weird things we love

My Kids Play for Hours in This Pool Made for Dogs

Photo: Regan Stephens

I have a thoughtful, child-free friend who was once the pets editor at a magazine, and would sometimes give unused pet products, like stuffed toys or tulle tutus, to my kids as gifts. (My youngest daughter still wears the latter.) While I cherish my friend’s generosity, I sometimes questioned her thought process: “Should I be a little offended that you see no distinction between my human children and actual animals?”

My thinking abruptly shifted last summer, when, in a pinch, I realized I was willing to blur those lines myself. Amid a jag of 90-degree days, I stumbled upon a photo in another friend’s Instagram Story that showed his two kids splashing around in a small pool within his city backyard. I asked where he got it, and the pool, he told me, was meant for bathing dogs. In what felt like an instant, I went from a somewhat haughty “my kids are human” to “what’s the difference between these beasts and mine?”

I ordered one, and it arrived on a blazing hot day. Unlike the previous kiddie pool we owned — a flimsy blow-up number that my husband and I took turns puffing into until one of us passed out — the setup for this was pretty effortless. It comes in a plastic pouch and unfolds like an accordion. The pool is sold in several sizes, meant for dog breeds from teacup Yorkies to Great Danes. I opted for the 63-inch XXL, which runs a foot high and sprawls across most of my mini backyard patio, but offers a little more room for the girls (who, at ages 3, 4, and 8, range in size from pug to pit bull).

When my girls saw their new oasis, their reaction could be described as that of winning Best in Show at the National Dog Show (which, incidentally, takes place not far from our Philadelphia home). Like their tutu, they don’t care that the little blue tank is actually meant for animals. Nor do they care that it’s filled with water from a hose. They spend afternoons playing in it while I spend afternoons luxuriously reading magazine articles — in their entirety — from a nearby lawn chair. In our second summer of use, the pool seems to be just as sturdy as it was out of the pouch. The sides are made from thick fiberboard, and the bottom is a durable plastic. (Though it comes with a note to trim your dog’s nails before use, so fair warning for kids with sharp talons.) And when it’s time to put the thing away, a valve on the side makes it easy to drain. It takes a little while to dry completely, but once it is dry, folding it back up is surprisingly easy.

While secondary to the sheer joy it brings my daughters (and hands-off parenting it affords me), a smaller detail I love about the pool is how inoffensive it looks — the two shades of blue give it a classic, nautical flair. And, with our usual beach and (bigger) pool plans likely thwarted by the ongoing pandemic, that flair will surely be even more appreciated this summer.

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My Kids Play for Hours in This Pool Made for Dogs