Friday, June 12, 2009

Swim and Trim at Bays Waterpaws

My family went through some hard times in 2004-06, and Gabe gained a lot of weight as we all overfed him out of misguided kindness. Gabe has never been very active; even as a puppy he would go get the ball 2 or 3 times before giving up on fetch. Once Archie arrived, with his manic activity and his dietary restrictions, Gabe slowly started losing weight. In January 2008, he hit a "plateau" though - and stubbornly stayed at roughly 43 pounds all year. Our vet felt that his food shouldn't be cut back any further, and at Christmas 2008, she recommended swimming as a low-impact exercise.

We checked out the local canine pool -
Bays Waterpaws - and booked a trial swim. I suspected Gabe would like swimming as he enjoys having baths and using his paddling pool in the summer. I think he initially viewed the pool the same way he viewed his plastic paddling pool - a place to hop into, to get wet, and hop right out of. He was in for a major surprise.

The first few weeks were tough. The swim instructor - Corinne - would have to give Gabe a few breaks during his 20-minute swim. It was often difficult to convince him to get back in the water after a break.

He's become a very strong swimmer over the past few months; and I'm sure the swimming was responsible for him finally reaching his goal weight of 38 pounds in early June. (Yay, Gabe-o!) Gabe loves swimming; and I'm sure he knows which day is Thursday, our usual swim day, as he seems expectant and extra prance-y when I get home from work. He knows the word "swimming" means we're heading to the pool; and lately when we get there he doesn't even want to pause to get his life jacket on - he just wants to pop into the pool as quickly as possible.

Archie, however, is a landlubber extraordinaire. Corrine and I joke about Archie lounging with sunglasses on and an umbrella in his waterbowl, or on a inflatable lounge chair in the pool, floating by while Gabe methodically churns away.Originally, I thought it would be so cute if Gabe and Archie could play together in the pool, but it's not to be. Archie's not keen on new experiences and the swimming excaberates his cauda equina syndrome. He is more or less content to lounge poolside, with hopes that another canine client will arrive while Gabe is in the pool, so that Archie can scope out the new arrival through the window that is knee-high to an Archie.

Sometimes he seems so bored, I wonder if he would rather stay home? I'm guessing, though, that the possibility of meeting a new friend outweighs the boredom of waiting for Gabe to get out of the pool.