Pandemonium reigned over O’Brien Park for six solid hours during Barker Days.
More than 1,000 boisterous dogs bounced from obstacle courses to treat stations to cooling pools of water at the eighth annual event Sept. 8. Barker Days allows dogs to take a season-ending dip in H2O’Brien Pool, and as usual, it brought out amateur shutterbugs and smiling families.
Panting pups of all sizes and breeds also appeared to be wearing smiles as they flew through the air and splashed down in pursuit of brightly colored toys. Other dogs appeared timid, cautiously dunking a paw to test the water before ungracefully careening into the deep end. A handful of canine participants, including a 12-year-old Beagle from Parker named Max, even wore goggles and a dashing life vest.
Jack, an 8-year-old yellow lab, was among the dogs that were reluctant to leave the pool. Under the impression that he was trailing behind after being called, his owners, Gene and Barbara Wilson did not appear to be surprised when they turned around and saw Jack back in the water making waves.
Minutes earlier, Gene Wilson talked about Jack’s love for swimming. The Labrador has attended Barker Days every year of his life and shows no signs of tiring of the event. He gets the occasional swim at Cherry Creek Reservoir, but visiting H2O’Brien Pool is among the only times Jack has the opportunity to let loose in the water. His other yearly highlights include hunting pheasant and quail with Wilson, who has lived in Parker with his wife for 48 years.
Two-year-old Trigger, a chocolate lab from Denver, looked to be having the time of his life. He repeatedly fetched a ball and Frisbee and appeared poolside within 30 seconds, ready to be pulled out, shake off and do it all over again.
“He looks forward to this all year long,” said Jessica Haverkate, Trigger’s owner.
As with most dogs that stop by Barker Days - a name derived from Parker’s most popular occasion, the Parker Days Festival – Trigger is completely wiped at the end of the day, she said.
The official count was 1,164 dogs and 2,500 people, said Jaime Stevens, recreation and community marketing coordinating.