This swim center caters to dogs: Oregon Tails


I was laid off from Intel and my mother
was afraid I was going to lose my house, and so she offered to give me some of my
inheritance, and I said great I could start a dog pool. We’re a rehab facility and dog sports
swimming facility. We do rehabilitation, we do dock diving, therapeutic exercise,
puppy orientation to swimming, swimming lessons, all kinds of therapy in the
water. One of our side missions, too, is education of the public in terms of
water and to debunk the myth that, you know, it’s okay to throw a dog
in water because they can all swim. About 5,000 dogs a year drown in backyard
pools, and a lot of it is because people throw them in and also they don’t
have a way for the dogs to get out of the water. They just have ladders they
don’t have ramps. The biggest thing is that they really aren’t efficient
naturally using their back legs so they use the doggie paddle, slapping the water
which, is really trying not to drown. The biggest thing is to get them to be
horizontal and then really focus on the use of the back legs. If it’s noisy and
splashy, it’s not swimming. On Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5, we have what
we call open rec swim, and it’s people who already had all the assessments, you
know, we know their dogs can swim, get in and out, and also we’re okay with
other dogs. We do the dock diving. It’s the fastest-growing dogs sport in the world. We
have a regulation dock, a regulation pool. The dock is 40 feet, the pool’s 40 feet. We
have about five or six competitions a year. We see everything. We have had a horse in
the underwater treadmill. One of our most abundant clients and one of the most
rewarding is the geriatric dogs. Dogs that are getting old, they’re losing
their mobility, they’re losing muscle mass. You see them coming in, you know,
just creaking and they go in the treadmill or swim and they’re trotting
out of here. I’ve been in the veterinary field most of my working career,
emergency and critical care technician. When I moved up to Oregon about 12 years
ago, I was looking for a indoor place for my two labs to go swimming.
There was nothing, so my husband and I bought a house with an indoor pool. I got
my rehab practitioner’s certification. The business just kind of fell into place of
swimming dogs for therapy. We have a lot of water around here, and I feel the same
way about children and dogs. They need to know how to swim. They need to know how
to save themselves. I started out as an elementary teacher, music teacher, and then I taught middle school and then went back to school, got a PhD in adult
education, and worked at a lot of industrial: Boeing, Precision Castparts. I
had studied animal massage but I’ve always been a swimmer and a swim coach.
So this is my retirement present to myself, to work with dogs.

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