Molly & Bella (Cruciate TTO x 2 and Hip Displasia)

My 2 beloved 7 year old Labs (litter sisters) joined our home 10 months ago via Lab Rescue; having done everything together I did not expect the absolute purgatory of each of them snapping a cruicate ligament and undergoing the major TTO surgery (implants and bone surgery) within 4 weeks of one another, xrays revealed damage to another cruciate, Hip Displasia for both and other bits of arthritis! Highly recommended by our Osteo specialist Vet, we were referred to Mark and Molly (water baby) was swimming under Mark’s gentle care within 4 weeks of her op! Mark is meticulous with his animal care from the moment he sees vet’s notes to meeting his patients, making them have a pre swim “wee” in his special outdoor exercise lane (good sniffs – allow 5 mins extra for this – dogs will always wee) always checking their health, heart, weight and general well being at the start of every hour long session and constantly providing encouragement and reassurance throughout. Molly responded so well to Mark’s corrective methods that within 3 weeks she was walking better than we had seen her ever and by week 4 was on “jets” in the pool, her 3rd ball (sorry) and her muscle wastage had much improved! Her big sister Bella is no water baby unless she can feel the sand underfoot, she is 3′ taller than Molly, thus a gangly girl who was very unenthusiastic/panicky at her first session despite having sung loudly as Molly had all the attention in the previous hour. It was a difficult session for Bella and demonstrated what session 1 is about – establishing a bond between Mark and the patient, introduction to water and getting to trust Mark in a different environment and one for Bella where she was totally out of her depth – not even Marmite biscuits helped much that day, Sessions 2/3 was much happier and progress was evident and by session 4 it was “jets”, you would have thought she was at Champney’s from the happy look on her face – then Mark made her exercise her hips and knees to good effect, but he is so careful to push the dog but knows exactly when each should stop too, regardless of if they are having fun! At sessions 6 and 8, we have girls who sing far too loudly for the last 2 miles in the car, Mark is “family” and Bella thinks she might like to be a Water Baby, after all, she throughly enjoys her swims and is walking better than ever, ditto for Molly’s overall mobility – notwithstanding you have to bribe her to get out of the pool!
Mark, we are sorry that your pool and facility is covered in a net-full of black hair after the “Twins” have shed undercoat, had their warm shower and clean individual fluffy towel dry, but when we arrive it never looks as if you have had a patient either it is sooo clean and tidy, even if we saw them leave as we arrived. After 4.5 months of putting our lives on hold and setting up our dogs for their future mobility, we still have a way to go but without doubt Mark Challenger has taken over from where the Vet did his marvellous work to give the girls their best chance of making the best of their different mobility skills, getting fit and hopefully in a few months being able to play properly together again (we have hidden the ball chucker
– not to be used ever again for them) and next time there is snow they will be able to play in it. My girls are so happy, they love walks again not just a “plod” and are smiling again, so therefore so are we, Mark, Thank You.

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