Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Swims at The Rex Center? A day in the life...

I've been asked quite often - "Who swims at The Rex Center?" Or sometimes in the form of "Is that for xxx dogs?" Where xxx could be "old" or "injured" ... So, I thought I'd describe one of our recent days - just to give a flavor of who does come to swim at The Rex Center!

(names are changed)
"Heike" is a 9 year 'young' German Shepherd mix. She's swimming because she has bad hips but also to help her lose weight. She started a few months ago and has been coming almost every week for a 50-minute assisted swim. The first few weeks, she didn't want to swim - but enjoyed the massage and tread water a tiny bit. Now she jumps in on her own and cries for her toy to be thrown! She's lost over 15 pounds and is doing better running and walking at the park when she's not swimming.

"Chris" is a 10 year old extra-large PitBull mix. He enjoys the massage and swimming because of arthritis in his back and a knee surgery a few years ago. He doesn't swim willingly, so the swim coaches have to hold him to carry him back away from the steps - and let him swim back to mom who's waiting outside the pool at the steps. He has such a long body that its sometimes a challenge to hold him. He gets a great workout with one of us holding onto him and making him tread water. He comes every week and his movement out of the pool is improving.

"Talon" came for the first time this weekend. He's a German Shepherd with fear aggression issues around other dogs. So, he doesn't get to go out to parks much and could really use the exercise to help him lose a bit of weight. Since we offered to clear out the place, his mom was able to bring him to swim and hopes to bring him a few times per month. He relaxed and was carried around in the pool in order to swim.

"Woodrow" is an 6-year old black lab who just loves to swim. He has some undiagnosed issues that causes him to limp after running with his dad. So, his Aunt is bringing him up to swim. He is in "open swim" - where he just swims and his Aunt throws his special stick for him to get. They use the jets because he's a powerful swimmer. He comes every other week for a fun dip and good exercise.

"Letty" swam for the first time this weekend, too. She is a mixed breed dog who's slightly overweight and has (according to her vet) "weak front joints". She's only 5, so her mom is trying different things with diet and is hoping that swimming will help her legs and help her gain some strength. We did massage to help get her used to being in the water and carried her out into the water to let her swim back.

"Keith" is a young Chocolate Lab who swims every week. He is ENTHUSIASTIC swimmer - he shouts in his parents ears the whole way to The Rex Center (they even showed me a video of him barking/yoewling). He alternates between 'open' swim by himself and 'assisted' swim to help him relax a little. If we wait too long between swims, he will bark - and loud! He ignores the "No Diving" stickers that are affixed to the pool. ;)

"Nico" was our third new dog during this day. He was reportedly 'not fond' of water. But, he's on the older side and is having some hip and ankle issues. He wasn't clamoring to get out after the first few minutes, and hung out a bit for massage. After being carried out into the pool a few times, he started swimming very smoothly and would park himself back on the steps. He seemed unfazed by being in the water, so hopefully he'll have just as much fun the next time.

"Shaynah" is a young Mastiff who had an undiagnosed problem where now she's lost mobility of her back legs. She's been coming weekly for about a month. Being in the water lets her straighten out her spine, hold her hind up with her one leg that is has a little bit of mobility and swim - and be free to move on her own a bit! We've seen her movement wax and wane - some weeks she wags her tail, others she doesn't. This week, she even used one of her back legs to push off of her swim coach!