Hundreds of dogs take the plunge

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The deep big-dog barks and the higher-pitched woofs of smaller dogs blended as canines of a wide variety of sizes, colors and breeds took over Pirates Cove Family Aquatic Park for the Sept. 7 Freedom Festival and Doggie Plunge.

This is the sixth year for the Freedom Service Dogs-sponsored fundraising events. Organizers expected about 1,000 canine visitors because, on Sept. 7, all the waters were open to the canines to chase balls and just splash around. However, the lap pool was set aside for dock-dog practice. Owners took turns throwing a target item far out in the pool then releasing the dog to take off down the runway and jump out into the pool as far as possible.

The day’s activities also include the Freedom Festival in Belleview Park. Pet product vendors created a midway of canopies. There was a canopy urging adoption of shelter dogs, a vendor selling a variety of treats and a vendor displaying examples of pet portraits.

The festival also included demonstrations, a pet beauty contest and a dog ice-cream-eating contest. Freedom Service Dogs organizers are already making plans for next year’s event.

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