Puppy therapy: Keeping our best friends in top shape

Jean Gill helping dogs stay healthy


SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. – After surgery or an injury, we often need physical therapy to get our bodies moving the way they used to. That can be the same for dogs, but it can be hard to find an option for our canine friends needing rehab or therapy.

But one unique therapy center in Nebraska is helping with that problem.

One dog, named Squirt, is in doggie physical therapy after a bad slip on the ice. His little legs worked hard during an exercise on the underwater treadmill designed to help him return to his normal strength.


"A dislocated rib is no fun if you're a human, so I assume it's lots of pain for him," said Squirt's owner, Elizabeth Woodman.

To get Squirt back to his spunky, sporty self, Jean Gill, who's certified in canine rehab, works on building strength and stability.

"I work by what the dog needs and what the dog tolerates," Gill said.

Just as humans have injuries, dogs do too, from torn ligaments, sprains, strains and broken bones. Gill says more dog owners are opting for the surgeries and the rehab afterward.

"These aren't new injuries these dogs are getting," Gill said. "But people are learning more about (the injuries) since dogs are more a part of our family and we are taking better care of the dogs."

Another dog, named Beretta, has some shoulder pain. Gill gives her sore spots laser treatments and works on building her core muscles.

"It's very key to what they need to be healthy and to stay injury-free," Gill said.

But Gill's patients aren't always recovering from injuries. For those getting older in dog years, she helps ease the aches and pains that come with age. This is the case with Girlie, a 13-year-old dog.

Gayle Brunick has been taking Girlie to therapy sessions three times each week for four months. She says it works.

"Yes, it's like I have a brand new, old dog here," Brunick said. "She can really move around now. She's almost like a puppy now. She can run up and down the driveway. She couldn't do that for the longest time."

Now that Girlie is moving around more, she's lost a few pounds. Gill's doggie fat camp works the pooch off the pooches.

The hands-on treatment is all about improving the lives of her patients and their owners.

"It's amazing and fulfilling to see what you can do to improve the quality of life for such a loved family member," Gill said.

Added Woodman: "To be healthy is just as important for us as it is for our animals and it gives them a chance to do things with us because we want them around for as long as we possibly can."

The cost of Gill's services varies according to the injury and location of the treatment, but Girlie and Squirt's owners say the benefits have been worth the cost.