March 21, 2004 An indoor swimming pool in western Canada has gone to the dogs. Literally. Former swimming instructor Kendall De Menech turned her 11-metre home pool into an aquatic therapy centre for pooches more than a year ago and now bathes with more than 50 canines a week. They splash around in lifejackets and play with tennis balls, Frisbees or other toys. Some come to flex their muscles or soothe their aching joints, referred to De Menech by vets, as swimming creates less stress on joints than running in a park while warm water increases blood circulation and reduces swelling. Others are just there to play, brought by doting owners who want to treat their pet. "The dogs have a blast. Many people told me their dogs start whining when they turn onto my street because they're so excited to get here and swim," De Menech said. She started the business, dubbed K9H2O, after learning from vets that dog surgeries were on the rise. "If you're going to invest money for surgery as a pet lover, then it makes sense that you would pay for a therapeutic recovery program for your dog too," she said. "I know that swimming is good for people. Doctors often say if you have an injury, get into the pool and swim, so there's no reason it couldn't work for dogs to help them rebuild their strength faster," she said. De Menech installed a ramp in her pool, adapted a shower for dogs and added a therapy room. She offers swims for older dogs or amputees that can no longer run in the park, swim classes for puppies, a lifesaving program to train dogs to rescue drowning people and even a canine boating etiquette course to teach dogs how to enter and exit a canoe without tipping it. Also, an acupuncturist visits once a week to treat dogs on site. Incredibly, De Menech's dog pool is not the first. There are several in Britain which started as aqua therapy centres for race horses and more are starting to appear elsewhere. There is another in Ontario and two more are planned for the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Quebec. "It's a crest of the wave," De Menech said. But pampering pooches and other pets is not without its critics. Opponents bemoan the growing amount of money that people spend on their pets saying it is partly to blame for a shortage of veterinarians available to treat large farm animals such as pigs and cows or to conduct food inspections. Over the past 20 years, enrolment at veterinary schools in North America has been flat, said Charles Rhodes, dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan. Bill Joiner brought his dog Zilly to the pool after the puppy suddenly lost control of her back end. She was able to move her legs enough in the water to develop her hind muscles. "Sometimes, I think we should have put her down, that it would have been better for her. But, we took the chance that she would get better. "Today, she is healthy and runs with other dogs with no fear, well, she bunny hops. She's a very likeable dog and will likely live to a ripe old age," he said. Link Oh boy my dog would love this, but the Snake river will do for now.