We have a pond about 100 yards from our back door.
Thelma started swimming a couple of weeks after we adopted her. She was scared at first but now she swims with reckless abandon.
Thelma found a 6" bounce-n-play (jolly) ball and took it with her to the pond the other day. It's very easy for dogs to grab and hold in their mouths without puncturing it. The soft rubber material has just enough give. I threw it for her about 20 feet into the pond. HMMMM.... It's very easy for dogs to grab when the ball is against an object of resistance such as the ground. So after a few minutes, Thelma managed to herd the ball back to shore. I use that term very loosely since the other dogs in the pack, most of whom are herding dogs were offended at the spectacle of Thelma bringing the ball back to shore. It looked like awesome exercise to the dog handlers. Swimming is a great form of conditioning and the longer we can keep the dogs in the water, the better.
The second time was the best form of conditioning I've ever imagined, though fear of drowning dog crept onto me. I reminded Kara, 10 minutes into Thelma's herding ;) exercise that she was O.K., she was headed towards shore. But flashbacks to the only dog I've ever jumped into a pond to rescue came back to me. It was 2006 and it was a pit bull.
However, just shy of my removing my shoes and going in after her, Thelma showed her tenacity and her almighty strength. After 15 minutes, she was not only on shore, she was ready to go again. That-l-do, Thelm, that-l-do!