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Rehab clinic offers new approach to therapy for dogs

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It used to be that when a dog had surgery, veterinarians would recommend medication and rest— which for the owner meant weeks of trying to keep the animal still. But at one metro Atlanta rehab clinic, recovery begins right away, and everything from the equipment to the exercises is designed with dogs in mind.  

If you've been through physical therapy, you know it's a lot of work.  But imagine trying to get a puppy to do rehab!  Especially a rambunctious puppy named Puck who is up for pretty much anything.  

Being submerged chest deep in a giant tank of water isn't exactly Puck's thing, but peanut butter is.  So, that's how Dr. Beth Cochran gets the 7-month-old puppy to do what she needs him to do.  

"You can tell a person, ‘You have to do this to get well, and it's going to be uncomfortable, so you need to push through that,'" Cochran explained.  "Well, animals don't-- they don't play that."

But Dr. Cochran has found that food is the magic ingredient to keep Puck and her other four-legged patients focused and motivated.  He's been going to Georgia Veterinary Rehabilitation (GVR) each week trying to come back from surgery, and he's become one of Cochran's favorites.  

"He is mischievous and sweet, and everybody who has met him falls in love with him," she said.  

Puck is also a bit of a survivor.  Jorge Perez first noticed him—the dog with the ears—at the animal shelter where he volunteers.  

"He is the first dog I've ever seen whose ears cross behind his head," Perez said.

But Perez also noticed that Puck limped on three legs.  He had been turned in with a broken back leg that was never treated.  

"I met Puck at DeKalb County Services on April 22, on what was to be essentially his last day," Perez said.  "He was on the "kill" list."  I just fell in love with him.  He was magical."

So Perez took him home, and created a Puck the Injured Foster Pup page on Facebook to try and raise money for his care.  That's when the underdog got another big break.  The Animal Companion Rescue Foundation agreed to pay for the surgery to reset Puck's leg, and for his rehabilitation.  That's how he landed in GVR's gym with Cochran.

"Some of this equipment is very foreign to your average dog.  Dogs don't typically stand on things that wobble around," Cochran said.  

Cochran says dogs see the gym as a playground and they love to come inside.  An underwater treadmill held Puck up as he learned to walk on his injured leg.  Now, the water's resistance is helping him to strengthen that leg.  

Perez says Puck no runs, and has no idea he's even been injured.  He says helping Puck opened his eyes to other dogs he might be able to help.

"Honestly, as corny as it sounds, he's made my heart bigger," Perez said.

Now that Puck is almost healed, Perez is looking for a family with a big back yard for him to play in, as well as a big heart and a lot of peanut butter.
GVR works with all kinds of pets, from agility dogs to injured dogs to senior dogs who just can't get around like they used to.  Puck is Jorge's first foster dog.  He says when Puck is adopted, letting him go will be hard.     

To see more pictures of Puck, check out Puck's Facebook pageCLICK HERE FOR A LINK.
MORE INFO: GVR Rehab website

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