CANTON, Ohio — Life is cool by the pool, no matter the season. Just don't keep a certain Goldendoodle named "Lester" waiting.
The 2-year-old adventurous pup belongs to Beth Iler, co-owner of Healing Waters Canine Experience in Canton, which provides hydrothermal massage in warm 90 degree water, as well as fun swim time for the pool-loving Lester. He showed off his leaping and paddling skills for us while wearing his bright yellow life vest. All dogs that hit the pool at Healing Waters must wear one.
"We hydrothermal massage for dogs who need a little extra work on their hips, legs, back, body. We also do fun swims for dogs who just want to come and have a good time," said Judy Gaetje, who is the other owner of Healing Waters.
Gaetje and Iler are Certified Canine Water Work Practitioners, and have more than 20 years experience training dogs. They opened Healing Waters Canine Experience more than a decade ago and have never regretted a single day.
"The water's 92 degrees, so it's beautiful there for them. And they just use their muscles in a different way and it just makes them a lot less painful. They walk longer. They live longer because people put their dogs down because they can't walk. So if they could come here and walk two or three years longer, that's wonderful," Gaetje said.
Beyond arthritis, standard aches and pains, as well as pre and post-surgery therapy, Gaetje and Iler also focus on pups with mobility issues.
One such dog is very close to Gaetje's heart.
She introduces us to her dog "Freedom," a puppy mill survivor who came to Gaetje with a badly damaged front paw. Efforts to rehabilitate the mangled foot were fraught with ups and downs. Gaetje, in conjunction with Freedom's veterinarian, decided the pup would ultimately fair better without it. And hydrotherapy helped the dog strengthen its core as well as other muscles it now engages to get around on three legs.
A puppy named Roo is also a client, in need of hydrotherapy to help strengthen her back legs. She'll need that strength to propel her wheelchair forward as Roo was born without front legs.
"She comes in and she uses those black legs in a normal manner, which she doesn't do now. They can come in here and use their body in a natural dog way. It builds up the muscle tone, and strengthens that core," Gaetje explained.
"Tiny" is a squirmy, inquisitive puppy who also visits regularly for hydrotherapy. Gaetje explains core strengthening is important for Tiny, who was born with a condition called "swimmer syndrome."
"They don't have any core muscle development. So their legs are all spread out and we're teaching that dog to bring their legs in and develop that core muscle so that they can then walk," Gaetje said as Iler demonstrated how they work with Tiny.
No matter the reason each dog comes to Healing Waters Canine Experience, they are all on a the same journey to reach a positive outcome. Gaetje and Iler make sure of that.
"They just enjoy their life a lot more," Gaetje said.
Prior to opening Healing Waters, both Gaetje and Iler trained service dogs. They encountered a number with bad hips and joints, but there wasn't much available to help them.
This started their journey into opening one of Ohio's only rehab pools for dogs.
In addition to hydrotherapy, the business also offers cold laser as well.
To learn more about Healing Waters Canine Experience, head HERE.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous article on Oct. 5, 2022.