Sarah – A New Definition of “Canine Water Therapy”

by Cindy Horsfall

La Paw Spa

Today was one of those good days, the kind that makes you glad to be alive.

It began when I met Sarah and ended as I drove home under a beautiful sunset sky that matched the warm glow inside of me.

Sarah is a six-year-old lab who has had some spondylosis in her spine. She is a perfect candidate for water therapy and enjoyed her session today, but that’s just part of the story that made this day such a good day.

People often ask me: “What is canine water therapy?” My response has always been something about tennis balls, splashing retrievers, warm water massage and devoted canine companions. I have always known how profound this work can be, but now, thanks to Sarah, an entirely new dimension of this work has emerged. one that truly encompasses the power of love, family and that network of existence and support of which we are all a part.

Sarah is lovingly taken care of by two devoted and amazing people. The husband of this team was left brain damaged in a terrible climbing accident 18 months ago and neurologically impacted to the point where he is unable to use his left arm and leg without excruciating pain. The rehabilitation specialists have suggested that he try warm water therapy, but he is afraid and has resisted this idea.

Last week the newspaper had an article about how water therapy can help our canine friends and when he read this story, he decided he wanted to have his Sarah be in the warm water, and that perhaps he would get in the water with her so that she wouldn’t be so afraid.

Today was that day.

They all arrived at the spa today for Sarah’s session. I carried Sarah into the water and this man’s devoted wife and my wonderful assistant helped him into the warm waters to be near his dog. I held Sarah close to him and she gave him kisses as he found his balance in the water. Over the next hour, he began to move his arm and leg without pain. He even tried to walk and venture out into the water with his beautiful, loving dog at his side leading the way. He laughed and told me his story and we all enjoyed the warm soothing waters of the spa together.

I fought back the tears many times during that session as a new, larger definition of water therapy grew in my mind. A definition that includes canine angels leading their beloved people to where they need to be and the many gifts this work gives to me and my clients, gifts that aren’t wrapped in paper or tied in ribbons, but held in the heart with a warm glow that matches the sunset at the end of a really good day.

Thank you Sarah.