DOG’S LIFE: Shirley Sowerby and Elle Symonds guide 11-year-old dog Tess in the hydrotherapy treadmill pool at East Shaws Kennels and Cattery
DOG’S LIFE: Shirley Sowerby and Elle Symonds guide 11-year-old dog Tess in the hydrotherapy treadmill pool at East Shaws Kennels and Cattery

OWNERS of a boarding kennels and cattery are hoping animal hydrotherapy sessions will help save their business which has been badly hit by Covid-19.
No animals were booked in at East Shaws Kennels, near Westwick, for five months between March and July as people put off their summer holidays because of the coronavirus pandemic. Only ten pets were boarding at the facility during the late August bank holiday weekend – ordinarily there would be between 40 and 50 animals.
Owners Clive and Shirley Sowerby are pinning their hopes on offering hydrotherapy for dogs with injuries, conditions such as arthritis or those that simply need to lose weight, to keep their long-standing business going.
Mrs Sowerby said: “I qualified in 2012 [to operate the hydrotherapy treadmill] but it was always just a sideline. Now we want to push that because since March 16 the kennels have been a disaster.”
Thanks to referrals by animal physiotherapist Rebecca Heald there has been a spike in demand for the East Shaws’ heated pool.
One of the animals receiving treatment is Amanda Wilson’s 11-year-old dog Tess which underwent TPLO surgery to treat a knee injury in one of its rear legs.
She said: “It is helping to build up her muscles. She was absolutely terrified the first time she came.”
Mrs Sowerby explained that the animals are usually put on a ten-session programme over five weeks when they are first referred.
She added: “It is quite strenuous. The first time they come it is two or three minutes, four at the most, because they get tired. By the end of ten sessions they are doing 20 minutes.”
Animals are not allowed to eat for two hours before and after sessions.
The owner has first-hand experience of the therapeutic effects of the pool having used it herself after undergoing hip and knee replacement operations.
She said: “It was a brilliant feeling. It eased my pain tremendously so you can just imagine what it does for them [the dogs].”
The water is set to a about 30 degrees celsius and its depth depends on the size of the animal.
Elle Symonds who helps out at the East Shaws said: “Each one is completely different. Most of them really enjoy it once they have been in a few times.”
Mrs Sowerby added: “Most of them love going in there – it is the shower before and afterwards they don’t like.”
Although not suffering from any illness or condition, Ms Symonds’ pet lurcher uses the pool regularly. She said the pool is ideal for working dogs and those doing sports such as agility. Each animal’s legs are washed before a session to warm up their muscles, and immediately afterwards to remove chemicals such as chlorine which is in the pool’s water. Along with the hydrotherapy pool, the owners are planning on creating an exercise field to complement the kennels, which people can rent to allow their dogs to play off the leash.
For more information about the hydrotherapy treadmill contact East Shaws on 01833 627326 or 07754 837703.