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Article and photos by Kathy Fallert
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Photo of dogs at Chatfield

Otis, showing his three-paw stance, was dying to go along with the Labs, but his city slicker side got the best of him.

With warm weather finally here, we ventured out to Chatfield State Park. If you haven’t taken your dog there, it’s a must-go for dogs who like water. Having two web-footed Labradors, it’s a sure stop for us. They absolutely love it and will swim until they drop.

As a state park, Chatfield requires all users to pay a $10 daily entrance fee. There’s a separate $3 daily pass required for the Dog Off-Leash Area (DOLA). This was our first trip in 2020 and we opted for the $80 annual pass and the $25 annual DOLA pass. It’s well worth the cost. DOLA has 69 fenced acres of open space and includes two dog swimming ponds – the equivalent of Labrador heaven.

This was Otis the pug’s first time wading the waters at Chatfield. Pugs originated in China and were bred as lap dogs for royalty. They are sturdy and compact with a desire to show off, making them the clowns of the canine world. Labradors, on the other hand, were bred to be both a friendly companion and a working dog. Historically they were a fisherman’s helper, hauling nets, fetching ropes and retrieving fish from the cold North Atlantic waters.

Warned that pugs are city dogs, I knew I was in for a different experience at Chatfield – although I held out hope. Otis does have two older Labradors as role models. Otis used to hate the snow, standing on three paws to keep the fourth one warm. Now, Otis bounds through snow following the lead of Sadie and Tebow.

Photo of happy dogs at Chatfield

Back on dry land, Otis was off and running with the best of them still baffled as to why on earth retrievers choose to retrieve.

When we got to the dog pond, Sadie and Tebow, without the slightest hesitation, rushed into the water waiting for something, ANYTHING, retrievable to be thrown. Otis, looked confused and wouldn’t so much as put a toenail in the water.

After some convincing, well after picking him up and putting him into the knee-deep water, it seemed like he was converted. We threw the ball into the water, and Sadie and Tebow bounded with Otis right on their heels. Two seconds later, when the shock of the cold water hit him, Otis did an immediate 180 and swam back to shore.

Otis would much rather sit on someone’s lap, but he didn’t hate the dog park. In fact, when on dry land he was more than happy to run along with the Labradors as they chased balls. I did notice whenever Otis was near the water, he was standing on three paws keeping one out of the mud. I guess my pug is part city slicker after all.



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