Well, my experience from
the first Tank was about to pay off. I had a wonderful young show prospect and
he had grown too fast and injured a leg. The X-ray showed no severe damage, just
pulled ligaments and sore joints.
It was time to get him in the water!
Time was only 7 months old and full of fire. He did not like to be idle (too much like Magic, his dad!). It was very difficult to keep him quiet and prevent him from running. He had his own small pen, toys, chewies and lots of love. He was NOT happy. He would need plenty of exercise. A swim tank.
I had studied this with the Portuguese Water Dog, Dare, and decided to follow the same idea. (See TANK page.) This Tank I built from a Rubbermaid Horse Water Trough. It is one hundred gallons and easy to fit with a faucet for draining. The holes are all pre-drilled and all you have to do is place tall 6" eye bolts in them with a nut on both sides. Fill to the top ring with cold water and add enough HOT water to warm it to the correct temperature. Attach the bungee cords and put the dog into a regular harness, and then attach the bungees as you place the dog in the water! It's just too easy...
Temperature must be warm to help warm the working muscles. I had it between 85 and 90 degrees. It was perfect. Time didn't seem to mind the vest I placed on him...and loved the water once he learned he was NOT going to drown. He was an eager swimmer...and gave a full 5 minutes to start with each day for three days. I was on a tight schedule, so I added ONE minute each day to his swim. I watched close to make sure he was not tiring!!
Each day he was too funny. He invented games to keep me busy. I had to take off the vest as he would just float and NOT swim! He is too smart. Then as the time built to 10 minutes, he learned to swing around to the side and REST by putting his feet on both sides of the tank and standing still. THIS DOG WAS COOL! He will not drown if there is anything to hold...he finds them all as soon as he is tired.
Day by day I could see
his improvement. I did keep him up as much as you can a Schip. It's pretty hard,
as they have so much energy! Time is no exception, and would run if allowed to,
with no fear for the sore leg.
By day 10, he showed NO sign of the limp or hop. I was now up to 15 minutes of swimming. He would let me know if he was tired. This shows with his stroke of leg, breathing, and depth in the water. They tend to sink as they tire...remove any pup that is showing signs of tiring as you can reinjure them fast. NEVER LEAVE THEM UNATTENDED!! Tired muscles do not heal. They also pull easily if you just let your injured dog run after he is done...so rest and swim twice a day if they have trouble with one long session. I like to divide it into two sessions of 5 to 10 minutes. It depends on the dog, the injury and the recovery rate. Use common sense, and watch your dog. Different dogs are at different levels of fitness. If the injury is different, it may require a lower swim time...or longer therapy. Each dog is different. Dare, the Porty, is swimming up to one hour to keep his leg fit enough to do search work.
Time is now fully recovered and was shown at the Schip Nationals in Wichita Kansas where he won a second place ribbon in the Bred By Class. The dog that beat him won Reserve Winner Dog! Not bad for an 8 month old boy who had been lame just 4 weeks before that show.
I now keep him swimming
just to keep him fit. I do 8 minutes a day about every other day. I have several
who like to swim and join us for a quick dip! I just go down the line...making
it fun and rewarding with food treats and squeaky toys! Time is still happiest
with cheering and treats. He still "hangs" in the harness now and then...the
only dog I have ever seen who can FLOAT without a life vest!! LOL
Anyone who needs more info, can use my e-mail icon to send me their question. I will try to help answer it.
Meanwhile, excuse us, Time is asking for a swim! WOOF! <G>
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