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Fat Dogs And Englishmen Go Out To Swim

by Sherry Morse

A former First Division footballer has opened a hydrotherapy spa in England for dogs in need of exercise.

The Four Paws Hydrotherapy Centre in Morpeth, Northumberland, is owned by Craig Harrison, who played on both the Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace soccer teams.

The center is designed to serve the needs of canine clients who are overweight, or whose owners do not have time to exercise them.

Harrison and Bell said they started the center after they realized how much their own dogs loved playing in the water, and saw a similar spa for dogs in Guildford.

According to Harrison, forty-five dogs come to swim at the center each week, with dozens more on a waiting list.

"The response (to the center) has been unbelievable," said his partner, Corinna Bell. "It's also become the in-thing to take your dog swimming. So everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses."

"Dogs are back in fashion, but people no longer have time to walk a dog for an hour twice a day," she said.

Joan Guy of Blyth says she takes her Newfoundlands Tide and Storm swimming in the center's pool, to tone them up.

"Tide is now better in the ring when he performs at shows," she says. "He is bouncier. There is a spring in his step."

The center is also popular with dog owners who don't want their dogs to miss swimming because of cold weather. One Jack Russell owner whose dog swims in a river during the summer wants to bring her dog to the center so he can swim all winter too.

According to Bell, for a dog, a minute in the hydrotherapy pool is the equivalent of walking a mile. A veterinarian is on site to monitor the dogs during their half-hour hydrotherapy sessions at Four Paws.

2003 Animal News Center, Inc.

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