Saturday, March 6, 2010

Teaching a puppy to swim

Teaching a puppy to swim is always amusing. I just introduced a Portuguese water dog puppy to the water last week. He's a baby - just old enough to have all his shots.

Now, you have to remember, the only Porties I've ever seen at the pool have been either unwilling to swim or scared for some reason. And, of course, this little guy was no exception.

Day 1: Pretty scared of the water, just spent most of our time just hanging in the water, reassuring him that everything was ok, and tried swimming only twice.
The swimming was REALLY SPLASHY! He was trying to walk on the water instead of swim in it! :)

Fortunately, his mom is really interested in having him swim, so she brought him back the next day!

Day 2: Adjusting to me and the pool. He started jumping off my legs towards his mom... He's willing to brave the water to get there! The splashing is hilarious - and trying to get him to not splash is unsuccessful so far. He's so cute though - a little soaked mop when he gets to the stairs or I pick him up.

They're coming back next weekend!

Day 3:
He had mom and dad there today! He's literally grown 4 pounds since last week. I can't imagine that this is going to be very coordinated until his body stops sprouting - but we can keep trying! We tried a few new things like having mom on one end of the pool and dad on the other. He started understanding that he was supposed to swim to the stairs instead of the side of the pool!
Still a splash-o-rama! And, still trying to walk on water. He's really figuring it out though.

Puppies are so cute!

Day 4:

What a breakthrough! I don't know why we didn't think of it before, but we got some toys out today - and wow! What a difference. He started sticking his head into the water then pawing at the toys. The PlanetDog (TM) toys float but then sink if the dog touches them - so he was trying to get it and the ball kept on sinking. But, he's a persistent little guy!

Then, I carried him out to swim and threw the ball in front of him and HE GRABBED IT!

It was like a lightbulb turned on - THIS is what I'm supposed to do, I'm supposed to get the toy and bring it back! He's only 21 pounds and was carrying a full sized bumper back already...

Still splashy, but certainly not scared anymore.... Since he's still growing, his hind end still sinks a bit - so we have some floatation around his belly -- but I'm sure he'll grow into it soon...Can't wait to see him next week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Changes in our appointment & new dog systems

We've been trying to figure out a way to make it easier to book an appointment; and then what we can do for online purchasing of classes, and more.... So, Angie (our new admin) looked into a few different systems and combined with price and wanting a web-based system, we are going with "MindBody" Its a system that is used by yoga studios (even Ocean Yoga here in Pacifica uses it), spas, and gyms.

What I'm looking forward to is being able to let our clients find their own appointment times instead of having to go back and forth multiple times on email. Of course, we'll still be available to chat on email or talk to folks on the phone; but this will be an added convenience! This system will also allow our clients to have a login, store their credit card, buy memberships, classes, setup appointments, as well as send out reminder emails!

Google apps has done well for us, and we loved using the calendar to be able to 'magically' populate other people's blackberry's and work calendars, but doing the manual reminders and actually booking the appointments has remained cumbersome.

Other changes that we've made:

  • Followup Emails: We used to send these ("How's your dog doing?") after every swim however, it became rather repetitive for dogs that we saw every week, twice-a-week. Now, we're simply going to send them for our new dogs or when a dog improves/changes significantly.
  • Monthly Survey: We would like to send out a monthly survey to those who swam and may give you some suggested followup topics.
  • Credit Card Requests: In order to make an appointment with us, we are asking all clients to hold that appointment with a credit card.
  • Signup forms (new dog swims, classes, new massage dog): These will now be available online except for the waivers that still must be read and signed.

We're experimenting and trying new things. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cathy Chen-Rennie, Head Swim Coach, contributes advice about arthritic older dog

Cathy contributed to an Expert Panel on a local blog site called

The reader’s question: We have an 11-year-old Queensland Cattle dog that has numerous issues. Right now, we would like to strengthen his hind legs which have arthritis. Can you help us?

Cathy's advice
There are many things you can do to help your dog with arthritis, some examples include making sure the dog is lean, exercising him on a regular basis, adding nutritional supplements and working with your vet on a pain management regimen. My training is within canine massage and I’ve worked with a number of dogs in a canine aquatic fitness setting - so I know from experience that swimming is a great non-impact exercise that works the joints gently. Water has the benefit of buoyancy so your dog can exercise while getting a bit of a break from gravity. We have observed many dogs using their hind legs for propulsion when swimming so we’ve seen that it helps with stretching the back leg muscles.

With a swim coach, your dogs can gain confidence in the water and perhaps work up to doing a few short length laps in the pool. A swim coach can also create resistance and drive by having them tread water or letting them swim against a current. I work with dogs in an indoor warm-water swimming pool and perform massages while in the water to help them feel comfortable. We use warm water because it promotes muscle relaxation and good circulation. If you would like to learn more about canine aquatic fitness, please feel free to contact me.

To read the rest of the article...InCirclePets Article "Experts Weigh In on Aging Dogs and Arthritis"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Job Postings: Administrative Assistant and All Around Super Star

We're looking for a new admin. Do you know someone who is interested in some part time work? It can be mostly work from home, and ranges from 30mins to 4hours per day. No weekends. I can't pay much, its more of a labor of love.

Here's the requirements:
* Experienced with dogs
(perhaps trains his/her own dogs, has dogs, perhaps is a dog walker, or someone in school...)
* Interested in canine holistic services, dog massage, dog swimming, etc.
* Dependable
* Great with people on the phone and on email
* Comfortable with small details as well as the larger picture
* Technically savvy with Google Calendar, E-Mail, MS Word, Excel, any graphics programs, and other web-based tools
* Attention to detail detail detail
* Willing to work independently with little instruction
* Experienced admin or office administration a plus but not required

Example Tasks:
- Sending reminder emails for appointments
- Sending follow up emails
- Answering voicemails
- Answering emails
- Setting up appointments
- Filing and entering data from intake forms weekly
- Errands for facility (hanging fliers around town, distributing
fliers, picking up copies at copy shop, etc.)
- Writing draft newsletter monthly
- Entering receipts and invoices weekly

Please submit a resume to with subject: TRC Admin Application (and your name in the Subject!)


Monday, November 16, 2009

Drip ... Small rivers & disappointed dogs

Our Pool broke in the beginning of November ... My first experience of true panic with the new business!

We made the mistake of installing the pool ourselves, and didn't think about the fact that once the pipe (flexible pvc) filled with water, it would be... heavier. :) Oops. So, after a few months of not being supported the elbow bracket holding the pipe to the pump just broke. We couldn't find that size of bracket at the local hardware store, so Susan & Ellen & Derek figured out to put a tennis ball into the pump to slow the leak down a bit. Eek.

So...we had to cancel all our swims and we finally got a repair person to help us out. He had some interesting times trying to get the plumbing repaired. Even the night of our big "Caring for your Aging Dog" seminar -- had to clean up a bit more leaking! Well, a couple of days and two more leaks and temporary plumbing falling apart and a bit of freaking out.... Finally it was fixed.

And, the great part is that this repair guy is going to set up a new filter for us, too! So, we'll be closed for Tues-Fri 12/22-12/25 to install a new system adding another 420 sf of filtration. Yay!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Products at The Rex Center

We have a very small retail area, but are featuring some new products and thinking about more.

  • Planet Dog Toys:

  • Thundershirt TM is a proven solution for many types of dog anxiety...thunderstorms, fireworks, separation, travel, crate, and more...Whatever the anxiety, Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure can help calm and focus a dog. No drugs, Easy to Use, Satisfaction guaranteed!

  • Nina Ottosson puzzle toys -- Let your dog search for treats by lifting blocks, pushing blocks, moving discs, pushing buttons, etc. ... Show the dog how to play.

  • Speaking For Spot book by Dr Nancy Kay, ACC Sonoma - With warmth, candor, and humor cultivated over 20-plus years of working with dogs and their human companions Dr. Kay provides an insider’s guide to navigating the potentially overwhelming, confusing, and expensive world of veterinary medicine.

Some products that we're thinking about. Lets us know what you think!

  • K-9 Carts... I took a workshop with the owner of K-9 Carts and witnessed the fitting of two handicapped dogs with this cart. It was amazing, the dogs were thrilled with a little bit of freedom. We're thinking about starting a custom fitting shop and/or rental program.
    Benefits include:

    • Excellent rehabilitative aid for encouraging your pet to return to walking on its own.
    • Keeps your pet happier and healthier as it is able to exercise and join in family activities.
    • Our wheelchair designs encourage leg movement and, in many cases, a return to full rear limb function.
    • Your pet is able to urinate and defecate while in the cart.
    • Nursing care is easier for the pet owner.
    • Stable pelvic support system keeps spine and limbs in alignment and promotes healing.
    • Takes stress off the rear legs.
    • Your pet can use the cart with its legs either down, in the walking position, or up in the support slings, non-walking position.
    • Your pet has the ability to use its rear legs while still being totally supported in the rear.
    • Supporting the rear keeps your pet’s front legs stronger.
    • Encourages normal leg movement when legs are fully supported in slings.
    • Lightweight, eases the strain on your pet.
    • Well balanced cart makes motion easier and safer.

  • Help Me Up Harness features both a front and rear harness lift system for owners helping their dogs with mobility issues. I've seen this in use and it seems fabulous and not too complicated to put on.
  • Double Back Harness is another that has an extra piece to hold the dog's hind end - this one is designed for mountaineering.
  • Web Master Harness is a great harness to help with mobility - and I've seen this in use a lot with dogs who have a hard time getting up from laying down or who might need a little extra support getting around.
  • Walkabout Harnesses is another harness that a local SF-Dog person recommended.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Couch potato or Physically Fit Senior?" Canine Elder Care: Exercise

Your elderly dog may seem perfectly content lounging around and dozing on the couch all day, and you are probably tempted to let him do so – after all, his stiff legs and achy joints make movement difficult. However, aging dogs can greatly benefit from regular exercise. Just tone it down a bit.

If you once enjoyed spending time with your furry friend outside, like going for walks or jogs, you still can, and should, keep participating in outdoor activities. Depending on your dog’s abilities, you can go for a short walk around the block. While on a walk, let him look and sniff around. The stimulation is wonderful for keeping the mind active and healthy, and can keep him from getting depressed. Playing fetch is another activity that you can still do with your dog – only play for less time than you would with a younger dog, and don’t throw the ball too far. Most dogs will do anything to please their guardians, even overdoing it to keep up with what they think you expect of them. [More info]

For dogs with osteoarthritis, daily moderate exercise can even help delay the continued degeneration of joints. Warm-water swimming is an excellent activity for older dogs with arthritis because it allows them to get a workout that encourages full range of motion of the limbs while being gentle on the joints. Simply being in a warm-water swim spa will create a therapeutic experience for your dog – just think of how a warm bath or hot tub relaxes and soothes your sore muscles.

Making sure your dog moves a little everyday will help prevent atrophy by keeping the muscles toned. Also, as your dog’s metabolism and activity levels decrease, you may notice some extra weight creeping around his abdomen. Regular exercise will help him maintain a healthy weight, which will be great if he has arthritis. The less the burden on the joints, the better!

Check back in the next few weeks for more interesting ideas for keeping your senior dog in less pain, while also being active, sharp-minded and happy.
Long-time dog lover Britany Lueras has a degree in journalism from San Francisco State University and contributes her writing talents to The Rex Center.