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You probably think of your dog as your One and Only… One who is different from all the others, who understands you, knows exactly what you’re thinking and what you’re feeling, who shares your love and home… and One you love with your whole heart and soul!
My Special One is a Yellow Lab girl named Lada, and I fell in love with her from the moment I set eyes upon her in the lobby of Leader Guide Dogs of Rochester, Michigan in January 2007. At this moment, I was preparing to become a Foster Parent and raise this little 7-week old girl for someone who would need a Leader Dog.
She was an intelligent, very energetic, playful and nippy puppy.
As the months passed, she began to settle down and I was horrified just thinking about the moment when we would have to take her back to Leader Guide Dogs.
After almost a year, the dreaded day arrived when we had to say goodbye to our baby Lada….it was heartbreaking.
Two weeks later, we received a phone call from Leader Guide Dogs telling us that Lada had been withdrawn from the program due to Hip Dysplasia, and since we had raised her, we had the first right to adopt Lada… and she became our wonderful 2008 Christmas present!
We knew that her condition would progress with the passing of time, so in the Spring I took Lada for X-rays, which showed her condition to be worse than we thought—DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) and beginning arthritis in her right knee. She was occasionally limping, and we began giving her Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM. And at this time, Lada was still a puppy—just one and a half years old.
I began to study about natural remedies and the value of Canine Massage in relaxing a dog and easing pain. Wanting to do everything I could for Lada, I completed a course of study and became a certified Canine Massage Therapist.
In the Spring of 2010 she began limping again. More X-rays confirmed inflammation of the left knee and the right hip. Although I was looking for a veterinarian devoted to alternative techniques, finding a good one proved to be a difficult task.
I was so desperate to help my Baby! It was heartbreaking to watch her suffer. At this time I began to research pain management through laser therapy, magnetic therapy and canine hydrotherapy. We had been taking Lada for long walks twice a day, which only made her condition worse. As we cut back on her walks, she put on extra weight (up to 78 pounds), and again wishing to help Lada, I took a Dog Nutrition course. The first step was to change her diet, and I began Lada on a premium quality weight management formula.
Through continued research, I found an animal hospital in Canada which had both hydrotherapy and alternative methods for treating animals, and excitedly scheduled a consultation. The owner of the facility, Dr. Janice Huntingford, met with us, examined Lada, and laid out a plan of treatment.
She began with sessions of laser acupuncture and magnetic therapy, and I was massaging Lada daily at home.
We were traveling to Canada twice a week (about three hours travel time each trip), but we were totally devoted to helping Lada back to good health. In addition to the laser therapy, Dr. Huntingford began her on a hydrotherapy regime, first swimming with a staff member, and later adding the underwater treadmill.
Besides the increased mobility and signifigant pain reduction, this also had the effect of dropping Lada to the nearly perfect weight of 70 pounds.
Dr. Huntingford prescribed two Chinese heral supplements and we continued to give Lada two Synovial-Flex Soft Chews daily. She also recommended a series of physical exercises which we began practicing with our dog twice a day. After a month of treatment, Lada began making really good progress. She stopped limping, became playful again, and now looks like a very young dog.
At the beginning of November I went to the United Kingdom to take a Canine Hydrotherapy course from a highly respected facility, and as a result, today I am certified in all aspects of Canine Hydrotherapy.
While it is becoming more common to find dedicated Canine Hydrotherapy facilities in some parts of the United States, such as New York, this is definitely not the case here in Michigan. Therefore, I am partnering with a local pool owner to offer Canine Hydrotherapy through her business… in order to help other dogs as my Lada has been helped!