Aqua therapy for dogs comes to South Walton

Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 02:22 PM.

Swimming in a pool with a female pit bull mix named Blossom helped reconnect Melanie Barrett to the dream job of her childhood.

Barrett, a Santa Rosa Beach resident, met Blossom while in Orlando as she worked to become certified in canine aqua therapy, which she is now offering in the area.

Blossom needed to strengthen her back legs because she had no back feet. Her mother had chewed them off when she was born.Blossom was one of 50 dogs she worked with while in Orlando.

"It was a very fulfilling class and I enjoyed it," she said. "I knew I wanted to offer it here, and certified animal massage. Dogs can be helped by swimming if they have emotional issues, hip dysphasia, an injury, for surgical recovery, obesity, arthritis, joint and spinal disorders, quality exercise to stay fit, and especially for some who have excess energy. It helps them to move. Being in water is easier and better."

Aqua therapy offers much the same benefits to dogs as it does to humans, said Barrett, especially for weight management and in recovering from surgery.

Dogs grappling with anxiety, fear, aggression, boredom, depression, and pent up energy, said Barrett. Aqua therapy can help build a pup’s confidence by promoting relaxation, and providing mental stimulation. teaching them to learn to trust someone other than their owner,

Always an animal lover, as a child she brought home birds that fell from the nest, lost dogs, and even a baby duck once. She wanted to be a veterinarian, but thought she couldn't be a vet because she couldn't stand to give an animal shots, cut them open, or put them down. So she got a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. Barrett went on to work as a TV reporter, then as a newspaper reporter, then as a freelance writer for various print and online magazines.

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