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Goin' To The Dogs

photo of a pool facility for dogs photo of a pool facility for dogs photo of a pool facility for dogs

In 2013, Del Rancho Pool & Spa of Encinitas, Calif., took silver in APSP’s Awards of Excellence design competition for a waterpark built for man’s best friend – that’s right, an entire aquatic facility strictly for dogs!

“We were asked to design and build a water park for dogs. Yes, for dogs. And it includes facilities for dog dock diving competitions,” explains company president Doug Braun. “Although we had built one small dog pool facility in the past, there is no history of anyone, including us, building such an elaborate waterpark. Our research started with the founder of dog dock diving competitions, who was excited to work with us since the events were being held throughout the USA in temporary vinyl liner portable pools.”

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The plan incorporated all of the demands of professional competitions, Braun says. “Next, we tackled the facility needs of the doggie water park. We interviewed the owners of the two small dog parks and revisited the smaller water park we had previously built to refine the design.”

The biggest surprise, he recalls, was the importance in the design of the play area, given that 70 percent of “doggie splash” time is spent playing around the pool. To meet this need, a large artificial turf area with water jets, tunnels and bridges was incorporated into the plan.

“Since dogs of all shapes and sizes would be sharing the waterpark, separate areas, including two beach entries, were designed for large and small dogs with the capability of being fenced off,” Braun recalls. “Dock diving competition can also attract a large number of spectators, so an area within the enclosure large enough for portable bleachers was included within the design.”

On the day of the grand opening the park’s systems were put to the ultimate test. Per the owner’s estimates, the pool facilities were designed for a bather load of about 50 dogs per day. “Throughout the day over 350 four-legged friends of various sizes showed up. We sprang into action,” Braun recalls. “The tandem variable speed-pump filtration systems were set on the highest speed all day and the multiple Intellichlor sanitizers were set on maximum boost cycle.

“We made it through the day and the grand opening was a huge success for our client. We did have one big scare at the end of the day when we saw what we thought was a dog drowning at the deep end but ended up being the biggest doggie hairball anyone has ever seen.”

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