Bark In the Park, Doggie Swim make quite a splash

They don’t call them the dog days of August for nothing.

A combined event that has become a local favorite, Bark in the Park and the End of Summer Doggie Swim, puts its nose squarely on the calendar of outdoor fun from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Columbus’ Donner Park and Donner Aquatic Center.

In recent years, the event has attracted 120 or more pooches and more than 200 people. Donner may not have seen that many wet noses since the Community Easter Egg Hunt for youngsters in April.

“And nearly all of the dogs we get are very well-behaved,” said Jim Lemke, Donner’s aquatics manager.

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“I’m always pleased and amazed by them.”

The animals must be leashed during park activities that include a demonstration by the Indianapolis’ Indy Dog and Disc Club, usually featuring a canine or two flying through the air as much as the Frisbee it is trying to catch.

Afterward, when it’s time to hit the water at the aquatic center, dogs go flying again — right off the pool diving board.

“Some dogs love that,” Lemke said. “But you can tell that others just aren’t ready.”

He mentioned that the overall atmosphere at the $5-per-dog gathering “is almost like going swimming with your kid,” although health regulations prevent people from actually swimming while the dogs are there.

Owners and friends of pooches can remain in water up to their waist, though.

And people and animals are allowed enough freedom to simply enjoy their time of what some people have casually called drool in the pool.

“It is a cool event,” Lemke said. “I hear people all summer long tell me they’re looking forward to it.”

He said people seem to enjoy watching the dogs frolic like exuberant children. But then they realize it’s the last day of the season for the pool.

“So,” Lemke said, “it’s happy and sad all at the same time.”

One particularly happy note during the previous 11 years of the doggie dip, according to Lemke: “We’ve never, in all those years, had to rescue a dog.”

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What: Bark in the Park and End of Summer Doggie Swim. Entertainment and activities will include a demonstration from the Indy Dog and Disc Club.

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Columbus’ Donner Park and Donner Aquatic Center, 739 22nd St.

Admission: Bark in the Park is free. End of Summer Doggie Swim is $5 per pooch.

Information: 812-376-2680 or