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Water Phobic Labrador


Helen Burns, 04.08.2010:


Even as a little guide dog puppy in training Kendal would walk around a puddle on the pavement and his dislike of water remained with him as he grew. Having worked for 7 years in London we were overjoyed to have him retired back to us but sadly, as age began to show, he has developed a neurological weakness in his back legs which began to show itself as slight lack of co-ordination in the summer of 2008.  Kendal's vet recommended hydrotherapy as the best way forward to maintain his muscle development and gave me the number of Canine Plus in Lee on Solent. From the moment I met Barbara in the shop for the first time I knew I was in a very professional dog caring environment, however knowing Kendal's fear of water (let alone actual swimming) I did wonder what he would do. Bex and I look back on Kendal's first swim and laugh now, but we weren't laughing then....he was terrified. Only Bex's understanding, endless patience and willingness to try different approaches to get him swimming eventually calmed him down. She quickly gained his trust and with each subsequent swim his confidence grew.  Even though he was still not happy on the 2nd & 3rd swim, he clearly loved Barbara and Bex and showed lots of excitement at going to the shop. Within 3-4 weeks or so Kendal did not only love his swimming but the difference in his physical well being was very noticeable and clearly of great benefit. It seemed to mentally inspire him too and I was regularly subjected to a silly 15 mins or so when we got home.  Sadly Kendal's condition is degenerative and there is nothing anyone can do about that but, over two years on, he still loves his swim and has good strength in his back legs in the water. I honestly believe that had he not had the care and dedication of all at Canine Plus he would be in a much worse state now than he is. Hydro has done him so much good, and even now Bex has occasionally to run up the ramp after him because he can't wait for her to 'hurry up'. Thank you Canine Plus.


2011 Update from Bex:


Kendal is one of patients that we felt would benefit from the water treadmill, in fact he was the first of our clients to try it! We had found that during recent pool sessions Kendal had found the transition from 100% non weight bearing in the pool to weight bearing on land quite difficult due to the continued degeneration of his condition (all be it slow degeneration). He was also showing further neurological signs such as occasional knuckling and scuffing his nails. We felt that the treadmill would help re-educate his gait and increase his proprioception. Kendal took to the treadmill really well (he is easily bribed with treats!) We feel Kendal’s condition is perhaps degenerating slightly slower than previously and he certainly walks well in it and after each session his gait is greatly improved. Kendal has also reached a HUGE milestone....his 200th hydrotherapy session! We feel this is testament to the huge benefits hydrotherapy has brought to Kendal in the 3 years (plus) that he has been attending and also the care and dedication of all those responsible for his care, including his fantastic owner and a vet who referred him for hydrotherapy when his condition was in its very early stages.


Kendal has since made his journey over the rainbow bridge but Helen has asked that we keep Kendal's story on our site.

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