Toby and I are still here! Like most puppy owners, we have had our ups and downs in his first year of life but Toby’s saga has included the ongoing issues of hip dysplasia and a subluxated right knee (sort of like your knee cap slipping off and on). Our vet suggested swimming as the best exercise but we don’t have many lakes in our area that are not Mecca for half the population of New York. The only place I have found so far is a boat launch at a nearby reservoir where Toby can swim for a ball or stick but only between the comings and goings of kayaks, sailboats, rowboats and canoes. Fortunately, no one has complained about a swimming dog and to be fair, Toby is attached to a 30- foot floating rope and therefore, compliant with leash laws. Last weekend, the park ranger crept by in his truck and did not reprimand us for hanging out. So far, so good. The summer is half over. The boaters seem to enjoy watching my little dog gliding through the water and when I explain this is not just for fun but also for aqua therapy for his bum leg, it clinches the sympathy card. Just in case.

The vet was right. Swimming HAS helped Toby. When he was examined two weeks ago, she said his knee was no worse (it will never get better without expensive surgery) and the muscle tone in both hind legs are equal. Keep doing everything you are doing.

But our swimming jaunts would last about ten minutes or so before Toby would pull out as if to say, Enough; can’t do THAT any more. He would also swallow a lot of water and spend a good deal of time and effort hacking it up. Our canine aqua therapy visits might be more effective if they lasted a little longer, I thought, so to make swimming less cumbersome for his weak hind end, I bought him a PSD (personal safety device) aka life vest. This past weekend, Toby had the opportunity to wear his new vest on its maiden voyage on a clear lake in Rhode Island, home to my soul mate friend and high on my list of favorite places to be. Toby’s too.

Toby thought it weird that a retriever mix with webbed feet should be wearing a swim vest but forgot about potential embarrassment when his best girl, Emily, my friend’s remarkable Black Lab & five year therapy dog veteran, glided into the water. Toby roared in after her and between the two of them, retrieved several dozen throws of luminescent green tennis balls. Toby swam for 20 minutes the first day, 35 the next, and 30 the next.

 He even made a new friend in the process.

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6 Responses to Tobyfish

  1. So happy to hear from you again and get an update on Toby.

    He looks like such a sweet dog. I'm glad the water therapy is helping him. Toby looks like he's having a great time too. Always nice to make a new friend and visit with old ones. The vest is a good idea to help him swim longer and he looks very handsome and athletic in it.

  2. Wendy says:

    Awesome. I actually think he looks quite handsome in that life vest. 🙂

  3. Oh, that is so wonderful!!! Such a great idea to help him be more “floatable” and ease the time of building the muscles and stamina to swim w/ ease. Wonderful!!! You and Toby are a wonderful match!

  4. Wonderful!! What a great idea to make him more “floatable” while he builds the muscle memory and stamina to swim for longer periods of time. You both are such a great team!!

  5. The vest is a great idea!

  6. How great to hear from you! Toby looks so happy and I'm very glad that the water therapy is helping him. I haven't forgotten our idea for a doggy playmate, but this summer has been challenging to say the least. The life vest is a brilliant idea btw.

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