According to one of the island’s main residential pool designers, builders and maintenance experts, there are about 2,200 private pools on Grand Cayman.
With this vital data in my hand, I tried to track down the dog population figures. It was difficult, but through no really scientific means, I concluded that there are approximately three times the number of pooches than there are pools.
“So what?”, you say. What’s my point? Well, most dogs love to swim. It is not only fun for them; it is good for them. The resistance of water makes your dog work harder to swim than he has to work on land to walk or run. Just as with humans, the benefits of swimming are improved muscular strength and tone. It is a cardiovascular and respiratory workout without the impact of concussive exercise on land. According to Dr. Arleigh Reynolds, a veterinary surgeon and canine physiologist, one minute of swimming is equivalent to four minutes of running for your dog.
One of our family dogs, Colby, loves the pool so much, we actually have to make him take a time-out occasionally for a breather during his swimming sessions. He will swim, dive and do belly flops hour after hour until we stop him.
Colby is a labrador retriever, one of the most popular dog breeds for family companionship, but they were originally bred for retrieving game in water. Thanks to evolution, they are excellent swimmers that absolutely love water whether they are retrieving feathered game or toys.
However, for the average pet and pool owner there is a downside to this aquatic cavort. If your dog loves your pool, it can become a synthetic-, biochemical-, chemical-balancing nightmare. Some of the pool experts say that a dog swimming in your pool is equivalent to about 50 people in the pool at one time. Crazy, huh? The fact is, a dog can introduce all sorts of nasty, unwanted waste matter to the pool, along with insects, body oils, dirt, hair, mud (dogs do not know how to wipe their feet before entering the pool), and who knows what unhygienic else. This is especially true if they are primarily outside dogs.
Well, some of us (myself included) would rather see dogs in their pool than people. To watch my pet frolic, dive and turn crystal clear H2O into soup is a gratification only a true dog lover can appreciate. The drawback to this canine bliss? It can put you in a state of shock. By this, I do not mean “an acute medical condition associated with a fall in blood pressure or sticking your finger in a light bulb socket”. What I am referring to is Calcium Hypochlorite at $100 per bucket, along with a long list of other chemicals to keep your pool balanced properly. Calcium Hypochlorite, known back in the day as chloride of lime, is a shock treatment for your pool, designed to sanitise the water and get rid of the green nasties like algae.
My pool maintenance provider once said, “Pool safeguarding? Nothing to it. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to keep your pool in crystalline shape.” Okay, maybe you don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but you do need to be a chemist, physicist, microbiologist, biochemist and a very tolerant individual to figure out the phosphates, algaecides, acids, dechlorinates, sanitisers, and a whole other host of unpronounceable products.
There’s more. Do you have soft water or hard water? Saltwater or fresh water? Do you have a sand filter or a cartridge filter? How many gallons of water does your pool hold? You need that to have that figure to calculate how much acid, algaecides, pool pills, and sanitisers you can use. Hold on; I’m not through. You have to brush the pool, vacuum the pool, backwash and clean out the leaves with a skimmer net and then empty the skimmer baskets. Sure, even if you don’t have swimming dogs, such pool safeguarding is still required; however, add dogs to the equation, the work (and expense) has tripled.
But, hey, all that is fine. They reward us with loyalty that no human can match. Our family’s love for dogs makes me wonder why we are not all growing tails. My adopted mutts dance and howl with joy when I come home from a stressful day in George Town. They put their heads on my knees and hypnotically stare through me with soft warm eyes. I stare back and say to myself, “I wonder what they are thinking?” My wife fills in the blanks: “They are trying to tell you to feed them and clean the pool.”
NOTE: If you do not have a private pool, check out Cay 9 Resort & Spa and drop off your pet for a day. They have a custom built doggy pool, which means you don’t have to clean it!