogs before, and her dog, Rupp, loves being in the water.

"They don't have anything like this up there, so we were excited. We just happened to be in town," Dixon said. "I had been here in the past, and wanted to bring him. Rupp has never been, but he loves to swim, and we take him to lakes all the time at home."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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