By Judi Curry
Buddy is my 12 year old Golden Retriever. Twelve years old – in doggie years – makes him older than me! Hooray! And, Buddy was born on my birthday. We have “celebrated” our birthdays together for years now – he get’s people food, and I get to watch him eat it.
At my age – younger than Buddy – I have many aches and pains. The broken shoulder and trigger fingers don’t help. Buddy also has many aches and pains, particularly in the hip area of his large body. He weighs in at about 115 pounds; and is large for a dog regardless of his weight.
I go to physical therapy twice a week and I have a reflexology massage – see my previous article on Mary’s Therapies – every two weeks. So what, you say?. Buddy now also has physical therapy at least once a week — and this week, he had it twice.
Come on – physical therapy for an animal! Let me introduce you to the best person Buddy has met in many years.
Trish Penick, PT
Owner, Cutting Edge K9 Rehab
When Trish was a student in High School in Greenville, South Carolina, she participated in an intern program her last semester and worked in a vet’s office as she was trying to make career decision choices for the future. She could not decide if she wanted to be a Veterinarian or a Physical Therapist. She decided that she could work in an Emergency Room with humans as her patients, but it tore her up working with animals that hurt and could not tell you what was bothering them. It didn’t take long for her to realize that she did not want to be a vet; rather she would be a physical therapist working with people.
Twenty-plus years ago, she moved to San Diego, and the idea of taking her P/T skills and working with animals – dogs particularly – was an exciting thought. If she could do that, she would be getting the best of both worlds. Thirteen years, she opened up her K9 Rehab services.
When asked why she left working with human patients, she said she felt that she had much to offer animals in distress. She could improve their quality of life, and could virtually take the pain away from the animal. Each and every dog that she works with is a challenge. Those that suffer from neurological problems, strokes, and paralysis are the hardest to work with, yet she almost always sees improvement. Her greatest challenge was a small dog that had encephalitis AND meningitis. He was almost totally paralyzed but his owners wanted to try and see if they could save him. During his recovery, he blew out his knee and Trish added leg therapy to all of the other ailments. That little dog is now running all over the place with no pain. Quite a testimony to her skills.
Trish works all over San Diego County. She works in Cardiff twice a week, and will be using my pool for a few more days until a new pool is secured within the next few weeks. That pool is also in Pt. Loma. Although it really doesn’t matter, Trish lives in the Pt. Loma area. She will offer therapy twice a week there also. She offers package plans as well as individual sessions. All dogs have to have a referral or approval from the dog’s vet. After all, swimming is a cardio vascular activity and she wants to make sure the dog is able to handle the exercise. (As a note – she has Buddy swimming 30 minutes – non-stop – at each session.) She tries never to work with more than 2 dogs at a time, but will take more if they are from the same family. She does not take an animal if he/she is incontinent.
She brings her own dog – Tori – with her to aid the other dog in the pool. Both Tori and Trish get in the pool with the therapy dogs.
I was amazed to see Buddy come out of a 30 minute swimming session eager to play, like a puppy, with Tori for another 10-20 minutes. He may be tired tonight, but it was obvious that the hip pain she has been showing did not bother him. The pool was not particularly warm – 82 degrees – but whatever the temperature it did not bother him.
There are many dogs living in San Diego. I have noticed many dogs with sore legs, hips, backs, etc. You know how much relief you get from a massage or physical therapy. You might want to entertain the idea for your loved one. (No…not your husband — your pet!) Buddy gives full endorsement.