A regular treat for our German Shepherd is to go swimming.
Blue goes for a swim at Aquadoggies in Swallowfield, an outdoor pool specifically designed for dogs.
It is run by a couple who we first meet at one of the Dog Training sessions that they run, a couple of years previous.
When Blue was 7 months old he became lame, with a hasty trip to the vets, Blue my wife or me were not aware of how this visit to the vets would change the lives of the three of us. The vet was a young eager and keen, and his early suspicions were unfortunately proved to be correct.
Blue had loss the use of his back legs, following a night of trauma he was taken to the now renowned specialist Fitzpatrick referrals. Blue was in so much discomfort they took him in immediately, where he underwent major surgery for spinal laminectomy. This surgical procedure where a portion of the bone of a spinal vertebra is removed to allow access to the spinal canal / cord. This culminated in a three night stay were he spent time in the recovery wing.
With Blue back home with no fur down his whole back he was restricted to living in a metal crate, which he had previously been crate trained in, as a younger puppy, he began the long road to recovery.
He would return for regular check-ups, but no further surgery
Blue was now not only more precious, but needed the love and support of my wife Sue and me even more so, which was given unreservedly.
Due to this life changing operation, Blue missed out on developing from a puppy to a socialised dog, and the agility training we had hoped he could develop was advised against. As part of his rehabilitation the specialists advised that he had aqua therapy, to help not only build up his muscles but to reduce the chances of putting undue strain on his spine.
Blue did not take like a duck to water, in fact the complete opposite
Each Friday we would take him for his hydrotherapy, where the therapist would don a wet suit and enter the pool, unfortunately the pool required entry by walking up a sloped side turning left going down two steps and then straight into the pool.
Not only was Blue apprehensive, but that strong will that he had, played a significant part in the long slow progress. After an hours drive across town, for an hour session, he probably spent a couple of minutes in the pool, even to the point a couple of packs of his favourite treats Schmackos, were the only thing which would bribe him to enter. The hydro therapist was more concerned with not stressing him and each visit a little longer or more strenuous activity was achieved. Blue was not swimming at any stage he wore a life jacket and was supported in the pool by the therapist. Blue would sometimes not enter the pool until 30 minutes after getting his toes wet.
Once the hydrotherapy sessions were concluded, we felt that it was worth finding somewhere closer by that had a more accessible pool. With patience and understanding all the boxes were ticked at Aquadoggies.
Both Andrew and Carol were qualified trainers and knew what Blue needed, coaxing with a bit of an assertive manner, once a few sessions with Andrew had passed, Carol took up the lead, no pun intended.
Blue needed a lot of coaxing to go in and began with a life jacket, with a long training lead, as his confidence grew, the lead was removed and finally the life jacket.
There has been now two and a half years of these weekly sessions, and as seen in the video he loves not only swimming, but acting partly as a tart and partly mischievous, enjoying every minute.
At the end he enjoys having a foamy shower, rinse blow dry and scented baby fresh fragrances conditioner then off home in the car for his dinner. Winter times wearing his coat
At this point we would like to make a special Thank You to
- CS Hydrotherapy (Caroline)
- Aquadoggies (Andrew & Carol)
- Fitzpatrick Referrals (Guilford) (Noel Fitzpatrick, Sarah Girling, and all the Team)
- Abbey Vets (Adrian Caunter)
- My wife Suzanne