Is heaven real? Who knows. All I know is Dipper and I got a little slice of it at the Gone to the Dogs event at Morey’s Piers on September 10 in Wildwood, NJ. There, heaven was a water park full of over 100 wet, happy dogs, free to romp in countless pools and fountains.
This once-yearly event is held on the last evening of the season, and a portion of proceeds benefit a New Jersey animal rescue. This was a highly anticipated event for me, but Dipper didn’t quite know what he was in for! The two of us spent a few days in Wildwood, ending with this event as our last hurrah for the summer. Like all family vacations, it had its bumps (including an emergency trip to a veterinarian), but we still had a blast. Read on to hear and see more about our trip and this great event in particular.
The off-season: Perfect for pups!
After Labor Day, the number of people at the shore tanks. Nearly everything is still open and the beach is still there, but the people aren’t. That means there’s no one to complain about my dog sitting unleashed in the sand ten blocks away from the dog beach with me at 2 p.m—not even the biker gangs. That is, Gone to the Dogs is held the same week as Roar to the Shore, Wildwood’s yearly motorcycle convention. With all that noise and a skittish dog, I was thankful for our reservations at the dog-friendly Surf 16 Motel in North Wildwood, a much quieter spot less popular with the bikers and their loud engines.
I spent the days leading to Sunday evening’s event following Dipper up and down the beach morning, afternoon, and night as he chased countless seagulls and sniffed various ocean creatures along the shore. We also frequented Wildwood’s recently relocated dog beach and park and took a quick walk or two on the boardwalk. I had to taper his activity on Sunday to make sure he had enough energy for the big event!
The big day
Morey’s Piers Raging Waters Water Park is already one of my favorite places, regardless of the presence of dogs. It’s filled with countless slides, pools, and watery jungle gyms for the kids. There’s even a family-friendly hot tub just warm enough for some relief from the chilly ocean breeze.
While dogs couldn’t go down the giant waterslides, there were plenty of smaller attractions for them to enjoy. As soon as we entered the park, we heard clapping and cheering—dozens of spectators had just watched the first dog go down the small slide into the main pool! This slide was a dream for the big labs and retrievers looking for a thrilling entry into the water. Dipper just watched.
Dipper did a lot of watching. He’s not really one for the water. Though he loves chasing birds up and down the beach, and he loves following dogs around the dog park, chasing dogs into the water was not to be—there were simply too many canines and humans for him to really get comfortable. I spent most of my time coaxing Dipper into the kiddie areas, which were filled with huge pirate-themed jungle gyms, floating barrels, and more small slides. If you have a water-wary dog, I suggest bringing a doggie friend he’s familiar with. I think the presence of a friend would have helped entice Dipper to willingly enter the water.
But for water-loving dogs, it was paradise. Morey’s Piers provided countless toys and balls for owners to throw into the water. At the end of the evening, we even got a complimentary cup of puppy ice cream!
Room to improve
With over 100 dogs running around a slippery waterpark, the event was as hectic as you’d expect. There were accidents and near fights. I think Morey’s Piers could do well to better limit the number of dogs at the event. I was also frustrated that owners were not allowed to enter water greater than 3 feet with their dogs. I had to walk around the 2′ perimeter of a shallow family hot tub while guiding Dipper by the handle of his life jacket as he swam around the deeper 3′ area. But dogs and owners were allowed to play together in the aforementioned children’s areas, including the jungle gyms, which was fun enough for us.
It’s worth mentioning that I remain a little hung up on the price of the event. Both Dipper and I had to pay separate entry fees—$25 for myself, and $15 for him. Meaning it cost approximately $40 to spend a little over an hour at an event that I’m told used to be much longer. But that pales in comparison to the $168 we blew at a Wildwood veterinarian after a certain somebody decided it would be cool to urinate blood on vacation. Not cool, Dipper. Not cool.
All in all, we had a swell time. But in hindsight, this event was meant more for me than it was for Dipper. I’m not too sure I can justify putting Dipper through watery agony at this event again, but we’ll certainly return to the Wildwood beach.