Water Dog!

Golden retriever Cali with swim therapist Varen in a stainless steel swimming poolCali started her swim therapy recently — one of the treatments the neurology team at the Pullman vet hospital recommended — and she’s doing great!

Montana Water Dogs, right here in Missoula, offers swim therapy (hydrotherapy). The owner, Varen, has a really nice setup. She’s got an indoor “infinity pool,” essentially a small, shallow swimming pool. There are steps at one end. The water is about waist deep.

We’ve only had a few sessions, and so far, I get in the water too. But as Cali gets more comfortable, I might not need to do that.

Cali wears a life preserver along with a special collar that helps her keep her head out of the water.

Golden Cali is guided as she swims in her orange life vestVaren holds onto the handles on the back of Cali’s life vest and guides and supports Cali. She also does exercises with Cali so that Cali uses all four limbs, works her muscles properly, and uses her full range of motion.

During a session, Cali might spend between 9 and 12 minutes actively swimming. But she gets a rest break every 1-2 minutes so she doesn’t get over-tired or overheated.

Cali loves to swim after a tennis ball—or just swim holding her tennis ball—so we use a ball, along with lots of treats, to keep her motivated.

When she’s done, we both rinse off, and I shampoo her so the bromine from the pool water won’t irritate her skin. She doesn’t love the baths, but she’s been very cooperative. The cookies help.

She’s always hungry when we get home (I understand; I’m always hungry after a swim too) but not as tired out as I’d expect. She works pretty hard during her swim sessions!




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