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Mersey dog owners go to great lengths to keep their pets happy – and they can now add another fun activity to their pooches’ pastimes – swimming.
Pensby couple Stuart and Laura Cohen-Smith have set a new business, Doggy Paddle Wirral, offering fun, swimming and exercise for man’s best friend and their owners.
And just two weeks after starting up, they’ve had more than 100 dogs making a splash at their newly created pool for mutts in Moreton.
“We are overwhelmed by people’s support,” says Laura. “You put everything into something like this, but then you still wonder how popular it will be”.
“But if you want to book a session in the week now there’s a two-week wait and if you want a weekend session, the first availability is April.
“And we’ve already got repeat customers.”
Stuart, a nurse, and driving instructor Laura, came up with the idea after their three-year-old Labrador Harvey was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia and was advised hydrotherapy to help get the joint moving and ease pain.
“After we’d had a few sessions the hydrotherapist suggested swimming was the next step and would be the best exercise for him, but the nearest place we could take him just to swim was Barnsley,” says Laura. “There were places where dogs could go swimming in summer but not at this time of year.
“I am is self-employed and have always wanted to do something with dogs, so we did a lot of research and came up with the idea of Doggy Paddle Wirral offering, as the logo says swim, fun and exercise for you and your dogs.”
The couple found a former bookmakers in Pasture Road, near the railway station, which they have refurbished and installed a 16ft x 8ft heated pool which is 4ft deep, and treated with Bromine – not chlorine – to keep it clean and hygienic.
And the idea is that owners can have fun in the water with their pets and give them valuable exercise at the same time: “Which is ideal given the inclement weather we’ve been having lately,” smiles Laura.
“There are lots benefits to taking your dog swimming, from building up your dog’s overall fitness levels, to allowing gentle exercise – and swimming is an ideal form of exercise because it is low-impact on bones and joints – to just enjoying some quality time with your canine companion.”
Benefits include: learning to swim; losing weight; exercise; muscle-conditioning; relief from stiffness, arthritis and joint problems; general well-being and increased energy.
Adds Laura: “It can just be a time to splash about and throw a ball to your dog and just have fun, and it’s a great bonding experience, helping to build the trust and relationship between you and your dog.
“We’re open seven days a week with different time slots each day, and we have had so many types of dogs already from a 28-week-old German Shepherd puppy to a 14-year-old Terrier.
“We have Meet and Treat sessions to get dogs used to the pool because it is such a new environment, private sessions which most people have for you and your dog or dogs, and group sessions.”
The introductory session is £12, and private sessions are £18 for the first dog and £6 per dog thereafter.
“We are already doing between 30-40 sessions a week and we’ve had just short of 120 dogs so far.
“We have a lady who brings a couple of Golden Retrievers, another who brings two Springer Spaniels – who have a whale of a time – and we had one woman who brought three Collies and we couldn’t get them out of the water.”
For more info call 07875075005 www.facebook.com/doggypaddlewirral
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