NORTH WILDWOOD — Rory, a 2-year-old Weimaraner, made lots of new friends at Morey’s Surfside Pier on Monday, and that suits her master, Jack Morey, just fine.
Morey, who owns the pier with his brother Will, opened up the pier’s Ocean Oasis and Beach Club to the dogs on the last day of the water park season.
Morey said he brought Rory here once before, when the park was closed to the public while some repairs were being done, and he had “the time of his life.” From that, an idea was born.
Morey’s idea brought more than 100 dogs and their masters to the water park on Monday. Rory swam the pools, chasing balls and retrieving floating dog bones, and did it with plenty of newfound friends.
Then the dogs dined at the newly named Soggy Collar Beach Bar on a menu designed especially for the occasion by Betsy Garr. It included frozen poochinis, muttballs and ditalini, and something called croque monsieur pour vous et le pup.
“I love dogs, and I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” Morey said.
The event served a number of purposes. For one, all proceeds went to the New Jersey SPCA. A second purpose for Morey was to raise awareness that shore resorts need to offer vacationers a place to take their four-legged friends. He said dogs are welcome in Central Park in New York City, the streets of Paris and all around San Diego but not on most New Jersey beaches.
“Wildwood is the perfect place to allow dogs. You have to have enough beach and the right culture” Morey said.
More than 100 dogs were registered for the free event. They arrived promptly at 5:30 p.m. to a disc jockey announcing, “Who let the dogs out.”
Some approached the water tentatively, wading into an ankle-deep pool, while others jumped right into the deep end under the water slides. There were a few rules. Dogs were not allowed on the water slides and each one had to be accompanied into the park, but not the water, by a human.
Isa Graeff, a Pennsylvania resident who has a summer home in Wildwood, brought her two keeshonds, Kai and Cricket, who she described as Dutch barge dogs.
“These are my kids. I don’t have children, and I want to take them anywhere I go.
“I think it’s the neatest thing. People’s dogs are part of the family, and you never get to do these types of things with your dogs and have a good time,” Graeff said.
She also jumped right on Morey’s idea for a dog beach.
“It would be awesome,” Graeff said.
Keriann Hanlon, who lives in Philadelphia but has a summer home here, read about the event online and wanted to try it out and support the SPCA. She watched her golden noodle (golden retriever and poodle mix) Penny frolic in the pools and said she would use a dog beach all the time.
Maggie Warner, a spokeswoman for Morey’s Piers, said the event raised more than $1,600 for the SPCA. While the dogs did leave a few presents behind, Ocean Oasis was set to close for the season after Labor Day anyway. The Moreys will keep their other water park, Raging Waters, open for one more week and the amusement rides will be open into October.
As Labor Day ended and vacationers headed inland, back home to the reality of work and schools, many did so with a soggy, but contented, best friend at their side. A best friend to all the dogs on this day was Jack Morey.
“It was his idea. He loves dogs,” Warner said.
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