Therapeutic Swimming for Dogs in Park City- Canine Rehabilitation – Hudson

Dog Dive’s owner Angela Dirkers

I couldn’t’ possibly testify to the power of warm water swim without discussing my own experience with my beloved black lab, Hudson.

Hudson was hit by a car back in 2010 here in Park City.  She was about 2 at the time. Her injuries were extensive and very serious. Her left hip was subluxated. One of her right toes was broken.  The tire struck her on her left leg, ripping through skin, ligaments, tissues and tendons- down to the bare bone of nearly half of her leg.

It would take 2 skin grafting surgeries, dozens of sessions with the laser, and year’s time before her skin would end up re-growing on that leg. For nearly a year post accident, Hudson’s veterinarian (Dr. Lisa Pasquarello of Silver Creek) made me aware that we may inevitably end up losing that leg after our committed struggle to save it.  In the beginning, she was in such rough shape that she had to remain at the veterinary clinic under constant medical care.  Upon being released to come home, I was under instruction to keep her sedated at all times. Hudson was in lots of pain, and any movement could exacerbate her precarious condition. I had to carry her 70- pound, limp body, up two flights of stairs outside my apartment on Woodside Avenue several times throughout the day so she could relieve herself.  It was a very difficult time, and the vet bills were overwhelming. I was a massage therapist and pre-veterinary student at the time, and began heavily researching any and all forms of alternative methods that I could start incorporating to help my poor dog find relief and get better.  It killed me to see her this way. I read and researched, and added in countless tinctures, supplements, herbs  & vitamins to her already bizarre post accident diet. She got daily massage, essential oil treatments, and castor oil hot packs to help alleviate her pain and promote circulation & detox.

Hudson’s recovery was truly exceptional. Alternative remedies worked like a charm. The massage worked wonders. Swimming would be paramount. Not only was she able to keep her leg, which was a shock to many, she had complete neurological function within that limb. The bones of her hock and stifle naturally fused together, leaving her with very limited movement from her hock joint down. Her left side, to this day, appears smaller and slightly deformed.  But, miraculously, she is able to run and even jump, and at 8 years old- she is healthier and stronger than many dogs her age.

Swimming played a crucial role in Hudson’s recovery. I took her to the water every chance I got the following summer after her accident, once she had regained some strength & mobility. Luckily being a Lab, she’ll walk right in, even when there’s snow on the ground.  She gained a good amount of weight because she could not withstand walking or running during her road to recovery. It slowly began coming off as swimming was introduced to her exercise regiment.

Even just this last year, going for a semi-lengthy walk would result in her tri-podding around the house for the remainder of the day.  She would totally omit from using her left leg, hobbling around on three- sometimes even 2 days post long walk or short run.

Since the installation of the Dog Dive swimming pool in November 2015, five years post accident, I have seen major changes in Hudson. I have remained committed to bringing her in twice weekly for her own therapeutic swim sessions, including massage therapy. The muscle mass on her left leg has improved tremendously, after years of persistent atrophy. Most importantly for her, she is not impacting those joints.  Even after a very lengthy swim session, Hudson does not limp! It is critical for her future health & quality of life that impact recreation stay to a minimum. She has lost 6 pounds- which was necessary in order to lighten the load on her hind-quarters.

Hudson played a huge role in my desire to switch gears from pre-veterinary studies, pursue warm water swim, and eventually open up The Dog Dive. Her story is inspirational to other dog owners who are experiencing their own unique medical hardships with a beloved companion.  I have always felt right at home within the realm of alternative modalities, but it wasn’t until her that I truly realized the limitless potential of non-western approaches to canine health…especially warm water swim. Hudson now swims for a full hour each session. Instead of limping in pain afterwards, she experiences relief. Her body is strong and limber. Her lean muscle mass has improved drastically. Her weight is perfect. Warm water swim will be a part of her life for the rest of her life. I hope others are encouraged by this story. It was years of recovery for Hudson, I feel as though she will always be in recovery to some extent.  But now, with Dog Dive, there is a method available to the local community that can help facilitate an unexpected & drastic transformation for many dogs just like Hudson.  I hope that those who are skeptical simply try it and give it a chance. I know that they will not be let down.