Two things were certain Sunday evening: The nonprofit Capital K9s raised thousands of dollars, and hundreds of Madison-area dogs were exhausted.
At Goodman Pool on Madison’s South Side, families, dogs and police officers turned out for the annual “Dog Paddle” fundraiser hosted by Capital K9s. The event gave dogs the opportunity to swim in a public pool, play with new friends and participate in a series of competitions during a day of curious sniffs and wagging tails.
The proceeds of Sunday’s event will go to support the maintenance and expansion of the Madison Police Department’s K9 Unit.
By noon, the 11th annual Dog Paddle was on track to be the highest attended, said Capital K9s president Julie Tessmer. Last year, more than 700 dogs and 1,100 humans participated, she said.
“We’re really pleased with people who want to support the Madison Police Department,” Tessmer said. “There’s something about an officer being with a dog that just opens up conversation.”
Jason Baumgart is one of the officers in the K9 Unit.
He traveled to Pennsylvania about a year and a half ago to select the newest and youngest member of the eight-dog unit, K9 Allied.
“He’s integrated wonderfully in my home. When he goes home, he’s really just another pet. He lays down on the floor, and my kids shoot NERF guns at him,” Baumgart said about the 3-year-old Belgian malinois. “He turns it on when he goes to work.”
K9 Allied, who was born in the Netherlands, was able to join the Madison Police Department due to a donation from Laura Harrington.
Harrington, director of the Allied Drive Learning Center on Madison’s Southwest Side, was given naming rights for the K9.
“I just thought it would be cool to give back to the community and purchase a dog for the MPD,” she said.
Chlorine was removed from the pool, which closed to the public on Sept. 4, to make it safe for dogs chasing after an abundant supply of tennis balls.
People were all but guaranteed to get a little wet with a constant barrage of shaking coats of fur.
After launching himself 14 feet into the water, 1-year-old Oscar took first place in the second of two long jump competitions.
The yellow Labrador retriever gets plenty of practice at the Yahara Heights County Park and his family’s cabin, said owner Catherine Baldauf.
Baldauf, of Middleton, said she was interested in attending the event after her 9-year-old daughter, Sami, made dog treats and toys to support Capital K9s as part of a craft fair.
“I thought it was a good way to wrap up summer fun,” the elder Baldauf said.
The Dog Paddle has become a tradition for Zach Koch, of McFarland, and Penney, his 6-year-old puggle, a cross between a pug and a beagle.
Penney paddled through the pool for the fifth time as her annual birthday gift. Wearing an orange life jacket, she swam alongside breeds more inclined to the water.
“She’s a really good swimmer, but she just gets tired out,” Koch said.