‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
1 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Luna, a 19-month-old golden collie, swims after retrieving a tennis ball at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool during Doggie Dip Day, held there Sept. 25. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
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2 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
3 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Mila, an 8-year-old border collie, rests at the edge of the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool after retrieving a tennis ball during Doggie Dip Day, held there Sept. 25. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
4 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Elizabeth Smarr prepares to throw a ball for Clover, her 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, to retrieve at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool during Doggie Dip Day, held there Sept. 25. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
5 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clover, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, retrieves a ball in the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool during Doggie Dip Day, held there Sept. 25. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
6 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – DCIM\100GOPRO\G0030974.JPG (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
7 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Basil, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, leaps into the water at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool to retrieve a ball his owner, Elizabeth Smarr, threw. Nearly two dozen dogs were at the pool Sept. 25 for Doggie Dip Day, an annual event on the last day of the season for the pool that allows dog owners on SFHA and Camp Zama to bring their pets out for an afternoon where they have free reign to swim, play fetch and enjoy the water. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL
8 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
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9 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
10 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
‘Doggie Dip Day’ event lets Camp Zama, SHA canines enjoy day at outdoor pool
11 / 11 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sora, a 3-year-old Alaskan malamute, shakes off after exiting the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool during Doggie Dip Day, held there Sept. 25. (Photo Credit: Dustin Perry, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan (Oct. 1, 2021) – Alaskan Malamutes were originally bred to work as sled dogs due to their size and strength, but good luck explaining that to Sora, who just wants to play in the pool.

“We have a water dog that’s not supposed to be a water dog,” Yazmin Dragoon said of Sora, one of nearly two dozen dogs that were at the Sagamihara Family Housing Area Outdoor Pool Sept. 25 for Doggie Dip Day.

The event, held annually on the last day of the season for the pool, allowed dog owners on SFHA and Camp Zama to bring their pets out for an afternoon to swim, play fetch and enjoy the water.

Doggie Dip Day came about as a result of Camp Zama’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation wanting to host more events for pets, DFMWR Director Rick Bosch said. Early last year, the directorate’s Community Immunity Team organized several safe activities that allowed children and families the chance to get out during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult to do so. One event, an online pet photo contest, garnered wide participation and positive feedback, Bosch said.

“Seeing the excitement generated from that program, we wanted to continue to build on it and offer more opportunities for our pet community,” Bosch said. “In FMWR, we understand the positive impact pets have on family resiliency. Having this unique opportunity for dog owners to do something new and exciting with their companions translates into a palpable great energy in our community.”

While some of the dogs stuck to wading in the shallow end of the pool or stayed out of it almost entirely, others, like Andy Olson and Elizabeth Smarr’s two Belgian Malinois, Basil and Clover, jumped in immediately to retrieve tennis balls or just swim around.

“The younger one, Clover, she is still not the best swimmer, but she loves getting in the water,” Smarr said. “Basil has been natural at it, pretty much since the beginning. We just thought today would be a good day for them to have some fun.”

“It’s a rare opportunity to take a dog into the pool, and I know this is the last day of the season before they close the pool down, so this is an excellent way to take advantage of that time,” Olson added.

Yazmin and her husband, Nick, saw the event as an opportunity for them to bring Sora and their other dog, an 11-year-old husky named Bailey, out for a day of exercising and socializing—both for pet and owner.

“It provides an outlet for the dogs to release some energy, meet new dogs, and it allows the dog owners to meet each other and find out which other dog owners are out there in the community,” Nick said. “The owners were talking, we were playing with each other’s dogs and getting to know each other. It was a good event.”

Aside from a few cautious barks and perhaps some overeager sniffing, the dogs got along with each other and shared the space in and around the pool without issue—a positive outcome that Smarr attributed to how close-knit the dogs and their owners are in both communities.

“A lot of times we meet up at the dog park,” Smarr said. “Generally, I think people are pretty accepting to having as many dogs as possible get together, because it is fun.”

Charles and Veronica Johnson, who attended Doggie Dip Day for the second year in a row, said they were thankful to FMWR for offering an event that catered specifically to their beagle, Manny, and their border collie, Mila—both of whom they consider to be family.

“It’s wonderful that we’re able to bring our dogs here,” Veronica said. “They bring joy into our lives. We don’t have any children, so these are our children. To us, it’s been a wonderful experience having them since they were puppies.”

Mila, 8, the sprier of the two, displayed an impressive amount of training as she repeatedly leapt into the pool and retrieved a ball on Veronica’s command. Meanwhile, Manny, 9, was mostly happy to waddle around or sit by Charles’ side. That contentedness and faithfulness is what makes them such beloved members of their family, Charles said.

“It’s good therapy to come home and no matter what happens, they’re always in a good mood,” Charles said.

The large turnout and positive feedback from the community have made it a near certainty that Doggie Dip Day will be back next summer and beyond, Bosch said.

“We fully anticipate Doggie Dip Day continuing to be an annual event for the foreseeable future,” Bosch said. “Our FMWR team continues to strive to diversify programming within our varied facilities, and this is a great program that brings a new demographic to one of our most popular summer locations.”