By Jean Gill
My whole life has been filled with dogs.
In fact, I can remember only about 6 months of my entire life where we did not have at least one family dog. When I became an Occupational Therapist in 1999, my dogs started working with me from day one. I had completed my research project in school on using dogs as a tool in therapy the first program I was asked to develop at my first job as an OT was a pet therapy program.
When one of my first therapy dogs tore his ACL and required surgical repair, my vet, Dr. Phil Kramper, said “The missing link between successful surgery and successful recovery is rehab – there is none in this area. I think you should look into that – you’d be good at it.”
I did look into it but it was not to be at that time but he did plant the seed in my brain. About 10 years later when my German Shepherd, Echo, was diagnosed with degenerative lumbo-sacral stenosis, I knew I needed to learn how to help her.
In July 2011, I attended the Canine Rehab program at the University of Tennessee. It was a very intense program and when I returned home I began working on 5 case studies (2 ortho, 2 neuro and 1 of my choosing). I greatly enjoyed all of my case studies and was amazed at the success rate. I returned to Tennessee in December to present one of my case studies and take the certification exam and a few weeks later learned that I had passed and earned my CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner).
As soon as I obtained my CCRP, I made arrangements with Dr. Jeff Bottger of Art & Science Veterinary Clinic to basically rent a room and begin treating dogs out of his clinic. This worked well, however, I was limited with what equipment I could use to that which was easily portable and my clientele was limited to owners who had flexibility in their day to go home, get their dog, bring it to me for an hour and then return it home and head back to work.
I knew I needed to open a place where I could have more equipment available and also where owners have the option of dropping their dogs off and picking them up later. So on 5/1/2013 I opened Four Paws Fitness & Rehab in South Sioux City NE. On 7/1/2013 I added an underwater treadmill to my list of available equipment.
I absolutely love what I do and love working with all the different types of dogs I get to see with their various issues. I do still love working with humans also and feel I have the best of both worlds.
I plan on offering geriatric programming for helping your dog to age in a healthy way, exercise classes for both you and your dog to participate in, conditioning for athletic dogs and also doggy fat camp for the not so athletic dogs.
Thanks for your interest in Four Paws Fitness & Rehab!!