HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Earlier this week, there was a heartbreaking story of three dogs who died in North Carolina after swimming in a pond filled with blue-green algae.
The story reminded pet owners to really pay attention to where their pets swim and play.
In Henrico, there is a safe alternative where dogs can go to briefly escape the dog days of summer by splashing around in the water and getting quite a workout while doing it.
It is hard to contain your excitement when you know the fun that awaits on the other side of the door, and that “fun” is a non-stop pool party at Paws To Swim.
“Paws To Swim is an indoor dog swimming facility,” said owner Alice Nickel. “Dogs come to swim for fun, for exercise.”
Dogs like 5-year-old Lucy, and her 3-year-old brother Rupert.
“They have been swimming twice a week for a very long time now,” said Lucy and Rupert’s “mom,” Julie Brooks.
They are an active pair. Lucy and Rupert are at Paws to Swim twice a week running, jumping, splashing and shaking.
However, Brooks brings them here for more than fun. For them, this place is really a life saver.
"Lucy struggles with the heat, very much so. And she actually had heat stroke and we almost lost her," said Brooks. "She cannot tolerate it. We take her to the park a lot, but that is not a summertime activity for her."
Speaking of summertime activities, doctors never thought Chessie would do any of them, like run and glide through the water like this.
But look at her now.
“A lot of dogs have come for medical issues,” said Nickel. “Chessie is an example of that. Chessie was born with very horrible hip dysplasia. She could barely walk as a puppy, and she needed bilateral hip replacement surgeries. So, she started to swim before she was able to have the surgery. She wasn’t old enough yet, but she was swimming to build up the muscles, tighten the joints, and just get her in really good shape before her surgery. She had the surgery and then she started swimming again , and it was like physical therapy after her surgery. She has continued to swim and obviously is in good shape now.”
Nickel and her husband, Henry, have owned Paws To Swim for four years.
They are both dog lovers and simply want to give area dogs an alternative option for fun and fitness.
"It's a really safe controlled environment for dogs to swim in. A lot of people will take their dogs to the lake or to the river to do some swimming, but you kind of just never know what you are going to encounter. Water quality. Wildlife. What you're getting here every time is a clean, controlled environment," said Nickel.
It's an environment Julie Brooks, as well as Lucy and Rupert, couldn't imagine living without.
"It's the best thing I can think of for your overall dog's conditioning, for their heart and lungs. Their muscle," said Brooks.
Paws to Swim offers all types of services and swim times for dogs of all ages. There are two locations - one on Patterson Avenue, and the other in Rockville, which is right outside of Short Pump.
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