CORONAVIRUS

K9COLA's annual doggy dip moving from Bever Pool to virtual plunge

Layla, whose human is Juan Arredondo of Hiawatha, jumps in the pool at Poseidon's K9 Island in rural#xa0;Mechanicsville,
Layla, whose human is Juan Arredondo of Hiawatha, jumps in the pool at Poseidon’s K9 Island in rural Mechanicsville, one of the sponsors for this weekend’s Virtual K9Splash! The event, usually held at Bever Park in Cedar Rapids, is K9COLA’s largest fundraiser to help the nonprofit group support and promote two Cedar Rapids area off-leash dog parks. Arredondo is the K9COLA site coordinator for the Cheyenne Off-Leash Dog Park off Old River Road SW. (K9COLA)
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Canines and their companions won’t be making a splash in Cedar Rapids’ Bever Pool this weekend, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get wet elsewhere.

K9COLA wants to flood Facebook on Saturday and Sunday with photos of dog paddles, jumps and fetches in wading pools, backyard pools, ponds, rivers, streams and anywhere else pooches can stir up some watery fun.

Their companions who register online for this year’s Virtual K9Splash! are eligible to win prizes, from water park passes and gift baskets to doggy splurges and passes to next year’s dog swim, all worth about $25 to $30, said Kelly Ennis of Cedar Rapids, volunteer coordinator for K9COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas), which stages the annual plunge.

Facebook Live events will be posted every half-hour, beginning at 8 a.m. both days, at Facebook.com/k9cola/

Volunteers also will be outside the Bever Park Pool for walk-up donations, merchandise sales and information. New this year is a photo booth on-site so pooches and their people can pose for pictures, by donation.

K9Splash! is the nonprofit group’s largest annual fundraiser, last year drawing a record crowd of more than 800 dogs and 1,600 people to the two-day event at Bever Pool, 2700 Bever Ave. SE. The first dog splash was held in 2004 at the Jones Park Pool on the southwest side, then after a couple of years off, moved to Bever Park in 2007. It’s been held there ever since, on the weekend after the pool closes to human swimmers.

Funds raised help K9COLA volunteers install amenities at the 13.8-acre Cheyenne Off-Leash Park, which opened Nov. 17, 2001, at 1650 Cedar Bend Lane SW, Ely, off Old River Road, and K9 Acres, an 11-acre off-leash dog park that opened June 8, 2013, at 5200 Golf Course Rd., near Gardner Golf Course in Squaw Creek Park, Marion.

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Over the years, K9COLA volunteers have raised funds to add park pavilions, agility areas and in-ground sanitary draining water bowls.

Other additions are on hold right now, Ennis said, until the group sees how much the virtual fundraiser brings in.

“We’re hoping Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha (residents) will kick in,” she said, “because it is a big boost for us. That’s how we get money to pay for the things we do in the parks.”

Some of those improvements come with a hefty price tag.

“We have a pavilion that’s sitting down in the old part of the park at Cheyenne that we lost during the (2008) flood. We’d like to move it up into the park so people can use it, but that will cost us anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to do that,” she said, “because we have to pay somebody to tear it down, and pay for (concrete), pay to have someone put it back together up to city code.”

That’s more labor than their volunteer group can take on, she noted.

“It all takes funds,” she said. “The problem is that people think the city pays for all that stuff.”

Dog park usage permits are $6 for one day or $34 for one year, with discounts available for multiple dogs and those that are spayed or neutered. For details, go to K9cola.org/visiting-dog-park/permits/

The fees go to the city for mowing and maintenance of fences, parking lots and trash containers.

“Anything extra that we want for the parks, we have to put in ourselves,” she said. “The pavilions that we put in two years ago were $30,000, and people don’t realize they’re that expensive, but we buy and raise what we can.

“I’ve visited lot of different dog parks, and our parks are really good, compared to a lot in this country,” she said. “I think people should be proud of the parks that we have.”

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The parks have remained open and popular during the pandemic, offering dogs and their owners the opportunity to get outside in the fresh air. Those perks were true before so many activities shut down in mid-March.

The parks “teach the dogs how to be socially nice, and teach owners how to be socially acceptable,” said Ennis, who has three golden retrievers. “If the dog exercises, then you exercise.

“It helps the morale of the community. It makes us seem that we care about our animals. I think Cedar Rapids was one of the first communities that had dog parks,” she said. “A lot of the dog parks in our area model around what we’ve done. We know that they steal our rules, because they’re almost verbatim, so we must have done something right.”

At A Glance

• What: K9COLA’s Virtual K9Splash!

• When: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

• Where: Facebook Live, with events every half-hour starting at 8 a.m. each day at Facebook.com/k9cola/

• To participate: Post pictures of your dogs enjoying any body of water (kiddie pools, backyard pools, ponds, etc.), at Facebook.com/k9cola/

• Registration: $15 suggested donation for K9COLA and to be eligible for prize drawings; K9cola.org/dog-friendly-activities/Virtualk9-splash/

• Merchandise: T-shirts, mugs and more at Bever Pool during the virtual event or at K9cola.org/dog-friendly-activities/Virtualk9-splash/

• Details: K9cola.org/dog-friendly-activities/

Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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