It was difficult to tell who was having more fun — the dogs or their owners.
Suffice to say that “Bark at the Water Park,” was a dog-gone success Saturday at Great Bend’s Wetlands Aquatic Center in Brit Spaugh Park. Admission is donated toward upkeep of the dog park in Veterans Memorial Park.
No dogs were funnier than black Labradors Koy, 5, and Kayne, 1, owned by Tyler and Jessica Nairn (Koy) and Mike and Wendy Nairn (Kayne).
Every time Tyler would toss a flotable toy in the pool, Koy would chase it down, quickly followed by Kayne. Their best trick was each dog would share the flotable toy, swim to the pool’s edge and walk up the staircase together side-by-side.
“Koy’s trained as a hunting dog, and he’s taught to not let go of whatever he fetches,” Tyler Nairn said. “I think our dog will sleep good this afternoon after we get home.”
Denny and Sharise Oelger brought their sons Peyden, 7, and Drew, 4, al;ong with a brown Labrador named Dutch.
“We come to the water park all summer long. I think we’ve burned through several of the 15-day passes this summer,” Denny said. “This is really a good water park. that our whole family enjoys”
More than 60 owners had checked their dogs and more than 100 dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Devan Boeger worked as the aquatics director in 2014 after working as a lifeguard for six years .
“Everyone is having a pretty good time,” Boeger said. “The owners are having a good time watching their dogs. People of all ages were here today.
“The dogs and owners were practicing their retrieving skills. The kids were having a good time with their dogs. The smaller dogs enjoyed the wading area. It’s pretty awesome to see those dogs retrieve an object and swim right back. Some are doing it together.”
The Wetland Aquatic Center is open from 12:30-5:30 p.m. daily from Memorial Day weekend until mid-August.
Family Nights are featured from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The water park features eight water slides, a Water Wars area for slinging water balloons, zero-depth entry for small children, spray features and floatables that separate the deep end from the shallow end, a climbing wall and a 300 gallon tipping bucket.
For those taking a break in the shaded areas, there are brightly colored umbrellas and a concession stand. Visitors can also find green grass and a bathhouse for changing. The pool employs nearly three dozen lifeguards and nine concession workers.
Upgrades that turned the municipal pool into the Wetlands Aquatic Center were done in 2005, but it still looks “new” thanks to careful attention from city staff.
Admission to the Wetlands is $3 for youths 3-17 years old, $4 for adults 18 and older, and free for children under 3. Admission on Family Nights is $2. Discount passes good for 15 visits are available for $40.
The Great Bend Recreation Commission offers summer swimming lessons taught by American Red Cross Certified Water Safety Instructors and GBRC water safety aides.