Paws down, Black Bob Bay was the coolest place to play in Olathe Tuesday night.
Under a perfect blue Kansas sky, more than 150 splash-making, tail-wagging guests attended Too Cool to Drool, a pup pool party hosted by Olathe Parks and Recreation. During this annual send-off to summer, dogs of all ages and sizes checked their leashes at the gate to swim, play, chase balls and make new friends.
“This is a chance for dogs that can’t be off leash to have fun and be social with other dogs in a safe, enclosed area,” said Konni Knabe, recreation manager for the City of Olathe Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s also an opportunity for owners to take them out to a relaxed environment.”
During the first half of this two-hour swim fest, small dogs, along with senior and shy dogs had the run of the Bay. At 7 p.m., they made way for more than 125 big dogs that had come to make some serious waves. Or, at least think about making waves.
Many of the party-goers — from Pomeranians to golden retrievers and Chihuahuas to Weimaraners — were experienced swimmers. Others were there to test the waters for the first time.
Grayson, a 20-month-old Bernese mountain dog, was one of those first-timers.
“He’s my big buddy and he’s loving the water,” said Gary Turner, Grayson’s owner and best friend.
Grayson’s inaugural swim Tuesday night was not the only big event for this dog. On Friday, he will be tested through Pet Partners to become an official therapy dog in medical and other caregiving settings.
“Grayson is our fourth Bernese,” Turner said. “For 20 years, my wife, Penny, and I have trained our Bernese to be therapy dogs. We take them to Olathe Medical Center, the Good Samaritan Society, Hospice House and other care facilities.”
For more than two decades, Too Cool to Drool has been an end-of summer tradition defined by fun and games for pups and their best people friends. Knabe says that along the way there have also been some bittersweet moments with some unforgettable dogs.
Timber was one of those dogs.
“Timber was a husky and he’d been coming for quite a few years,” Knabe said. “About two years ago, I got a letter late in the summer from his owner. She said our upcoming Too Cool to Drool would be Timber’s last year to attend. His health was failing and she wanted to bring him one more time.
“I remember he struggled to get out of the car and he could only stay for 15 minutes. But he had so much fun for so many years at this event, and he was able to come this last time. Those are some great memories.”