Hydro Therapy for Dogs

Last year, January of 99 was one of those months you wish would never come. A SAR dog that was in my unit was working and came up hopping lame. A visit to the vet for x-rays proved that this young dog was severe displastic in the right hip.  After many discussions, it was decided to remove the femur head and tighten the ligaments. It was done in late January.

So meet Dare the PWD (Portuguese Water Dog) SAR dog Basic Level. And his Mom and Handler Marty. This is their story.

Once the operation was done, the healing process was very slow. The first week he only hopped on three legs. Moving only to go out to potty, he was a sad case of pain. By week two he was moving on three legs. The mild weather encouraged him to make an effort to walk and lay in the sunshine. By week Three he was still not walking on it at all, and by now all of the stitches and scabs were gone. I advised massage therapy.

Massage is just as in humans, only this pup has not having any of it. His mild manners and loving personality began to get frayed around the edges. We had to keep him turned away as he snapped as he worked the leg to gently stretch and bend to move the ligaments and tendons to get them functioning. I am sure it was painful and certainly uncomfortable.  But we did it three times a day and each session was longer.

At the end of week four there still was NO real progress. I was almost in tears each time I saw him and the heartbreak of his Handler. The bonding was complete and deep as with any SAR dog. He had passed both his Beginner Tracking and obedience tests and the Agility section was well started. Now this. There were days when I could see defeat written all over Marty's face...but I began to think about swimming. I searched around and no one knew of a place to swim a dog. I sent forth pleas on the Schip list...and ideas began to roll.

Horse farms with swim pools all around the tracks...but that was a 3 hour round trip and he needed twice a day to really strengthen that leg. Then finally a break. Someone suggested a Horse Water Trough. Hmmmmmm. The hunt began. We knew he needed at least a 28 to 30 inch depth. Not one of the internet sites carried anything over a 24 to 26 inch height. Just NOT deep enough. As I was "shopping" I saw a large chemical Tank like the ones used by Farmers to place in the bed of a truck to carry spray chemicals for the fields. I drove away with an idea...but needed to talk to Marty.

YES...what ever it took, even though it was $160 for JUST the tank. And we'd need PVC fittings and hardware to make it happen. She called and purchased one and arranged with a friend to go pick it up. Well...on the way she had a car crash!! Not their fault, they were sitting at a stop sign and the accident happened right in front of them and the cars skidded across the road and into them! No one was badly hurt, but it put a halt to the project a few days. Another friend heard the story and went and picked it up for her....the weekend was to be the big day.

Marking off the tank

First We had to cut out the top piece. We used a string and marker to swing the circle leaving a clear cutting line. Ray, My Hubby, held the center as I walked it around the edge. We left about a 3" lip to prevent splash and wave spill.

Marking the filler port

On the edge of the top was a filler port. I had looked and the Truck tire section would make a nifty place to have Dare stand to get out of the pool. So we planned to cut this section away and have no lip to interfere as we lifted him in or out.


Installing drains

What you put in, must come out...so we made a special PVC fitting with a drain control to fit the plug hole. It was sealed in place to prevent leaks as we moved the tank around. A hose can be hooked to the outlet so it let water run out of the garage without getting all of the place wet. The drive was slanted for fast drainage. Each time we had to drain and clean...it was fast and dry.

Cutting the circle

A small hole was drilled at the Filler port and a jigsaw was used to cut the plastic. It need a few blades as we made one after the other dull with plastic coating!

Supporting the cut

As the inner circle gets cut away, it becomes heavy and collapses inward. We inserted pieces of wood that reached across the entire tank and gave support to the top piece. At the end I had to help take the pinch off of the saw. Of course during ALL of this a small black Schip, a large black PWD, and a blonde Cockapoo told us what THEY thought of this strange activity!

Sanding the edge

Next we took a block of wood and stapled a heavy grit sandpaper to it. I used that to remove all of the rough edges and saw marks. I came back with a finer grade to complete the edges for safety.

Dare in Tank

At this point, after vacuuming up all of the plastic pieces, we placed Dare into the tank and played with him. Feeding and petting to let him see that it was a fun and safe place to be.

Ray inserting eyebolt

Then Ray installed four eye bolts equal distance around the edges...leaving the filler port scoop out as the front edge. Four leashes were installed in the eye bolts for attachment points. One more idea came up...and we had purchased a blue insulation board (1") that was cut to fit under the tank to keep the cold floor from cooling the water too fast.  Now we were ready to swim...only it was now midnight!! Tomorrow would be soon enough.

Continued on next page:


You are listening to "Night Swimming."

All original images, graphics, photos, backgrounds, and text belong to DHS. 2000.
Reproduction of any kind without permission is prohibited. Rights to animated .gifs and music belong to the creators. Rights to individual dog photos belong to their owners.
Web Site Design by: P. Rowe

All original images, graphics, photos, backgrounds, and text belong to DHS. 1999.
Reproduction of any kind without permission is prohibited. Rights to music belong to the creators. Rights to individual dog photos belong to their owners.
Web Site Design by:
Rattleberry Design