I slowly got out of my car and limped into the brand new offices of Bounce Back Integrative Veterinary Rehabilitation LLC, veterinarian Sue McKelvey’s new rehabilitation clinic for animals. I was sore from playing soccer the night before in the Santa Fe “Senior” League, also known as the home of the world’s slowest players. Also known as the geriatric league, if you get my drift.
Anyway, I was grumpy and in pain.
I was here to interview Dr. McKelvey (aka Dr. Sue) about her work and her patients. Dr. Sue is outgoing and passionate about veterinary medicine and her new niche of rehabilitation. She has been a popular and well-known vet in Santa Fe for 15 years.
Her premise is simple. Just like us, dogs age. They can have surgeries and they can have sprains and strains. Just like us, animals can heal quicker and heal properly with rehabilitation.
You may now cover the ears and withhold the treats from your chubster. The other growing problem with dogs and cats is obesity. Of course, look at us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than a third of us are obese. Guess what? So are our dogs. In a recent study, it was estimated that more than 40 percent of dogs in the United States are obese. Like human, like pet, I guess.
Thus, just like walking into a rehabilitation clinic for humans, Bounce Back is a rehabilitation clinic for animals. The only difference is Dr. Sue’s clients are usually on leashes. Although truth be told, the first time I went to rehab for a torn ACL, my mom had to drag me in.
You’d even recognize most of the procedures and tools. There’s massage and acupuncture. And, by the way, I heard the best and most scientific explanation of how acupuncture works from Dr. Sue. She also does neuromuscular electrical stimulation, balance, gait work and laser therapy.
Apparently, dogs actually like the acupuncture and the neuromuscular stimulation. According to Dr. Sue, they tend to just relax and almost sleep. I do believe, however, that a lot of that is Dr. Sue. She has always had a reputation for helping animals relax.
About right at this point of the interview, I was thinking, who cares about the dogs! I want acupuncture, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, massage and laser therapy! And massage! Let the dogs play. I need laser therapy.
But, a stern look from Dr. Sue brought me back to the point of the interview, our canine friends (grumble, grumble).
Here is how it works. Dogs (or cats) can injure themselves or have arthritis. They can be in pain. Sometimes the signs of pain are subtle in a dog. They reduce their movement, they don’t get up to greet you, or they don’t want to go on walks. They might be lame or lose function of a limb or another bodily system. They also might start to become more aggressive, not wanting to be touched.
Whatever the case, it’s important to get a diagnosis from your veterinarian. Once that is done, an important part of the therapy puzzle might be rehabilitation. This might include a plan to manage pain, to help with arthritis or to help an animal get back to full function after surgery. This is where Bounce Back can help. Dr. Sue will work with your vet and with you to create a rehabilitation plan for your animal.
And of course, if your vet says Chubster needs to get on a diet and exercise plan, Dr. Sue will help create one and ease your canine or feline chunkster back towards a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Which brings me to the coolest high-tech gadget in her clinic: the underwater treadmill. Please go immediately to the Bounce Back Facebook page to see it in action with a Newfoundland.
How cool is that! Think warm tropical water, Jimmy Buffet playing, a drink with an umbrella and fruit, and a stroll in the tank …
OK, back on track. The tank is used for a variety of purposes, including starting over-weight and sedentary dogs safely back on the track to fitness.
Maybe it was my limp. Maybe it was my overall aging demeanor. But the last thing Dr. Sue and I talked about was her love for older dogs.
Why, I ask myself, do women look at me and then compulsively talk about aging dogs? It’s a puzzle.
But she was sincere. “They’re so sweet, and they keep trying so hard to be a good companion. We can’t make them puppies again, but we can help their mobility and help with pain management. It can make a big difference in the quality of their life going forward.”
I did flash back to all the older dogs we’ve had. We’d do any and everything to keep them comfortable. We’d put blankets over them when they wanted to sleep outside. We’d bring their favorite toys to them and sit with them for hours with their head on our laps. Their tails would beat a slower rhythm, but they were always happy to be with us.
We didn’t have the options then of Bounce Back, but as our current puppies age, we’ll certainly be clients.
My last grumpy point. Do you think that if I made an appointment with Bounce Back that Dr. Sue would take me and my stalwart team of geriatric soccer players? Wouldn’t it be species discrimination if she didn’t?