Belle joined our family at 10 weeks of age. A happy, confident and inquisitive Golden Retriever.
At 4 months her vet check was passed with flying colours. At 5 months she was limping on her back right leg, and her gait had changed noticeably.
She was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia, and initially a bilateral triple pelvic osteotomy was considered to be her best option. In a matter of days (the time it took to consider and organize for the operation) it became clear that she had deteriorated beyond the surgery being suitable.
With the help and guidance of our excellent vet and orthopaedic specialist we embarked on changing her diet, to limit her growth and weight gain. We also looked at suitable exercise. Ball games were out, as were long walks. She simply sat down and wouldn’t move if we’d gone too far!!
We discussed the benefits of swimming with her specialist, and he agreed it would be helpful, but not in the sea (we live next to the beach), as the waves and running on the sand could cause too much stress on her. We needed to find a suitable place for her to be able to swim in comfort.
That was how Ray and Marie came into the picture. Our local vet gave us their pamphlet, and as they say, the rest is history!!!
Belle started on the first three sessions in the first week, and was totally exhausted but happy. She wasn’t too sure of getting into the water to begin with, however the life-jacket certainly helped. Our 12 year old Border Collie, Jedda, accompanied her, and was even less enthusiastic to begin with. Still she was a good cheer squad along with myself, as we walked around and around the pool perimeter to encourage Belle to swim alongside Ray.
It wasn’t long before both dogs learnt some tricks of the trade! They began to realize that they could float in the life jackets without doing a thing!! Ray had his work cut out between the two of them. We persevered and it has certainly paid off. We continued twice a week for some time and have now (6 months later) reduced to once a week.
Belle has gained muscle strength, especially in her back legs. She walks easily and happily for longer distances. Her gait is almost back to normal. She even jumps a small wall without pausing (the fact that she’s not supposed to doesn’t stop her). Her weight is more easily under control. The clunk in her right leg is still very obvious but it no longer grates. Her left leg has improved amazingly. She is happy, in no pain and on no drugs. She now loves chasing the ball in the pool and jumps in as soon as we get there without invitation. She swims even faster if I’m also in the pool chasing the ball in competition!!
Jedda, who has arthritis, has also shown great improvement. She now enters the water by herself, though she does still need a life jacket and an invitation. She is bright-eyed, alert and gives the impression of being ready for adventure. She is not on any medication.
Both dogs adore Ray and Marie. Ray’s firm but kind approach gives the dogs confidence.
Their knowledge on all things ‘doggy’ is extensive, and I have gained much valuable information over the last 6 months. I am able to make choices without any pressure, which makes it a comfortable experience for me too. I know that both dogs, but especially Belle, enjoy a better quality of life thanks to the hydrotherapy and Ray and Marie’s expertise.
Hilary Warnett. Scarborough, Qld.4020.
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