- Owners flocked to Dogtember event at Saltdean Lido in Brighton, East Sussex
- Event began in 2017 and has grown to 40 special dog swim sessions this year
- Dog swimming sessions raise funds towards restoration of the art deco facility
Dog owners made the most of the paw-fect weather as they and 150 golden retrievers took over a Sussex lido for an event billed by organisers as the largest dog swim event in the UK.
There was ‘complete doggy mayhem’ at the Dogtember event, which kicked off at Saltdean Lido in Brighton, East Sussex, on Saturday.
Organisers said the morning ‘Gold Rush’ session swiftly filled with golden retrievers and their owners taking advantage of the special event to cool down in the unseasonably hot weather.
The swimming sessions for furry friends began with two slots in 2017 at the art deco venue and has since grown to 40 sessions over September this year.
Deryck Chester, one of the directors of Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company (CIC), said: ‘Saltdean Lido is a really beautiful venue.
Having a ball: This lucky pooch was one of 150 golden retrievers and their owners who descended on Saltdean Lido in Brighton on Saturday
Dog treats: Golden retriever Ted with owner Penny Wright, Lizzie Vine, Kenny the dog and Jen Wise at the ‘Gold Rush’ session held as part of Dogtember events at the Lido
Going for a paddle: Organisers say around 8,000 dogs and humans are expected to participate in the special swimming event throughout the month of September
Deryck Chester, a director of Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company, said the Dogtember event helps to raise funds towards the restoration of the art deco facility
‘We have dogs coming over from all over the UK, dogs coming from Blackpool, Manchester, dogs coming over from the Isle of Wight, with their humans.
‘It’s completely bonkers, but we have probably about 8,000 dogs and humans coming for these four weekends of the Dogtember event.
‘It’s complete doggy mayhem. The great thing about this event is everyone’s smiling. You do get a bit wet, but it’s just a bit of fun.’
Stalls for dog treats, toys and more also lined the grass alongside a splash zone and paddling pool where pooches can even take turns down the slide.
Mr Chester said these dog swimming events are fundraisers that help contribute to the sustainability and restoration of the lido and subsidise swims for humans throughout the season.
This year is on track to bring in £60,000, while it is estimated around £250,000 has been raised since the events began in 2017.
He added: ‘We’re very lucky we’re having a heatwave at the moment. It’s a great way for the dogs to cool down.’
Among those taking part were Jen Wise, Lizzie Vine and Penny Wright, who had travelled from Eastbourne with their goldies Ted and Kenny, who are celebrating their 10th and first birthdays respectively.
Ms Wise said: ‘It’s our first time here. It’s our dog’s first birthday, it’s a birthday party really.’
Ms Wright said: ‘It’s crazy. It’s really well organised. Dogs can run about, it’s great and they brought the sunshine.
‘The fact we can get in with the dogs, it’s lovely.’
Of the 20 volunteers helping to steward the events over the month, Eia Andersen travelled from Denmark to support the dog swims while timing it in with her UK holiday.
Having previously volunteered a few times, the 42-year-old said: ‘They’re all great fun, it’s been a lovely time guarding the door (from) the escape artists.
‘There is interaction between the dogs and their owners having fun by the pool in a controlled environment, the dog is safe, you’re safe, you don’t have to worry about currents like you do on the beach.’
She added: ‘The community around the lido and all the volunteers are very friendly people.’
Founders of the Kent and Sussex Golden Retriever Club, Millie Goad and Donna Sherlock, were also enjoying the sell-out event, having organised at least 100 members to turn up for the dog swim social.
‘Dogs just bring people together. (It’s) so sweet. Everyone loves a dog and everyone loves a golden retriever,’ Ms Goad, an owner of four golden retrievers, said.
Eia Andersen has travelled from Denmark to volunteer at the Dogtember dog swimming events
Kent and Sussex Golden Retriever club founders Millie Goad and Donna Sherlock with a group of golden retrievers at the event on Saturday
‘I don’t think this will ever ever stop. Can you see a single face that isn’t beaming?’
Ms Sherlock, who runs a DIY dog wash business, added: ‘Dogs have led me to completely ditch my entire lifestyle. I was a head chef and now this is me.’
Dogtember continues to run until October 1.
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