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VIDEO: Dog Days Make Big Splash at Glenview's Carriage Hill

Workouts in a farm pond for a surgery-rehabbing hunting dog inspired what is now like an indoor water park for pooches on Waukegan Road.

He shouldn’t have opened that door.

A visitor to Carriage Hill Kennels’ two-year-old acquatic center on Waukegan Road grew curious about activity in the next room. So he nudged the door only half open and…

Boom!

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A half-dozen dogs burst through. They raced around the 800-square-foot pool like maniacs, trying to scoop up any ball in sight. Amazingly, none jumped into the pool. That gave the two-generation management of siblings Francine Barnes and Chris Cocallas, and Barnes’ son Bob, time to round up the canines.

The humans fitted the dogs with life vests, while Bob Barnes donned a wet suit. The dogs came back in – four English springer spaniels, a golden retriever, a Labrador retriever and golden doodle. Immediately they took to the water with Barnes squarely in the middle of the pack. Francine Barnes and Cocallas tossed balls into the pool from the sides. Wet, shaking fur in and out of the water soaked anyone within range.

See video above right for a peek inside pool time with the pups.

When playtime was over, the trio herded the troops outside to dry off. The prevailing feeling was fun for both man and beast.

“We’re like the indoor dog water park,” Francine Barnes said. “Any inclement weather is good for us. Extreme heat, cold, they can come here.”

The pool, now attracting dogs and their owners for recreation and post-medical rehab, is the latest addition to the 50-year-old Carriage Hill complex. And a budding social center for dog lovers in Glenview and surrounding communities.

“We have people who have actually met here, and now they come (with their dogs) at the same time,” Cocallas said.

Playtime costs $25 for a half hour in the pool, four feet at its deepest point. Staffing is provided by two to three Carriage Hill employees at any one time during the boarding/grooming center’s normal Monday through Saturday hours. (Sorry, owners. You're not allowed to jump in).

The pool grew out of Bob Barnes’ water-borne adventures with hunting dog Denver in a pond on the central Illinois family farm. Denver had blown out a knee, requiring surgery, so her master took her into the water for conditioning.

When the family originally wanted to grow the business in 2001, the Village turned down a request to expand the kennels, a fortunate decision in hindsight, Barnes said. She noted a sharp drop in post-attack business, which if paired with an expansion may have meant losing everything. 

Then, after Carriage Hill co-founder Jim Cocallas died in 2005, his widow, Doris, gave her blessing to her children to borrow from Cocallas’ trust fund at low interest rates to expand the business. At a cost of $1.2 million, the facility opened in March 2010.

“We wanted to do something a little bit different than everyone else,” Francine Barnes said. “This would really benefit the dogs. It would be a lot of fun, but also (involve) health and wellness. I grew up in Glenview swimming at the Roosevelt pool, and loved the concept of walking in the water. The dogs can walk in. It’s easy for them to get in and out.”

The next addition for Carriage Hill?

“Group play doggie day care,” Francine Barnes said. 

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